To help small businesses expand their community reach, we've gathered nine strategic approaches from experienced leaders like Managing Directors and Directors. From combining virtual and physical events to sponsoring local sports teams, these insights offer a diverse range of strategies for small businesses to consider.
- Combine Virtual and Physical Events
- Engage Deeply in Community Activities
- Use Content and Email Marketing
- Leverage Local Business Partnerships
- Organize Community Workshops and Events
- Collaborate With Community Influencers
- Partner With the Local Government
- Utilize Traditional Advertising Methods
- Sponsor Local Sports Teams
Combine Virtual and Physical Events
Combining virtual and physical events is believed to be the best way to "get your name out there." Being based in Worcestershire, regular participation in an online community group named "Worcestershire Hour" on Twitter (now X) is part of the routine.
This allows local business owners and stakeholders to connect and interact, united by a common purpose of promoting the local area. Taking part in local charity events is also considered an important way of reaching the community.
Every year, participation in the Christmas Tree Recycling campaign run by the local hospice is a tradition.
'Engage Deeply in Community Activities
Owning small businesses across various industries has taught me the value of community outreach. The most meaningful impact stems from genuine community engagement, transcending standard sponsorships.
For instance, instead of just sponsoring a non-profit 5K and showcasing your products at a booth, why not have your team join the run? Outfit everyone in company-branded shirts, and after the race, help with the cleanup.
This deep involvement not only boosts awareness but also fosters meaningful conversations that spotlight your brand.
Use Content and Email Marketing
Focus on brand awareness and business-educating content. We found that high-quality content and clever email marketing are good foundations for expanding reach.
(The CPM cost for email marketing is much more cost effective than other paid channels, so it’s a great place to start with content marketing.)
We created an email revenue calculator to show the real value of our email-deliverability solution. This tool lets companies estimate potential revenue they might miss, attracting more leads and expanding their reach. We created an email outreach academy where everyone can learn best practices for using email as a marketing and sales instrument in 2023.
I would recommend other small businesses implement a similar strategy, using high-quality, informative content to attract and engage their community.
Leverage Local Business Partnerships
Everyone is always looking for the latest tool to build an online community. However, old methods are still tried and true. Face-to-face is still the strongest form of link.
For startups, the priority is to expand your reach and brand visibility within the community. Building links in your local area is achieved through partnerships with other local businesses. Collaboration, done by using their expertise and networks, allows growth.
In my experience, local partnerships allowed me to access their infrastructure, supply chain, and distribution network, which helped deal with logistical risks.
A growth strategy is an action plan to grow your business in the local area. Partnering with local businesses mitigates risks as they have knowledge in the community that you can leverage to tailor products to meet the target market’s needs.
By collaborating with local players, startups can leverage their reputation to gain the trust of customers, suppliers, and stakeholders.
Organize Community Workshops and Events
Encouraging small businesses to organize engaging workshops or events within the community, these activities foster a sense of belonging and trust. This leads to an increase in customer retention and positive word-of-mouth.
For instance, a local bookstore arranged a storytelling session for children, drawing families and nurturing lasting bonds with the neighborhood. This strategic approach not only promotes local connections but also amplifies brand recognition, boosting the business's standing in the community.
Collaborate With Community Influencers
I've found that expanding the reach of a brand, especially with a very specific niche like ours, comes down to connecting with influencers or experts who have a following in the community. By collaborating with these influencers on content, promotions, or events, you can tap into their dedicated audience.
Their endorsement and genuine enthusiasm for your products and services will inevitably help you connect with potential customers who share a passion for what you offer. It's a fantastic way to bridge the gap between a niche product and a community that values it.
For instance, teaming up with renowned cycling enthusiasts and organizing an e-bike demo day in a community park attracts both their followers and your target customers.
Partner With the Local Government
One effective strategy for small businesses to expand their reach in the community is by partnering with the local government. For instance, in our company, we provide tools for managing online reputation. Recognizing that a strong online presence can benefit local businesses, we started working closely with our local government.
We offered workshops, gave presentations, and provided our services to local businesses at a discounted rate. This partnership not only widened our reach but also strengthened our reputation as a valuable asset to the community. It proved to be a win-win, helping local businesses thrive online while increasing our visibility and credibility within the community.
Utilize Traditional Advertising Methods
From my perspective, small businesses can't overlook the impact of traditional advertising. While it's essential to embrace digital marketing strategies in today's connected world, traditional methods like flyers, banners, mailers, or local newspaper ads still hold weight.
For example, I remember a local bakery in my town. They used to distribute flyers with a little discount coupon attached. It wasn't anything fancy, just a simple gesture, but it worked wonders.
The bakery started to get more customers, including me, who otherwise would have stayed unaware of its existence. The key is to find a balance and use a multi-channel approach, combining both traditional and digital advertising methods, to reach a wider audience in the community.
Sponsor Local Sports Teams
One strategic approach for small businesses to expand their reach within the community is by sponsoring local sports teams. This not only provides brand visibility through team uniforms and event signage, but it also establishes the business as a community supporter.
Such a sponsorship fosters goodwill and can lead to word-of-mouth referrals, ultimately helping the business to build stronger ties within the local community and attract new customers.