5 Proven Strategies for Community Marketing
Community marketing allows you to establish your business as a neighborhood staple. When you become part of the community like this, you can generate a loyal customer base who, if your service is good and your company is reliable, will come back again and again. You also put a face to the name, making it easier to integrate as a neighbor of your customers.
The best part is: people want to shop and spend money locally. Not only does this mean money stays within their community—for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays within the community—but many kids rely on local businesses for work.
Your community is ready to embrace you, you just have to get out there. If you’re new to your community, or simply want to better connect with potential customers, use these five community marketing strategies to get your brand in front of the people who matter most to your business.
Connect With Neighbors Using Direct Mail
While it’s easy, efficient, and cost-effective to send hundreds of emails at the click of a button, email marketing can also be impersonal and easily forgettable. How many ads do you get in your inbox that you delete without opening? While email marketing is still effective, you lose the personal touch that direct mail can offer. In fact, a recent study found that direct mail has a clear and significant impact. Study authors explain,
“The researchers focused on the two key indicators of media effectiveness—ease of understanding and persuasiveness—and examined the corresponding brain imaging metrics. Through these tests, direct mail proved the most effective advertising media. It outperformed digital channels consistently—and, in some cases, significantly. Study authors believe these findings show that physical marketing “is better suited to close the marketing-sales loop or the gap between interaction and action.”
If you’re interested in using direct mail to connect with your community, here are a few ways businesses use direct mail:
- Introduce yourself to the community if you’re a new business.
- Share an offer to incentivize people to come into your store or restaurant.
- Invite them to an event you’re hosting.
- Share more about your brand and the people behind your business.
Sponsor Community Events
The best way to introduce yourself to the neighborhood is to, well, introduce yourself!
Instead of simply attending local events like street fairs, parades, farmers markets, and concerts, and get involved by sponsoring. Being an event sponsor provides you with:
- In-person visibility
- Logo and brand exposure
- Media mentions (online and offline)
- Category exclusivity
- Potential access to customer mailing lists
That’s probably why 69 percent of businesses say sponsoring an event is the most effective channel for marketing, as reported by ZipSprout. If you don’t have the budget to sponsor, paying for an event booth may still be enough; 77 percent of businesses said this is the most effective local marketing channel for them.
Don’t forget about print!
No matter what type of event it is, or how you’ll be involved, don’t forget important print materials, including:
Printed materials will ensure potential customers have something tangible to remember you by.
Host Your Own Event
While community events are a valuable way to meet the neighbors, host your own and invite them to visit your business. According to Bizzabo, 23 percent of B2B businesses and 28 percent of B2C businesses run live events for community building. Meaning: you connect with your neighbors while building a community around your business.
If you’re not sure why you would host an event, remember that there are dozens of reasons to invite your community in, including:
- A grand opening party
- Open house
- Happy hour (if you’re a restaurant, offer free samples)
- Charity event
- A how-to or demonstration
- Holiday gathering
- Annual clearance event
The key is hosting an event that allows you to promote your event authentically. If you own a Mexican restaurant, for example, you can invite local patrons to a tortilla making workshop. Just remember: don’t let your guests leave empty handed. Have branded swag on hand like magnets, stickers, coasters, or coupons and gift certificates.
Get Involved With Local Charities
According to the SBA, 75 percent of businesses donate some portion of their profits. Pick a local cause or organization and make a donation or co-host an event with them. This allows you to support an organization the community is already rallying around, showing you care about the community your business is in.
Brad Schweig, vice president of operations for Sunnyland Furniture, tells Business News Daily about how his small business contribute in this way: “As a single-store retailer, it is important for us to give back to the community,” said “There isn’t really any tax benefit for us, so it comes back to being a part of our community. We do think it helps us from a marketing standpoint as we want people to know that we are local, our team is local, and we support making our local community a better place.”
Consider how your brand aligns with a local charity, and how you can give time, money or resources to support their efforts.
Start a Referral Program
One of the best ways to keep your community close is to encourage referrals. If someone loves your business, he or she will likely tell a friend to try your restaurant, store, or service.
72 percent of happy customers will share a positive experience with six or more people. – ThinkJar
To increase this word-of-mouth, marketing, and become a staple in your community, start a referral program. There are two ways to do this:
- Offer incentives for referring someone to your business. This is helpful for service-based businesses, like hair salons or lawyers. When someone mentions a referral, you send an email with the referrers reward, like a free or discounted product.
- Use a loyalty card that encourages customers to come back again, but make sure the reward is worth talking about. A restaurant might offer a full free entree, or a coffee shop could offer “free coffee for you and a friend.” The latter encourages customers to introduce new people to your brand, which continues to extend your reach in the neighborhood.
Use Community Marketing to Get Involved
You don’t have to try every strategy on this list to make the most of community marketing. Instead, identify the opportunities that make sense for your brand. Set goals to make sure you’re being strategic, and remember to be authentic. You want the community to see you as a neighbor, so be one: have great conversation and give more than you get.