The Local Marketing Stack
Zone 3 • Difficulty: • Sugg. D.I.Y. Monthly Budget: $100+
“Community” is a concept that means different things to companies of different sizes.
The big-brand view of community
Larger companies frequently try to build their own communities around shared interests, shared goals, or shared content. Examples from larger brands are initiatives like “My Starbucks Idea” for Starbucks enthusiasts to connect directly with each other and share suggestions with Starbucks employees, or the Quickbooks Community in which Intuit fans and experts answer questions from newer members. Both of these platforms build incredibly positive associations for the brands that operate them and loyalty from the customers who interact on them.
The local business view of community
There’s nothing to say that local businesses can’t build this same kind of community themselves, but it takes a lot of time and energy to build them, and frequently the connections with your customers are much more direct, so there’s no need to build out an entire community online.
Don’t build your own (at least right off the bat) — barnacle onto other communities.
A better bet is to leverage existing platforms (such as NextDoor or Facebook Groups) to build these same kinds of positive brand associations.
Real-world involvement wins the day
But where community really matters for small businesses is in real-world involvement. Participating in your local neighborhood association. Sponsoring local charities. Pitching in for school fundraisers. You need to be sure this offline involvement gets translated online, though, for maximum exposure, so leverage all of your community involvement with
- creating and posting photos and/or videos of your involvement
- adding your logo and a link to your website or social profiles from the organization’s members or sponsors page
- getting occasional shout-outs from the organization on social media
Start small and shoot for $100/month in sponsorships or time donated.
Represent offline community involvement online
As our friend Mike Blumenthal likes to say, it’s no longer enough to have your logo on the back of the little league team jersey, or to get a participation plaque from a charity. These are both great, but they don’t really do anything for your business beyond the few families who have kids on the team or might happen to glance at the plaque in your lobby. You need to make sure that search engines and social media followers can see this involvement represented online.