If you’re a small-to-medium-sized business owner, you probably have the “must-have” basics for your company, like a website and a sign on your shingle (if you have a storefront or office where people can stop in). You might be active on LinkedIn and you might send out a monthly e-newsletter. All of these things are great, but how do you get more visibility in the actual community you operate out of?
Building brand awareness locally is just as important — and, in some cases — even more important than building your online brand. So how do you get your name out there? Last October, we posted an infographic with low-cost ways to gain brand awareness in your local community. Below, we’re delving a bit deeper and offering seven specific ideas.
1. Adopt a Highway. Adopting a highway gets your name out there (typically in front of millions of eyeballs per year), shows your organization’s commitment to the local community, and helps the community at the same time. It’s easy to get started, too. Simply go to the Adopt a Highway website to learn more.
2. Encourage Employee Volunteer Days. Whether you select one day a year for a company-wide “volunteer day,” or you allow employees to take a day or two off to volunteer for their favorite charity, there are a few ways you can leverage this and get exposure. First, be sure to provide t-shirts with your company name and logo that your employees wear when they volunteer. Consider sending a press release to your local daily or weekly paper and virtual outlets (like your local Patch.com) announcing your company’s commitment to volunteering and community organizations. This strategy goes a long way in boosting employee morale as well.
3. Get running! Sponsoring local walks or 5K runs is another way to gain exposure. Sponsors are typically included/mentioned in all the literature and advertising for the event and on the day of the event itself.
4. Maximize your drive time. Do you do a fair amount of driving around town and/or the local area for work? Have your car do some advertising for you. Moving billboards can be extremely effective at building brand awareness. Whether you do magnetic decals or a full car wrap, you can get the word out as you buzz around town. (Just be sure to check with your state’s department of transportation and RMV to see if your vehicle needs commercial plates in order to sport an advertisement.)
5. Sponsor school events. Whether it’s the drama club, sports team, bake sale, or something else, your money will be well spent if it goes to support a local school. (And it’s usually cost effective to boot.) If you have a storefront and parking lot, consider offering your space to students for annual car washes.
6. Host your own event. Open houses are a great way to get people to “test drive” your products or services. For example, if you’re an acupuncturist, hold an open house where people can come in, see what needles look and feel like, try some healthy snacks, and receive some literature. If you’re a bank, hold customer appreciation days once or twice a year. Team up with other businesses, too. For example, the local bookstore might be happy to promote free chair massages if you’re a massage therapist. Don’t forget to promote these events: make sure you’re listed in the community sections of the weekly or daily paper, post flyers around town, and promote in local hot spots, such as the library or indie-owned coffee shop.
7. Think local advertising. Churches put out bulletins every week, and on the back are local advertisers. This can be a perfect place to advertise your business. The same goes with local diners/coffee shops — many use placemats that offer advertising slots. What better way to communicate your message than when someone is sipping coffee and waiting for their meal (talk about a captive audience). Another popular local advertising program is the Town Planner Calendars.
How do you build brand awareness in the local community for your business? Share in the comments.