4 Easy Steps Toward Branding Your Business Through Volunteering
Advertising and marketing often comprise the largest portions of a small business’ expenses, especially when that business is just starting up. Which is understandable: branding yourself and earning name-recognition in the marketplace is the most important thing your business must do if it is to thrive and become profitable and successful.
But what if there was a way that you could not only gain name recognition and establish a solid customer base without necessarily spending a dime of your start-up capital? The good news is, there is such a way: through volunteering in meaningful ways, you will inspire confidence and build your brand without much, if any, up-front cost to you. Here’s how to volunteer in a meaningful way to increase your profit margin and inspire trust in your company as a leader in your community.
Step One: Find a Link Between Your Business and Volunteer Opportunities
In order to make your volunteering meaningful and truly build your customer base, your first step is to identify a need in your community that meshes with your company’s service, product and mission statement.
For example, if you run a construction company, you could partner with a local school that offers shop classes to teach students a valuable skill. On a larger scale, you could partner with Habitat for Humanity to help build houses for the homeless Or, better yet, combine the two and bring on some student workers for your endeavor. If you’re a pastor or minister, you can go on a mission and encourage members to join you where ministry is needed. An accountant? Offer your tax preparation services to local non-profits.
By marketing your services and products to those most in need, you’ll quickly build a reputation as a leader when it comes to your trade. Not only that, you will prove your character as a responsible business owner who gives back to their community.
Step Two: Determine What Causes Your Business Will Support
Equally as important as finding the right volunteer opportunity for your business is determining what types of causes you will support and which you will not.
For example, for businesses seeking to broaden their customer base, you may decide that it is inappropriate to support causes linked to a specific religion or certain political ideas and/or causes.
If you own a catering business, for example, and you wish to broaden your customer base to include members of the LGBTQ+ community, you could offer free catering for a local Pride event. If you are an attorney offering legal services, you may wish to partner with your local legal aid society or the ACLU to broadcast your vision of inclusion to all the clientele you wish to serve.
Step Three: Determine What Type of Volunteering You Will Offer
If you’re a smaller sole proprietorship, it can be relatively simple to pinpoint charitable organizations and techniques you can use to market yourself to your potential customer base. However, if your business is larger and you have more than a handful of employees, it is important to engage them in the types of volunteer opportunities you plan to offer.
If you have employees, you can use your volunteering days not only as marketing, but as a team building activity as well. This works best if you survey your employees as to what charities they personally support as well as investigating local groups that offer team building exercises as part of the overall experience.
Another idea is to offer company sponsored volunteering days where employees are given the day off to participate in the charitable organization of their choice. Such activities often quickly become an annual tradition in many companies and helps build morale. Indeed, 89% of working Americans find that companies which offer annual volunteering opportunities have a better overall working environment than those which do not.
Step Four: Build Trust as a Reliable Volunteer Partner
Always keep in mind that the marketing value of your company’s volunteer activities is to build trust and loyalty to your brand. Through volunteering, your company creates a “halo effect” which makes your community look up to your business as a company who cares about the people around them.
That being said, nothing can make your charitable activities backfire more than being unreliable. Just as it is critical for you to be there for your paying clientele when they need you, you need to establish the same reputation with the charitable activities and organizations you choose to engage. Do so, and you’ll go far in branding your business as the go-to in your particular focus area in the community where you live and even beyond!