Community Service Promo Programs Score Bigger
Oct 9, 2018
People are inundated with hundreds of marketing messages every day. An old marketing adage says it takes someone at least seven times to hear or see your message before they begin to remember it and consider contacting your business. Branding is not instantaneous. It takes time to cultivate and being consistent is crucial to your success. Whether you have a nice budget or a small one, supporting your local community is a priceless way to build your brand. Here are some ways to be successful.
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Community outreach is a unique discipline combined with some public relations skills that is best bolstered by a solid promotional products campaign. For companies trying to win more business the challenge is to influence the community as an outsider. Along with posing additional communication challenges, the major difficulty for community outreach — is that your target audience is typically not interested in what you’re trying to say.
Think about it. People seek products or service to solve immediate pain points. If there’s no perceived problem, there’s no need to seek a solution. Community members going about their daily lives typically aren’t:
- Proactively looking to change their behavior
- Hoping to become informed about something they aren’t aware of
- Picking up another cause to support
In short, the people you’re trying to communicate with don’t know about your project and don’t care. Clearly, the main goal of community outreach is to make the target audience care, but the how is where some organizations miss the mark. As with all sound promo products communication plans, there is no silver bullet to achieve program objectives. Instead, organizations must develop a strategy that leverages the right content, across the right channels, at the right time.
It’s easier said than done, but to ease the process, here are five crucial elements to developing an effective and efficient community outreach plan.
1. A good understanding of the target audience
Rule #1, know thy audience. What this really means is to know what unifies the community and what’s important to them so that you can effectively build your outreach. Once you know what the community finds important, you’ll be able to communicate how your project aligns with those values.
2. Be proactive
Since you know the community is going to question the information you’re trying to convey, be proactive in explaining what’s in it for them. Seize the opportunity to control messages that will make a first impression. If you don’t, the door is open for detractors and the ill-informed to steal your thunder or create turbulence that will compete against accurate information. The right promotional product can do a lot to convey that message. For example, if you are a health related company, providing something as simple as a stress ball shaped like your product can be enough.
3. Community partnerships
Find creative, mutually beneficial ways to partner with organizations already serving the audience you want to connect with—these groups have built trust with their members and those they influence—so a partnership serves as third-party validation of your organization, the project and its mission. The best partnerships are with groups whose purpose aligns with the goals of your project. Determine how your project is complementary to their mission because you don’t want to compete for the same attention.
4. Engage in-person
The old saying, “advertisements don’t sell products, people sell products” is true for community outreach. Make creating face time with the community a priority in your strategy. People are sometimes skeptical. The quickest way to subdue that skeptical nature is through face-to-face meetings. And when you do that you create personal relationships and that is a fabulous way to build business. Even better, get influencers involved in creating a solution early on so that they become ambassadors for the project and its goals. Always remember that communities want to be a part of that process, not have something thrust on them.
5. Be responsive
Being part of the process also means dialogue should flow two ways. Some community input should find its way into the plan. Too often, agencies bring a 95% developed solution to a community and don’t leave room for responsiveness. The engagement must be early enough in the process to allow for stakeholder input. If you know a component of a project is a perfect fit for the community, engage them in a way that allows them to “discover” that component as a solution. People always love to support their own ideas. Of course, the most important part is presenting a project that is valuable to the target community. Once you’ve identified the value, there are many different techniques and strategies to communicate it effectively. However, you only get one shot at a first impression, which is why it’s always best to call on the promotional products experts for support.
“Don’t listen to the person who has the answers; listen to the person who has the questions.”
~ Albert Einstein