As a small business, you need to take advantage of every single tool you have available. The problem is that the majority of people have a very limited arsenal, not because they have a limited budget but because they’re reluctant to think outside of the box.
For instance, there are not a lot of people out there who are oblivious of what community outreach is, but how many small entrepreneurs take advantage of this concept?
After all, community outreach is a great way to interact with your audience organically, appear more relatable, and increase your brand awareness. Here are some additional reasons why community outreach can be so important for small businesses.
What Is Community Outreach?
The simplest way to describe outreach is to say that it’s an activity where an entity goes out of its way to offer services to the population that would otherwise not have access to them. Most commonly, outreach is described as mobile since, like a traveling salesman, you’re virtually going door-to-door with your service.
Most commonly, community outreach is done in education, and it’s meant to reach underprivileged students, thus providing them with an opportunity. Still, it can be used for business just as easily. Providing dental services, cleaning up the trash, landscaping, etc.
To make the long story short, any kind of practice that conducts public awareness activities through targeted interaction can be considered community outreach.
How to Get Involved?
To get started, you need to make a choice – can you do it on your own, or do you need some professional help? Second, you need to tend to logistical matters like the budget and the date of the event. Consulting your schedule via a calendar app can help set the right date without much fear of it overlapping with something else.
Next, you need to set the parameters of your community outreach effort. What is this outreach going to be like? It’s also important that you choose a form and format. This is what will determine how the event is organized.
Most importantly, you need to have measurable goals. Sure, community outreach is always a nice thing to do, but as a business, you’re not doing it to be nice. You have an agenda and objectives. To know whether you’ve reached them, you need to have them clearly outlined.
Most importantly, you need to stay aware of the fact that even the best plan can be botched if the execution is not up to the task. This is one more reason why having professionals (people with experience, not just theoretical knowledge) is so game-breaking.
How Can this Benefit Your Business?
So, what are the benefits of outreach programs for your business? The list goes on and on, but here are some examples:
- We’ve mentioned community outreach as an awareness-raising activity. For instance, you have a lot of landscaping YouTubers going around the neighborhood fixing overgrown properties for free.
By seeing what the property can look like when properly taken care of, some of the neighbors might realize (even for the first time) that they need these services. In other words, a community outreach project can help generate the market need (or at least flesh it out).
- Second, by getting involved in community outreach, you’re truly taking the mantle of a member of the community. This makes you look more like a local business and less like some faceless, soulless corporate entity. It makes your brand more relatable and, by extension, more likely that people will do business with you.
- The engagements achieved this way are far more memorable, seeing as how they’re more organic. A person participating in a community outreach event is far more likely to remember you than a person who got your email or your brochure.
- One of the most significant advantages of community outreach lies in the fact that community outreach allows you to incorporate many different strategies in a single instance. This way, you can also send multi-layered messages, which you would otherwise have no suitable platform for.
At the end of the day, it just helps you portray your business in a better light and bring it closer to your target audience. On its own, it’s a huge step forward.
Real-Life Examples of Community Outreach Service
To develop a better understanding of what community outreach is, here are a couple of examples:
- Raking leaves for the elderly in the neighborhood.
- Offering dog walking services to people with disabilities.
- Cleaning up the neighborhood.
- Providing free medical checkups.
- Holding free lessons and workshops.
- Offering free use of a product (VR set, for instance).
From your perspective, it’s incredibly important that you understand that the service that you’re providing doesn’t have to be closely related to your industry.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s far better if it is, seeing as how it allows you to display your skill, products, and practices. Still, just getting your brand name out there is an action that has a particular kind of value.
It Benefits Everyone
The thing that makes community outreach so appealing is the fact that it benefits everyone involved. The community in question gets the service that would otherwise be unavailable while you get the attention that you need.
As Dale Carnegie said in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, people are not concerned with what they can do for you but what you can do for them.
Here, you’re stating what you have to offer from the very start. This ensures that you make a great first impression and, eventually, influence your target audience into getting what you want. It doesn’t get more entrepreneurial than that.
Then, there’s the ethical aspect of the whole matter. Namely, giving back is a good thing to do. It feels right and provided that you don’t run your business into the ground by going too much out of the way to give back, it’s a decision that you’ll never come to regret.
Moreover, it’s like with those landscaping YouTubers offering a free yard makeover. They can’t do it for every single homeowner in the neighborhood, and if they did decide to distribute their time and effort across all homes, the result would be negligible.
However, for a single homeowner, the difference is gargantuan. A concentrated effort always gives the biggest results, and that’s exactly what community outreach is supposed to be.
The last thing you need to keep in mind is the importance of putting your plans into action. Sure, all of this may sound good on paper, but once you start thinking about the execution, new problems and opportunities will present themselves.
The truth is that you have a lot to gain and very little to lose. As such, this decision seems like a no-brainer.
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