From creating jobs to adding character to the community to helping those in need, small businesses like yours make a big impact. So what can you do to continue to thrive? Here’s how to rally your neighbors and build support for your brand for National Small Business Week and beyond.
Attend a local event
Want to meet members of your community and gain exposure for your business? March in a parade, rent a booth at a street fair or participate in a sidewalk sale. With all the block parties, farmers markets, running events, art walks and festivals happening year round, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to spread the word about your business. To get started, find community events in your area. Set up a tent, hand out swag, offer free samples, host a contest or just introduce people to your products and services. Then write about your attendance at the event to get even more exposure on social media.
Show you care — volunteer
Investing in your community isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a great way to give back to those who support your business. Organize a team of employees to volunteer with you. Or better yet, invite folks from the community to join you in supporting a good cause. For example, gather a group to work in the community garden, clean up on Earth Day or pack food for a local shelter.
Make the most of your space
Have extra space? Use it wisely by hosting an event for the community. A liquor store, for example, could host a wine tasting event. A bike shop could offer a seminar on how to change a flat tire. A fitness center could host a motivational speaker or offer a couch-to-5k training program. A restaurant could offer a cooking class or a free seminar on knife skills. People love to learn something new, so feed their curiosity. Many businesses also rent out their extra space to local organizations for meetings, fundraisers, networking sessions, parties and other events.
In addition to selling fresh and healthy food, East Side Food Co-op keeps people engaged with classes like Wild Mushrooms 101:
Moon Palace Books brings the community together by inviting people of all ages into the shop for a half-hour of stories and songs shared by an award-winning local writer and teaching artist. The business also hosts a Baby Storytime with reading, dancing, singing and puppets.
Create a memorable experience
Mom-and-pop stores and business behemoths alike are pulling out all the stops to create immersive and interactive experiences that stick with customers and keep them coming back. Create a scavenger hunt that routes through every local small business. Hire a massage therapist for the day and offer customers a bit of indulgence. Bring in a band to rock the house and drum up new business. Reach out to a local celebrity and ask them to stop by your business for a meet and greet. Set up a photo booth, get a vending machine that dispenses your product, use a smart fitting room, encourage people to design their own cocktail or just invite them to stop in your shop to have some fun. For example, The Game Chest doesn’t just sell board games. It allows folks to rent a game to play in the store with their friends.
Partner up in business
Taking the time to connect with another business owner you’re a fan of — or even your competitors — is a great way to build awareness for your company and expand your customer base. For example, a salon could team up with a pet grooming business to offer discounted hair cuts for dogs. A bakery could serve locally roasted coffee from the shop down the street. A painting party business could offer wine from a nearby vineyard. An ice cream shop could sponsor a local baseball team and create special flavors — Bases Loaded Brittle, anyone? Or two businesses could drop each other’s flyers in customers’ shopping bags to cross-promote and get their brands in front of a new audience. Partnerships like these can yield so many benefits, so don’t be shy. Reach out and network with other businesses today.
In the example below, Harpoon Brewery teamed up with Dunkin’ Donuts to release a special Summer Coffee Pale Ale and garnered significant attention.
Did you know that 75 percent of small businesses donate a portion of their profits to charity? If you’re a food retailer, think about how you could donate the food that didn’t sell to a shelter. If you run a brewery, why not donate the spent grain to a bakery or farm? In lieu of tips, give customers the opportunity to round up their purchases to the next dollar and use it to help those in need. Plan a free community cookout to thank people for supporting your business. Or host a day where proceeds from each purchase are given to a local charity.
The following example illustrates how Love Your Melon donates some of its profits to support the fight against childhood cancer.
A win-win situation
Getting involved in your community is an excellent way for you to meet new people, help others and grow your business. The positive energy you put out into the universe will not go unnoticed. People will remember you for all the good you’ve done, the information you’ve shared, and the safe and friendly space you’ve provided them each and every day. And they’ll be happy to support you during National Small Business Week and in the years to come.