How should we reach out to our local community as a small business (event planning company)?
We are trying to increase our local community reach and trying to explore marketing and PR strategies for this. We believe this can bring strategic connections for us in our community in Brooklyn. Looking for insightful answers that can direct us to a directory of local businesses and the ways to approach them.
Over years working with small business I've frequently been invited to company events and functions. What I've done in the past is directly approach local businesses. I gave them promotional products (for free). I would suggest providing some sort of a sample service for upcoming customer events (most retail outlets have "friends and family" or "VIP customer" sales/events). Why not offer your services for free for a handful of high-visibility local business? Perhaps a VIP event, or perhaps a staff or Christmas party?
Hit up your family/extended family, inlaws, friends. This should be your "well" every time you need new leads.
Years ago, I owned a small restaurant. I did a lot of mainstreeting - visited businesses in and near my shopping complex, spoke directly to owners/managers and staff, offered free samples of my Kalamari or other fine appies, along with VIP cards, and watched as business came pouring in. It didn't hurt that we had a great product, and fantastic service and staff, but the marketing really helped. I also maintained a presence in local papers (not major metro papers, but the small local weeklies). The value of these smaller papers vs. readership is a real positive equation.
One thing we did, that grew a LOT of loyalty, was offer local police, fire, and EMT our services/product at a good discount. These community heroes play a big role in influencing other customers. We also supported kids sports teams. I hardly ever said no to a school group or softball team. In exchange, we were able to proudly display a wall of certificates and thank yous from those we had helped. I remember thinking how amazing it was the new clientelle we received after providing free meal door prizes, and $5 off coupons to the entire local high school grad class (you could offer some free post-grad party planning, etc.). The school committee announced our benevolence, and we had new families pouring into our family establishment all Summer. Can't say enough how much this benefited us - particularly in a small community.
The keys, overall, I found were the footwork, the sample/free service, the personal relationship built with the other businesses, and later, closing the deal. I always asked if they did staff parties, birthday parties, etc. Your immediate neighboring businesses are your best friends. Keep them happy, and they send customers your way. I saw no problem in taking even a small loss dealing with a local customer who I knew would benefit me with referrals.
After the manual/physical work is done, I'd recommend (starting at the same time) utilizing the power of the web: social media marketing, in getting your message out. While local papers hit a lot of key potential clients, Facebook and other social platforms allow you to target your demographic. That is a HUGE plus. We did some last minute work for a small city municipal election campaign, and found that with less than a week of one Facebook ad, we were able to get more than 1 Million page impressions! That was eye-opening, but just shows what potential you have. Our candidate - a relative newcomer - was within 100 votes of the last council position. Had we been working with them earlier, with more advertising, we likely would have been able to pull out an astounding victory.
One way to increase your community reach is through local advertising through:
- On-line portals,
- Directory listings for your area,
- Google AdWords campaign
- Use Social Media to reach your market (LinkedIn is a good tool for connecting to the right people, join, contribute and connect to people through this)
- Work on your website
- Advertising through office and vehicle signage.
This is only a very basic marketing technique and this can be expanded as you go along.
You will then need to work on a direct marketing campaign by doing the following:
- identifying who is your key target market
- Work out the best way to reach them, either through e-mail campaign, magazines, brochures, etc...
- Work on follow sales ad marketing documentation to win their contracts.
Depending on your budget and staffing level, depends on what you can do and how much business you can generate, but this gives you a basic overview of things you can do to help generate business as the more you can do the more work you can generate for your business.
It's all been given. Great to find number of responses for the question. Giving a try to the estimate that you desire would help you to kick start in a better manner.
Let me add up my suggestions:
1. Spread the news to your friends of the locality. This would make a great turnaround. Either via social networks or pinging them separately.
2. Try with the business cards, pamphlets, posters. Though it looks as a usual advertising, it makes headway.
3. Get your news shared Online with the website. Just try creating a separate website, either ways a micro site and summate the information that you'd like to deliver. Remember, make it clear without any inclusion of irrelevant or overwhelming stuffs. Works finer!
Executing the aspects mentioned above will serve greater!
Good Luck Guinea!
Have you tried to tap into the various clubs and personalities in the area..It is an obvious tactic, but one sometimes overlooked.....also have you reached out to your corporate ties in Brooklyn...I would also suggest getting involved with my friend Beareather Reddy who does a Blues Festival in Brooklyn and the fine folks at B.A.M. Chuck Davis, an international dancer and longtime friend, is involved with them every year.
Marc S. Lee
The basic things to do are written down by Mr. White and Mr. Akinola. If you act like they advised, you will have a working company. You will differ the others only by the surface, but deep down your enterprise will work just as the others do. If you want to stand out, or take over the market, or be unique, you have to create the rules yourself according to the individual circumstances you have. Actually all the firms are individual, but than they follow a path. At this moment they will become followers, not leaders. A leader makes a path. So as i mentioned, to have an individual start, you should have very individual ideas, a very-very polite and open-minded manner and the highest quality available while execution. You have to be the hit, not just another event company. Arrange a well-organized high quality flash mob. A very clever multi-layered flash mob lasts 2-5 minutes, the rest of the work (having your company name and profile carved in people's mind) will be done by memories of the event, and the social buzz, you will create while sharing the video and other artworks related to the flash mob.
Or you can create a weird event with a unique PR. For example: on a local event (holiday, remembrance day, etc) serve a small five star party in front of all community departments (fire, police, ambulance) with the message: thank you for protecting us, now we serve for you. And for, you...etc. The point is to be honest, humble but diligent and ambitious, than your ideas will work. If you need further help, or more advise, I can give you some more details, and after we may share the results with the others.
I agree with many of the comments already shared. Basically:
1) Work on your web -creat good content, work on the design and make it visually attractive
2) Get exposure via social media, work on your brand image.
3) Once you have that, create an off-line kick-off event (friends and family) promoted by a previous online (social media, ads) strategy (creating expectation).
4) Network off and online with your community and industry peers. Share, support. If you have valuable information to share in other webs, blogs (or even your own) that can show everybody how you are and what you know, it could be a great plus.
If you're in the event business, hold free events in different communities for non-profit organizations. Not only you'll get positive exposure, you'll also get a chance to showcase your event management skills to different prospects AND you'll help good causes.
If I understd the question correctly, my answer would be;
'word of mouth' would work well. People tend to trust you more if you are recommended.
Just a thought:
As an event planning company, you could try setting up a small community event. Invite friends and family, tell them to invite others in the community. Make it as interesting and as beautiful as possible and make sure they know that your company set it up. At the event give out business cards, tell them they could have their events done by your company.
Once things pick up, you could start throwing little ads here and there (both online and offline). But try to focus on word of mouth and getting referrals. Keep in touch with those you've worked with before.
Direct mail postcards are a great way to reach those in your business community. Use them as invites and create buzz for an event that you have created to show them what can be done if they use your company. The buzz is key. You can directly target your perfect business by purchasing a mailing list and can mail a postcard to them. Remember 3 is the charm, meaning 3 mailings to the same list will have the best chance of a measurable marketing ROI.
Also make to to follow up after the 2nd mailing with phone calls to ask if they have seen your mailing and if it is an event will they attend. It has worked for us!
I would recommend using a facebook page, that showed pictures from all around your community. I do such a page for a local grocery store, for which we post at least three times a day. The vast majority of our posts are of other businesses, local landmarks, community events, etc.
The page's focus on the community is appreciated and shared which has helped the page grow (although we do buy ads)
The result is that when we do feature in store products, we get a great response.
Better yet, we are building a sense of community with our customers and the owners and staff have been getting a ton of positive comment from shoppers in the store.
As the media manager, I hop on my bicycle and ride around the neighborhood and take pictures of things that people might appreciate.
if you are interested in seeing the page it is at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Oxendales-Market/81602419911