How to Get the Word Out Locally #2: Community Outreach
In this six part series we will share some practical strategies that anyone - be it a small business, startup, non-profit, established company or just the individual looking to promote themself - can utilize to get the word out on a local level.
Part two is all about the community!
Here’s a crazy concept - if you truly want to engage with a local audience you have to get out there and actually meet the locals. We know, this idea is a little out there but we stand by it. #bold #maverick
There is no better way to truly connect with someone than interacting with them face-to-face. To strike up a conversation. To break bread together. To share a laugh. A handshake. A laugh. Even a cry. These genuine connections are the key to letting people know who you are and what you are about.
Here are a few ways to start mingling like a pro.
Why waste time chasing your target audience down when they can come to you? Local events are a great place to maximize your opportunities to rub shoulders with the community and make connections. In most cases, it’s very easy and fairly inexpensive to set up a table or booth promoting your business or service. From there, you can:
- Demonstrate your product or service with hands-on experiences
- Hand out branded swag (t-shirts, hats, coozies, stickers...be creative!), particularly something they would find useful that relates directly with what you are promoting
- Offer a path to purchase, subscribe, download or otherwise use what you are promoting on-site (employing special promotions if applicable)
- Bring attention to yourself with fun games and activities that will draw a crowd
- Strike up conversations and get to know people. This is often the best way to get a sense of who people are individually, discover community wide trends/needs and drum up possible referrals. Too often, self marketing is focused on selling yourself while ignoring the opportunity of getting people to help promote you to their friends via word of mouth. Even if someone doesn’t fit your target, they likely know someone who does.
- Partner with the event organizers to help funnel attendees directly to you
- Gather contact information, social media follows or email signups to extend your avenues of communication beyond the event
Hit the Streets
A bit old-fashioned but nonetheless effective, canvassing is another great way to make IRL connections within a community. It can be as simple as putting up flyers, signs, swag, handouts and, of course, talking to folks. Really effective street teams can spread the word and create a buzz about something with little more than their enthusiasm and a clear CTA (call to action).
Be Your Own Beacon
Why be a small part of an event when you can throw your own! If you really want to draw a lot of local attention to what your promoting, and you have the requisite budget, it may make sense to put on an event yourself. As a wise poet once said, which we will humbly paraphrase, if you have have a great milkshake it will bring everyone to your yard.
Keys to throwing an optimal shindig:
- Make it about your product or service but, just as importantly, make it about the community
- Take local tastes into consideration (food, entertainment, trends, etc.)
- Endeavor to form partnerships with local entertainers, vendors, influencers and businesses to help fill out and even promote the event
- Make brand awareness your priority and on-site conversion/sales secondary - this is about introducing yourself to the community and building a larger relationship
- Ensure every attendee is in your CRM pipeline going forward (social media, email, text, snail mail, telegraph, smoke signals - whatever they prefer)
Part 1: Social Media