Want to Strengthen Customer Relationships? Engage the Community


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Companies are always seeking ways to build new relationships with customers and nurture existing ones. Unfortunately, many businesses have an incorrect view of how this actually works in practice. It’s not about marketing and advertising. In order to truly connect, you must engage your local communities.

The Value of Community Engagement

Businesses do not exist in silos. While your company can have the grandest ideas and most innovative products in the world, you aren’t going to be successful without one important piece of the puzzle: customers. Your customers are what make your business tick and it’s imperative that you do everything possible to reach out and engage local communities where your customers are living, working, and playing.

When you get involved in the community, you’re able to demonstrate that you genuinely care about your customers and their needs. As a result, your commitment to engaging the community ends up becoming a powerful marketing and customer service tool that drives your brand forward and helps you accomplish other business-related goals.

Three Ways Brands Can Engage the Community

But what does engaging the community look like? Well, there is ample room for creativity and a number of options you can pursue. Let’s take a look at some specific opportunities and how they look in practice.

  1. Set Up Community Programs

When it comes to establishing your brand name in a local community for years to come, one of the absolute best ways to dig in is by making a commitment in the form of a community program that helps a specific group of people. Community programs give you an opportunity to address a particular need that is close to your heart, or is related to what your brand does.

Let’s take a look at Michigan-based Park West Gallery as an example. For decades, founder Albert Scaglione has made a commitment to art education in a variety of forms. From public events and philanthropic initiatives to art seminars and open galleries, Scaglione and his company have been involved with everything.

Recently, Park West Gallery was featured in a post by T Brand Studios in The New York Times for their involvement in helping underprivileged schools and their students participate in art programs. This program has been a huge blessing to many students, teachers and their families. As a result, it’s created strong inroads for Park West Gallery in these communities and strengthened the company’s overall brand image.

Can you find your own opportunities to build programs in your local communities? You don’t need a massive budget or celebrity connections. All it takes is a heart for a specific cause and the determination to get involved.

  1. Sponsor and Attend Local Events

Maybe you don’t have the resources to launch your own programs – don’t worry! A tried and true method for engaging local communities, without investing the time and money it takes to build a program from scratch is to simply sponsor and attend local events.

By attaching your brand name to an event that already has a strong reputation in your community, you can latch on to a positive identity and associate your company with strength and stability.

You don’t have to be the leading sponsor, either. There are plenty of opportunities for varying levels of support. These include placing ads in program materials, putting your logo on event materials, investing in signage, manning a booth and promoting giveaway items, placing mentions in radio advertisements, and more.

  1. Establish Funds and Grants

When it comes to directly helping those in need, few things are as valuable as grants and funds. Many organizations choose to establish these initiatives to help a particular class of people that are affected by an issue that the company’s founders are familiar with.

Take Bob Parsons of GoDaddy as an example. He and his wife, Renee Parsons, have set up a multitude of grants through their foundation, each of which benefits people in need of assistance. Some of the different focuses include at-risk youth, medical needs, veteran assistance, education, and homelessness.

While these grants don’t directly impact the bottom-line of GoDaddy, or any of Bob Parsons’ other businesses and investments for that matter, they do establish some credibility. When Parsons speaks within his communities, people listen. As a result, he is able to genuinely strengthen customer relationships in ways that wouldn’t be possible through traditional marketing and advertising methods.

Take a Proactive Approach to Community Engagement

If you truly value relationships with your customers and are committed to building a responsive brand, then you must take a proactive approach to community engagement. From community programs and sponsorships to charities and fundraisers, there are many different ways for businesses to engage their local communities and establish healthy reputations among customers. Think about what you can do moving forward and don’t be afraid to step up and try something new.

Larry Alton
Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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