Imagine an 8 year old boy on the local little league baseball team. His big eyes full of hope and excitement when he finds out that his team made the state tournament. But, the hope soon becomes fleeting as he realizes that not everyone on the team can afford to go, including him. That’s where you walk in. Sponsoring a youth athletic team isn’t simply writing a check to have your business’ name plastered on the back of a jersey or hat. Active engagement is key to increasing your brand awareness within the community. Supplying the funds or hosting a fundraiser at your establishment for the youth athletic team are both great ways to get involved. Sponsorships aren’t limited to just youth athletics. Businesses can sponsor local fun run events, 5k runs are popular and often draw a large crowd on race day.
2. Community Appreciation
Giving back to your community doesn’t always have to be in the form of money. Simply swinging by your local bank with a food item is a great way to show that you appreciate members in your community that might often get overlooked. Another awesome idea would be to offer up a space in your restaurant for a group meeting. Many restaurants have what they would call a “Party Room” or “Meeting Room”. Consider having a dedicated space for people to use if they need a quiet private space. Being charitable with not only the space of your restaurant, but with donations is another way to show that you care about your community. Think about supporting a local charity or non-profit organization. Your philanthropy will not go unnoticed.
Remember that 8 year old boy from the baseball team? Well, his team is looking for opportunities to earn additional money to buy new uniforms for next season. Hosting a fundraiser for that boy and his baseball team is one way to help them earn money. Fundraisers can be held in your establishment for different charities or organizations. Consider selecting one night a week that can be designated as “Fundraiser Night”. It would be ideal to have a sign-up process in place, because in our experience, the dates fill up rather quickly. From there, the charity or organization can invite people to attend, and a portion of the proceeds from that night will go directly to them.
4. Social Media
If you walk into any restaurant or other establishment, it is not uncommon for you to see nearly everyone glued to their cell phone screen. Social media has taken the world by storm. There are individuals as young as 9 years old on SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook. And don’t even get me started on TikTok. The point being that social media has become increasingly popular over the last ten years. Businesses are utilizing social media to extend their reach and increase their brand awareness. Use this to your advantage. Share reviews of your restaurant on Facebook. Encourage those who visit your restaurant to leave a review on Facebook as well as Google or Yelp. Post pictures of your promotions or specials. Visuals are just as important as words when dealing with advertising and marketing.
Live videos from the restaurant are also very popular. People are intrigued. They want to know what is happening and where. An idea for a video could be a “behind the scenes” look into the day in the life of a line cook or a server. Or even something more simple as giving a tour of your establishment to your potential customers. Live polling and webinars are also great tools to use when wanting to know more about what your customers are thinking and how to answer them as quickly as possible. Finally, a restaurant or business blog could be another tool to use at your disposal. Creating and publishing valuable content can be just as important and impactful as a sneak peek video or picture of your daily specials. People want answers to their questions. Be the one to answer them.
5. Chamber of Commerce -- Get Involved
Lastly, getting involved within your community is not only important to establishing a rapport but it can help grow your business. As mentioned before, people will notice you for your charitable contributions, fundraising opportunities, and overall presence within the community. If you are well-liked and known for good deeds, then you are likely to gain the attention of your community. Becoming a member of the Chamber of Commerce is a great way to solidify your standing in the community. You are dedicating your time to helping others and making your community a better place.
The Chamber of Commerce offers many opportunities to get involved that don’t necessarily involve monetary donations or posting on social media. Consider coaching either a youth or adult sports team. That’s right, I said adult sports team. There are many different leagues available for adults nowadays. Softball is one of the most popular. Teaching a class is also another way to meet more people and to give back to your community. The class doesn’t necessarily have to relate to your business. Think about what your hobbies or interests are and if any of those are teachable to others. An example would be specialty cooking. Do you have a passion for Japanese HIbachi but don’t manage or own a Japanese restaurant? This could be your time to shine and introduce the community to your passion for Hibachi! Or what about tutoring during the summer or teaching a class on English Literature? Visit the local library for more information or ideas about how you can reach a different group of people.
You see, it can be really easy to market to those in your community. All it takes is getting to know people and showing them that you are a wonderful person that truly cares about those within your community. Trust me, it is guaranteed that you will increase your brand awareness and extend your reach if you are to follow any of the suggestions above, but as with anything, you are the boss of your business. Choose ideas that align with your goals and can easily be reproduced within your community. You won’t regret it.