Before you say you have no time to give back, or before you grumble about already doing it, this is not your typical post telling you that you need to give back to people who support you in your community. Instead, this article encourages you to give back as a small business owner based on what you will get. These benefits are all about you and your business, a return on your investment of time. Here’s why you should think about giving back:
Giving back doesn’t mean hours of volunteerism, although it can if you’re so inclined; but there is something you’re likely already doing for your business that will help you build a loyal audience of customers who turn to you as an expert. Content marketing, and giving away your knowledge for free, increase sales and build your reputation as a leader in the industry.
It has another (secret) added benefit. It decreases the number of tire kickers your sales people have to deal with by helping people self-qualify. They have easy access to becoming an informed consumer and once they approach you to buy your service or product, they know they want it. An educated buyer shortens your sales cycle and frees up your sales people as your sales people will then work with more “sure things” and less “maybes.”
Another way to get involved in your local community that pays off for your business is taking part in a mentor program. There are a number of options from Junior Achievement-type groups to a formal mentor-ship program through the chamber. You can even contact your local college that has a major in your area of expertise and offer your services as a mentor.
But they also have a lot to give back to you. Building a relationship with a mentee not only gives you another perspective and can help you in marketing to their generation, but adds a younger demographic to your network that can help you find interested interns and entry-level employees.
There are numerous groups within your community looking for cheap (aka free) speakers for their organizations. These include associations, school groups, PTAs, chambers, and other membership organizations. They are tasked with being a resource for their audience as well and they can’t do it alone.
While most won’t allow you to give a sales-y presentation, many do appreciate your knowledge and expertise and will give you a small plug at the end by allowing you to give out your contact information. This is a great marketing opportunity for you. You are presented as an industry expert and you have a roomful of people in a semi-captive situation during your presentation. No other form of marketing can say that.
If you make a great impression, people will talk about what they learned from you. Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful tools you have in your marketing arsenal.
As actor Kevin Spacey once said, “If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” While giving back is the right thing to do, there’s also value in it for your business. By giving potential customers the resources they need to make an educated decision, and by helping tomorrow’s leaders get started on their dreams, you’ll help them and they’ll help you.
Written By: Christina R. Green
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.