Whether you realize it or not, you are a part of the community you operate in, and I believe you should use a portion of your advertising budget to help local charities raise money and awareness. If you plan to be in business in your town for a long time to come, then invest in your reputation as a member of that community.
As an example, our company is a corporate sponsor of a local group known as Equestrian Zone. This group provides physical therapy to folks through hippotherapy (horse therapy). After being involved for three years, I see and agree with others that this program is effective, heartwarming and rewarding. We donate as a corporate sponsor to support and raise awareness, so this program can grow.
I speak to folks that only know of our dealership through our involvement with the Equestrian Zone. Our banner hangs in their arena where many people attend sessions. When this group has their major fundraiser, my picture is in the paper in front of our business with the leader of Equestrian Zone. I have a big banner at the heavily-attended dinner where I say a few words and generally get another picture in the paper and a regional magazine. Positive exposure for our company comes while I am providing exposure to their program. All this for less than $1,000 dollars a year.
Another promotion I have mentioned before is our annual Hot Rod Show. The show is promoted under the company name, but it is considered a fundraiser for our county’s water-rescue squad, which is all-volunteer. Our associates work with many of our vendors and other local businesses around the county to gather prizes and get help with our raffle vehicle. Raffle tickets are sold by dozens of people. All the tickets have our name on them (4,000 last show).
There are generally one or two newspaper write-ups before show time to help promote the fundraiser, and we usually have a story in a regional magazine telling about the annual event. There are radio ads, which are a part of my regular ad schedule; then additional ads run via the stations helping with the show. After the show ends, several full-color photographs go in the paper showing the fun, trophies and hot rods. We raised about $5,000 in net proceeds for the rescue squad.
Promotion of your business is generally more work than just advertising. You probably are already a part of your community. Partner your company with charities in your community, and get involved. Help them become more successful and they will help you be more visible to more people (some that never hear your ads or see your website). You may not be hawking your best deals or your hottest rigs, but you are promoting your company and your people as charitable and involved in the community. And it’s more than just words.
It is very positive marketing while doing something GREAT with your advertising dollar.