Supporting, sponsoring, and participating in local events can boost the visibility and recognition of your small business, and it's important to begin seeking out opportunities for local event promotion in the spring since many events occur during the summer.
Options for local event participation include 5K races, home shows, themed festivals, and carnivals, as well as street fairs and farmer's markets. Virtually any event in your town – or the communities that surround your town – is fair game for participation, promotion, and marketing opportunities.
Why are Local Events So Valuable for Small Businesses?
One of the changes that major corporations have made in the wake of social media and internet access is the tone with which they have interacted with customers. Rather than the one-way street that existed from business to consumer forty years ago, it's now a two-way street where customers have a rather impressive amount of influence over the decisions a company might make.
In the same way that a social media account can help customers connect on a personal level with a business, local events can offer that same level of personalization when customers come face-to-face with business owners and employees in an area that's not inside a retail store. Customers today thrive on personal connections with businesses, and those connections help to build brand loyalty.
The Spark blog from ADP suggests:
"Customers prefer a personal approach to building connections. In fact, some 96 percent of consumers believe that small businesses are better because of increased customization of "goods and services to meet clients' needs," according to Intuit. While personalization can scale, genuine relationships are easier to lose as your business grows."
In addition to building personal connections with customers, participation in local events also offers your business an effective method for getting your products or services in front of new eyes.
Conducting Research and Finding the Right Local Events for Participation
You might already know of some local events that take place each year in your community. However, you'll likely need to choose a few – or even just one or two, depending on your budget. If your business has anything to do with clothing, shoes, or accessories, events like local races and community fashion shows are a must for participation.
And finding the right event or events is just the first step. It's then important to identify how you'll participate, as well as the level of investment you're willing to undertake.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) reveals that small business owners should:
"Contact organizers to see what opportunities exist. This could range from sponsoring the event (contributing money in return for getting your name on banners, fliers, programs, etc.), having a booth at the event to give away information or samples, or actually selling products at the event. Ask about costs and requirements."
If your business is located in a particularly small town, you might be looking at just a few events in your immediate area, as well as other events in nearby communities. You probably already have customers who travel to your town from other areas to shop with you, so it's a good idea to figure out where they live and choose local events that are convenient to where those customers live.
Tip: Begin building a mailing list of your customers to see where they live, so you can choose your events where they'll have the most impact.
Make Your Participation Charitable
One of the options you have in participating in local events is engaging in charitable endeavors connected with those events. While you might not actually sell any products at the events, your name will feature prominently in front of the eyes of many potential customers who will remember your business's thoughtfulness when it comes time to choose a product to buy.
According to Inc., sponsoring a team is an excellent way to participate in a local event for an entire season.
"Chances are someone on your staff has a child on a youth sports team. By finding a local team to sponsor, you'll be able to help with the funds it needs and get publicity in exchange for your support. This is a simple way to help out with very minimal time investment."
You've probably seen the banner advertisements that hang on the fences around the local baseball diamonds, and your sponsorship can ensure your business logo can hang alongside those other sponsors.
In addition to general sponsorship of local teams and other youth events, you can also consider these targeted methods of charitable participation in local events:
- Buy the team's uniforms and have your company's logo printed on them.
- Run commercials or other advertisements in town promoting the games.
- Sponsor the team's travel so that you can increase your visibility in other communities.
Not only will your sponsorship improve your business's reputation, but it will also help you connect with actual community members. Your business won't simply be a name on a social media page or an impersonal website. You'll create real connections with customers and create new friends in the process.
Consider Creating Your Own Local Events
If you have the time and money to invest in an event, festival or gathering, one of the best ways to market your business through local events is by creating on your own. You may wish to solicit the assistance of an events company, or you can try your hand at arranging everything on your own. Usually, the size of the event will determine whether you may need to get help from a professional.
Here are a few of the activities you can create from the ground up for your business:
A. Collect money for a charitable cause. Simply putting out a collection jar on the counters of your retail locations can help you build a reputation for engaging in charitable endeavors. The best part about putting a collection jar out or collecting money on each sale for a special cause is that it requires virtually no investment and is easy to set up and get started.
B. Create a contest for locals. Just about everyone likes to win things, and you have many options with creating a contest or raffle. You might raffle off one of the best items you sell and give the money from the raffle to a local good cause. A contest is also a great way to encourage participation from customers in your
C. Donate your time or the time of your employees. Is there a dirty beach near your business that needs some trash removed? Can you sponsor a local stretch of road? Can your employees participate in a local food drive? Donating your time is an excellent way to get involved in local events because it's free and only takes time rather than money out of your budget.
If you're particularly interested in creating a noticeable and significant event, you can also try to arrange something bigger like a local festival for regional artists or a fun race for local kids.
Let Howard Packaging Help You Promote Your Local Events
If you're thinking about participating in local events this summer, let Howard Packaging help you with custom printed bags and environmentally-friendly packaging. If you're searching for a packaging solution that's eco-friendly and easy to use in your local events, as well as in your retail stores, Howard Packaging can help. Contact us today to request a Free Catalog and Sample Kit!