Successful businesses don’t happen in a vacuum.
Yes, there’s the planning and financing and staffing and such.
But when you boil it all down, the key to business success is community.
Even if you’re a self-starter, with no need to borrow from your own community of friends and family to help get your entrepreneurial dream off the ground, your business needs community.
Setting down strong roots in a community creates mutually beneficial relationships.
You’re supporting the community by providing goods or services, paying taxes, creating local jobs, providing revenue to your suppliers, and helping increase city revenue.
At the same time, your community, your customers, are supporting you by spending their hard-earned money with you; telling friends, family, and business contacts about your business; providing your labor pool; and giving you a safety net of loyalty when times get tough.
A really great way to get to know your community better and help them get to know you and your business is to create a community support initiative. It doesn’t have to be huge and it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Creating an effective community support initiative is really about understanding your company culture, how your company fits within the community, and the community’s needs.
Follow this five-step road map:
Identify your company ethos
What do you stand for? What does your company stand for? How do you treat people and how do you want your company to treat people, including employees, customers, members of the community, and even competitors?
Assess what your company can offer
What you do for the community should be tied to your company’s products or services, if possible, and to your company ethos. It should provide value, but doesn’t necessarily have to be a donation or sponsorship—volunteering service is another way to contribute to the community.
Find out what the community needs
Again, start with areas where your company’s particular specialty can be of help. Or focus on causes that are important to you and see how you can support those causes within your community.
Get the word out
Take advantage of every community “grapevine” to get the word out, especially if your initiative involves an event you’re supporting or sponsoring. You can support your local newspaper with paid ads, issue a news release, place posts on as many social media channels you can access, send emails to people within your own network as well as those related to the cause or organization you’re supporting, etc.
Thank all those involved and invite feedback about the initiative, especially if you plan to make it a regular offering. Hearing from those involved can help you improve the focus and efficacy of your outreach initiative by identifying possible oversights and activities that yielded the best results.
A case study in community outreach
Community outreach is a natural fit for Kino, a video chat platform that was designed to create more personal and human interaction over a digital format. Though Kino is virtual, the company creators feel strongly about supporting and interacting with community businesses.
Seeing businesses struggle to stay open through the pandemic, Kino wanted to find a way to help bring people back to their local hangouts, even when they can’t get there in person.
Through Kino for the Community, Kino is supporting businesses and the communities they serve by sponsoring incentives to help bring people back after the long pandemic lockdown.
Using the Kino platform, even people who can’t or aren’t ready to return in person can enjoy visiting each other “at” their neighborhood businesses, while Kino underwrites the cost of an incentive offered by a business, nonprofit organization, or other community group and provides its video chat platform free as a service to the community.
Through Kino for the Community, yoga instructors have brought together “full” classes of people participating from home and other locations; restaurants can send a treat or a meal for people to enjoy at home yet also together with friends, family, and other patrons gathering on Kino; bars can provide cocktail mixing lessons and participants can enjoy their creations with others.
The benefit to Kino is in having people experience the Kino difference. In order to ensure that all who need this human connection and productivity tool have access, Kino offers free and affordable levels of service. By exposing more people to the new virtual gathering place, Kino brings in new subscribers, both at the free and paid levels.
The benefit to community and the businesses is that Kino gives people a safe way to return to their favorite haunts at no cost to the businesses or the patrons. It’s been so successful that Kino is also partnering with Paint the Town to offer virtual lessons with the appeal of a group gathering.
As demonstrated by Kino, building the concept of community into your business strategy can as simple as you want it to be, while forming priceless community bonds.
Raviv Nadav is Founder and Chief Solutions Architect of Kinetx Co and the Kino video space platform for virtual conversations that feel personal. He is a strong believer in IT solutions that support human connection.
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