Community partnerships can increase your local reach and show your neighbors your value in their daily lives. And, when many local businesses struggle to find low-cost, value-rich marketing solutions, finding partners in the area can be a marketing goldmine for your success.
Most have the experience of events, clubs, or nonprofits knocking on their doors for sponsorships. But few business owners will find simply having their logo on a banner will pay off. That’s why you may find it more helpful to have an agreement in place with clear expectations and a plan for how it will fit into your overall marketing strategy.
Strategic community partnerships, when done right, can be a great option. They will both increase your reach and potentially position you as the go-to expert in your area.
Why Do You Want Community Partnerships?
In a nutshell, community partnerships are great chances for you to show your prospective customers the value you offer. It shows them you are invested in your community, and in them, and boosts your visibility. It can be a low-cost way to keep your name, and brand, in mind.
By building relationships with community members centered on giving value, instead of making sales, your prospect’s emotional investment in your business goes up. Why? Because it’s not transactional.
They get to know you, or your staff, and that personal connection makes customers want to work with you over your competition.
What Does a Marketing Partnership for a Business Look Like?
First off, take the focus off your business. That’s key to the success of your partnership. Instead, focus on the value you can give your community and prospects.
There are two basic types of value-driven community partnerships you can easily do. The first is the sponsorship of someone else’s event. The second is community programming you offer. We’ll look at both below.
1. Sponsorships as Partnerships
In this case, you’re usually more hands-off. You may be providing materials, money or labor to help the cause.
But what if I told you that you can get more marketing value out of it?
Promote that event on your social media, tagging the organizers or group, and talk about how proud you are to be able to support such outreach to the community. Help the community connect the dots between you and that event being possible.
With your community partner, make an agreement that any promotional materials will include your logo. Press releases should have your business listed as a sponsor. If there’s a website, it should link to your business. Their social media posts should, periodically (not on every post), link back to your business’ account if you have one on the same platform.
And, if you’re sponsoring an event, try to prioritize showing up! Send a staff member to help and talk to people. Have helpful materials, with your branding, available for people who attend. Or, if you’re sponsoring an event, consider providing snacks at the end.
Putting in the face time is key to developing those community relationships with potential customers.
2. Partnering for Community Programming or Events
If you’re doing the program yourself, it is a good idea to stick with your business niche and see if you can integrate your Unique Selling Proposition into the idea.
Are you a Garden Center? You could offer an introductory gardening class or help your community gardens one day a month.
Maybe you are an Interior Decorator. You can offer a workshop on creative storage ideas.
Mechanics could teach basic car maintenance and give guidance on how to tell when it’s time to call a professional.
Do you offer services to other professionals? Give a class that teaches them how to be ready to work with you or how your services fit into building their own success.
Really, the sky is the limit. Focus on the small things. What do you wish everyone knew about your industry? How can you help answer a question or solve a problem a lot of people have? What will get people started and open the door for the next interaction?
Who Would Make Good Community Partners?
When you’re trying to find good partners, think of organizations, nonprofits, or groups that serve your community and already have members of your target audience who use their services. You want to work with groups who can help meet the goals of the outreach and has an audience you’re trying to reach.
Need a meeting room? Consider partnering with the library. With this venue, you could also put together a recommended reading list for their patrons which has your logo on it! That gives extra value, positions you as an expert, and gets your business name out there!
Thinking about doing a class that would need registrations to cover costs? You might want to work with Parks & Rec. But remember, you’re not limited to just one partner! You could also ask the library if they’d jump on board and still do the reading list above.
If you offer services to other businesses, you also have other options! Consider partnering with your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Association to provide a workshop to give value to others in your area.
Making Community Partnerships Part of Your Marketing
You are a member of your community. Your local business serves your community. And, community partnerships are one of the best, easiest, and most cost-effective ways of reminding your neighbors of your value.
To use these partnerships successfully, you must have a plan for providing value. Then you need to clearly connect it back to your business.
What kind of value can you offer to your community? Is there something you can teach? What can you give? And, who can you partner with?
Share your ideas, successes, or struggles in the comments!