Whether you’re a small business owner or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it’s crucial that you constantly be thinking of creative ways to grow your business within the market. The economy and public opinion change on a dime, and you have to prepare your business to move with those changes instead of against the current.
While business strategy and diversification of your products and services will allow your company to be more dynamic within the market, one component that rarely gets enough attention is whether or not your business has a vibrant outreach program.
Try to align causes with your brand
Outreach programs can vary from company to company, but they should not only be implemented but discussed often with employees and encouraged among staff members. In the case of Patagonia, they allow their employees the opportunity to volunteer abroad to help with environmental conservation programs while still earning their salary. Patagonia is an outdoor clothing company, but a part of their mission is to improve the environment and are dedicated to this cause. If there is a cause that is in line with your business’ brand, align yourself with them and pledge to help.
Community outreach portrays your company as a responsible force within the community and adds significant value to your brand. On a whole, your brand’s reputation will either be established or improved because of this outreach.
Community work gets employees engaged
It should come as no surprise that when your employees feel like they are making a difference in their community through their work, they are more likely to feel content within their role. Allowing employees the ability to help their community one day out of the month, during a work day, will show that you, as a business owner, care about their fulfillment, and also about the community as a whole. There are so many opportunities and options for volunteer work, and nonprofits in your area will definitely benefit from any time your employees are willing to give. Check out local charities and shelters to see if their facilities need a good cleaning or need to be staffed one day each month. Another great idea is to take suggestions from your employees, which can only get them more excited about this outreach program.
Customers will respond well
Not only will an outreach component get the employees engaged, it’s likely to pique the interest of your current and prospective clients. With the case of Patagonia, most of their customer base is probably concerned about the environment as many of them hike and are in nature. When they hear Patagonia and their team are dedicated to environmental conservation, they’ll be even more dedicated to the brand. Even if your program is not as extensive as Patagonia’s, having any kind of outreach program built into your business plan will boost customer retention.
Improves overall local community image
Regardless of whether or not your business is able to afford to send people across the world for huge outreach programs, or your employees are helping here and there at a local nonprofit, the local community will respond with positivity. Nonprofits in the area will respect your dedication to the community, even if you’re not directly helping that specific organization. Residents within the area will also recognize your involvement in making the community a better place.
Protects you from potential social media backlash
Social media has given us the ability to share information instantaneously with our friends and family members. When something significant happens, it’s likely going to go viral on Twitter and gain a lot of attention around the world. For your business, that kind of free marketing is a dream come true, unless it’s bad press. If your company is relatively unknown and something negative is said about your company online, even if it doesn’t go viral, those who are just being introduced to your business will associate you with that negative image or comment. Employing a community outreach program can help establish your company as being a responsible business that cares about the community.
An outreach component to your business is never a waste of time or resources because the community will always benefit, your employees will find enjoyment and fulfillment, and customers and future customers will more easily align with you and your mission.