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Community Engagement: 5 Business Building Ideas

THE MOST EXPENSIVE part of doing business is finding and keeping new clients. In this article Tanja M Jones shares five simple creative collaboration strategies that meaningfully position your brand into the minds and hearts of your local community.

IT CAN BE HARD to stand out in a noisy real estate crowd, where every brand wants to be seen and heard. With a little thought, however, it is possible to build your database and strengthen your position in the community at the same time.

1 HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Many offices are paying for advertising in their local papers to introduce a new staff member or promote their services; the trouble is so is everyone else.

If you want to be relevant and have people look forward to your communication, create a local community advertising campaign called ‘We love homes’. Rather than talk about yourself, create a call to action where people simply enter your monthly competition to win home improvement services provide by you. This could include gutter cleaning, window washing, lawn mowing, carpet steam cleaning, pet grooming, pool cleaning or, in cooler areas, a trailer-load of wood delivered for winter (along with a big bag of marshmallows!).

Simply create value propositions with your local service providers, where they supply the service in exchange for the local advertising you purchase. People will begin to interact with your brand and look forward to what comes next, while you’re building goodwill and growing your database. The added bonus is the ‘happy snaps’ you can take with the winners and local businesses on the day of delivery. This is great content to share on social media and in the following month’s promotion.

2 COMMUNITY ALLIANCE PROGRAMS
Make your sponsorships really count and put practices in place to measure your return on investment. Imagine taking your local sporting president out for lunch and asking them what their vision for the club is and what they need to improve facilities and services. It may be a new scoreboard or goalposts, or to update the change rooms, for example.

Let them know that one of your core values is to give back to the community and invest in the healthy lifestyle of future generations. Imagine asking them, ‘How would you like to generate $10,500 for your club, while adding value to your members, all at no cost to you?’ It is likely that they will be interested.

Ask if you can show them how and then share the design of the alliance. Let’s say they have 700 members. Let them know that for every member who lists and sells with you, you will give them $300. Let’s say conservatively that you convert five per cent; that is 35 people. This equates to $10,500 to the club, and you then have your name positioned on the scoreboard or on a highly visible location on the grounds.

Not all clubs will be happy to share their database with you, but they may consider sending the introduction letter on your behalf. Ask the President to kindly write an endorsement paragraph to be included in the letter. You then introduce yourself, share your ‘why’ and introduce your offer. This program design can be repeated for any sporting club, business association, charity or group in your municipality.

3 TAKE IT AWAY
For many hardworking Aussie families, Friday and Saturday nights are takeaway nights. Imagine buying fish and chips for a family for an entire year (one night per week)! Strike a deal with the owner of a local business to simply place an entry box on the counter for one month for people to enter the draw. The winning family receives a branded card to the value of $50 per week to use for twelve months.

In exchange for the investment, negotiate with the business owner to install a Perspex fixture in a bare space within the shop where you can place information on your current homes for sale. This will give people something to read while waiting for their dinner to be cooked. It positions you front and centre to a hungry audience every week and the idea can be repeated at any local takeaway business, including pizza and Chinese.

4 CONNECT WITH COUNCIL
Make a solid connection with the local Economic Business Development Manager and let them know you would like to regularly communicate why your community is a great place to live, work and play. Work actively with your Council to share the future developments, local events, business services and facilities within your demographic. Keep your database informed via your newsletter and share the information on social media.

If there are any major developments happening that have a lot of people asking questions, do what Dib Chidiac (Raine & Horne) did and write a report that provides an insight into key changes, with updates on the impacts and benefits to homeowners and investors. Make the report available on your website, promote it on social media and encourage your local business networks to share links to download.

Check Dib’s website for the example: dibchidiac.com.au.

5 FOR ART’S SAKE – A CALENDAR THAT COUNTS
Nowadays most people use their phone for their family planner. One way you can create something that is not only meaningful but can become an annual community event is to provide an opportunity for all your local artists or photographers to submit a piece for consideration in your annual calendar.

Create a judging panel to select the final 12 and release the calendars at an exhibition within the local community. All the artists will bring their family and friends and can sell their originals, while you sell the calendars for a small fee to raise funds for a local charity. Seek advertising sponsorship from local businesses to help pay for the printing costs and make the calendars big enough for people to actually use (not one-sided DL).

This is a good project for a dedicated administration team member as it will take some time to set up; but it could become a great hallmark event for your community.

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