Free marketing we all can do

One of the most effective ways to increase your visibility in your local market is to get involved with community groups, and to step up when they need volunteers. Most of us do that in our private lives, but don't bring the business name into the mix. If you haven't already done so, now is the time to brand your company locally as a company that cares, a company that steps in when there is a need, a company that helps the community.


So, how do you do this? There are probably more directions you can take than I can count, and many of them are specific to your community, but these three steps will give you a start.


1) Attend community meetings. You can read what happened at the aldermen's meeting and get the short story, but much of what happens doesn't make the papers or the minutes. The human interaction is always more interesting and offers opportunities for you to get involved. Don't limit yourself to one or two organizations. Attend several spread over a month. You can wear a company branded shirt or just shake hands and introduce yourself as "John with ABC Builders." Over time it works to develop relationships and a reputation as someone interested in what's going on beyond their backyard.


2) Volunteer. Donate your time to local causes. You don't have to donate a new kitchen to the local shelter, but your time spent washing dishes or helping insulate the building will be appreciated. Time is a commodity that is in short supply, and people recognize this, and they notice that you are spending yours helping others.


3) Donate. You don't have to donate cash to make a difference. Those excess materials that are lying around will make a difference somewhere. Talk to the people at Habitat for Humanity or to a local church. Someone needs those windows, sinks, siding, whatever.


When you step out in the community, you learn more about your neighbors and they learn about you. You'll soon find yourself wondering why you weren't doing this all along. The repayment isn't only in increased visibility in your community, it's the sense of making a difference that has value, too.


So get out there. A few hours of your time will pay off in more ways than you might imagine.