Service-Based Marketing For Your Small Business is the twelfth in a series of articles that we'll be posting this fall. Small Business Marketing Tips To Build Sales In A Down Economy will teach you how to use do-it-yourself tools like SMS, email and social media to effectively market your business.
Entry By Jason Brick
The great thing about mobile media is that it's so cheap and easy anybody can do it
The bad thing about mobile media is that it's so cheap and easy anybody can do it.
This double-edged media sword makes it hard for small businesses with small marketing budgets to stand out in the noisy crowd of electronic voices. Service-based marketing, though, will let you stand out in the best possible way: by giving back to the same community that keeps your business afloat.
Step One: Find a Cause
Choose a cause you care about, preferably one served by an agency or non-profit in your local area. Some examples include:
- Reducing pollution
- Hungry families
- Homeless families
- Diabetes (or Cancer or AIDS) awareness
Once you've chosen your cause, reach out to a nearby group dedicated to that problem. Most major metro areas will have one or more. Local chapters beat national organizations here because you'll have better opportunities for "face time."
Step Two: Plan an Event
Host an event – either at your location or in a prominent area like a parking lot at a major intersection – to raise funds for that cause. Use a "hook" somehow related to your business to make it memorable. Print coupons or gift certificates for everybody who participates.
Bushido Martial Arts of Hillsboro, Oregon, for example, collected over three tons of food by having students stand outside local grocery stores with signs saying "Will Teach Karate For Food." Everybody who came out of a store with a can for the l ocal food bank got a coupon for a free week of lessons.
Your event doesn't have to focus on fundraising; you can also focus on awareness – such as renting an air compressor to "top off" cars for free and improve gas mileage.
Step Three: Tell Everybody
Once you've set a date, it's time to activate your social media team. Use every media channel you have access to, and spread the word. It's rarely worth it to pay for advertising, but you can write a press release for the local paper. The local group you've partnered with should help you with this – either with their own publicity team, or by providing graphics or other support.
Step Four: Broadcast Live
Use SMS, Twitter and Facebook to post ongoing progress reports on the day of your event. Let recipients know how many people are already there, about upcoming special speakers or other activities, and your progress towards your goal. You can also use the feed to organize a "flash presentation," by encouraging hard core fans to show up all at once.
Step Five: Recap
Send a follow-up press release to the local paper if you didn't get a reporter on scene. Send a mobile broadcast with thanks and final results. When you present your earnings to the local charity, get photos and post them on your website. Tell everybody about it, and include a coupon offer for anybody who brings in a copy of the story.
Service-based marketing requires some creativity and a front-end filled with hard work. Used successfully, it's worth the investment of time and effort.