Small businesses can struggle with marketing. They rely heavily on word of mouth (tell your friends) and location based marketing (they will see your business as they drive by).  But in order for marketing to be most effective, we have to take a more consistent and active approach, and we can have a heart while we do it.

Successful marketing should give people a reason to come into your business and remember your brand. It gives them something to talk about. Charities are filled with great stories of compassion and service. When the right charity and the right business connect, it can enhance the public face of your company and improve the bottom line of the charity as well as your business.

When small businesses help local charities raise money for the services that they provide, both can and should take advantage of the marketing opportunities that come from the partnership. Charities need attention (just like other businesses). The more people that know about them, the more people can contribute to their cause, and support their mission.

Below are three quick tips to help small businesses brainstorm effective partnerships with charaties.


Seasonal support

You can create a seasonal campaign. Remember that there are other seasons of the year besides the December holidays season. Many charities often struggle the rest of the year. Find a charity that you believe in and see if they have any campaigns coming up that you can participate in. Ask how you can join their efforts.

You may decide to support the campaign with a percentage of your corporate sales or a percentage of the sales of a certain product. You can choose the structure that works best for you. Just remember, the goal is to use this community service project to:

  1. Improve the life of a charity
  2. Create a sense of goodwill between you and your clientele (because people care)
  3. Cultivate positive buzz around your business.

The key is to nail all three to be successful. Good press can become poor press if you only took part in the charity for the attention and failed to make a difference for the cause.

But don’t stop at finding the charity and the campaign.


Brand your campaign

If you name your community service or charitable campaign, then it makes it easier for people to spread the word. They can say things like “Did you know that Company X offers Roses for Guns — every time we do business with them, 20% of the sale goes to families who lost their children to violence.” If you make your community service campaign engaging and spread the word, you just may end up receiving attention from the press.

But don’t stop at branding the campaign.


Press the issue

Instead of waiting for press to find you, press the issue by writing a press release and distributing it to relevant blogs, newspapers, radio stations as well as local television. Remember, bloggers and reporters are always looking for a good story. So give it to them. and offer some great free advice on how to write a press release. Plus, PitchEngine is a simple option for posting your releases online and Gebbie Press is great for acquiring the names and contact information for local media markets.

Whatever you choose to do be sure to connect with a social program that matters to you, your team and your clients and be certain to spread the word.