Community support should be part of a company’s overall marketing strategy. This is not a new concept.
In fact, a book by the same title was released almost twenty years ago identifying how companies can/should incorporate their community support program into their marketing activities.
And while the concept has been around for years, many companies still treat their philanthropic donations and community programs differently than their marketing activities.
While this is not a corporate disaster, as both marketing and community activities can generate benefits for the company, it is most definitely a lost opportunity.
Consider this – a company spends tens of thousands of dollars marketing its position in the community as a technologically savvy organization, selling product “x”. At the same time, that company supports equestrian sports because the President’s daughter rides horses.
Supporting equestrian sports is not bad, unless that support is in the form of a donation without any return (and by return, we do not consider an ad in the sport’s newsletter or event program an example of legitimate return).
Support for the sport’s programs is philanthropic and is much appreciated by the sport, but the company can also leverage that support in a variety of ways:
- The support could be in the form of a contra donation that utilizes the company’s assets and places them in the hands of the organization – highlighting the company’s product offering;
- The sport may have access to a very specific target audience that is relevant to the company. As a result, the sponsorship or donation could be used to create awareness for the company with that audience (People tend to support companies that have common interests)
- The sport may produce opportunities that would enable the company to involve their clients, suppliers or employees for entertainment purposes.
- The company could work with the sport to develop a peripheral event or promotion that is designed to build business for that company.
The cash or support provided by your company to a charity or not-for-profit organization is often a life-blood for their operations. Making a commitment to provide that support is an important community role for local companies. But there are ways to take advantage of that support and to make sure your involvement is consistent with the marketing position you have in the community.
Developing a community support program or policy that is part of your overall marketing strategy is a start to ensuring your community support activities are in line with your overall business strategy.