I understand that marketing a locally owned business is critical for the survival of that business. However, I find it is difficult to find the right places to invest our marketing dollars for the best return on investment. Most of the ways you can market affordably are hard to measure success – outside of “is your business growing.” I know it is critical that we continue marketing and finding ways to reach a broader audience when we are busy and when we are not. Our strategy of being active in the community, supporting local efforts that build community, and investing in other local organizations is working well from a standpoint of “is your business growing.” However, I still wonder if we are growing fast enough, investing in the right strategies, and using our limited marketing dollars to the best of our ability.
So in an effort to learn what you think works best – give me your feedback in the comment section below. What do we do that has worked to grab your attention? What should we be doing? What can we do better?
You may not have noticed all of our marketing and I will not list all of it here – but here are some places that I am wondering about this morning.
Facebook – We do a lot on FB to build trust, show our work, and promote other local businesses. However, our number of likes, views, and follows is small compared to other local events and businesses. I have asked for our supporters to share our page to build likes, paid for ad space, and done contests. It all seems to get lost in the noise. What do you think? Do you follow our page? Do you think we provide quality content?
Twitter – We have a solid number of followers on Twitter, but not a lot of retweets. This platform announced yesterday that it is growing again after making changes to the spam members. Are you following us? What do you think about using this as a marketing platform?
Blog – Of course you are reading the blog so I know I have your attention – but is the content what you want? What should I be posting? How often do you click to read more?
Community Organization Support – We pick a few organizations each year to support. This year we are supporting the Real Men Wear Pink Campaign, On the Road Collaborative, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Montessori School of Charlottesville, Eastern Mennonite School, Harrisonburg Rockingham Child Day Care Center, Massanutten Technical Center, Charlottesville Albemarle Technical Education Center, Habitat for Humanity of the New River Valley, Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, Albemarle County Sheriff’s Office Foundation, Shenandoah Valley Scholar’s Latino Initiative, Red Wing Academy, Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center, Shenandoah Women’s Alliance, Rotary Club of Rockingham County, Harrisonburg Soap Box Derby and some others. We see this as marketing for a couple of reasons. One these organizations are helping grow a more diverse and inclusive community for us to live and work. We want to see these organizations survive and thrive for the health of our communities. We also see these organizations as a way to reach out to grow our reputation. We want to be known for supporting local community efforts that are working to build the best community possible. Is this the right strategy? What organizations we should work with that we have not reached yet?
First Friday Art Openings – this monthly event at our office invites our friends into our space to see local art work and enjoy some food and drink. This is a chance for people to get to know us and see our office. We have examples of our work hanging in the space and we did the design work to renovate our historic building. This takes a lot of time, coordination, and investment to do each month. Is it the right place to invest those efforts? Do you attend?
We also advertise in / on the WMRA, WNRN, Daily News Record, Cville Weekly, and Virginia Living Magazine. Do you see or hear these ads? Do you like the ad? Is it effective to build trust with our company? Which platform reaches you? What platform should we be using that we don’t yet?
I know there are other options and we do marketing in some other formats. My primary goal with our marketing is to use our investment to the best of our ability to continue to foster this business forward while supporting local community. If you have suggestions or thoughts, please share in the comments below. While I want to invest in local community organizations and publications to follow our mission to build community, I also need to grow our reach. That means I need to see more followers on social media sites. I need more clicks on our blog each year. I need the phone to continue to ring. I need our First Friday crowd to grow. This all justifies and for me tells me the marketing is working. It also allows me to continue to build on past success when requesting the next budget the next year. So even if you don’t have input, please like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and click links and more links on our website. Even better, get your friends to do the same. Thank you for reading and for your support of our business. At the end of the day, we are only successful if we have made a positive difference in our community. Working with you has allowed us to do that on so many past projects. We hope to continue to do it for many years to come.