By Stephen Alberts
When it comes to marketing your countertop shop, it’s not always about advertising, social media ads, SEO and website optimization. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on these digital marketing strategies, but there’s another way to get your brand out there that you may not be considering. Community marketing is a strategy that primarily involves helping a local cause or charity and secondarily markets your business as a supporter or sponsor. Examples include fundraiser events, charity sponsorships, or volunteering your and your team’s time to a community project or service.
Many of these opportunities offer brand representation for your company, including your logo on websites, flyers, newsletters and more. Looking at the bigger picture, it factors into the value of your business. You may have heard about Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), a set of standards for a company’s behavior used by socially conscious investors. The social aspect of ESG looks at how a company manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates.
According to Lauren Taylor Wolfe, co-founder of Impactive Capital, an activist investment firm focused on ESG investing, ESG initiatives are good business. “It makes companies more competitive, more profitable and more valuable over the long run,” she said. “If you look at millennials and Gen Z, they care about how they spend their two most important assets: their dollars and their time. They’re doing so in a way that aligns with their value system. These are the same people who are your employees, your customers, your shareholders. And as a company, think about this to the extent you can attract and retain stickier customers, stickier employees, stickier shareholders; you lower your customer acquisition costs, you lower your human capital costs, and you lower your overall cost of capital. That makes your business more competitive, which makes it more profitable, which makes it more valuable in the long run.”
So take a look at what you can do to support your community, engage your employees, clients and partners, set an example, and elevate your brand by giving back and setting a new standard for excellence within your business. It can bring a return on investment in more ways than one.
Help Your Community
Using your business to help your community is, of course, the top reason you should be doing this. If you have a successful business, you should be incredibly proud. Take that success to the next level by helping others. We should all be doing this as business owners. You’re investing in your community and your people by being part of the solution to your community’s challenges. What’s the adage? A rising tide lifts all boats. I think it applies here. The perception that you’re a part of that solution can come back to you through new business, partnerships, employee retention and engagement, and more. It’s time to think bigger and beyond what’s happening on the shop floor.
Create Brand Awareness
Back to basic marketing strategy. When you sponsor an event, you donate your and your employees’ time; how does this reflect your brand? Often sponsorship opportunities include your logo, company description and more in event promotions. This builds your brand in your community. You’re not just a countertop shop anymore; you are a business connected to the community. You drive awareness around your brand and the work you do, but you also leave a lasting impression that kindness and social responsibility are priorities in your business.
Since people are more likely to work with kind companies, it’ll align your shop with those expectations. When it comes down to picking a fabricator for their next project, it could just be the thing that puts you at the top of the list. Consumers trust companies that give back, no matter in what direction. By investing in community marketing, there’s potential to get your brand or product in front of more eyes, and you’ll immediately build trust with those new eyes because you’re part of something charitable or progressive.
And it’s not just consumers. Consider your competition, vendors, suppliers and partners. They’ll want your shine to rub off! These days, they’ll be looking to do business with a company with a strong moral compass because association also lifts their brand. It’s all connected!
Make a Good Impression
By sponsoring an event or doing something for the community, you will get some press around it. Since my mind is usually 90% marketing, I’m going to tell you how to take advantage of this opportunity and get more impressions on your website.
As I mentioned, you’ll get your logo displayed on the charity or event website. Great brand awareness! Even better is to get a backlink to your website from their website. A backlink is simply a link on their site that goes back to your site. In the SEO world, this link is as good as gold. Google looks at links and validates your company to some extent because it sees the affiliation. Getting a link back from a .org site or a local business will help your Google rankings — elevate your website in search results — and bring you more traffic.
You’ll most likely get some local press (and more backlinks!) from local news outlets that cover the event. And if they don’t pick it up, give them a call! Local media is always looking for a do-good story. Tell them you’ll give them a quick interview to discuss the cause. It could mean an hour of your time, but these days, press lives perpetually on the internet. Long after the event, the story of your involvement is still discoverable.
This extra website traffic could lead to more countertop sales. It might not happen immediately, but that one solid backlink from a .org site alone will grow your Google rankings and bring in sales months down
Establish Social Proof
Being able to display logos of charities or local organizations on your website gives your countertop shop social proof. Social proof is something that makes your business special when viewed by others. This might be a lot of likes on your shop’s social media posts or a lot of Google reviews. But being a part of the community and showing that you sponsor events and charities by displaying this on your shop’s website gives someone visiting your website a reason to pay a little more attention to your business. And sometimes, that’s all that a business needs!
Engage Your Employees
When you sponsor a good cause or give time to community charities, you are making a positive impact. Engage your employees, and give them a chance to participate in the event. It’s great for morale and team building and creates trust between you and your associates. It’s all about mutual respect. People are inherently good, and by providing these opportunities, you show them you care and you give them a chance to give back. Improved engagement is likely to help with employee attraction and retention, and studies show that it can positively impact productivity.
And who knows who’s watching; maybe there’s a contractor or a builder who’s also involved with the event, and now your mutual participation gives you something in common — a connection. This is how relationships start, and in the business world, it’s an experience they’ll remember when they’re looking to specify a fabricator for their next project.
Community marketing has a compounding effect. When you make it a priority to give back, it opens the door to opportunity.
Success builds success. Start with what’s possible, and you might find you can do more. Next year you’ll write a bigger check, devote more resources, get more involved or even spearhead a new effort. The more you get involved with the community, the more you witness how this can benefit your business. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everyone involved, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Stephen Alberts is the owner of the Countertop Marketing Co. and STONE ENGAGE. They specialize in helping countertop companies grow the retail side of their business outside of word-of-mouth and referrals. They also offer software to help you engage more with customers and close more countertop projects. To learn more, visit https://countertopmarketingco.com/ or https://stonengage.com/. You can also email Stephen at email@example.com.