Zig Ziglar famously said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” With the challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic, this statement is truer today than ever before. It’s also an excellent approach to marketing.
Consumers today are presented with thousands of brands daily. Through television, radio, and social media, the average person may see thousands of advertisements per day. If you want to stand out from the noise, build your brand, and resonate with your target audience, you have to do more than just sell to them. What if, instead, you could actually impact the lives of the people in your community while growing your business? What if you could actually get ahead by giving back?
Start with your mission.
During times of crisis, organizations with no mission often lose their way. Does your firm know its mission and how you help the community? No matter what your practice area, the work you do most likely makes your community a better place. Do your partners, employees, and clients know how? If not, start by identifying your firm’s “why” and understand how your firm improves the lives of your clients and your community. Next, zealously focus on your mission and start telling others about it.
Reach out and offer help.
In-person networking, both intentional and accidental, just isn’t happening right now. In times of stress and uncertainty, there’s a natural tendency to withdraw and isolate ourselves, especially during a pandemic. While “social distancing” has become ubiquitous, we must remember that even though we may be physically distant, being socially distant is terrible for marketing. On the contrary, in times of stress, you must reach out even more. Just contacting a client or referral source and asking how they’re doing is all it takes to be top of mind.
While a personal phone call is usually best, you can also reach out by email, text, or even a hand-written note. And if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, have a staff member make the call for you. Remember your purpose isn’t to sell anything or to get something in return. Reach out with a genuine desire to see how the other person is doing, and to find out if you can help them solve a problem.
Create a plan to regularly contact each of your clients and referral sources. It could be a certain number of calls per week or per day, but make a plan and follow through. When you get busy, making extra phone calls may seem like a chore, but if you change your mindset to see these calls, not as marketing, but as a way to help others, it becomes an easier habit to develop.
Caring for your community.
If you’re not currently a member of a community service organization or nonprofit board, now is the time to join. Service organizations, like Kiwanis and Rotary, are still meeting virtually and need your help. More importantly, the people in your community served by these organizations need you, now more than ever. Not only will you expand your professional network, but when a group of people are joined in a common cause, trust and admiration follow. And trust is the foundation of any referral.
Not only will you be in the company of other community leaders, but you’ll be exposed to many others through the nonprofits served by the organization. Similarly, serving on the PTA or board of a local charity will reveal many other opportunities for networking while serving a cause higher than yourself.
Cross-promotion through social media.
Social media is an essential tool for engaging with your community. However, your goal should be to add value to your community, not to sell. Remember that mission statement? Make sure you are using your social media channels to communicate your mission and reinforce your brand as a leader with a desire to make your community a better place to live.
Early on during the pandemic, our firm saw that many teachers were struggling—mentally, physically, and financially. We wanted to help by doing more than just writing a check. We wanted to recognize and celebrate our teachers for the heroes they are. With that goal in mind, we created a social media campaign to support our “Classroom Heroes.” Through our social media channels, we ran a month-long promotion asking our followers to nominate a teacher they wanted to honor and describe why. It was inspiring to see what these teachers meant to the person making their nomination. Each week a teacher was randomly selected as our winner, and both the nominator and the “Classroom Hero” received a grocery store gift card and were featured in our social media. During the campaign, we also partnered with a local teacher’s organization to promote its fundraiser for the entire month and made a financial donation as well.
More than just writing a check, the campaign connected with our community and encouraged our followers to join us in celebrating teachers. In addition, the firm increased our brand exposure, grew our social media following, added new email addresses to our database, and saw a significant increase in our engagement metrics. Think of the ways you can use a similar campaign to cross-promote the causes or charities that are important to you and your target audience.
Help a local business to grow yours.
This past holiday season we wanted to do something different for our annual gift-giving campaign for our referral sources. A lot of our local businesses were hurting at the end of a bad year. It obviously made sense to purchase gifts from them, but we believed we could make an even bigger impact by partnering with local businesses that were also giving back to the community. We selected nine local businesses to partner with for our “Gifts that Give Back” campaign and curated gift baskets filled with their locally made products. The criteria for selection were that the product had to benefit our local community, be made or sold by a nonprofit, or that a portion of the sale proceeds went back to a local charity.
The gift baskets included a brochure that described each business and the nonprofit that was supported by purchasing the gift. To promote these local businesses to our community, we also conducted a weekly raffle via our social media platforms for the month of December. Over the course of the campaign, we promoted the small businesses and the charitable causes they supported, and encouraged our followers to pay it forward and buy the gifts as well. As a result, we again saw an increase in our target metrics, and the most important benefit of all, the satisfaction of giving back.
About the Authors
Todd Smith is the founder of C. Todd Smith Law, a personal injury firm in Orlando, Florida. Kristine Palkowetz is the firm’s marketing coordinator. Todd previously served as governor of the Florida District of Kiwanis International in 2017-2018.