How to Help Your Business by Helping Your Community

Community involvement isn't just for teens looking to strengthen their college applications, or white-collar criminals looking to impress a judge. It's also for businesses that want to make a positive impression on their customers.

"Each time you take your business to market, you're stepping into the arena. To succeed, you need innovative strategies to stay top of mind," says Small Business Trends contributor Andrew Gazdecki. "Developing a community outreach program is an excellent way for small businesses to gain local traction and up visibility without a huge investment."

An especially great way for small businesses to serve their community is by working with schools, according to Gazdecki.

"Approach a school and offer it something that their funding typically won't cover. It's a win-win for them, so they'll rarely decline the offer," he continues. "What's in it for you? Schools encompass the entire community. Students connect you to families and families connect you to neighborhoods. At the local level, this is even more effective than social media marketing."

Indeed, students can be a great mouthpiece for your brand, Gazdecki argues. "They talk and share more widely than most other groups, and your reach is truly limitless if you maintain a long-term relationship with a school -- few other groups have new faces cycling in every year," he concludes. "In other words, you can set into motion a chain of brand promotion events with one initial donation."

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