Walk down any sidewalk in Stars Hollow, Connecticut or through the alleys in Tree Hill, North Carolina and before entering Karen’s Café or Luke’s Diner, other resident-owned business tout their or boutique stores, featuring hand-lettered shirts and home goods.
Shopping local has become an opportunity of pride in recent years. Even in LEAP’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, there are many studies that show more people visit locally-owned and operated coffee, as opposed to chain stores. Similarly, less-researched studies show more town residents turn up their noses to people that shop chain-stores, as opposed the genuine smiles received when holding a Heine Bros. coffee cup.
In a 2017 study published by Prosepad, the search organization found 90 percent of U.S. shoppers are likely to switch from their norm purchase for a cause-branded product. Additionally, research showed 43 percent of ‘Millennials’ find it easier to contribute causes through a business’ program, rather than giving to the nonprofit, directly.
Disregarding the stereotype around shopping local, the truth is, value is put directly back into the culture of the city. Ask any boutique owner – the business as started because he or she saw a need in their community and had the skills to fill it.
As advertising agencies execs and entrepreneurs, we serve a wide variety of clients – expanding from our local reach to national, and even international. That doesn’t mean we love our community less than the Heine Bros. coffee family. It just means we have to work harder to show it.
And it may not be through traditional ways – shopping or advertising. Smaller, local stores may not be able to afford agency prices. Even so, it is possible to show support in other ways. We've laid out three, easy ways your company can quickly get involved in your community this week:
Utilize Social Media
If you’re a company bigger than that of a local store, it’s likely you have a larger social following than a small café. Take an off-site business meeting to a local restaurant or coffee shop, and post an image from there. Not necessarily of your coworkers, but the service and/or goods the establishment has to offer. It is then up to the locally-owned business to maximize on your engagement.
Spend Some Internal Money for Out-Facing Clients
Louisville, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, all homes to LEAP Group offices, are all fortunate enough to have local sporting events. The Louisville FC soccer team plays at least once a week, right on the Ohio River. If you go upstream a bit, you may catch a Cincinnati Reds game. Or, if you just go straight north, the Indianapolis Indians may be playing under the lights. Whatever the event that brings the community together, show your logo to show your community you’re involved.
Common sense, right? In any area, there is no lack of need. At least once a quarter, LEAP brainstorms ways to give back to our community. In the past, we’ve given Christmas gifts to Hand in Hand Ministries, volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House and pet animals at the humane society.
There’s a myriad of small ways to give back. Think seasonal – serving a Christmas or Thanksgiving meal is great for team building and immersing your brand in the community. Also, think locally. There may be some areas of need specific to your region.
The Double-Edged Sword
In episode 4 of season 5 of Friends, Phoebe and Joey argue over if performing a completely selfless act is possible. I’ll admit, Joey makes a good argument. Sure, intentions can be pure when volunteering time or resources. But the sweet, fulfilled feeling that results is not ignorable.
Not only does volunteering provide your business a sense of gratitude, but it unintentionally does make your name more noticeable in your local community. It inadvertently helps retention, create a positive outlook on your business and essentially turns into cause marketing, which is likely to garner at least 43 percent of Millennials’ attention.