to my car, I heard loud music. This was not exactly what I expected in
Grants Pass, Oregon on a warm Saturday July evening. I had just returned
from an exhilarating jet boat excursion to Hellgate Canyon and enjoyed a
ranch style dinner on the Rogue River.
music was getting louder and louder as I approached the parking lot. It
was coming from across the street. It was an automobile dealership, Mock's
Ford, and it was alive with action. There was a band playing, with folks
of all ages dancing to the music, a barbecue filling the area with its
popular aroma, and yes, people were buying cars. The excitement and
activity drew me like a magnet to metal.
front of the sales office, a local radio station, Cruisin'-FM, was
conducting a live-remote broadcast allowing all in attendance to be
involved. I located the dealership president, Don Carr, and during our
chat he told me that they had sold almost as many cars so far that weekend
as they usually sell in a month. To top it off he said, "We're not
giving these cars away." Carr created a weekend partnering
alliance with his community and won big.
would you like to sell your products at that rate and still make a profit?
You might be saying, "That's great for selling cars, but what about
me?” The answer is to get involved with your community in a way that
serves people and created high-level exposure for your business. You'll
need to be creative and develop some fun, helpful, exciting community
activities. Remember, being unique is not an absolute necessity, but
it’s very helpful.
has always been, and will always be, the retailer's call to battle.
Creativity is also one of the key ingredients necessary to create value in
the eyes of your customers. The way the national big box category busters
(i.e., Wal-Mart, Circuit City, and Office Depot) develop perceived value
is through selection and low price, not necessarily service. If you are an
independent retailer and you’re trying to do battle in their arena, they
will clean your clock. But, creativity is not necessarily a word that big
boxes, at the local level, understand.
years, Baby boomers have been the pig in the python in our economy. They
were heavy-duty consumers in the 1980s, buying their first houses and
filling them up, buying luxury cars and all the outward trappings of
success. In the 1990s they traveled and purchased RVs. Now, with most of
the Boomers having grandchildren, they will buy almost anything if they
perceive it’s a good value. Also, determine what they perceive as
value-added in how you run your business and give it to them—they'll
reward you with profits through their loyalty. Don’t forget about the X
and Y Generations. While many were part of the dot com bust, they still
seem to spend freely.
a unique position for your business in the minds of your customers and
your competition in the marketplace is greatly diminished. Remember
though, unique means one of a kind, (not just a bit different) and that's
what you must be if you plan to survive and prosper throughout this decade
Nightingale, co-founder of Nightingale-Conant Corp., the worlds largest
producer and distributor of audio and video learning systems continually
offered this suggestion for creativity: take a yellow pad each morning and
spend a quiet hour thinking about the major challenges for the day. He
would go to work listing all ideas he could think of—no matter how
crazy, impossible, wacky or boring the idea might appear. "Some ideas
you'll use and many you'll toss out," he would say. The important
thing is to capture the ideas and take action on the ones you believe will
assist you in achieving your goals.
how does all this creativity and uniqueness talk help you to partner with
your community? You can't just copy what others have done and make it work
for you. You can, copy the process used but not the results. Your
community is uniquely different, your neighbors have special needs, and
you must use your creativity to find a winning combination.
how to get started. Head for your chamber of commerce, if you're not a
member yet, and join! Ask for their list of clubs and organizations. Do
any interest you? I know you don't have time for that kind of stuff. Trust
me, you do! It's all in how you choose to participate. There are more ways
to participate than just showing-up to their meetings and events, be
to chair a fundraiser, one that you can have at your location—yearly!
The event can be in your store, in your mall or center, on the sidewalk in
front of your store or in your parking lot.
market or rummage sales are about the easiest to put on and quite
profitable, find an interesting twist though. You can arrange to have
leftovers picked up by a local charity.
holiday theme party such as a Halloween costume party. Do this after
hours, charge for attendance and give the profit to your organization.
During the day offer a discount for those who shop in a costume.
you are on a busy street try a Saturday barbecue, possibilities are
might be wondering why you need to have these activities in conjunction
with a community organization—for PUBLICITY! In the example I mentioned
at the beginning of this article, Carr paid for all the advertising. When
you work in conjunction with a local group you get public service
announcements (PSA) free of charge and you ALWAYS mention the location
(yours) in the news releases.
you want more help in doing news releases or publicity, head for the
public library and go to the non-fiction # 659 section. While you are at
the library, stop by the reference desk and ask to look at the Gale
Directory of Print & Broadcast Media, you'll find the address and
phone number of all the media in your area. They are whom you notify for
your up-coming event.
idea might be to head a local organization that you care about from your
place of business. Be sure it's a high profile organization; this can
bring you closer to your community. It will give many potential customers
another reason to visit you.
Exposure Without Joining Community Organizations
you die-hard's who want exposure to the community but refuse to join a
local organization, here are some ideas. Hold a parking lot aerobics class
(in warm weather) three days a week at no charge; allow everybody to
participate. The ones who enjoy the benefits will love you and who knows
how many hundreds of people will take notice as they drive by.
working with the local city government and have a bus stop in front of
your store or better yet, as one ski shop in Camarillo, California did,
organize a city sponsored bus service to the beach in the summer (the
pick-up was at the shop). Be creative and have a winter service too.
with your school district; offer incentives to students who achieve high
grades, as does a surf shop in San Diego, California. Many schools and
cities have work programs for youth; get signed up with these kinds of
programs. Go to the source, ask local school principles how you might
assist, let them know that you want some exposure in trade. Many of the
franchise chains have jumped all over that idea. Also, don't forget about
sponsoring youth sport teams.
notice as to what your community does already. Ask yourself, "How can
I add to the activities currently in place?" Take time every morning
to view and list your options in solving your challenges and things will
appear simpler and solutions will become known. Be sure to understand the
value your customers are looking for in that which you offer and find your
uniqueness. Achieve these things and you will get a greater piece of your
area's retail pie.
Additional Ideas To Partnering With Your Community:
the community that you care by words as well as deeds.
articles that will be of interest and assistance to your community in
your business area of expertise. Then offer the articles to the print
on a local radio or TV show and talk about the state of the swimwear
industry or how the different styles flatter different shapes.
the Public Access equipment that the federal government requires cable
TV businesses to provide and produce a video for broadcast. The cable
companies will teach you how to use their equipment. Remember the
production needs to be "informational."
your state highway department and join their "adopt the
road" program. Your store cleans a mile-section quarterly and you
get your name on a sign on the highway for all who drive by to see.
pasta feeds for sports teams. Consider local high school or college
teams, and remember to tell the media.
Copyright 1994-2013 Ed Rigsbee
Ed Rigsbee, CSP, CAE, is the
author of PartnerShift, Developing
Strategic Alliances and The
Art of Partnering. Additionally, he has over 2,000 published articles to his
credit. Ed travels internationally to deliver strategic alliance keynotes
and workshops. He can be reached at +1(805) 498-5720, email@example.com or visit www.rigsbee.com.