When it comes to traditional marketing and public relations in automotive, most of us think of printed marketing materials, press releases, direct mail and of course websites. We may forget that personal contact away from the dealership lot is a superb way to pitch our product or services and spread the news about what we do. Getting involved in community activities can be a boost to business and a way to take public relations to another level.
Community involvement is not necessarily the same thing as volunteering. You may be concerned that you have to donate hours and hours of free time to get the benefits of getting involved in community activities, but that is not the case. Volunteering and community involvement can be related, but they are not the same thing. Think of community involvement as ways you can get your dealership name linked with activities and events-donating to a silent auction or raffle, supporting or endorsing a local candidate or community project, organizing a team of volunteers to work on a project or supporting a local sports team-all of these are ways to get involved without having to volunteer too much time.
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Do not underestimate the positive marketing and public relations that can come from community involvement. Many people want to patronize and support those companies and businesses that they see as invested in the community. Letting the public know that you care about and are supportive of community challenges is a very good way of building a solid reputation.
You can set aside money in your advertising and marketing budget for community involvement-whether it is making those donations or giving money to a community project, or this can be a way to use goods and services to bring more people into your business. When you make a gift certificate donation to a local fundraising event, not only do you get the marketing of being in the program, listed in any literature or on the web site and announced at the event, but you also get to reach potential new customers and give them a taste of what you have to offer.
Instead of saying “no” when asked to participate in community events, try to see the big picture and evaluate what the long-term advantages (or disadvantages) might be to your business. Will getting involved help you to promote your mission and reach more prospective customers or clients? Will getting involved help you to make contact with those individuals who are in your target market?