Does giving away more then you expect to get back actually help you grow your business?
It is a great question and sometimes not very easy to answer. This past year my focus has been on marketing our company and increasing our "brand" awareness. This has meant sponsoring events, offering free editorial space and even free advertising to help promote the events we are sponsoring or associations we are part of. By doing this I getting the perception of me always trying to find a new contract advertiser or project to feature a little further away from someones first thoughts and them focusing on me as a person. This allows barriers to come down and people to open up with me and build relationships first and discuss business second.
What is the upside to all this giving? Well by helping to promote the events or associations we are apart of we are aligning our "brand" with the image and reputation of the companies and organizations we are involved with. The key though is not to look for a huge payoff immediately but rather gaining value over the long run.
Is this always the case? Oddly enough there have been times this year where by fate someone saw we were associated with an event and called to place a full page ad. Other times people have approached me to see if there was a fit to work with them to promote their event. In some cases just the fact that we I had offered a lot of free promotion to an association they have come to me looking to offer work.
The most important thing I have learned is that you still have to keep giving and offering your help. You still need to keep looking for new events to sponsor and committees to get involved with. The worst thing you can do is stop giving and get back to just taking.
Something to remember with all of this is that the current economic environment forces people to look closer and decide where to spend there dollars or where to put their focus, they tend to look at existing relationships a lot more and want to help existing relationships first. Being involved with events and associations will and have given me a competitive edge when people had to decide on which publication to use for a feature article.
Now what does 2009 hold for me? I have aligned ourselves with Skills Ontario, I am looking at getting more involved with the Toronto Chapter of the Canada Green Building Council and returning to be a sponsor and larger provider of coverage to Wood WORKS! and the Awards Gala.
I will also be looking for new events and associations to partner with, let me know if their is a fit. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org