The options for getting your message out there are fairly limited, pricey, and, there are no guarantees either... So what are the traditional options?
Advertise in the local newspaper
Local radioAgain longer periods of advertising work out more cost effective and radio can be a good medium. But costs of producing a succinct advert and running the advertisement is out of the reach of most local businesses and charities...
Local community magazinesOften much lower cost than newspapers these can work well for certain business types. They often need good content and stories which are a great way to expose local charities too. They also have good relevancy in that the people being marketed to and local and within easy reach. Worth exploring.
Leaflet dropsThese really work well for some kinds of businesses, especially takeaways where people pin them on their noticeboard for future reference. It also works for other services like Gardeners and gift items... but less well for more specialised services
Local directories (online and offline)Offline directories have become almost extinct as the Internet has rolled every forward... nowadays there are a plethora of much smaller online directories but which ones are used by people? difficult to tell... do you have to be in all of them? ... are they relevant and local?
With so much abuse of the telephone by PPI claims, Accident claims and people trying to sell stuff over the phone, it is no wonder that people steer away from this. If you have a Business to Business service it is still a great approach but more and more it needs to be a warm introduction first, however that is originated...
Direct MailMuch more prevalent in Business to Business situations. Can be effective if the document is unusual or has some unique quality that demands further investigation. Handwritten and / or highly personalised such as postcards often work best.
Email campaignsAnother method of communication which has fallen foul of mass abuse. Email campaigns work best with a highly refined list of people that have registered and interest. Open rates can be as high as 30-40% with good lists. The effectiveness of email compaigns thus relies on the quality of the list. If no such lists exist, then, the first port of call must be to build your tribe...
Website and search results through optimisationBuild it and they will come... err... no they won't. Websites are great except no one will visit unless you invite them (publicise your website), or you have great search engine optimisation (SEO) so that you are found for key terms that define what you do (Plumber in Watford) or... you have localisation deployed in which case you are more likely to come up for local and specific relevant searches (this is even more relevant with Google since April 2015). This can cost quite a lot of money... and it is a moving feast as the search engines are continually changing their algorithms... what works today, might not work tomorrow... and back we go again... more money, unless you are technical and can take care of things yourselves.
BloggingThis is a great way of demonstrating your expertise, but like any other online approach somehow you need to rise above the noise. With billions of updates daily, the only people who will be seeing your content are those that you have built a relationship with.
Business NetworkingBeyond the scope of most charities due to cost and to most micro businesses for the very same reason, Business networking does enable people in business to get to know each other, build relationships and advertise what they do. For those in the community that would like to meet up and have conversations with others from the local area, irrespective of whether in business or not, hitherto there has been very little available... until now...
Not easy is it?
Clearly some of the above may work for your business or charity but looking through them you may well feel you've tried them all at some time but that you wanted perhaps a bit more success for the effort involved, or the money invested.
Recognising the challenges of invisible local businesses and charities and the need to raise their profile is one of the fundamental missions of Link4Growth. The important question to ask any business or charity would be, would you be enjoying more success and engagement if everyone within a 5 mile radius knew you existed and who you were?
Of course it is a rhetorical question... However, how could that possibly be achieved? One of the underlying fundamental strategies of Link4Growth is to enable people to more easily find (and buy) from local businesses, and for those in business to be able to engage with the community and share what they do, all for little or no cost. For local charities it is about removing their cloak of invisibility and making people aware of their existence and the good work they are doing.
So how can Link4Growth help? ... Let's start by asking some questions
What if there was a way to represent how we are organised physically in the online world? What if we could create counties, cities, towns and villages and then enable people to participate and include themselves in those places where they live and work? What if they could then contribute to those communities and share what is happening in their life, community around them, and work? What instead of guessing how to find local people and relying on search to come up with the goods we were able to find what is around us through a simple structure that organises what is happening in our community for us in an easy way?
These are community platforms not controlled and managed by individuals but open to anyone that wishes to contribute and share what is going on locally. It is completely organic, so as more people begin to add local information about what is happening in the community the more rich and diverse the content. Think local community magazine or newspaper but where we, the community, can freely publish what is going on. No waiting for an editor to approve things or filter out our contributions. No delays or time constraints to get in the next publication... and to share what you want to say is both quick and easy to do...
Now at last we have a place to easily publicise what is going on in our community. No guessing where to put the information. No wondering how you are going to tell others what you are doing. Now... if you have something to say... you can say it. The best bit about this is that, once you have put the information out there... others in the community can easily help to spread the word and share it on other platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and elsewhere, so people not yet engaged on the community platform don't miss out.
There is so much good happening in our community that we don't ever hear about...95% of what goes on in our communities is good. But good news unfortunately rarely make the news. So you might be thinking according to what you do hear about, that where you live or work is pretty bad with lots of awful things going on. Actually this won't be the case. This is our opportunity to learn about the amazing people in our community and what is really happening. Our chance to shout out about good things that are going on, the people making these things happen and be positive about where we live and work. If we all did this right across the country what a huge difference in just 'feeling and energy' would that make?
Below some of the highlights of what we are able to do with the community platform...
Do you have pictures or videos about your business or charity?Tell your story with text, pictures and / or video, you can share what is happening so that others in the community can learn more about you, your business or charity
Local business directory (by category)Get found easily by those looking for what you do in a dedicated local business directory. Good news spreads fast!
Post regular updates and keep people informedYou can update when, and as often as you like. Tell the community about special services, offers or announcements... Get your message to a wider audience easily and fast
Attend local community building networking events and benefit from the list below :-
- Have conversations and get to know other local people
- Make new friends
- Get introduced to people you would like to meet
- Find suppliers or collaborators
- Find customers or new supporters of your charity
- Learn new skills, gain tips and tricks from other local people
- Help others, share your knowledge, expertise and experience
- Be a contributor to your local community
- Open to all
- Brings together like minded people and accelerates good initiatives and projects
Do you operate nationally, or want to? ... Link4Growth's community forum joins us altogether nationally... Spread your message to the four corners of the UK and beyond...
Link4Growth District Websites are here to enable the community to come together online and work together. It's like a big filing cabinet bringing, the people in the community, local businesses, local charities, local events, pictures, videos, news, stories and everything going on locally into one place. Everyone can participate that's the amazing thing and everyone benefits... Fantastic for local businesses and charities, for those looking to support buying from local people... this in turn enables the local economy to flourish which in turn builds community itself. It really is win, win, win, win, win!
Access to the District websites is 24/7, and available on every device from Mobiles to Tablets, Macs to PC's and on iOS and Android...
Ok you might need to learn a few of the basics to start contributing at any of the community networking events or via Link4Skills online workshops... Many will actually already have the skills and access to these districts websites without even knowing it! ... in this case you'll just need showing where to find things.
Ok... So how much does it cost to participate in the above? ... Nothing... Yes... Nothing. It is all free to use and be part of.
Should you wish to contribute to Link4Growth (a not for profit) and support us in providing the infrastructure then you can do this for £3 per month, or £36 for 13 months... And by the way this is not obligatory.
Too good to be true? ...
99 times out of 100 you'd probably be right... on this occasion you would be completely wrong. Link4Growth does not exist for its own benefit. Link4Growth exists to support and help the people in the community, and if you think that is worth supporting then drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or... visit the contact us form on the website here...