There are two reasons why every business should focus on giving back to its community:
I think Uncle Ben definitely said it best to Peter Parker: “with great power comes great responsibility”. Unfortunately I don’t have any superpowers, but I’ve always believed that businesses in any community, local or global, can and should find ways to contribute. Growing up I witnessed the impact and importance of company contributions to the community from seeing my grandfather and father contribute through their business. They saw it as their responsibility to give back to the community and they motivated me to do the same when I had a chance.
Aside from it simply being the right thing to do, your contribution to the community can elevate your brand in a positive light. Let’s be honest, brands spend millions every year to ensure they’re aligning their brand with their community and the causes that matter most. I truly believe that many of these companies are making these contributions for the right reasons (as per #1) but you can be sure there is a lot of strategic planning involved in choosing causes which benefit the brand – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
How a company gives back to the community, often termed ‘corporate social responsibility’, is really just another arm of your company’s marketing efforts. In large companies, like Wal-Mart, there can be full teams working on community efforts and ‘corporate social responsibility reports’ all-year-round. But not all of us have the resources or dollars to put towards a team of good-doers.
So who does this fall on in the SMB? It needs to start at the top with owners, founders, and management. However, there is no reason that your entire team can’t fuel ideas for how your brand can connect with the community. But at the end of the day I believe your brand’s community involvement is something that marketing needs to execute. It’s best to consider the way your brand connects with the community as an extension of your content marketing efforts. Your goal may be to give back and do good, but doing so will naturally position your brand to attract interest and inquires – not that far off from the goals of content marketing.
So at Uberflip we’re not quite at the point of having millions of dollars, as per Wal-Mart, or much spare change for that matter to donate. But I believe that any business, regardless of what stage they’re in, can find a way to give back. Doing so will not only make you feel better at night but it will help your brand.
With this in mind, I recently took to the ice with some of the all-time great NHL alumni (including Bryan Trottier on my team) to raise money for Alzheimer’s research via the Scotiabank ProAm hockey tournament. This was a great event where I played on a team sponsored through Uberflip, which was comprised of a number of police officers that we invited to participate; hence the team name UberCops.
I’m proud to have our brand attached to a charity that generated over $1 million in donations for such a worthy cause. And it doesn’t hurt to have our brand up on the boards aligned with these types of efforts. Connecting our brand with an event that pulled out many other great companies and community leaders can only help down the line when we’re trying to call on a prospect who may have been involved as a sponsor or attendee. This is a great example of how community involvement can deliver inbound interest in your company.
The involvement of your brand in the community does not always have to be a charity initiative or monetary for that matter. Although we’re still very much a startup ourselves, we’ve progressed as a business; and looking back there were many people who met with us or hosted us at events that put us on the right path.
Considering this, we teamed up with the awesome people at Mesh, and this past week we hosted an event at our office for 75 promising local startups. Mesh is Canada’s premier digital conference and the main event ended yesterday. On Monday, we brought together a number of startups invited to Mesh, along with some local VCs from our community, to a pre-party at our office. In this case Uberflip was simply the venue and coordinators for creating connections in the community. Aside from some beer, which in itself was discounted by Mill Street Brewery through a community sponsorship, our out-of pocket cost was about $500 plus the time to plan and execute.
Mesh is actually a great example of various brands coming together with a commitment to its community. The Mesh team itself invited many local startups to attend the event for free, especially since the ticket costs were likely out of budget for early stage entrepreneurs. This shows Mesh’s commitment to their community, along with many sponsors of the Hosted Startup Program such as Visa, Rackspace, Wildeboer Dellelce, Ernst & Young, and ME Consulting – a great example of brands and community coming together.
So what should you take from this? I’m not saying that the #1 reason to give back is to help your brand – that would make me sound like a big ass! : ) But there’s nothing wrong with your brand reaping the benefits of your actions as a community contributor. To paraphrase Uncle Ben: “With great brands, comes great responsibility,” so get on it and get your brand involved.
About the Author
As COO, Randy runs around daily between strategy, operations, sales and execution of Uberflip's awesomeness.Follow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter