From fundraisers to employee appreciation events, this section contains ideas on what an organization can do to bring people together. In bringing people together for one common purpose, we create community. The folks who collect to take part in any event are all sharing that common thread. Events can be a powerful way to bring value to your community, as well as a great vehicle for marketing your brand. When you produce an event, attendees bond with your brand in two ways. First, they obviously bond with you as their host, but secondly-and more subtly-they bond with each other. Now, you may feel that if they're networking with each other, they're not being mindful of you in that instance, but as memories and connections are made around your event, your own brand recognition is strengthened in the minds and hearts of those who have attended. Events can be a powerful way to strengthen your brand while bringing value to your community.
Throw a "client appreciation" party.
Whether a holiday or a "client appreciation" party, getting your clients together in the same room and collectively thanking them for their loyal patronage can help you make clients (and friends) for life. Depending on the nature of the organization you operate, you may also have key staff members available to assist with mingling and mixing.
Variation: If you have a large organization, you may separate the employee party from the client party, but certainly both merit having. Employee parties offer the opportunity of internal marketing; clients, external.
Have a competition.
Host and promote a competition. You can call it "The Great ____________ Race". Set up a small number of teams, each with a small number of participants. One team wins upon accomplishing the appropriate task you set before them. The entry fee may be the cost (or reduced cost) of your service. Grand prize is either more of your product or service, or you may find a sponsor to provide the winning prize(s) in exchange for promotion through the event. There are also services available that help you offer some of the larger packages like cars, electronics, et cetera. (Essentially, you buy insurance against the cost of the prize if someone wins.)
Variation: Donate your product or service to a charitable cause in the winner's name.
Fundraiser: Childrens' art sale.
"While chatting with another Sunday school teacher, it came out that her class planned to have the children draw on gift bags and sell those original artwork pieces to raise funds to sponsor a more needy family for Christmas. My geek sensibilities said there had to be a less labor-intensive way to get the same thing done and suggested we scan the artwork and then create iron-on transfers of the artwork. We could then sell more copies of each piece, realize greater profits, and maintain happier, less stressed artists/kids! The next thing I know, I'm getting nods of approval from other teachers and parents who've heard the first Sunday school teacher rave about my idea."
~Idea submitted by Yvonne LeFave, one of the owners of Jandy Online, LLC. Yvonne has been a web designer for over 10 years. She specializes in creative ways of displaying information drawn from a database and creating user-friendly interfaces for her clients. Find out more at www.jandyonline.com.
Community Day.Hold a "Community Day". Offer your good or service to your local community at a free or reduced cost. Work with other local businesses and the media to promote your event. This is a great way to give back to the community and bring in new customers who have not visited your business yet. It is also a great way to get to know your neighbors. Work with them to make Community Day a larger event, offering even more value back to the community!
Host a cooking contest.
A restaurant might have a cooking contest for newly-graduated, local chefs. During the event evening, the restaurant would charge $10 per person to sample all the showcased dishes. Attendees must vote on which dish is the best. The dish that wins gets on the menu (which should tell the story about how it came to be.) To make the stakes higher, the restaurant might even hire the winning chef.
Tip: This idea also works when you need an event catered and don't have a lot money.
~Idea submitted by kellyg.
Conduct a window display contest.Conduct a window display contest (instead of a sidewalk sale). Make voter cards available and encourage participants to vote on their favorite display. Offer free samples to entice voters to try your product or service. Maintain a guestbook to track traffic and build your contact database.
Participate in a local gallery hop.Participate in a local gallery hop, where local artists bring their wares to display at a collection of stores and businesses. Maps of participating businesses are provided and the event is advertised throughout the community. Businesses may serve appetizers and beverages to visitors on the tour, and artists may be present to talk about their work. This may be done for free (for the exposure, sharing the expense for printing the maps, posters, et cetera) or you might charge a small cover as the maps are handed out (you would charge hoppers only once—not at each location.)
Welcome to sidewalk sales.Just because you provide a service instead of a product, it doesn't mean you can't participate in sidewalk sales. Use sidewalk sales to:
- Get to know your neighborhood and its foot traffic
- Educate the public on what you do
- Survey the public for what they want. Get suggestions and ideas from people on what they need and how you may best provide it
- Conduct free demonstrations of your product or service
Sometimes, you are more valuable behind bars.A number of good causes offer a "lock up" program to enlist members of the community in raising funds. The idea is to publicize a mock arrest and jailing (though you may really be handcuffed and driven to the local jail in a police car) in exchange for "bail" (contributions to the cause.) The "arrestee" then contacts the members of their own network to solicit for a set amount of funds in return for their freedom. Once bail has been made, you're set free. Finally, if you can't be away from your job, there's often a "house arrest" option. Sign yourself up and publicize it as widely as you can. You're gaining a life experience, a wonderful story and good karma.
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