That was the response I got when I suggested this as one way a solo small business owner might spread the word about his company without spending a fortune on advertising.
The owner had a small consulting business (principally conducted over the Internet) in the human resource management field – he specialized in coaching mid-level managers and other mid-career white-collar employees in making job changes.
He was always looking for new ideas on ways to expand his clientele.
He didn’t see how he would ever be able to donate the money that was typically required to become an event sponsor. But he was willing to give it a try and make some contacts to see what he could do on a limited budget.
His first contact was with the local downtown businessman’s association. To his surprise, they accepted his offer to help out in an upcoming city-wide “Pioneer Day” celebration (something akin to a Founder’s Day event.)
His duty was to chair a group of business men and women in creating some displays that showed the growth and development of the community in stages from the day it was “settled” out West until the present.
In return for his volunteer work and his effort to recruit other local citizens and business owners to help him on his committee, his business received a number of listings and mentions along with other corporate sponsors in all the event literature, posters, t-shirts, brochures, and advertising.
Yes, it was a fair amount of work, but the owner enjoyed what he was doing, felt like he was making a valuable civic contribution, and didn’t have to pay to spread his company name and logo around the local business circles. Not only that, local citizens that attended the celebrations, food activities, events, and other gatherings were also exposed to his company name, logo, and business card (where he was allowed to offer it).
He told me he was later asked to make a short presentation on his business at one of the monthly association meetings which led to several good referrals of people in the community who were transitioning to new careers.
There are all kinds of ways to donate your solo business owner time and skills to sponsored events.
Here are a few of the obvious things you might do (but there are certainly many other creative ways to offer your volunteer service):
- Do you have graphics or artist skills? Design a brochure, flyer, or posters.
- Do you have writing skills? Volunteer your time to write ad copy, narrative for public relations pieces about the event, or historical accounts of the event.
- Do you have photography skills? Take digital photos for brochures, of prizes to be given away, or of the happenings of the event itself.
- Do you have money or banking skills? Volunteer to handle money, keep the books, take in collections, or work as a fundraiser.
- Do you offer a product or service in your business that you could donate as a raffle or auction item? You might even think about coming up with a “lite” version of a more expensive product if you don’t want to do a full-blown give-away.
- Do you organize or manage people well? Become a committee chairman, a public relations volunteer, or a recruitment specialist.
- Do you have any employees or family that could help? Ask them to volunteer also as part of your community service willingness.
There are lots of opportunities in every community to become a corporate or business sponsor … you just need to focus on ways to become a sponsor other than by giving money. Even if the event leaders don’t ask for your help … suggest ways that you might be helpful to them because of the expertise you have – or simply because of your willingness to be a volunteer that will do whatever is needed.
Besides events, think about sponsoring worthwhile local:
2. Church or youth groups
3. Community or school awards
4. Recreation activities (10K run, fishing derby, or walk-a-thon)
5. Auctions and raffles for good causes
6. Arts festivals and exhibitions
7. Music and cultural programs, symphonies, choirs, ballet
8. Public initiatives (clean-ups, beautification activities, civic service days to the needy, housing for the less fortunate, sub-for-Santa, etc.)
Lack of money in your small business (which means you won’t be donating hard cash to worthwhile efforts) should never deter you from volunteering your time and business resources (products or services) to worthwhile events and sponsorships.
Local business exposure is always important and you will be pleasantly surprised at the good will your business experiences from simply giving of your time and talents to public events.
To your online business success,