Can NOT caring about business be good for business?
Most of us, if asked, are happy to contribute to others. It makes us feel good. Yet as small business owners, it is easy to forget about giving to others when we’re focused on the next assignment, or just paying the bills on time.
Not long ago, contributing time or money was considered a luxury that only successful studios (or beginning photographers trying to establish a clientele) could afford. Today, contributing has become an important part of many businesses’ marketing strategy. Linking your business to a cause cuts through the “noise” of advertising, and tells your customers something about you that no amount of advertising can.
The challenge of contributing is this: writing a check and sending out a press releases is not enough. Savvy consumers can tell the difference between a business who is committed to a cause, and one just looking for free advertising.
If you are ready to step up your marketing by supporting a cause, start by finding one you genuinely care about, then make it a part of the DNA of your business. If you’re only contributing to bring in clients, you won’t succeed. Only by transcending the sales relationship with your clients will they notice and trust your commitment, which in turn, will bring you more sales.
Here are some examples using photography I’ve read about over the years:
- The lady who started Flat Daddies, life-sized cut-outs of men and women serving in Iraq. Or this vet who just displays life-sized armed services members in front of his house.
- A police chief blew up life-sized cut-outs of kids, and with the help of volunteers put them on the curb in a neighborhood to discourage speeding.
- Flashes of Hope, a group that solicits volunteer photographers to take inspirational portraits of children with cancer.
- Photographers who volunteer for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).
- The majority of photographers I’ve met who give presentations at WPPI or DPPA.
I’m willing to bet that if you contacted any of the folks involved in these projects, they would tell you that a) they have made a difference in someone’s life, b) they feel good about it, and c) they aren’t doing it for the money. Yet every one of them has gained more visibility in the community and customer goodwill than any paid advertising ever could.
It doesn’t matter whether you volunteer, write a check, host a fundraiser, or stand on the corner carrying a sign. If you can find something you truly care about and make it part of the core of your business, not only will you feel better, but your business will be better for it too.