It’s great to see companies like Amazon give away $100 million in a period of five years, but that just isn’t possible for smaller, local businesses. And that’s fine! You can still give back to your customers, employees, and community without ten figures in annual profit. You may even have an advantage, since it’s easier for you to interact with people face-to-face!
Let me show you how you can make December your business’ month of giving back without breaking the bank!
Giving Back to Customers
No customers means no business, so you’d better demonstrate your appreciation! If money is tight right now, you’re better off skipping huge deals or rewards programs. Instead, go with something that’s completely free but remarkably effective: customer promotions!
Sharing your customers’ stories on social media tells everyone that you value them as individuals. This doesn’t mean you need to write a biography on everyone who walks through your door, but strike up a conversation with the shoppers who pop in every week. Maybe one of them has an event that they’d like you to promote, or someone would just appreciate a public recognition of their support. Find their story and tell it! The people being highlighted will appreciate the personal attention, and your followers will appreciate being more than sales to your business.
Giving Back to Your Community
Generalized advice like “Donate to charity!” isn’t worth much when you’re trying to connect with your community. These are the people who pass your store every day, so it’s in your best interest to get them on your side. What does your community need? Whether there’s been a natural disaster, a healthcare crisis, poverty, or anything else, you need to find the point of need and meet them there.
Get in touch with community leaders to see how you can help. A brief conversation with a local elected official will help you rub elbows with local government and give you a font of information about the goings-on in your community. Once you know the problem, donate time or resources to a local charity that’s already helping in that area. This way, your contribution is going where it’s need most. People in your community will appreciate that!
Giving Back to Employees
Everyone wants motivated employees. But what are you doing to make their jobs more than a means to a paycheck? Cards are great for businesses that can’t afford lavish gifts, but only if you take the time to do them right. Writing “Thanks for all the hard work!” isn’t going to make your employees feel valued. In fact, it’s probably going to annoy them more than not giving them a card at all, because you’re pointing out how little you care about them and their work.
Instead, remember each employee’s accomplishments from the past year. When did they show moments of real skill? Find these successes and tell your employees how much you appreciate the work they did. On the surface it’s the same as a regular card, but “nice work” feels very different from “We really appreciate how you handled X situation.” But don’t stop there; rave about them! Show them that you’re their biggest fan! It’s easy for employees to get caught up in monotony, so take this as an opportunity to remind them of their highlights from 2018.
Think Through Your Plans
The surefire way to ruin any attempt at giving back is to act too quickly. As a local business, you probably don’t have the luxury of being able to throw money at people and causes to solve your problems. You need to make up for your lack of funds with a plan, and the above tips are a great place to start.
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