Business is more than just what appears on your profit and loss statements. It is an important part of the social fabric and it needs to give back as much as it gets. Being a part of the community is more than just sponsoring a local baseball team (although that’s good) and having an annual employee food drive (although that’s good). It’s more than just trying to make a good impression for the sake of making a good impression; it’s about simply doing good in the world because it’s the right thing to do.
Of course, there will be benefits to your business. You’ll get good press, for example. People will patronize your store if they think positively about you. You’ll be on the “top-of-the-mind” for people when they need your service.
What should you do? There is so much need! Here are two examples:
Back before long distance became really cheap, I remember a store that welcomed several recently immigrated families to call home for a fifteen minute holiday call over the Christmas season. You can be sure they made those families’ holiday. The story also appeared in the newspaper. And in the very tight ethnic community, you can be sure that it was talked about and their store was patronized well. (In fact, if I could remember their name, I’d mention them now just to honor them).
Another company that does a great job of getting and leveraging its own good deeds is 1800GotJunk. Their phone number and name are cleverly combined and they go about doing good (when they’re not doing business). Recently, they made the front page of a community paper for cleaning up a local park that had become run down. They’ll tell you that they did it because it was the right thing to do. That may be true, but they also got a nice full- page article with a big color picture and plenty of positive promotion for the cost of two staff wages and a truck for a couple hours, much less than they’d have paid for a half page black and white ad buried deep in the paper. (And I’m talking about it here).
So what should you do?
The first company I mentioned, who gave away free long distance phone calls, didn’t do anything within their industry, but they did something that was just plain nice, something that no one else was doing. 1800GotJunk did the same thing that many others have done but it was something within their industry. Both companies kept it low-key – not a lot of media hype, no flashy press releases. In both cases they identified a need and filled it – and it didn’t come across as a weak attempt at publicity. They rolled up their sleeves and DID something – unlike many companies that are happy to cut a big check amid handshakes and photo ops. And (here’s your hint) they focused in on a community. In both cases, their work was done within a tight-knit community – the kind where people notice things and talk to each other.
So what should you do?
- Find a need WITHIN a tight-knit community (possibly something in your industry but if you can’t find something, that’s okay).
- Plan it out.
- Get buy-in from your staff.
- Let a reporter know what you’re doing. (That’s okay, too. There’s nothing wrong with getting some media coverage for it).
- Get started and complete it with a smile on your face.
Some call it karma. Others call it “good coming back to you” and others call it “paying it forward.” Whatever you want to call it, do some good today!