Jay Conrad Levinson, better known as the father of Guerilla Marketing, in a presentation I attended many years ago, listed “being involved in your community” as one of the top 100 things guerrilla marketers need to do and for good reason. Simply put, people like to do business with companies they see involved in their community and doing good in the world. If you want your community to be good to you you have to be good to your community. Go figure right?
The worst excuse I hear though is “how difficult” it is to find ways to get involved. This means your view of what to do in your community is incredibly narrow. Don’t believe me? Just look at this list off the top of my head:
- Check out the local organizations like Kiwanis, Exchange Club, Rotary etc.
- Talk to the president of the local PTA and don’t forget there are usually several, with the elementary, middle, junior and high schools.
- Got a local hospital? They’re always looking for help.
- All of the sports teams from soccer to little league always need help.
- How about talking to the guidance counselors at the high school and finding out about the school paper and yearbook?
- Big Brother, Big Sister, local children’s charities can’t find enough help, ever!
- Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to find out where the greatest needs are in your community.
- Animal and pet shelters always need help.
- Retirement, senior citizen homes and Senior Centers
- Then there are all the usual national charities supporting the fight against breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes – you name it and there’s an organization out there trying to make the world a better place.
- Food kitchens and efforts to help the homeless abound in most of the larger cities.
- Support for our military have cropped up everywhere, especially photographers helping families with portraits before being deployed and upon their return. Check out Hearts-Apart for example.
- Looking for something more photo-centric - check out groups like Help-Portrait and NILMDTS. There are hundreds of non-profit groups in our industry, all using photography as a vehicle to help the community.
So there you have it. This is just to get you started. I know some of these ideas may not appeal to you, but the key is to not lose site of how important community involvement can be. You've got to build a reputation as a photographer who gives back to your community. It's one of the very best ways to build brand awareness.