Befriend Your Community

By Brian Reuwee posted 05-08-2017 14:58

  

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When you lend support through goods, services, or time, you're strengthening your community -- making it a better place to live and do business. In turn, your business reaps some benefits: You'll stand out from your competition, your product or service is showcased prominently before the public, and you'll gain visibility not enjoyed by every firm.

Fortunately, most ag retailers are already doing this work.

Ag retail is often the pillar of a small town, and it is important to work with media in a positive way. Effective community relations strategies allow businesses to choose the right causes and organizations to maximize community exposure and impact. Build a good rapport with local media and with influencers on social media multiplies that benefit so it helps to them out on site, seeing your business, your operation, helping them understand what an ag retailer does. When we can educate the media about what it is retailers do and our impact in the community, that's building goodwill.

Here are some examples of how your small business can strengthen worthy causes.

Donate your talents. A hair salon teams up with a nonprofit job referral service and offers unemployed job seekers a free haircut and manicure before they go out on interviews. A graphic design firm donates its services to arts organizations in its community and is now regarded as the quality place for typesetting work. Several ag retailers provide seed, fertilizer and crop protection products to FFA chapters. Others donate proceeds from test plot harvests to area food banks and shelters. 

Be a part of the solution. If your community is suffering from a shortage of qualified labor, there are ways you can help improve the future pool of laborers. The National Alliance for Business, for example, encourages business owners to enhance classroom curriculum by speaking to students about their professions and what it takes to be successful. If computers, other equipment, or resources are needed, get your networking pals to all contribute to the expense of meeting a particular need in your community. 

Many ag retailers have partnered with local community colleges to offer specialized classes in agronomy, precision agriculture and other fields to build up a local pool of qualified applicants for sales agronomy positions, which can be challenging to fill. Others have partnered with driver training courses to identify potential truck drivers.

Pick an appropriate cause based on your own or customers' interest. Align yourself with worthy causes by identifying core needs, problems, or opportunities in your community. Then pick a cause that it's appropriate for you to be associated with. For ag retailers this can run the gamut from supporting food banks to agriculture awareness programs at an area zoo. FFA and 4-H are common causes ag retailers support, but others are out there from Alpha Zeta, the agricultural honor society, to Fellowship of Christian Farmers, which provides disaster relief services to rural communities.

Eight out of 10 people say they purchased from a business because they approve of its involvement with the community. Position yourself as a community giver, and you'll benefit from the goodwill effects that advertising alone cannot buy.

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