The Importance of Community Relations for Business

Community Relations is the driving soul of an organization – it is not an afterthought or reactive endeavor but a strategic undertaking for all companies, big or small.

When a business commits to community relations as part of its core business strategy, it helps attract and retain top employees, positions itself positively among customers and improves market and brand position.

Positive, proactive connections to the community can translate into a boost to the bottom line.

Here are 10 steps to Community Relations best practices:

1) Create a written vision statement, which acknowledges the importance of community issues, and the direct relationship they have on your company’s future success.

2) Mainstream this vision statement as foundation throughout the organization.

Edan Gelt Chicago Business

3) The business leader, boss or CEO must continually communicate and act on the company’s commitment through emails, presentations, websites and collateral to employees and also take a personal leadership role in the community.

4) The relationship-building activities, community programs, charitable benefits and plans must be uniquely tailored to the company. Focus on the company’s goals; unique products, services and core competencies; and the access to resources, such as money, people, products and services.

5) The vision statement and the organizational strategy must become a key part of the business culture. This means a commitment beyond words, one that is actually used to guide business decisions.

6) The business should create a structure to allow for the implementation, including ways to involve a cross section of managers and employees in the plan – like a matching program.

7) The company must allocate resources, including naming a senior-level community relations director or a person in charge of the endeavor, to implement the strategy and community relations must become the responsibility of the entire management team and not just the community relations staff.

8) The business must establish policies and procedures for implementing the strategy. Volunteering should be rewarded in some way.

9) Training activities should be established to make sure the community relations strategies are implemented regularly.

10) Evaluate internal audits to monitor the strategy and its progress.

Community Relations

Community relations projects can be as simple as matching funds donated to charitable organizations or as complex as setting up your own organization for a cause.

Businesses can start simple by inviting a charity to set up a giving tree for the holiday season. Another simple start is donate a percentage of sales from a certain product towards a community or charitable organization it chooses.

Inform the community of what your plans are, as a business you have social influence to make a difference and your efforts will be rewarded.

Written by:
Edan Gelt, CMD, MBA
Marketing Strategist and Child Life Volunteer

Edan Gelt is an award winning, innovative, energetic, highly creative and consumer-centric marketing leader with successful results in increasing sales and traffic.

Her experience includes business-to-business and consumer marketing, advertising, media-buying, branding, e-marketing, public and community relations, strategy creation/implementation, budgeting, direct marketing, grand openings, trade shows, grass-roots marketing initiatives and special event planning.

Marketing as a Game of Chess

Edan Gelt

What is marketing strategy and what do strategists do? I feel like I’ve answered this question so many ways but defining it through the game of Chess is my ultimate favorite.

Marketing is the act of taking a look at your business from a 500-foot level. In comparison to Chess, the board is your marketplace (or your business) depending on how you want to play, and the goal is to either capture your clients or maybe it’s to remove your competitors (depending on your 500-ft view).

So how is Chess like Marketing Strategy?

Goal: Checkmate an opponent’s king

Strategy: I’ll open with “X strategy of opening moves” and attempt to control the middle of the board. Protect my king.

Tactics: I will move my knight here to respond to you moving your pawn.

Do Opponents Moves Change Strategy?

Like Chess, even with the ultimate strategic plan, you can’t always control your opponent’s moves so your strategy needs to be nimble enough to account for the unexpected.

Referring to the above example, I’ve created a mock client. Assuming, I am the owner of my own football stadium (don’t I wish) and I’ve set my goal, objective, strategies and tactics as below:

Goal: Increase NOI

Objective*: Increase attendance and food sales

Strategy: Offer promotional prices for pre-season buyers

Incorporate a ticket/food combo plan

Tactics: Send email newsletter to attendees of last seasons games

Create social media ad for my target audience (research zip codes of prior attendees to establish list)

Create special offer of ticket/food and send out postcards to existing attendee database to upgrade ticket to combo

Place media on X,X,X radio stations promoting pre-season prices and food combo.

Buy bus backs and billboards in markets whose demos match fans.

Looking at the above – the marketer creates strategies and tactics that match the goal of the company (increase NOI) and coordinates the mediums and professionals that will go into making the plan a success.

Going back to the game of chess, imagine the plan is in the implementation stage and the weather has been rainier and cooler than expected leading up to pre-season. Ticket sales aren’t moving. Food sales are no longer important – it’s time to change the strategy and tactics.

Move queen, reevaluate strategy and adjust the tactical plan.

Goal: Increase NOI

Objective*: Increase attendance and ancillary gear sales

Strategy: Offer promotional prices for pre-season buyers

Incorporate a ticket/gear combo plan

Offer rain or snow gear with ticket prices (branded umbrellas, rain sticks, hats, gloves, etc)

Tactics: Send email newsletter to attendees of last season’s games

Create social media ad for my target audience (research zip codes of prior attendees to establish list)

Create special offer of ticket/gear and send out postcards to existing attendee database to upgrade ticket to combo

Place media on X,X,X radio stations promoting pre-season prices and gear combo.

Buy bus backs and billboards in markets which demos match fans.

Once you have your marketplace set up and you enter it, time to play!

Marketing Directors/Strategists:“What is your Role?”

Edan Gelt - Marketing

I remember the first time I told a friend I was going to school to become a “marketer” (over 20 years ago). I was asked if I was going to “hand out flyers”. Yep, that’s me; I’m the flyer distributor. I went off to get my BS in marketing and economics and later my MBA. Even as I progressed throughout my career, people were confused about what I actually did. Employers and clients rewarded me for a job well done when NOI was up but truly had no clue of what I did to get it there. Even after a decade in my last job, I was still occasionally asked to sit at my computer and design a flyer. “Um, I’m not an artist, sorry!”

There is a vast misunderstanding of what marketing is. Some people think marketing = sales, others think marketing = advertising, and my favorite, marketing = graphic design. No.

Well, yes and no.

No wonder it is so confusing, just look at the general definitions of marketing!

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” — American Marketing Association
“Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all. It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must, therefore, permeate all areas of the enterprise.” — Peter Drucker
“Marketing is the process by which companies create customer interest in products or services. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business development. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves.” — Wikipedia

Graphic design, web development, creative writing and even flyer distribution, are tactical elements of an overall marketing strategy. The sales role is a completely different discipline, though sales and marketing quite often work together (or they should).

My current client was disappointed that I wasn’t going to drive to businesses 30-miles away to pitch the company’s services. She didn’t understand marketing strategy implementation was not a sale and didn’t include knocking doors and selling services.

I’ve struggled for years to explain what marketers really do and finally came up with an analogy that makes sense or at least can be digested by non-marketers.

Edan Gelt

Marketing Strategist to Business = General Contractor to Home Building

Imagine you are building a house and you hire a General Contractor. The GC plans the creation of the house with your input and then coordinates construction by first hiring an architect, then a plumber, carpenter, electrician, tuck-pointing company, etc. Now, compare this: a Marketer develops strategy, creates the campaign and then hires an ad agency, PR agency, designer, copywriter, or other professional consultants/agencies to implement the strategy.

The GC may be proficient in some of the areas required to build the home like carpentry, architecture or plumbing or maybe not. Similarly, your Marketing Strategist may be proficient in copywriting, research, analysis, media buying or design. This does not, however, mean the contractor or strategist is hired to do these specific tasks. It is the job of the strategist or contractor to manage these tasks, not perform them personally unless negotiated otherwise.

Unlike GC’s, marketers are often expected to complete all the tasks (tactics) to achieve the marketing strategy. If you put this into GC terms, imagine a general contractor that first has to serve as an architect, draw up the home plans, purchase and haul all the materials to the job site, frame the house, run electrical, rough plumbing, install and tape drywall and tuck-point. When complete, the GC would then inspect your home for mistakes. This process would not only be slow, it would be inefficient and likely riddled with mistakes.

Putting this into the perspective of marketing, that is exactly what many employers and clients expect from their marketing directors or strategists: create the strategic plan, write the copy of the promotions, edit, scour Shutterstock for an image, design the ad, buy the media, haul printed material to the fulfillment house, program e-blasts, create and purchase ad words, host events, set up tables, greet and sell services and analyze the results.

Whew, I’m exhausted even thinking about it all; yet, been there, done that! This type of expectation is what often gives marketers and strategists a bad rap, just like the GC, the project doesn’t end well in this type of scenario.

Edan Gelt - Zalmen Pollak

Scope & Education

As I move on in my career, I spend a lot of time talking about this topic because I’ve often struggled to explain the role and value of a marketing strategist, even after 20 years in the profession.

As marketers, it is our job to educate our employers and clients about what it is we do and set a defined scope of work before the project begins.

In regards to my client’s request for me to cold call business and knock on doors, I respectfully declined the fun opportunity of playing the salesman. This was the first time I used my general contractor analysis and surprisingly got buy-in by the client. Although disappointed that marketing strategists are not sales people, I was able to move forward and focus on creating strategic marketing programs versus knocking doors.

By: EdanGelt, MBA, CMD

With more than 20 years of diverse marketing experience, EdanGelt has an extensive capability in diverse marketing mediums across various industries, offering insight on marketing strategy, research, public relations, advertising, special events, social media, direct marketing, branding and more.

Edan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Elmhurst College and an Executive MBA degree from the University of Illinois.

For more information visit www.edangelt.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/edan-joy-gelt/.

Originally Published at http://www.allperfectstories.com/author/edangelt/.

Marketing Psychology: Maintaining Toy Demand Post Holiday Season

If you’re a parent, have you ever wondered why you find yourself in a line, expensive toy in hand, after the holiday season?

I have.

Whether you are loaded with gift cards or cash-in-hand from family and friends, there is always that one big spend after the holidays.

This is not an accident. Toy manufacturers have our number!

Toy manufacturers are faced with the dilemma of keeping demand post-holiday. Luckily, they have a strategy for that. It starts with the basics of supply and demand, add a splash of marketing and a thick layer of psychology – and wa-la, we are the fools in line in February.

How it Works:

Your kids are dialed into toy advertising pre-holiday, whether on an iPad, the Cartoon Network or the flashy toy catalogs that come in the mail. Retailers and manufacturers spend a lot of money promoting the year’s hottest find(s). Kids beg their parents for the “toy of the year” and the parents undoubtedly promise that if they’re good, Santa will bring it or it will be a gift from mom and dad.

This toy is the primo gift and your child cannot wait to get it. It is the topic of every conversation and you’re excited to gift it.

Edan Gelt Chicago

You go holiday shopping and to your amazement, the toy is out of stock. Everywhere. All the stores have ordered it but they have no idea when it is coming in and every store in a 30-mile radius is depleted.

You look on eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and the toy is 10 times the retail asking price.

In hopes of the toy actually being stocked, you wait. And wait. And wait.

A few days before Christmas, you give in and buy something else. A substitute. Something the same manufacturer has created similar to what was actually wanted but different enough to not be the “ultimate coveted toy”. And on Christmas day, you have one very disappointed child.

In hopes your child will be happy with the substitute gift, you move one. The toy companies don’t, neither does your child. “You promised” or “Santa thinks I’m bad,” is all you really hear.

The manufacturers start once again heavily marketing that coveted toy online, on TV, within games and then, there you have it; you are back at the store buying the promised gift, post-holiday on a blustery day in February.

This is not a coincidence. This is the strategy of economics, marketing and psychology. The toy manufacturers heavily advertise pre-holiday, create a shortage in the midst of holiday but offer a substitute, resupply post-holiday and heavily advertise.

Now that you know how it work, will you still be in-line next year post-holiday?

By: Edan Gelt, CMD, MBA
Marketing Strategist

Concept for this blog came from “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert B. Ciladini PhD