If you are the owner of a small business, you know the feeling of wanting to get people’s attention.  You probably think about increasing your customer base and wonder how to do it – it’s obvious that you could advertise, but what form of advertising would really work to get the attention of the people you are trying to reach?

We live in a time when we are constantly being “sold” to. Almost every piece of information that we receive on a daily basis is connected to some form of advertising or other. And we are all getting pretty good at ignoring the ads to focus on the information or entertainment we seek.

So how do you get your company to stand out in a memorable way? Think about the people and places you remember. You probably remember them because of the way they make you feel. Keeping that in mind, there is a simple strategy for creating and growing an awareness of your business right where you are – in your community. The goal is to find creative ways to contribute to your community (by donating time or money) so that when people see your business name they associate it with a business who is a friend to the community. After all, we all prefer to do business with our friends, and as the old saying goes, “the best way to have a friend is to be a friend.”

There are literally hundreds of ways that you can make a difference in your community and promote your business at the same time. Do you love baseball? Think about sponsoring (or co-sponsoring) a local team and imagine how great your logo would look printed on the team’s t-shirts. Interested in community theater? The price of admission usually includes a program featuring and thanking local businesses for their contributions. Local nature preserves, parks, community centers, and churches often hold fundraisers that include some name recognition in exchange for donations – these can be good sources of community-based advertising opportunities.

Even though you are a busy entrepreneur, you need to take some time out to come up for air and smell the roses every once in a while. When you do, look around and see how you can impact your community in a positive way that gets your message across, and soon you will be feeling the love in return!