Let’s talk about blending your online and offline efforts to promote your business. Specifically, let’s consider charitable events and organizations.

As Spring arrives we start to receive invitations to events — silent auctions, golf outings, 5Ks (more on that in a second) and other types of fundraisers. It’s probably fair to say that there is a charitable organization out there serving just about every issue that people might be concerned about. And they’re likely organizing an event for it right now. While there are many national non-profits, many of these organizations have a distinctly local flavor. Local charitable organizations rely on funds they raise from the private sector, as well volunteers’ time and efforts. They also present very nice opportunities to promote your business while contributing to a cause you believe in.

So let’s shamelessly use GoatCloud as a case study while simultaneously plugging a local event (many of our email recipients are in New York’s Capital District). Over the last few years we have volunteered our time and professional expertise to support the Cherry Blossom 5K Race for ALS in Niskayuna, NY. This year’s running (there’s a walk, too), rain or shine on April 26, is the 7th annual event. Proceeds benefit our local St. Peter’s ALS Regional Center, which provides exceptional care and support to families whose loved one suffer the terribly debilitating and ultimately fatal effects of ALS. (Information: http://5kraceforals.com).

We saw our participation as an opportunity both to help a worthwhile cause and to be associated with one. (I cut my professional teeth in the non-profit sector and remain an unabashed do-gooder.) It’s not uncommon, as is the case with the Cherry Blossom, that in-kind contributors also receive recognition as sponsors or supporters. I believe that our sponsorship has helped to get the word out locally about GoatCloud. Our name, like other sponsors’, is on the website, on t-shirts, banners, and other promotional material. Most of our clients, probably like yours, are local, and so being in front of the local audience is paramount. As the race has grown over the last few years, our local exposure has grown with it. (We also mention on our website that we support the race, in an attempt to generate more exposure to the event itself.) An added benefit? Our participation has generated local friendships that might not otherwise have developed. And that’s plain rewarding at the human level. Plus, it just feels good to help an important cause.

Your online marketing efforts should support your offline efforts and vice versa. One concrete way to see this through is to endorse and contribute to a local worthwhile cause, event or organization. Think about what you can best contribute and do it. Then, spread the word about the event through your online channels. The cycle is a win for everyone.

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