By: The Small Business Authority
Southwest Airlines just wrapped up a deal to buy AirTran Airways, which will bring the airline for the first time into Atlanta, a well-known Delta Airlines stronghold, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The planes haven’t been painted and Southwest Airlines isn’t even in the Atlanta market yet. But in advance of a full-scale marketing effort, Southwest has launched a “charm offensive” on Atlanta that its marketing team has smartly termed “Random Acts of Coolness.”
“We wanted to get to know the city and introduce ourselves to Atlanta, well before Southwest planes land here,” Quinnie Jenkins told the AJC. Jenkins is the community affairs and grassroots manager for
Southwest in Atlanta. Teams of Southwest and AirTran employees have been handing out treats to firefighters and police officers and donating money to local swimming pools, the AJC reported. They also set up tables and handed out tote bags, school supplies, and muffins to teachers on the first day of school.
The idea is to enter the community and seek out its heart-and-soul influencers like teachers and police
officers, and simply be nice. Novel concept, right? There’s no better way to build a strong community
relationship than by doing something to improve your community and connect with potential customers.
So, what “random acts of coolness” could your business pull off? When you consider the cost of marketing and advertising, it could be the smartest branding money your business ever spent. Here are a few ideas to help get you started with your own random acts of coolness “charm offensive.”
Sponsor a local Little League or other sports league. Build loyalty by sponsoring a local Little
League, Pop Warner team, or another organized activity for kids. What better brand ambassadors
than a bunch of local kids getting exercise and having fun? Parents will notice, too. Little League Baseball has guidelines2 in place for supporting teams. You can’t advertise alcohol or cigarettes or any other product that’s harmful or particularly controversial. But sponsorship allows you to place your business name and logo on the team uniforms. If you plan to include team sponsorship as part of your community outreach plans, make sure the effort is first and foremost focused on helping kids get out and play. The marketing and goodwill are just byproducts of being a good community partner
Donate your products or services for raffle and other prizes for charity events. If a school or
local charity asks you for help, say yes. You don’t have to write a big check to participate. Just
buy a ticket to the next rubber-chicken fundraiser or donate your products or services to be
auctioned off. Aside from the exposure your charitable donation will provide, consider the tax benefits of
Adopt a street. Adopting a street or highway is a great way to get your business noticed for all the
right reasons. There are different ways of adopting a highway or street, including working with
your local government to determine an arrangement. There are even companies that will help you
identify appropriate markets and work with you on signage, like Adopt-A-Highway Litter Removal Service of America.
Sponsor school events, and support fundraisers. Teachers and schools are the heart of any
community. And with state budgets being slashed across the country, there have never been more
opportunities to help. Many schools are willing to sell naming rights to buildings, and schools
need sponsors for everything from band uniforms to after-school programs. Reach out to your
local schools and find ways you can help. Parents, teachers, and kids will return the loyalty.
From career days to sporting events, opportunities exist for you and your business to help. Here’s
a great article with even more ideas about how to get involved.
Donate to local public television and radio drives. Public television and radio stations have
pledge drives several times each year. Every pledge drive requires not only donations, but also
staff members to answer phones, as well as all sorts of volunteers. There are opportunities for
companies to sponsor entire evenings of programming and staff phone banks. It’s wonderful
exposure for any business. Who wouldn’t want to help out Big Bird? Contact your local stations
for opportunities to get involved, and maybe even score a bit of free airtime to boot. Find your
local public television station at pbs.org and radio stations at npr.org.