Businesses constantly struggle to build awareness and differentiate themselves from the competition. It happens for national chains, regional entities and local mom-and-pop retailers. The struggle is the same regardless of the scale.
We are fortunate that many companies in the Vail Valley are customer-centric in their approach. It’s not a leap to suggest businesses whose actions are aligned with their customer needs are more successful. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who pays attention to our local business community; those who are engaged and focus on their customer needs are typically successful and have longevity in a place that sees a fair amount of business turnover.
Everyone is likely to agree that it’s important to be customer-centric and to focus on the needs of your customers in order to grow your business. But what does this mean? How do you measure it — and most importantly, how do you market it in a meaningful way so customers know?
ENGAGING THE COMMUNITY
The easiest way to improve your business brand and differentiate from your competition is to show your customers (and future customers) that you are engaged in your community.
You could argue that engagement and involvement are not essential to the health of a community. You’d be wrong. Collaboration among community partners, municipal government and businesses is a key component to a vital business community, helping create the foundation for business success.
So, how do you show that you’re engaged in the community?
Research from The Shapiro Group shows that being active in your local chamber of commerce is a good strategy for businesses and an easy way to show engagement. Statistically, it is an effective way to convey to consumers that a company uses good business practices, is involved in the community, cares about customers and is reputable — regardless of whatever they may or may not already think about the company. When consumers find out that a company is involved with its local chamber, they are 19 percent more likely to think favorably of that company. This effect is not dependent on the degree of chamber involvement — it holds true regardless of whether or not the company is highly involved in the chamber.
Membership in your chamber of commerce tells customers that your company is trustworthy, is involved in the community, cares about its customers, is successful and is a leader in the business community. Our community is fortunate — and our improving economic health as measured by sales tax collections, growth of home values and sales volume, lodging occupancies and other metrics — due in part to the collective engagement of our business community in various community efforts. Joining Vail Valley Partnership and/or another local chamber group is an easy way to engage and differentiate your business.
We’re also privileged to be home to numerous nonprofit organizations that provide opportunities for businesses to engage and support worthy community efforts. Nonprofit giving is an important part of community and is another opportunity for businesses to engage.
There are so many worthy nonprofit organizations and so many wonderful nonprofit events and engagement opportunities that it’s hard to single out any one group. There are options for everyone depending on your personal or business interests. Eagle County Gives (eaglecogives.org) is a good resource to learn about various nonprofit organizations, as is Vail Valley Partnership’s Nonprofit Network and Volunteer Connection (vail valleyvolunteers.com).
One upcoming nonprofit event is the Healing Heroes Golf Tournament hosted at the Eagle-Vail Golf Club on Thursday. Vail Veterans Program, a group that provides therapeutic, outdoor programs to severely wounded veterans and their families, is hosting this event. The event offers participants the opportunity to play a round of golf with one of the participating veterans from the program. Registration details can be found at EagleVailGolf Club.com.
Chamber membership and support of local nonprofit events, such as the Healing Heroes Golf Tournament, are both an easy way to grow your business brand. Your business benefits from association with these groups and could even be negatively impacted by not engaging.
Looking to build your business brand and gain market share within your industry segment? Community engagement — via chamber of commerce membership or through nonprofit support — are easy and impactful ways to build awareness and ongoing goodwill for your business.
Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership.