The cherry trees and dogwoods are blooming so brilliantly along one street in my city that I feel like a bride going down the aisle when I drive through the middle of them.
That got me thinking. I don’t notice these trees any other time of the year. They just do their job, standing there holding soil in place and sucking up some of the carbon created by humans and their machines. And yet, because they are so glorious during a very short time once a year, they have been planted out front so that everyone can enjoy them.
Aren’t those trees clever? They only do one showy thing a year, and it provides a lifetime of being out front where everyone can see them. Hmmm. How could that apply to business?
Quite well, actually. The way to stand out from the “plain tree” businesses is to develop a signature annual event for which you become known.
Most businesses understand that they need to be involved in the community. They join the Chamber, participate in the United Way Campaign, buy a table at the Heart Ball and put together team for American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
That’s terrific – we all need to do those things to give back. But unless your company is consistently the leading local business in those activities in your area, chances are you aren’t getting the kind of bang that a signature event can give you.
For example, in 2007 Lytle Law, a small law firm in Newport News, Virginia, began a 5K race in Oyster Point, the central office park in the city where it is located, to benefit the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. The race has grown every year, and last year it raised $15,000.
The firm now has a separate web site dedicated to promoting the event, and has gained a number of corporate sponsors. The race has become a popular community event that draws hundreds of runners and onlookers.
The results? Because they bloom so fabulously on this one day, Lytle Law gets firmly planted in the front yard of people’s memory for the other 364 days of the year. If they need an attorney for their business or personal needs, chances are they’ll remember the name.
There’s a name for businesses doing good things – corporate social responsibility (CSR). And studies show that it not only helps the community, it helps the bottom line. According to a study by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship and Reputation Institute, companies that invest in CSR receive a higher level of support than other companies and they experience improved business success.
The study showed that 65.7 percent of the public would recommend the top 20 socially responsible companies, compared to only 25.9 percent that would recommend the bottom 20 companies.
So what kind of event can you become known for? Perhaps you can host a skydiving event for your favorite charity – get creative!
The key is to make it visible, significant and annual. Think like a cherry tree.
Photo by Muffet/liz west