By Phil Stella
Here’s a simple but very effective strategy for maximizing the impact of a “no budget marketing” campaign you may create for your company or business – harnessing the power of the pro bono. Said another way – strategic volunteering.
Why volunteer at all?
Whether you’re marketing the products or services of your employer or your own business or just simply enhancing your image and value to the people you work for and with, the power of the pro bono can be a simple, quick, and no-cost self-marketing strategy. Effectively done, it can help accomplish several important goals for you:
- Create positive exposure for yourself as a caring and giving professional; very positive reflection on your employer.
- Produce positive name recognition and credibility.
- Create tools that can showcase your skills if you produce a newsletter, brochure, video or event. You can even win an award for your work.
- Help you learn new skills or enhance existing skills in leadership, project management, social media, e-marketing, writing or presenting.
- Make you feel very good about yourself by doing the right thing and helping a worthy professional, civic or charitable group.
- Stroke your creative ego and professional self-esteem by being involved with something worthwhile, creative, and fun.
Where do you volunteer?
There are lots of effective platforms for strategic volunteer activity. Be creative and think outside of the usual box.
- Start with you own industry and the professional associations that support it. Those groups can probably use the help, and you can benefit from all the goodwill you will gain from the experience.
- Consider other professional, business or civic groups you may belong to or where you’d benefit from the exposure, including groups that relate to the business of your employer.
- Think about a charity or nonprofit that has personal importance to your family, your boss, your boss’s spouse, the big boss, the big boss’s spouse or an important customer.
What volunteer activities should you consider?
Strategic volunteer activities are a win-win: The organization benefits from what you contribute, but you also benefit from what you learn or gain. What special skills or talents can you contribute and showcase beyond simply giving of your time? What skills do you want to learn or enhance? What will give you the kind of exposure you need and want?
- Leadership or management skills – Manage an event or fundraiser, chair a committee or task force, hold an office or sit on a board.
- Writing skills – Edit the group’s newsletter, write lots of articles for it or write promotional pieces.
- Creative media skills – Coordinate the advertising or PR for the group or one of its major events. Write or produce a video or media tool that helps them recruit members, raise money or train volunteers.
- Graphic design skills – Design or improve their logo, letterhead, brochure or newsletter layout.
- Web design skills – Design or improve their website.
- Presentation skills – Deliver a presentation, MC an event or serve on their speakers’ bureau or improve their Power Point presentations.
- Training or facilitation skills – Teach or facilitate classes or workshops for members or leaders.
- Financial skills – Serve as treasurer or audit their books.
As you’ve seen, the power of the pro bono involves simple, quick, no-cost, and personally rewarding strategies to promote your image or the image of your employer. The organization wins because you give of your talent, not just your time or treasure. You win because you earn “psychic income,” gain positive exposure, and learn or enhance career-related skills. Give it a try and see how it can add value to your “no budget marketing” tool kits. It has worked well for me for 25 years.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, where he empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty at the University of Phoenix and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356.