Unless your product is going to a national millennial market, you don´t need celebrities. You need very well connected people who can boost your image and give you stellar recommendations.
If you are a small business owner in a local market, let´s say you have a restaurant, and you are trying to expand your market to include events, parties, workshops and corporate meetings, one of your potential goldmines for positive attention and good referrals are in the nonprofit world.
But how can you get to work with them?
Usually, the people who are part of a charity or educational organization board, are also people who are connected to the business and corporate world. They work with many constituents including government and state agencies, are close to the media, and, because they depend on donations, they have an extensive network of potential donors.
You see where I am going with this? A board member or staff member at a good and well-established nonprofit organization can be a great ally to your business. Keep them happy and they will talk marvels about you. Treat them poorly or with disrespect, and they will not only not bring you back business, but most likely communicate their dissatisfaction to their network. Their extensive network, I may add.
Should you give your work for free? Not necessarily. If you can afford it, you will definitely make a good impression and be rewarded with attention, and recognition. But, a simple and honest gesture of good will can also work wonders.
Perhaps you have fixed costs, labor is one of the biggest. But you can always add in something that won´t cost you much and make your nonprofit buddy happy. In the case of the restaurant, if the client has booked a dinner, you can offer the dessert for free. You can offer a cocktail or perhaps add one appetizer to the menu.
The most important thing, here and in any other business transaction, is to make sure your client is happy and knows for sure, that you have done your best. If they ask you for a sponsorship or donation, and your repeated answer is no, without you making any counteroffer, you can bet you won´t hear much from them after they are done doing business with you.
Here you will be missing a great marketing and good will investment, for not spending a little extra to show goodwill.
A small business owner depends on its community for success. Be part of that community, and make sure you develop a reputation for helping and collaborating, not only for taking people´s money.Good and personal communication are essential. If you wish to build rapport with the influencers in your community, talk in person, respond in person and don´t ever say you will get back with an answer immediately, and then forget to do so. This shows a lack of professionalism.
You don´t need a mega star to influence your community and build a positive reputation. You need good communication, outstanding customer service, and the disposition to make sure people leave happy. Always.