When it comes to promoting your business, joining a collective — a group of affiliated enterprises — can increase your reach and marketing power, present new opportunities, and even reduce your expenses. Here are a few options to consider.
- Join a formal chamber of commerce. Perhaps the most common type of business collective is a chamber of commerce. Joining a city, regional, state, or the national chamber allows you to advertise your business on its website and through broader marketing campaigns, such as guidebooks and brochures. (You might also explore waging collective branding campaigns, too.) In addition, some chambers offer access to group-rate health insurance and discounts on goods and services provided by other members.
- Join (or start) a local merchants group. A merchants association can provide access to collective branding and marketing opportunities. For instance, Freeport Merchants Association of Maine maintains a web portal for the coastal village’s retailers, hotels, and restaurants that features coupons and maps for shoppers. The group also publishes an annual visitors guide, produces events such as the holiday-themed Sparkle Freeport, and advocates for its businesses’ interests in matters of local politics.
- Get involved with the “buy local” movement. If you’re an independent business, collaborating with other small enterprises in your area on marketing campaigns and special events can raise awareness of your offerings — and may pique the interest of conscientious customers who’d rather spend money at a locally-owned retailer than a corporate big-box store. A study from the New Rules Project found that independent retailers that were involved in “buy local” campaigns in 2010 saw a holiday sales gain of 5.2 percent, while those that weren’t only saw a gain of 0.8 percent.
- Create an agency collective. If you frequently subcontract with other vendors to complete large projects, consider creating a collective agency website, business card, and brand. Although you can all maintain separate businesses, you’ll save time and money on marketing — and you’ll be able to advertise your collective’s group of services, which may help you attract larger (and more profitable) clients who’d prefer a full-service agency to a one-person shop.