Do you want to collaborate with other small businesses in your area but not know what to do? While there are many great ideas to help you network, the best ones let you develop relationships with other businesses while deepening community ties.
One way to do this is a community scavenger hunt. An activity like this is a great way to interact with customers and other business owners, because each stop in the hunt will be a different participating business. It could be a daylong event or run over the course of a week. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started.
1. Contact your local chamber of commerce.
Getting in touch with your community's chamber of commerce is a great way to get the ball rolling. Let them know you are interested in creating a community scavenger hunt. They can find and connect you with other local businesses interested in participating. Tell them you'd love to find five to 10 other businesses that are interested in participating, and ask if they'd be willing to send out an email to their members.
2. Meet with interested business owners.
Set up an initial meeting with all the participating businesses to work out the following:
The prize budget. Can you afford an exciting trip, or is it a dinner and a movie for the winners? The more exciting you make the prizes, the more interest you'll generate. You can keep costs low by handing out gift certificates or merchandise from the participating businesses that encourage people to .
Dates and length of the event. It could be a daylong event or run over the course of a week. It helps to tie it to a holiday or a big event in your area. For example, a weeklong hunt around Valentine's Day could provide the event winners with a romantic weekend getaway for two to a local bed-and-breakfast.
The order in which participants will visit the businesses. The chamber of commerce is a great starting point, and the end location would ideally be your spot.
How participants will show proof of visitation at each establishment. Ideally, they will like each business's Facebook page and tag the business in a picture they share with their friends. It's up to you how they show proof, but remember that social proof creates a wider audience for the businesses.
The clues. Have each business create its own clue – a very obvious one is best. This is a great time to create special discounts to hand out as well.
3. Promote, promote, promote.
Blast the event on social media. Call the local radio station and ask them to add it to the community events calendar. Do the same with the local TV stations. Create signage to hang in the businesses. Tell all of your friends and have them tell all of their friends. You get the idea. Success is linked to the energy around the promotion.
4. Make the most of the event.
Take lots of pictures and upload them to your social media outlets.
If people are taking pictures at your business, ask them to tag you in the pictures.
Hand out special discount cards to participants.
Do what you do best around customers. It's your time to shine.
On the last stop of the scavenger hunt (ideally your business), have participants give their information to be entered into the prize drawings. Now they've liked you on Facebook, and you've collected their information.
At the close of the event, invite all participating businesses, the local media, and participants out for the prize drawings and a celebration. If your business is large enough to host such an event, do it there. If not, choose another suitable location.
It's all about the enthusiasm and energy each business places into this effort. Excitement is contagious. Turn this into an event worth getting excited about. If you pull it off, you'll develop new customers for life and some long-lasting partnerships with other local businesses.