Author: Cassie Scott
If you think your store’s building gives your business presence in your community, think again. To stay visible in your community, you must reach far beyond your building’s walls . You must become an active, engaged community member.
Tony Girt, owner of Koteewi Archery in Noblesville, Indiana, involves his business in community events to build relationships, increase brand awareness, attract more customers, and give back to those who help him succeed.
Your business can only grow by exposure and word of mouth. Photo credit: IndyStar
“We rely on community members to use our facility,” Girt said. “We can reach a lot more people when we get involved in festivals, carnivals, concerts, school programs, parks-and-recreation department events, and things like that.”
When attending events and activities, Girt sets up an inflatable range to introduce newcomers to archery. Girt said those efforts help him meet thousands of people who didn’t know his business exists.
“The more people we reach, the more people those people reach, and the better off we are,” Girt said.
Almost everyone who tries archery at community events visit the store soon after to buy products, book a birthday party, or take a class or lesson.
“Once people see how fun and challenging archery is, and they know you exist, they’ll come check you out,” Girt said. “We’re always the No. 1 attraction [at events]. People always call and ask us to come back.”
Girt started participating in community events by searching for them, asking how to get involved, and then finding a way in.
Koteewi Archery provides archery demonstrations and temporary ranges at various community events. Photo Credit: HamiltonCounty.in.gov
To boost Koteewi Archery’s business profile, Girt partnered his store with the Hamilton County Parks and Recreation Department, which holds year-round events. That helps Girt set up at HCPRD events to attract participants, and generate funds through admission fees for the department. Meanwhile, Girt meets potential customers and increases his brand’s presence.
In turn, the HCPRD invites Girt to participate at future events. Searches aren’t easy for Girt and his team.
“We regularly contacted school administrators, but that didn’t really work,” Girt said. “They’re there to run the school, not entertain kids. However, parent-teacher organizations are always looking for fundraisers or things they can do to raise money for (programs).”
Through persistence, trial and error, Girt learned which contacts helped him increase his store’s community engagement. His pro shop also donates proceeds from each event to the schools by working with parent-teacher organizations.
Those deals built a customer-appreciation program. The PTOs at a nearby school, for example, recently encouraged students to visit Koteewi Archery over spring break. For every kid who shot archery or rented equipment, Girt donated $3 to the school.
That agreement helped Girt advertise inside the school for new customers, and the school received much-needed funding in return.
Girt also donates range time or range memberships for raffles, auctions and fundraisers. He said the donations cost little, but provide big returns on his investment.
“It’s rare that winners come out to use the range card and don’t return,” Girt said. “They almost always come back and, when they do, they’ll generally bring friends or other kids with them, schedule birthday parties, and so on.”
Putting in the time at community events will pay off by generating interest and creating repeat customers. Photo Credit: Koteewi Archery Facebook
Volunteering at events and sponsoring events are also great ways to give back. Social events help connect you with others. The more you get involved, and the more the partnerships benefit both parties, the more the public notices your efforts and supports your business.
Girt said if you put in the legwork, be prepared to grow. “It will happen,” he said.
Visit the ATA’s Resource Website for more information on partnerships and other ways to improve your bottom line.
Questions? Contact Samantha Seaton, ATA’s outreach and education program manager, at (866) 266-2776, ext. 133, or firstname.lastname@example.org.