Why Giving Away Business is Smarter Than it Sounds

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Small businesses are constantly challenged with how to best utilize their resources. So what do you do when someone asks you to give away your products/ services for free?

While the immediate reaction may be to turn and run, finding an opportunity to promote your products and services while bettering your community is a win-win for all involved. This was the case when Chicago Cause ("a philanthropic partnership between Orbit Media, Lightspan Digital and Flanigan Communications") was created in 2009. The results were incredible -- a non-profit won a new website, social media services and PR that allowed them to gain more attention and donations, while three agencies were able to showcase their talent.

We were asked to participate last year and experienced the same positive feeling of giving back while promoting what we could do. Now in its fourth year, five companies are reuniting to offer non-profits an opportunity to promote their good works through a website, SEO, a video, PR, and social media. (You can apply here if you are a 501(c)3 in Chicago.)

Still skeptical about giving away business? Here are the reasons each agency joined and remains involved in Chicago Cause:

“We love Chicago and we love giving back. Being a part of Chicago Cause motivates our team and they are genuinely excited to be able to help these different organizations using their skills and expertise. Chicago Cause has also helped Orbit to achieve our BCorporation status, which is quite an honor. We get to meet a lot of really smart, talented people through Chicago Cause and we're honored that people refer their friends and colleagues to Orbit.” - Amanda Gant, Orbit Media

"By leveraging the power of video, we are able to apply our skills in creating stories that might not otherwise be told. Helping these organizations get their word out can make a great impact on their cause and the community. In turn, we gain a new audience, potential referrals, and a video we are proud to share." - Joey DiFranco, Shiftfocus Productions

“In addition to providing services to organizations doing incredible things, this allows me and my company to expand our network and scope of contacts. In essence, it is another marketing tool that serves two purposes. Helping a nonprofit while helping my business grow.” - Dyana Flanigan, Flanigan Communications

"Helping nonprofits use powerful tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to not only create ambassadors for their cause but also communicate to sponsors and strategic partners, and creating momentum for their cause." - Kate Hamilton, Lightspan Digital

If you decide to offer your services, make sure to donate something that can make a difference and that you have the bandwidth to follow through on to ensure your success. 

Lyndsey Kramer is the director of business development at Digital Third Coast, a search engine marketing company based in Chicago. You can find Lyndsey on Google+ and also connect with Digital Third Coast on Google+.

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