Why does your brand need a community around it? What are the perks of having a group of like-minded customers who support your company?
Well, it turns out that creating a community for your brand is, without a doubt, the most effective and reliable way to promote the business, boost sales and create lifelong customers.
No matter how big of a fan base a brand has, one of the best marketing tactics to promote the brand, increase reputation and appeal to a wider audience is to organize existing customers and let them do the advertising for you by simply interacting among themselves and prospects.
That, in turn, attracts new customers and opens up the possibility to enter new markets. Good words travel quickly and, more often than not, active and engaged communities tend to attract prospects, thus increasing sales and profit.
Lastly comes the proverbial “the best customer is the returning customer”. Namely, the purpose for brand promotion is not just attracting consumers, but making them stay loyal to the brand. And there is not a better way to create a loyal fan base than to create a group of like-minded clients who interact actively with the company and among themselves.
So, what’s the way to do it?
1. Define your brand.
This way of building a community is not even directed towards the customers. When you take the road towards creating a community for your brand, the first and most important step is to know what your company stands for.
Define a system of values, stick by them and make sure your customers know what your business stands for. Create a strong and clear public image for your business based on your values and soon enough you’ll have a strong community without even being directly involved in its creation.
- Do you sell technology at a reasonable price? Make sure the world knows that you believe that technology should be accessible for everyone.
- Do you find design as important as efficiency? Promote the idea that beauty and elegance can pack strong performance.
- Do you deem high the social involvement of a business? Let your customers know how your brand is involved in the community.
If you manage to establish clear goals, strong values and healthy public image, customers will start to converge around your business and create the community. Based on that, you can easily estimate the expectations and the needs of your community, what needs to be done to expand it, how to maintain its numbers, etc.
2. Choose the best platform for public communication.
If you know what your brand stands for, choosing the most efficient way to engage with your loyal customers might be the difference between building a community and spending resources on a medium for a random and haphazard group of people. The platform where your customers meet and the way they interact is the crucial difference between a strong and healthy community, on one hand, and casual “window-shoppers”, on the other.
Different companies have different ways of reaching out to their customers. Some choose the old-fashioned phone calls and newsletters, others opt for e-mails, yet some go for online forums, fan pages on Facebook, company profile on Twitter, etc. And it is your job as a business owner (and brand manager!) to get to know your audience and create a platform where the unorganized group of dispersed customers will evolve into a community.
The key for choosing the best medium is to make a market research. It is vital to factor in some crucial data about your loyal customers, such as age, gender, background, size of the group, etc. It might be difficult at the beginning, thus keep it simple.
For instance, nowadays a simple Facebook fan page might be just enough. Provide support, create engaging content, ask for their opinion, invite them to collaborate and communicate among themselves, and, voila – soon enough you’ll have a loyal fan base of people who enjoy the being in the presence of other members and the brand.
3. Customers first, profit second.
The first and foremost purpose of any community should always be interaction between its members. After all, if a brand is in a desperate need of publicity, there are always other, more streamlined ways to do so, like advertisement, promotions, etc.
It is simple, really – make sure that your loyal customers know that their support and loyalty is immensely appreciated and you have the basis for them to become a community.
Despite the fact that you might invest considerable resources towards building a platform for your customers, the central goal of building a community is to provide loyal customers and prospects with the opportunity to interact among themselves and with the brand directly.
The platform that you, as a brand, provide is a way of thanking the customers for their loyalty and support. Give your customers voice, empower them, listen to their praises, concerns and ideas and accept them, teach them a thing or two, and you’ll witness how an unorganized group of people develops into a strong community of likeminded member whose common ground is the respect towards the brand.
In other words, help your customers help you. Give you unconditional appreciation and support to the community and the community will return the favor.
4. Engage customers.
It does not matter whether you are a big- or small-business owner – make sure that you are actively engaged with your customers. It is probably the easiest and most effective way for building a strong community.
Namely, your brand should always be open to complaints, suggestions, and ideas, as well as praises and compliments. After all, you cannot reach the status of a brand without the support of your clients.
- Do you ask your customers about their experience with your business?
- Do you inquire about their opinion?
- Do you inform them in a convenient and timely manner about future promotions and changes?
- Do you offer reliable support?
Honesty, transparency and trust are central when communicating with your customers and they help build community out of the regular client base.
More often than not, the customers themselves are the creators of brand communities, provided that the business actively involves them in the process of decision making.
You would be surprised how many brand platforms are created and run by none other than the consumers themselves – satisfied customers show respect by creating a platform for other customers and prospects alike.
5. Loyalty clubs.
The simplest way to build a community for your brand is to create a so-called “loyalty club”. Keeping an active presence in the lives of your clients is crucial for creating an active fan base. And given that your brand has already gathered a fan base, the simplest way to build a community is to offer hard-core clients access to an exclusive “members only” club in order to show appreciation for their loyalty and support over the years.
The principle behind loyalty clubs is simple – the company rewards the most loyal of customers for their active support. The customers, on the other hand, remain loyal and enjoy the benefits of remaining loyal.
Promotions, discounts, sneak-peeks, customized products, meetups, etc. – they are only a fraction of the perks of being a member of these exclusive loyalty clubs. Is there a client who would not be compelled to remain loyal to a company which rewards loyalty with, for an example, 30% discount for exclusive merchandise? And who would not want to be the one in possession of one-of-a-kind products for being an active member of a loyalty club? The principle of mutual respect transforms these clubs into active communities.
Are you trying to reach a wider audience? Do you need to distinguish yourself from the competition?
Try out our advice and become one with your community.