What is community marketing?
Community marketing really should be called community engagement. Essentially it's all about connecting and engagement with your customers in a way that creates long-term relationships. It's about a conversation rather than selling. Like all good relationships...it's built on trust.
Pretty much every conceivable product and service has multiple options to choose from, so it's the relationship, the customer experience and the authenticity of a customers engagement with a business that tends to be the main differentiator, even more so than the price or product itself. People are willing to shell out more for a product if it comes with that little bit extra: great service, great connection, great overall user experience. Community marketing ties right in with all of that.
Where exactly is community marketing taking place?
Wherever like-minded people congregate. Community marketing can be aimed at anyone of the social hashtags, portals, forums, message boards, websites, blogs.
Community marketing comes in two flavors: organic, where customers and fans create their own groups and spaces; and sponsored, where you provide an official platform for them (like a Facebook Page).
You need a mix of both.
Creating an active presence (and not just pitching your product) in these spaces allows a brand, business, or entrepreneur to learn more about customer wants, needs, and complaints, and allows for direct responses, follow-up questions, and communication between the two groups. Companies get valuable insight and feedback, while customers and fans get to feel heard and appreciated.
It's a win-win.
Other potential benefits include:
building loyalty and advocacy
encouraging user-generated content
identifying customer concerns
helping to anticipate customer needs
being more transparent, approachable, and open for your customers
opportunities to gain product development insight and ideas
When done correctly, community marketing is incredibly powerful and much cheaper than traditional tactics.
The community marketing roadmap
Community marketing has a lot in common with content marketing, but it does differ slightly. You create or join the communities, you deliver that value, you build up trust, and you engage. Eventually, the insights, feedback, growth and profits will follow.
Decide on your value-add
Your first step is to decide on what your community marketing efforts will deliver to your members. What is in it for them and what will they get from being engaged in your community. You may have:
special offers, you know the ones that are exclusive and members only
fantastic advice, powerful tips, and simple solutions to their problems
a way to communicate about problems, complaints, and questions or a way to
share their stories that help your other customers or potential customers.
Ask yourself: what does your community need? Deliver that. Write it out. Plan. Everything you do should move you closer to that goal. Remember that post we did on your digital marketing strategy...now might be a good time to revisit that.
Buyer personas are a crucial element of any business or marketing plan.
Who stands to benefit most from your product or service? What problem does your business product or service solve and who is most likely to need it?
You need to know who you're target market is before you can go in search of them.
Your next task is working out where to find your community. Are they primarily online, or in the real world? Yep, the real world, that one does still exist.
But we'll stick with the online world for now. Choosing the best platform for your community marketing effots should of course take into account your customer avatar.
Teens and early 20s? Explore Snapchat. Business professionals in their 30s and 40s? Try LinkedIn. A broader adult community ? Head to Facebook.
Make it clear what you offer your community
What is it that your business offers? What problem do you solve?
You need to make sure your community knows what you can do.
Write it out as a statement: I [blank] for my customers.
Build your community and/or your community presence upon that idea. Work on the profits later.
Once your community is in place, remember the cardinal rule: participate, participate, participate.
But remember, your community marketing efforts are not a selling focus! You need to engage, participate, and become a trusted member first and foremost.
Demonstrate that you are an expert in your field. Ask questions, answer question and share your stories. Integrate community and content marketing plans by sharing your expertise and giving away your best, most useful stuff within the community.
If you need help with building your digital presence, remember its what we do. Send us a quick email and we can help you out.