As you must already know, ‘Marketing’ is communicating what your product or service offers to your clients, and it’s a super critical part to the success of your business. Which strategy you choose will determine a lot about how you market your business. A ‘Community Marketing’ strategy is a contemporary marketing strategy that can actually work, when it’s done right!
The most basic tip is to start by thinking about how you can engage your customers in two-way communication and then implement some of the tactics mentioned below. You’ll be on your way to building a loyal customer base in no time!
Community marketing works by building relationships with members of a group or community, typically through social media, customer engagement and incentive schemes. This type of marketing can be very successful for modern business because it helps build a solid reputation for your company with loyal customers. This is very successful in certain types of businesses and must be carefully planned, because it takes a lot of work.
What is Community Marketing, the basics?
Community marketing focuses on the perceived needs of the existing customer base. This accomplishes four main things for a business:
- Connects existing customers with prospects
- Connects prospects with each other
- Connects a company with customers/prospects to solidify loyalty
- Connects customers with customers to improve product adoption, satisfaction, etc.
Community marketing has evolved into a successful business strategy to create and nurture relationships over a long period. By engaging customers in two-way communication, businesses can build trust and loyalty, leading to repeat business and referrals.
What makes community marketing different from other types of marketing is its focus on building relationships with the audience. As a result, community marketing can be much more personal than traditional forms of marketing, which may not always be appropriate for every business or organisation.
Some widely known benefits of Community Marketing
Communication with customers. This results in increased feedback, identification of customer needs, and customer-focused product development.
Some of the world’s strongest brands were originally built through low-cost community-based marketing. Nike Inc., Starbucks and Google are some examples. When companies focus on meeting customer needs, they don’t have to spend big money to attract new customers. And when they stay close to their communities they don’t need market research to tell them what people want. Kiehl’s, a renowned global body-care brand now owned by L’Oreal, for example has people from around the world make pilgrimages to the original New York City store. Kiehl’s packaging is plain, its stores are basic and from its 1851 founding until today, the brand has never advertised. Success has been driven by products tailored to customers’ needs, word-of-mouth promotion, free in-store product trials and the personal connections forged by requiring active community involvement of every employee.
Community brands remain relevant because they’re constantly adapting to the changing needs, interests and values of the people who give them meaning. Starbucks originally provided the caffeine addicts a “theatre of coffee” experience, with each nuance carefully engineered. As more newcomers joined the tribe, baristas were trained to educate them on coffee exotica, developing a dimension of accessible adventure for the brand. When technology caused a convergence of work and home life, Starbucks lost its individuality and it was not a much sought out place for coffee due to the emerging baristas. Starbucks responded by tapping the larger cultural trend of consumption-based self-expression to offer an endlessly configurable array of unique toppings, ingredients and preparation techniques inspired by customer requests and baristas’ creativity. While Starbucks has stumbled of late, it’s telling that upon his return to reinvent the company, CEO Howard Schultz quickly reached out to the community by establishing mystarbucksidea.com.
Growth and innovation are fueled by a passionate brand community. Vans, originally a maker of cheap deck shoes, followed the interests of its dedicated customers to expand into custom surf shoes, surf competitions, skateboarding shoes and gear, skateboard parks, touring music festivals and even a feature film. And within each of those businesses, new products, features and ways of marketing were generated through a continuous flow of ideas from the grassroots. Harley-Davidson understood that while its community shared a core passion for the brand, they also had a wide variety of unfulfilled needs and challenges. By methodically focusing on meeting these requirements, the company built substantial new businesses around motorcycle customization, riding gear, motorcycle-inspired fashion and home decoration. It also created the largest motorcycle club in the world, motorcycle rentals and rider training businesses, a museum, shipping and travel services, and even destination cafés.
Get started with better marketing
As you begin to accumulate members interested in your brand and its offerings, you can use this loyal community to inform better marketing decisions, get feedback about new products, and promote events. In this way, community marketing goes beyond just sales and allows you to build relationships with people who have an interest in what your company does.
Once people recognise and trust you, then you can start making sales. But remember—the goal of community marketing isn’t just to make sales; it’s to establish trust between your company and its customer base.
At VIMAR, we predict Community Development and Marketing are going to be just as, if not more important than ever before. Small businesses should focus on creating a sense of community among its customers where possible. This will give them an advantage over their competitors.
If you are looking for a team to work with on your marketing strategy, give us a call or drop us an email to get started.