How to Build a Community of Supporters for Your Brand
By Polina Pinchevsky | October 19, 2016
In my last post, I argued for the importance of community level marketing. In this post, I’ll illustrate how to build a community by sharing guiding principles (Click to Tweet!).
Finding Your Community
Amplify Your Base
The foundation of your community is the people already deeply committed to your cause. It’s tempting to take this audience for granted. Please don’t. It’s easy to focus on expanding your reach instead of keeping customers loyal, but the first step to expanding your reach is engaging those already committed.
Get them to SHARE YOUR “WHY” – your Purpose – and broadcast your message, both offline (word of mouth) and online through their personal social media networks. Focus on getting your existing connections talking is your organization’s best shot at reaching new people through authentic marketing. The best part of this step is that it takes a low level of monetary investment as these customers are already there and already love your brand.
If you aren’t exactly sure what your Purpose is, check out our guide Purpose Driven: How to Take Your Company from Intent to Impact. It’s designed to help good companies like yours discover and refine your Purpose and get activation ready to amplify your positive impact and galvanize your customer community.
Don’t Confuse Those Who Care With Those Who Act
Success through community level marketing depends upon finding the people who genuinely share your passion for your cause. Caring and doing aren’t the same thing. We all care about lots of issues—homelessness, women rights, education, and the list goes on. Recognize that the issue we invest money, energy and time in IS our issue. The people taking action on your issue are the people to reach and the people who will help you build a community. This isn’t easy to do – often times organizations focus on reaching the most people rather than the right people despite the fact that reaching the right people has a bigger impact.
Growing Your Community
Once you’ve found your tribe and started a conversation online and in person, your job is to grow and nurture your budding community. To do so, you have to make sure you’re providing them with the right resources and forming a strong foundation for success.
Provide The Resources Your Community Needs
- Open and dependable line of communication with you
- Support for their activities that align with your Purpose but don’t necessarily sell your products.
- Surrender control — if you attempt to control your community too much and only talk about your products or initiatives, you’re building a marketing message — not a community.
- Resources to improve their efforts (i.e.. staff for an event, templates for emails, $ for a program)
A Foundation for Success
Without these foundational building blocks, you won’t see much action.
Only do community work in areas that are relevant and related to your Purpose.
Be transparent about your aims. People don’t mind a business making money but they do mind feeling like your unpaid salespeople.
There has to be some kind of action for the community to take as part of the campaign. This can mean participating in a project, attending an event, sharing a specific piece of information or another action appropriate to your cause. Most importantly, the action should provide members of your community an opportunity to work or socialize together, ideally in person.
Social rewards can be more powerful than money for your community champions.
Provide a “tool kit” for community champions to use to continue to grow the community and encourage action?
BONUS: Download the checklist More Reach, More Impact: How to Inspire Customers to Join in Your Marketing Campaign to make sure you’ve got these elements in place.
The Truth About Community Level Marketing
Community level marketing has remarkable power, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t stop to acknowledge some of the harder truths surrounding this strategy.
It’s hard to do.
- There are resource constraints (it requires people and the money to pay them).
- It requires a long-term mindset.
- It cannot be a one-off event. It must be part of larger marketing strategy.
- Top leadership must embrace and champion this approach for it to be effective and everyone in the org needs to be on board.
For some organizations, it’s a mind-shift. For those of us working in the social impact space, people and companies’ relationships with them have always been on the radar. It’s time for us to leverage the power of these relationships to enhance our business opportunities as well as our positive impact.
Every person is defined by the communities she belongs to.
—Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead
Ready to empower your customers to be your brand advocates? Download the checklist More Reach, More Impact: How to Inspire Customers to Join in Your Marketing Campaign today!