We all know companies that have defined social missions.
Warby Parker donate a pair of eye glasses to a person in need with every sale they make.
TOMS do the same but with shoes.
Customers of these companies form very strong communities, because everyone can understand wanting to help people in need.
People are proud to show off their support of companies who help others.
People can be proud of all sorts of community memberships
In this article I am going to explain why building community around your business is a good idea, and suggest some simple ways you could achieve that.
Why Build A Community?
People have organised themselves into communities since the dawn of time. Groups are stronger emotionally and financially than people on their own.
You may not think you notice community, but see people everyday in sports shirts of the team you support. You might see children walking to school and realise your child is at the same school.
Immediately you feel a connection to these people.
If you are a business of any sort, you'll want a way of standing out from the competition.
Being known as the friendly, supportive business with a clear mission can be a real differentiator.
So how can you do that?
Specific Ways That Businesses Build Community
If you are a local business owner then you could consider building links with the people in your community in any of the following ways:
Sponsoring a local fair or sports team
Creating award schemes open to local schools and colleges
Going along to speak to young people at local 16+ events
Even if your business is non-geographical, you could use these ideas broadly speaking.
Amazing Communities That Exist Already
Here are three examples of brands with strong communities, each for different reasons.
Just A Card began with the aim of helping small business owners within the creative industries. They wanted to help people to communicate the amount of work that goes into keeping an independent business going.
TED started life as a conference for senior leaders in the technology industry, then bloomed into a global by word for amazing new ideas. Now everyone wants to give a TED talk!
Stonewall is a global resource for people within the LGBTQ community seeking advice and support. They are truly a life-line for many people in need.
What you'll notice about all three of these communities is they have very strong reasons for existing.
Consider your reason for wanting a community for your business and how you can implement that to really help others.
How Can You Grow A Community?
The first thing to do is identify why you want a community, and what that will look like for you.
If you already know who your ideal customer is, then you can start thinking about how you want to help them.
There are two parts to a community. The open and the closed.
Open - This includes all areas that are visible to everyone. Your website, podcast, your shop window,your social media.
Closed - These are the private places that members of your community can meet and talk to one another. These could be online, in groups, or it could be a paid for event that only members can come to.
You need to invest in the open part of your community with great, useful content, and then use that to help people decide if they want to be part of any paid for community you offer.
Three Reasons Why A Community Is A Great Idea For Your Business
People who are part of your community are less likely to buy from a competitor
People form relationships organically within communities, and if they feel part of yours they are more likely to stick around
You can ask for feedback and help from your community to guide your future business decisions. It is always best to act from a place of genuine want where customers are concerned.
Where To Begin With Growing Your Community
Simple things to consider if you want to build community around your business.
Start and commit to a regular newsletter
Create community events on social media, could be you organise a once a week social
Find similar but different businesses to work with to cross promote your businesses
Go live on social media and offer tips and advice
If you want to create a community it needs to be done for genuine reasons and not just to drive sales.
People will expect to pay for premium events, but you need to nurture your free content too.
Think about how you will run your community once you have it. Will you bring in a community manager or will you try to do it yourself? People will always want to know who the host is of a group and everyone likes to be welcomed in when they join.
I hope that you now have a clear idea of the importance of a community and how you could build yours.
Thanks for reading.
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Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Consultancy based in SE London.
Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.