Building a community is more than just creating brand loyalty—it’s building a customer base that identifies with your culture, mission, and values. Turning your customers into brand advocates is one of the strongest ways to increase sales and get your most loyal customers and clients to do the selling for you. By bringing your customers together and giving them a sense of unity, you will be able to easily build a dedicated community. Here are 10 ways to build a community for your brand.
One of the best ways for small business owners to start building a community is by making themselves a pillar of their local circle. Attend community events, support other small businesses, appear at grand openings and celebrations. Introduce yourself to people in your industry and get to know them on a personal level, rather than just a professional one. Let your community know you are dedicated to your involvement, and they will support you in return.
In order to build a long-lasting, firm relationship with your customers and clients that will extend into a community, you need to create a connection with them and allow them to see you for more than just a small business owner. People connect better with stories and individuals than just faceless organizations, so make your message personal. Throw a “get to know us” party with your staff in attendance, host a movie night after hours, or even just have an online Twitter “Q&A” party. These little ways to build a relationship will lead to building a community.
If your customer base has a transparent area to discuss new products or services, rave about a new offering, or even voice concerns, they will be more likely to trust you and recommend your business. This can be done in the form of an anonymous suggestions box, either in-store or on your website, a forum on your blog, or even Twitter account specifically to handle all comments and questions. Being transparent with your customers and is a valuable quality and will help to build a loyal community.
Much like the last tip, make your community feel empowered by the outlet you give them. Don’t just listen to the advice they give—actually adopt any common suggestions that arise. For example, if you offer a poll to your customers and ask what they would like to see changed, considering adjusting your most common request, such as extending store hours during the holidays, or adding a new product to an existing line. Giving customers the power and allowing them to feel valued will help to build a strong community for your brand.
While it can be easy to forget about your most loyal customers during your daily activities, don’t forget to reward those who support you the most. The customers who most frequently buy from you, make favorable comments about your brand online, and refer others are the power users of your community, so be sure to cultivate that relationship. Reach out to these brand advocates and invite them to after-hours shopping events and wine nights, or send surprise and delight packages. Bonding with these loyal customers will help to create brand ambassadors who will continue to spread the word about your products and services.
Another great way to build a good foundation in your community, either virtually or in-person, is by making your marketing personal. When you send emails to your subscriber list, sign them with your name, and if you’re comfortable, even a headshot. When you respond to customer tweets, Facebook messages, or emails, use your real name and image so customers can feel like they are talking to a real person, rather than just a computer. Since your customers are assigning your brand to a name and face, they will become a more connected member of your community.
Giving your community a purpose and direction will help to shape the events you create and the activities you participate in. Communities run the risk of becoming “cliquey” if not executed correctly, so make sure your community has an open and accepting purpose than can incorporate all customers, both new and old. Your community must have a purpose for existing in order to achieve your goals. If you’re unsure about the purpose your community should serve, take a look at your mission and values and use those as a starting point.