Brand communities are the new hot topic in marketing. As competition for attention becomes more and more fierce, establishing a community of value for users is emerging as the number one way to keep up momentum, extend your reach and maximize your operations, particularly in the marketing arena. These communities create three main kinds of value for the businesses and organizations that run them.
Marketing isn’t only about selling a product, it’s about increasing brand awareness and growing your presence among the public. We used to be able to achieve this with billboards, commercials or smart product placement. These are still strategic tools that play their own role, but nothing today is more helpful in spreading the word than personal recommendations, otherwise known as “organic” growth.
Even if your community members don’t have a personal relationship, they are far more likely to trust one another as individuals with no hidden interests than they are willing to blindly believe in a company ad or representative with a clear motive to sell. One person who has had a positive experience with your brand and interacts with it regularly is an infinitely more valuable emissary to the general public than any advertisement.
Community as a resource
But communities aren’t only good as a marketing tool, they also act a resource for your company, saving you time, money and effort. For example, a properly robust community can help you avoid hiring customer service representatives altogether. Community members with intimate knowledge and experience with your products are usually active and helpful in forums when other customers have questions or concerns. This process is also more transparent and trust-based than speaking to a customer service representative.
Community members also effectively expand your team of thinkers. They’ll give you the most useful feedback on your products and make the most valuable suggestions of how to evolve your operations. As customers themselves, they will give you real feedback that you would otherwise have to pry out of customers who wouldn’t necessarily know what they were talking about. A community is like a politician’s constituency – let them guide your development and policy.
Maintaining an engaged community also increases brand loyalty so that your new products and ideas automatically have a strong audience of supporters ready to believe in what you have to offer. Starting from the ground up is an experience that’s best to struggle through only once. A loyal community is like a group of friends who, at the very least, give you the benefit of the doubt before rejecting your new projects.
If you haven’t been putting in the effort to get a community started for your brand and products, it’s time to start. These versatile and diverse groups of individuals bring numerous benefits to your business and represent the most effective method of customer retention and public outreach as we head into the future.