What is Community Marketing: A Guide To Growing Your Business With Communities
Over the last 2 years, various communities have started locally and evolved. From Devcenter Square to forLoop to ScaleMyHustle and Startup Grind Lagos. These are some of the communities that are popular in Nigeria.
But apart from helping members learn, connect and grow, are there other uses for a community?
Are they not a social impact effort like CSR programs? A resource-intensive effort that helps grow the ecosystem with no business ROI?
Or a way to get quick feedback for products/services you are working on?
Yes and no. Yes because they are all that, and no because they are more. Communities can also be used as channels in product/service development and marketing. More on the use of communities as a product/service development channel later.
Community As A Marketing Channel
As a marketing channel, communities can be leveraged on the same way we leverage on Facebook, Instagram, Billboards, Radio and other web and media channels.
Unlike normal marketing which uses web and media channels to create awareness and get new users, community marketing is about converting those users and creating long-term relationships with existing users or a community of similar users.
It helps build user engagement and makes it easy to convert and retain your users.
With respect to business growth, community marketing helps achieve organic growth with ease. It requires a little more manual work, but it scales and sustains itself.
Community marketing will play a strong role in the future of work and marketing, as modern customers and users expect more from the companies they give their money to. They want to feel recognised, important and heard. People are always willing to pay more if a service makes them feel special.
Now you know what community marketing is, how do you use it to market and grow your business?
Using Community Marketing To Grow Your Business
“It’s all about the consumer, it’s all about delivering value beyond your product, it’s all about engagement.”
- Sujan Patel, Web Profits Blog
1. Decide what you want the most from your customers
Remember it is not about getting new customers (acquisition), but about engaging with them and getting them to do something that contributes positively to your business (conversion).
Community marketing can help you:
- Increase the time customers spend/use your product/service (retention rate),
- Increase spending from existing customers (customer lifetime value),
- Increase ads and marketing campaign served,
- Increase the number of leads generated and converted into paying customers (lead generation and conversion),
- Reduce customer service cost,
- Reduce customer acquisition cost,
- Reduce research cost, and
- Reduce recruitment cost.
Defining what you want from your customers or what you want your customers to do on/with your product/service is key to getting them to take that action.
2. Define your company’s buyer or user persona
Buyer personas help you create a guide on how to reach your customers.
Who benefits the most from your product or service? What does it help them with, what problem/issue does it solve, who’s most likely to use/have it?
You need to know who you’re looking for before you can determine where to find them. Which brings us to your next step.
3. Find and list out the communities your persona is active in
To do this, I use the following steps. I put myself in the position of the ideal user of my product/service and I answer the following questions:
For this, I will use questions to create a persona for a film distribution service like Festivilia.
- As a filmmaker, what are your interests?
- As a filmmaker what social media accounts do you follow?
- As a filmmaker what social media platforms do you use, what websites do you visit, what events do you attend, what places do you hang out?
Now look for the online websites, social media accounts and the followers of the accounts of the places above. Look for influencers and thought leaders in the filmmaking industry and check their followers and the sites they share.
Do all this with respect to your own business and the location you know your users to be, and you will be able to create that community list.
4. Define your company’s core value, what is your value proposition?
Now you know your customers and where to find them. Next, you need to properly communicate why they should use your product or service. You need to connect with them on a genuine level.
Find the meaning behind your product/service. What is it you do for your customers and users? Do you make their lives easier? Help them save money? Why is your product/service important? Why should they use it?
Whatever it is, make sure you communicate it. It is what your product is about, it is your unique selling point.
5. Reach out and participate in the communities
Finally, approach the communities where your buyer persona is active. Using the knowledge of what you want from your users and why they should choose you.
Build your presence and audience in these communities:
- Be active in their discussions,
- Share useful and detailed insights and
- Help other community members out.
As you do this, opportunities to share your product will come naturally.