By Helen Duffy, Research Lead with the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre (BCIC).
For business owners, marketing is essential to running a successful operation. This can include many aspects of marketing and it can be overwhelming trying to think about the best approach to getting the message out about your brand.
Have you ever considered using community as a marketing tool? Building and nurturing a community can be an incredible asset to your small business, and it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Building community: Why it’s important
A community relies on a shared interest, common goal, or belonging to a geographical location. When building a community around your business, it’s important to identify what drives your audience and connect with people on those values.
The benefits of building a community for your small business are numerous. Community…
- Creates loyal customers
- Fosters brand advocates
- Provides key insights into your business
- Offers a host of opportunities for co-marketing and collaboration
- Reduces your dependency on paid advertising
- Gives your customers a voice in the direction of your business
Small business needs: What makes community marketing essential
Small businesses must shift from thinking about traditional advertising and focus more on creating a loyal customer base. With the rise of social media, it’s easier than ever for brands to build a community around their products and services. Customers are more likely to trust and support businesses they feel connected to through a shared community.
Steps to use community in your marketing
1. Identify your audience: Determine who your target audience is and what groups or communities they belong to.
2. Find your community leaders: Look for influencers in your industry or niche and build relationships with them. Think of this like micro-influencers or people with a circle of influence that are respected and listened to.
3. Create content: Develop content (blogs, videos, social media posts) that resonates with your audience and shares your values.
4. Foster engagement: Encourage your followers to engage with your content and each other. You can use methods such as social media contests, live events, or even online forums.
5. Offer exclusive perks: Reward your community for their loyalty and engagement by offering exclusive bonuses. Ideas for this include early access to new products to discounts on future purchases.
6. Collaborate: Partner with other businesses or organizations in your community to co-promote each other and expand your reach. Networking becomes particularly useful here as the collaborations happen organically as you get to know other businesses.
Building a community takes time and effort, but it’s worth the investment. A strong community can drive brand loyalty, create brand advocates, and offer countless opportunities for collaboration and co-marketing.
As a small business owner, leveraging the power of community can help you grow your business and strengthen your brand.
This article was written by Helen Duffy, Research Lead with the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre (BCIC). To learn more about the BCIC team’s expertise and the opportunity to partner on projects, visit the website or contact the BCIC team today.