Business Owner’s Guide to Building a Community

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Community engagement and customer feedback are valuable to any business. They offer brands the opportunity to not only connect with their customers, but also learn from them.

Throughout my experience building noissue and working with a global network of brands and designers – who, in turn, also pay close attention to the needs and interests of their own customers – I have come to recognize that “community” is not just a buzzword, but rather a central pillar of every great brand. Building a community and building for that community takes a concerted and proactive effort, so let’s take a look at key learnings from my career with a step-by-step guide to growing and leveraging your community.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Focusing on Community Is Your Best Marketing Strategy

Identify and connect with your community values-wise

Consumers today want to get to know brands to connect with them on an authentic level, so for brands looking to build their community, the importance of identifying customer values ​​cannot be overstated. Be sure to develop an authentic brand voice and identity that ties in and reflects your brand values.

Everything from the aesthetics and copy of your brand to the choice of packaging materials and collaborative campaigns provides an opportunity to showcase these values ​​and connect with your community on a deeper, more authentic level. Studies have shown that today more and more consumers are paying close attention to values ​​such as sustainability, diversity and inclusiveness. If you build your brand and your community to reflect a shared commitment to these values, your community will be stronger for it.

Harness the power of content to connect, engage and grow your community

Today, a wide range of channels offers businesses and creators an ever-changing range of opportunities to reach their target audience through digital content and activations. Content is an essential tool to build and grow your community and your brand, giving consumers the opportunity to learn about and interact with your brand on a regular basis.

Approach your content strategy as an iterative process to find out what type of content — whether it’s video guides, Instagram Live interviews, blogs, or podcasts — resonates the most with community members. It won’t happen overnight, but when you find something that works, invest in it to give your community more of what they’re looking for.

Related: Building Community Is Good Business

Find creative ways to collect feedback

Encourage community members to engage in dialogue, provide feedback, or express their desire for new types of products by rewarding them for their time. Perhaps you offer a small discount to survey participants or give existing customers who have left reviews early access to new products and offers. Making your community feel like an important part of the brand itself will help drive engagement to ultimately give you the information you need to make the best strategic decisions about where your brand is headed.

And be creative. From Instagram polls to surveys, sharing information doesn’t have to be boring, difficult or time-consuming. Find the right place to create an information-gathering exercise that doesn’t feel like a job for participating community members.

Refine your product roadmap to reflect customer demands and needs

Creating the products your customers want and need should always be at the heart of your product development strategy and process. After collecting valuable feedback from your community, do something with it. Be open to refining your product roadmap based on community feedback to deliver the exact solutions your customers are looking for. Your community will thank you for it and your sales will reflect it.

Amplify your community on social networks

Bring back your community and their love for you on social media, amplifying them and their specific use cases with your brand. Whether it’s showing how a customer has styled one of your products or showcasing a brand’s new campaign as evidenced by its personalized and sustainable packaging, publishing user-generated content allows you to amplify both your community and your brand on social networks. It’s a simple and organic way to say thank you to the community that helps you grow.

Related: How I Built a Community of 98,000 Using the Skills I Learned at Harvard

Leverage your community to power commerce

Ultimately, your community is your customers. And just as content should be used strategically to help engage and grow your community, your community should help drive sales. Developing an authentic relationship with your customers from the initial point of discovery and digital engagement through sales and even after-sales is essential. Find creative ways to engage your community to help build brand awareness, encourage referrals and viral sharing, drive commerce and more. The opportunities are endless.

Business and consumer landscapes are constantly changing and evolving to reflect changes in technology, business needs, consumer needs, values ​​and more. Paying close attention to your audience is absolutely essential to keeping up. Brands in general depend as much on their communities as their communities depend on them. The relationship at its best should be symbiotic, and the responsibility lies with the brand to ensure that it is. Developing a relationship of mutual trust and respect, where consumer feedback is proactively and consciously considered and applied, is of the utmost importance in solidifying a long-term bond and maximizing the positive impact the community can have on the growth and development of your business.

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