is the process a business will use to identify and market to relevant online communities (and in some cases offline) — communities whose members are engaged in ongoing, relevant industry-related dialogue with one another. The effort is then to naturally convert these community members into long-term customers and advocates.
Whereas traditional marketing communication tactics such as advertising, sales promotion and PR focus on targeting prospects en masse with no thought, or regard, for commonalities of background, business interests and life experience, the approach of Community Marketing, leverages the power of community to encourage and nurture online referral and word-of-mouth for enterprises.
Community Marketing accomplishes these major objectives for businesses:
- Connects the business with targeted, customer-prospect-relevant communities.
- Facilitates a dialogue about the business among community members.
- Encourages and nurtures referrals and positive word-of-mouth
- Converts members into customers.
If you are going to start Community Marketing, you will need to identify some key characteristics of the community:
- The values of the Community and how your business can communicate that it shares these values. People like to do business with other people with whom they share common concerns.
- The emotional code of the Community that represents the main underlying emotional theme that resonates with the community and which will be utilized to focus your content and communications. People respond most actively when their emotional trigger is pulled.
- The means your company can use to empower the community – from content to tools to access to resources. This will help make you an integral part of the community and seen as indispensable – to the point that people will consider doing business with you a civic duty.
- The common language used by the community – you are an outsider if you communicate without shared symbols and memes. When I was growing up in the mountains of NC, we took outsiders “snipe” hunting – leaving them in the woods to find their way home after discovering there is no such thing as a snipe.
- The assets of the community – where do they meet, what strength does it contain now, what other Capital strengths does it have, how can it be improved. You might find you don’t need to build a platform but can use existing infrastructure and add value.
- Vision for the future of the community – this would be best to develop with some of the other stakeholders in the community.
Once you have these basic characteristics of the Community, you will need to take inventory of your business and its ability to participate:
- What are the strengths of your business for participating in groups. For example, do you have a centrally located office that can hold events? Do you work well with grassroots or board level members. Do you know leading financial resources the community can tap via your channels?
- Once you know your strengths (and weaknesses), decide which fit best into the roles you will perform in the community: Educator, Caretaker, Motivator, Catalyst, Leader, Pioneer, Host, Entertainer, or Connector.
- Once you know your roles, create a clear vision statement for your roles in community empowerment. It should be a clear projection of what you stand for and what you are going to create.
After these setup tasks, you are ready to start executing your role in the community, and if necessary developing the community. There is a lot to discuss in this regard, but one of the most important things I will mention now is to maintain transparency and perform your role with integrity.
- How to market a community (smallbizsurvival.com)
- New Ebook From Socious Provides Online Customer Community Tips for Marketers (prweb.com)