Community marketing is a strategy to engage an audience in an active, non-intrusive prospect and customer conversation. Marketing marketing strategies such as advertising, promotion, PR, and marketing, focus on the needs of existing customers. This accomplishes four things for a business:
- Connects existing customers with prospects
- Connects prospects with each other
- Connects a company with customers / prospects to solidify loyalty
- Connected customers with customers to improve product adoption, satisfaction, etc.
There are two types of community marketing:
- Organic or natural marketing occurs without the assistance of the company. Organic marketing is word-of-mouth marketing and is one of the most effective marketing methods
- Sponsored community marketing is promoted by the company through activities in the local community.
Recent experience in the field of advertising and marketing has resulted in a number of other issues. Continuing success in community marketing strategies that have been found in their product / service.
- Bi-directional communication with customers – Resulting in feedback, identification of customer needs, and customer-focused product development
- Reduced Communication Barriers – Easily Introduce Messaging to Customer Audience Regarding New Products, Public Relations Strategies, or Damage Control (news)
- Identify, engage, and leverage Advocates – Allow enthused and loyal customers to benefit your overall marketing through word of mouth and Knowledge Management That Reduces the load on your internal media Mechanisms (PARTICULARLY for tech products).
- Gaining Trusted Advisor Status – Reduced awareness of your marketing message as a result of openness, transparency, and commitment to customer focus through Community Marketing involvement. Results in a “ownership” of a product that provides a resource, rather than a vendor.
Tools used in community marketing
- Online Social Networking – The chief medium for Community Marketing revolves around Web 2.0 interactivity such as Internet forums , Wiki ‘s, Social networks , Blogs , and related syndication ( RSS ).
- Community-Specific Tools & Features – To encourage community participation, many companies offer tools and features exclusively to “members” of the community. These include Webcasts , Podcasts , and email newsletters. The key factor, however, in using these tools is the value of the message. Communities revolve around user-valuable messages (information, support, tips & tricks, etc.) and NOT promotional messages.
- Community Infrastructure and Governance – Some communities engages the participation of their clients in the role of elected officials, advisory board members, and volunteer “guru” status in order to exemplify key customers in their communities.
- Partnerships – Although this is often a purely public relations strategy, some people view partnerships with non-profit consumer advocacy organizations to be a community marketing effort.
Reasons to use Community Marketing – The power of Community Marketing
- Community costs less
Some of the world’s strongest brands were originally built-low-cost community-based marketing. Nike, Starbucks and Google are some examples. When companies focus on the needs of the people they serve, they do not have to spend big money to attract new customers. And when they stay close to their communities they do not need market research Kiehl’s, for example, is a premium body-care product. People from around the world make pilgrimages to the original New York City store. A global brand now owned by L’Oreal, Kiehl’s packaging is plain, its stores are basic and from its 1851 founding until today, the brand has never advertised. Success needs driven by products tailored to customers’ needs, word-of-mouth promotion,
- Community Grows Loyalty
Human beings are programmed to want certain things. The most important are having a sense of belonging and the feeling of being understood. These needs are most often met through families, clubs and communities. When companies start to focus on building communities, it makes a powerful impact that forges emotional bonds. When a new community is established, people who once felt left spiritually. They begin to have a place to belong. When an existing community is up, people who have felt marginalized now find validation. They discover that they have an important role to play. Nike is doing an amazing job of growing up with a consumer and making a difference in the marketplace. to supporting inner-city basketball, to empowering girls as athletes. The reward has been intense customer loyalty.
- Community Maintains Authenticity
Community brands remain relevant because they are constantly adapting to the changing needs. Starbucks originally provided the caffeine addicts a “theater of coffee” experience, with each nuance carefully engineered. As more newcomers joined the tribe, baristas were trained to educate them on coffee exotica, developing a dimension of accessible adventure for the brand. When technology causes a convergence of work and home life, Starbucks lost its individuality and was not a much sought after for the emerging baristas. Starbucks by tapping the largest cultural trend of consumer-based self-expression to offer an endlessly configurable array of unique toppings, ingredients and technical preparation inspired by customer requests and baristas creativity. While Starbucks has stumbled upon late, it’s telling that it’s about to return to the company, CEO Howard Schultz quickly reached out to the community by establishing mysarbucksidea.com.
- Community Drives Innovation
There’s no better source of growth and innovation than a passionate brand community. Vans, originally a surfboard, surf competitions, skateboarding shoes and gear, skateboard parks, touring music festivals and even a feature film. And within each of these businesses, new products, features and ways of marketing have been generated through a continuous flow of ideas from the grassroots. Harley-Davidson understood that while their community shared a passion for the brand, they also had a wide variety of unfulfilled needs and challenges. By methodically focusing on meeting these, the company built substantial new businesses around motorcycle customization, riding gear, motorcycle-inspired fashion and home decoration.
- Community Supports Natural Reinvention
In times of profound change, businesses must often reinvent themselves to survive. Yet the impulse for many is to be hunted down, wait for the tide to turn and worry about changing later. This both increases the risk of failure and misses the opportunity to energize employees and jump back to competition through community-driven change. By engaging the community-starting with customers, but extending to channel partners, employees, government, society and investors-a company can reinvent itself in a way that’s organic rather than wrenching. Products and activities can be eliminated, freeing up resources for new initiatives. Focusing all activities on the environment and the growth of the community. Lou Gerstner reinvented IBM in this way. Gerstner launched “Operation Bear Hug,” with the most important customers and discovering their most pressing challenges. This led to the insight that IBM’s real strength was as a provider of integrated solutions and its reinvention as the “e-business” company. In tough times more than ever, people have a sense of community support. How to Deliver and Deliver Your Business? Good marketing always puts people at the center.