Whether you are looking to build a loyalty club or launch a membership scheme one thing you cannot underestimate is the value you can create when you get this right and manage to build a community.
You may ask why you want to build a community, but I would say why would you not? Think about any group of like-minded people. A group of people with a shared interest, belief, or value… a group who all like the same thing, when they are all together their voice is stronger than the individual.
Now translate this to a business… a community of people who believe in your brand values, a community with a voice, a community of advocates. Competitors may be able to replicate your product but if you have created a community, how can a new brand replicate the feeling your customers get from being engaged with you. That feeling of being a part of the brand. The feeling of belonging. The feeling of ownership. This is a long-term relationship which goes way beyond a one-time purchase; it’s about keeping your customers engaged for the long run and the benefits this brings.
These benefits can include enhanced and more frequent purchases however they can also include your community members being your biggest advocates. In today’s world, where 97% of people use customer reviews to influence their purchasing decision (Fan and Fuel, 2016), a community of customer’s ready and willing to share the news about your brand is a must and something money cannot buy. And, if you get to the point where you have a forum, in which your community of advocates can even answer potential purchaser’s questions, then you have really created something special and something someone else wants to be part of.
Creating this community isn’t always easy as often businesses expect this overnight, with no investment of time, people or money, without really thinking about the customers who will be at the heart of this community. However, if your truly are a customer-centric organisation who can see the value a community can bring, then there are some simple tips to help you start:
- Be clear on the objectives of building your community and how these play in to your overall strategy and share this with your team. This should guarantee a consistency in messaging and delivery.
- Understand your potential community members – research in to what they value and how they like to be talked to (emails, social groups, events) cannot be under-estimated.
- Define your value exchange and ensure that value is continuously delivered to your community.
- Develop a marketing plan which ensures relevant and timely interactions with your community, it’s important to stay connected.
- Facilitate customer-to-customer interactions and maximise access to user-generated content.
- Provide your community with a loyalty or membership card. A tangible sign that they are important to you and valued. This card can also be seen by others who may want to know why someone else has something they don’t – people don’t like to miss out
In today’s competitive world, your community could be the thing to separate you from the rest of the market so make the change and put your customers at the heart of your brand.