How Large Companies Secretly Grow Communities
In times of change people seek out leaders more than ever, however since people have been conned so many times by marketing gimmicks, they’re now choosing their leaders more wisely and that change has made a big impact on their buying habits.
The way people are now identifying leaders is by asking others. In the age of Yelp and Amazon, other peoples’ opinions matter more than ever. That’s the third core basic every customer is looking for.
Customers are reaching out to their peers – sharing information at a hectic pace – and looking for advice. Advice that’s easier than ever to find because of today’s tightly connected online environment with blogs, forums and social communities on almost any topic and about almost any product, service, or company—which opens up a world of opportunity for companies willing to play.
The Community Factor
It’s time to share the secret of how businesses large and small are using communities to create their own social waves and dominate their industry.
A community is all about giving the masses a place to congregate. It’s all about making people feel comfortable sharing their ideas and finally being heard.
If you study any great leader, you’ll discover that they weren’t just good at telling people what to do. In fact, leaders who do that are never long-lived.
All the great leaders give their audience a unified goal and a place to gather together to discuss that goal.
For businesses seeking growth, this goes beyond customer surveys and focus groups. Those tactics sometimes work, but they have a much smaller return on investment when you consider the time, money and effort needed to make them work.
Done properly, a community will be an entirely organic thing, growing every day, expanding your audience and accumulating new posts, giving you more valuable customer feedback to dip into and use to improve every past, present, and future product and marketing campaign. In short it will do more work for you than you could ever do for yourself in a focus group.
A good community gives your audience a way to connect with others. Your only job is to keep the content in your community fresh so your audience is motivated to come back time and time again.
In fact, when your community is set up properly, your audience will take over your job of providing new content and motivation very, very quickly, allowing you to set up multiple communities on separate hot topics. How do you identify the hot topics? Your community will be talking about them!
The more you share with your community, the more your community will share with each other – and with you.
The potential for exponential growth is obvious, but it’s easy to create a community the “wrong” way. Let’s cover the easiest way to do it right…
Zero Investment With Millions In Return?
I once consulted with a company that produced exercise equipment. That company asked for help after they noticed a big dip in their sales, which began when their target market started purchasing all the latest and greatest gadgets advertised by other companies through late night infomercials.
This company felt like they had to invest in an infomercial themselves or they would be left out in the cold.
Pop quiz: does that sound like what a leader would do, or a follower?
But rather than jumping into an area like infomercials, which this company couldn’t afford to do at the time, we focused on another way of marketing altogether and positioned them as a leader in their field by using communities.
How’d we do it?
First, we invited all their past customers to get several free gifts: digital information like eBooks , reports, and videos, which cost the company nothing to distribute because they were completely digital.
In order to receive those free gifts, customers simply had to go to the company’s new online community website and tell them about their experience with whatever piece of equipment they had bought from them in the past.
That was the first step. But once we had the customers in the door, we had to keep them there. So we made the community website inviting with pleasant colors, interesting with fresh content, and easy-to-navigate with clear instructions and big easy-to-understand buttons.
The site made it easy for people to input their reasons for liking or disliking the equipment. Then it let them read and reply to what others were posting.
If someone needed help getting the best results possible from a piece of equipment, the site had a handful of experts to personally train them online with videos and email support.
But that didn’t last long…
Within a few months many of their customers were quickly and freely supporting their peers, so the company was able to take a back seat and watch as their customers supported their customers.
To encourage that, we gave away some unexpected gifts to those who were supporting others in the community. Throughout this process we learned a lot about how the customers really thought, how to market to them, and how to get them to refer their friends to this company.
We also watched as people began inviting their friends to join the free community, and those friends began discussing other pieces of equipment.
Although the community we set up never supported someone on a piece of equipment that my client did not sell, there was so much general support offered that almost anyone could get 200% to 300% better results with almost any piece of equipment from any company just by participating in our community.
That free flow of information helped established this company’s credibility and popularity, and it did something else very important…
Letting Your Community Show You How to Beat the Competition
Why did the free flow of information help us?
Because listening to the community talk about equipment from rival companies uncovered exactly who our real competitors were. It showed us exactly what people didn’t like about them and what results they were not getting from the competitors.
Then, something amazing happened!
We took a quick look at the most popular topics people were discussing, and we found a few, like supplements, that were very, very hot. In fact, the members of the community had created separate forums within the site to discuss just those topics.
With a little effort and about a week’s worth of work, my clients created separate communities with separate graphics, photos, and content to attract the masses who just wanted supplement support or weight loss support or muscle-gaining support or help setting up their home gym, etc., etc., etc., based on interests the people in the communities were eagerly showing us.
Those communities were all extensions of the first, but they were focused enough to make the masses feel comfortable that their specific needs were being met. Plus, loads of others from search engines across the globe found these sites, because they were free and open to the public.
The content within them grew multiple times a day, not from my client’s efforts but because the people within each forum kept posting more reviews, inviting more friends, supporting each other, and commenting on other members’ posts. The search engines love this kind of site! They ranked us high and that attracted even more people.
Leadership Branding Through Communities
Remember, your goal for your community is the same as this client’s—to brand yourself and your company as a leader in your field—so you need to maintain a dominant spot in the community without bragging or constantly selling. You do this by giving customers and potential customers a place to gather, talk, express their opinions, learn more and also teach you what they want.
Put quite simply, the more you share, the more you will succeed.
You build relationships with a huge amount of people that way, and that’s what sales and leadership are ultimately all about: relationships.
Both you and your customers benefit from this because you are both getting what you want. They’re getting products and services based on their wants and needs, and you’re getting customer loyalty, buzz and feedback as well as lots of new profits. It doesn’t get any more win-win than that.
But building a community is just one tool in your arsenal. When you add it to concepts like automation, team development, or culture, you’ll see just how game-changing theseconcepts are.
CHRIS GUERRIERO IS AN ENTREPRENEUR, BUSINESS ADVISOR, SPEAKER,
AND BEST-SELLING AUTHOR.
Business owners around the world have come to rely upon Chris when they require an edge to breakthrough growth obstacles.
Expertise and proven track record of success differentiate Chris. He’s grown teams, culture, and business systems that yield multi-million-dollar companies. During his career devoted to health, wellness, and business growth, Chris has built four 8-figure businesses of his own and helped generate millions in revenue for his clients. He has served as a business advisor, mentor, board member and investor for businesses and executives who desire additional business growth.
Chris was featured in Entrepreneur as one of the top entrepreneurs of the time and his companies have been featured in print, video, and on live stages domestically and around the globe. Chris is focused on building culture, systems, and teams that scale smart and galvanize growth.
To get information on Chris’ availability to support your business growth, contact Emily@ChrisGuerriero.com.