Traditional sales are getting outdated. It’s not that they don’t work anymore, it’s just that there are much more effective ways. Previously, sales had only one short-term goal - to make the customer buy. And here is where the interaction ends.
Today, things are very different. Companies’ sales strategy needs to be focusing on long-term goals. Sales need to be focusing on growth. Direct sales won’t bring growth.
But, there’s one thing that really brings growth to companies in the era of technology we live in. It’s brand advocates. Getting your customers to sell for you is the best thing you can do for the growth of your company.
To build a community around your product is pretty bumpy and long
There’s one shortcut you could take, and that’s to start building a community around your product. Eventually, your community members will become your brand advocates and spread the “good word” about your product. In fact, every successful product relies on a group of loyal customers.
For example, Apple always has people camping outside their stores, waiting to be the first to get their hands on the new gadget. No matter what it is, how much it costs, or what the reviews are. Some people are just in love with Apple and consider its products as an inevitable part of their lives. And that’s because the tech giant has been building its community perfectly.
A community is a place where your customers can discuss your products and exchange opinions. They shouldn’t be alone here, of course. You will be here, connecting to your customers, listening to their feedback, and responding to it.
You don’t have to be as big as Apple to have a community. Any brand can have a community if they manage it well. Your loyal customers will always be happy to join a community about a brand they love.
“Today, brand-building is not primarily through one-way communication via advertising. The new way is co-creation, enabling customers to build your brand with you,” believes Ray Li, CEO of Sene, a custom-made clothing store.
So, how can you build a community around your product? Here are four effective ways:
1. Create value
This won’t be the place where you’ll be able to promote your products all the time. Yes, you can inform your customers about news, but this is not another marketing channel. Your customers must be getting something from being members of your community. They need to get answers to their questions, solve their problems, meet other people who share the passion for your product and get a possibility to share their ideas.
That’s why you need to have a clear vision of how you’re going to use your community to engage your customers and give them value. For example, if you are a company that provides products for the food industry, you can create a platform where you’ll share recipes that include your products.
You could also sponsor a Facebook group where your community members will be able to exchange opinions and find out news first. You can also have giveaways occasionally, depends on the product.
The important thing is to keep the community vibrant. Ask questions and provide useful feedback. Making it all about the product will make things monotonous and your customers will want to leave after a while.
2. Educate your customers through your blog or email
This can be an addition to the value you’ll create with your platform or group. You can always add some exclusive deals or promotions for people who are subscribed to your email list or following your blog.
If your product is a complicated tech gadget, software, or an app, an educational blog is mandatory. Here, you can educate your customers on how to use your product and show them all the features it has. A blog with a lot of content can also serve to create good email campaigns that can increase website visits and bring more sales.
Your blog doesn’t always have to be educational. It can simply be fun. This will bring additional value to your customers. They will appreciate that you aren’t just trying to take advantage of them and sell more.
3. Highlight the emotional connection
This is one thing that always works. Build your community based on some emotion that your product attracts customers through. For example, a photographer can build a community of people who love animals and use them to share animal photos, advice on how to photograph animals, etc.
Building an emotion-based community shouldn’t be hard for a brand that is brave. If you are a company that steps up with its opinion and attitude, there will certainly be people who will follow you for it. You can easily build a community of people with the same attitude.
For example, this emotion can be something connected with childhood or life events. People always love telling stories about their childhood, remembering it as the most peaceful period of their lives. Engaging them to talk about events that marked their lives is a huge step to getting your next brand advocates.
Every brand can discover a different emotion that connects it to its target customers. This can be done in many ways. One of the best ways is to connect to your customers directly, and we explain how to do it in the next section.
Co-creation is a great way to build a community. Co-creation is a model that puts companies and their users together with the goal to create an innovation. This model aims to include customers in the product design process, resulting in a product that will address their needs and offer an effective solution. This way, you get to have real contact with your customers, asking them directly what they think about your product and how it can be improved or changed.
For example, NASA has been using crowdsourcing to come up with different solutions, including how to help astronauts exercise in space or where to search for new planets. NASA organizes challenges all over the world, gathering space and tech enthusiasts who want to be involved in the organization’s operations. That’s how the agency has gotten close to many different people around the world and build its community.
Building a community should be something you believe in. You should be doing this not for the sales, but for the value, you’ll deliver. Sales will increase if you do things right.
What it’s important to remember is that you and your audience share the same values. Sharing a message with the people you share the same values with is much easier. What is left for you is to be consistent and follow those values in whatever you do.