Content is important, but community is king. In fact, it's not only king, but it's also queen. Content is everywhere, but community is everything.
Content is all over the place, and most of it is either an overly sales-y waste of Internet real estate or a repeat (often plagiarized) of content someone else has already shared. In fact, there is so much of it that even when it's useful, it's overwhelming. While content continues to be the hook that draws people in, community is the glue that binds them together in an ecosystem of sharing and growth.
Donna Maria Coles Johnson, Indie Business Network
Many people ask me why their business is not moving in a positive direction quickly enough. While there can be a variety of reasons for this, one of the main ones is that there is a lack of community around the brand. I believe in this so strongly that the art of building community around your brand is my topic of choice for #IndieCruise 2016.
Here are four of the main reasons why it's important to prioritize the building of community around your brand.
Why it's Important to Prioritize Your Community
- Community Builds and Strengthens Relationships. As a business owner, your chief job is to generate sales. It's not to make products or to post great pictures on Instagram. It's to generate sales.
High quality products and great Instagram photos can contribute to increasing sales, but they are not absolutely necessary. There are plenty of people who manage successful businesses that are not on Instgram, and there are billions of mediocre products that sell like hot cakes.
You can buy a ton of ads or land on QVC and start selling like nobody's business, but if neither of those options (or similar ones) are on your list of things to do, using everything at your disposal to build a branded community will position you to develop the relationships needed to generate sales on a consistent and sustainable basis into the future.
Here is what Indie Business Network member Kelly Maddison of PRIIA Mineral Cosmetics told me a few days ago about how she uses community to sell mineral makeup to wholesale accounts nationwide:
I’ve had a private community on FaceBook Group for my wholesale clients for almost a year now. We currently have over 540 members! My wholesale clients love it and I’ve gained many new customers this way!!!
Kelley is not just selling mineral makeup. She is providing an experience where her customers have direct access to her, and can easily learn from each other's experiences. Every person there is a fan of Kelley's mineral makeup, and her customers can ask questions and talk about the best ways to sell the product to their customers at spas across the country.
See? It's not just about sales. It's about relationships. And Kelley knows that in the business world, good relationships always lead somehow to sales.
- Community Provides External Validation. Moving a step further in the mineral makeup example, let's say that some of those spa owners find out that they are going to be at the same trade show in a few months. Imagine the possibilities.
Kelley meet them there and take them out out lunch together. If she cannot attend, she can send flowers to their rooms, or a gift certificate to the trade show coffee shop. Or maybe she can find ways to make it easy to arrange for her customers to meet each other while they are at the show.
If they do meet, what do you think one of the chief topics of conversation will be? That's right … how awesome Kelley is and what great service she provides
And at a show full of spa owners, what will they tell other spa owners looking for mineral makeup? You got it. All about Kelley. This type of external, third party validation allows Kelley to sell her products while she is halfway across the country, on vacation, or giving birth. It's one of the ways you can be everywhere your customers are — without being everywhere.
Kelley's reputation for a great experience has followed her to places she's never been, and the end result will be that many new spas will learn about Kelley without her having to do anything other than what she is already doing.
- Community Builds Trust in Your Brand. In order to generate sales, you must create ways for people to know, like, and trust you.
If people don't know about you and your products, they cannot like you and your products.
If they don't like you and your products, they cannot trust you and your products. If they don't trust you and your products, they won't buy anything.
It all goes back to trust, and there is no better way to build trust than to expose yourself to your customers every single day.
Kelley uses a Facebook Group, but you can use other things as well. You can use physical meetups using sites like Meetup, and events, like we do with Connection Days. You can use virtual events like webinars and teleseminars like we do with our Access Q+A Coaching and Success Calls. You can use , or like we once did a few years back with our virtual book club. You can use an annual retreat, like I do with #IndieCruise. The possibilities are endless … and they are also fun!
Make money while having fun? Yes, please!
- Community Brand Advocates and Cheerleaders. When you are surrounded by people who collectively love you, your products and services, and the great customer service you offer, you maximize the chances of your business being profitable. You also ensure that you are never alone. You are always surrounded by people who give to you as you give to them. When it's time to buy what you have to offer, it's you they will think of — and they will tell their friends. Your community will be composed of people who are constant companions and outspoken cheerleaders.
Business grows. Fun abounds. Everyone is happy.
And that's why it's important to build community around your brand.
How do you create community around your brand? Does Kelley's approach with a Facebook Group resonate with you? It's free and it's easy, and it's fun. Do you maintain a branded Facebook Group for your customers? If so, how is it working for you? Share your answer on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.