Community is nothing new. We know one when we see one, and we all live in one. But the notion of community as it relates to business success is relatively new to most small and independent business owners because up until now, most have relied heavily on their “quality products” to make those products sell. But today, everyone has “quality products,” and this means you must do more.
It's not enough to have quality products. You must also have quality community. No matter what business you are in, you are in the business of people. Without people, you have no community. Without community, you have no business. Here's why
- People buy stuff. This obvious point cannot be overstated. You cannot sell products and services to people if you and your business are not surrounded by people. Without a community of people who enjoy the experience of buying your stuff, you will have to work far too hard to earn the kind of influence needed to be profitable in the long run
- People want to be with their friends. Whether it's in the virtual or physical world, and especially as the two merge, people want to be with their friends. They want to impress their friends, inform their friends, encourage their friends, and hear from their friends. And they want to be like their friends. Yes, it's a herd mentality out there. If you bring people together with their friends, you will be successful.
- People want to meet new friends. Yesterday, a person posted this update at my FaceBook Page: “This sounds like a group of AMAZING PEOPLE I need to be a part of!!!” Not only do I now have an opportunity to influence this person, but so do all 1,500+ people at my FaceBook Page community, and she can influence us as well. Need I say more?
- People will tell you what to do. These days, you don't even have to invent the best business ideas. If you ask people to tell you want they want, they will. This means you can borrow the creativity of others to expand your business. You can take their ideas, with their permission, and use them to help your business grow.
- People help you be findable. People like to talk. It may seem like so much hot air, but if they are talking about you and the products and services you offer, you are golden. Create opportunities for people to chat it up, and those people will create opportunities for you to chat it up. And the more you chat, the more business you'll do.
- People like to have fun. Everyone can have fun on their own, but when you're having your “best” fun, you want to share it with your friends. If you help people have a good time, not only will they return for more, but they will return for more with more people.
Life should be fun. Buying should be fun. Buying from you should be even more fun. Make it fun and they will come.
- People will hold you accountable. At last night's IBN Member Power Hour, a monthly “uplift” telephone conference call I lead with my members, Shila Laing told me that I needed to create and circulate to my members a kind of booklet that contains specific types of information. I think it's a fantastic idea, and I've already started preparing it. This is a perfect example of why community is so important. If you're not delivering something, your community will tell you about it. It's up to you what you do with the information they share, but you ignore it at your peril. (Thanks Shila!)
- People will talk about you. No, not your products. Y-O-U. This is critical. Your products must be good, that's a given. But people don't buy products because they are good. They buy them because they like you, what you stand for, and the experience you deliver as part of the buying process. If they like you and what you stand for, they will talk about you. If they talk about you, everyone wins. But they can't talk about you if you don't give them an easy place to do that. Your community is that place.
- People will encourage and inspire you. I love my business, and I love it more because of the people I serve every day. They help me live a good life. They lift me when I am down. They stretch me when I feel puny. Don't you need people like that in your life? Of course you do. But they don't just show up. You have to create a space and then welcome them there.
Create a place where people can encourage you. When you are encouraged, the entire community is encouraged. Again, everyone wins.
- People give you things to write about. If I hear one more person say they can't think of anything to blog about, I'll lay down on the floor like a toddler and just scream. If you are breathing, you have something to talk about, and blogging is just talking.
If you create community around your brand, the topics of conversation never end. When people talk, it gives you something to talk about, which gives you something to blog about. Create a place where people can talk. Then write about it. The end.
Your Community Quotient
Every business owner has a “community quotient” based on how consistently and passionately they engage a community of people who gravitate toward their brand.
There are lots of options for you to house your community, and you may want more than one. A few obvious options are a FaceBook Page (here's mine) and a blog. Both make it easy to engage in community. In all likelihood, you'll enjoy far more success at your FaceBook Page than you will at your blog. After all, there are millions of people on FaceBook, and there are not millions of people at your blog. (That is no reason to stop blogging by they way, and here's why. And here's another reason.)
You could also create a bulletin board type forum. I have done this before using phbBB, a reasonably priced open source forum platform. You could also use a platform like Ning, which is what I use for my social networking site.
As a business owner, you have to assess your options and decide which community platforms will work best for you and the people you engage with. The bottom line is that you must build an online presence of some kind from which you can share your ideas and expand your sphere of influence.
If you need assistance in this area, I can help with my signature “Lifestyle CEO” Blueprint Coaching Program! Visit this link at my social networking site to learn how I can help you improve your “Community Quotient,” and take your business to a whole new level today. The next session starts May 11 and the low introductory price goes up tomorrow! Check it out now!
Question: So, what's your “Community Quotient?” Are you creating community around your brand? If so, how?