Before we go much further, I think I need to make sure you know what a Branded Community is. A Branded Community is a place or hub in which your customers/ clients connect with each other and geek out about your brand/ product/ service. These are your raving fans on steroids.
Every company or brand has raving fans. The issue is whether you are feeding the flame of those fans. Do you consistently provide content and value that they would utilize? Or are you only providing content in the form of more general brand marketing? Building a Branded Community is intentional and can help increase sales as it gives additional value to new customers while upselling and keeping happy customers engaged.
Let’s look at three ways you can create content for a Branded Community that is unique and different from your current marketing strategy.
A Place to Belong
You want to encourage all customers to connect with your Branded Community. All your post-marketing content should feature the experience that your Branded Community provides. Within the actual Branded Community, value messaging around how unique and special your customers are, should be a constant. Appreciation marketing in the form of “freemiums”, added instructions or special sales can make your fans in the Branded Community constantly growing the use of your product or services.
In a digital and mobile world, your raving fans might like to connect with others in their community that enjoy your products. Sub-groups by area or region can help fans connect in a deep way with each other and your products. Encourage user-generated content to showcase the who, the where and the how people are utilizing your products and services.
You can also generate a sense of belonging by sharing a hashtag strategy, branded community merchandise and branded community events both online and on location. Much like secret handshakes or fraternal pledges, being able to identify a member of the branded community by their hashtags, hat, shirt or backpack allows people to not only market for your brand but connect with your brand on a deeper more committed level. By using geo-fencing hashtags, you can also determine which zones or regions are the most active areas for your brand.
Making Your Brand a Part of Life
Habits and traditions form a large part of our daily lives. How we wake up to how we drink our first cup of coffee are all habits. Providing tips, tools and techniques to help your branded community create habits and traditions around your products is powerful. Do you have unique add-ons or products for purchase around specific holidays or seasons? Do you have campaigns or themes that grow your product users in more non-traditional high purchase ways?
For instance, if you have a product for summer backpackers, do you showcase ways to use your products in the winter months? Do you have product maintenance add-ons that will help summer backpackers plan and purchase during the colder months? If you have a product that doesn’t experience seasonal fluctuations in purchases, have you created experiences such as “sharing the experience on Valentine’s Day” or adding a patriotic feel during national holidays?
Your branded community is a place you can test new ideas or product lines. The feedback will be in real time and highly valuable. You will also be able to see how ingrained your products are in the daily lives of your raving fans.
Suggestions and feedback are often shared in a Branded Community. This will allow you to get feedback on what is working and what isn’t for your customers. They will provide suggestions and solutions that might not be available in a smaller targeted focus group. Listening to your Branded Community is one of the most powerful ways you can serve them while also learning from them.
A Way to Give Back
Consumers want to engage with brands and companies that are giving back. By showcasing your current community giving, you can inspire and engage your Branded Community. You can offer ways the members of your Branded Community can increase your giving directly through unique buy/give campaigns. You can offer ways they can compete that the gifts are made to organizations in their specific communities vs. to larger national organizations. You can offer a way of nominating deserving groups and organizations so that your raving fans are engaged in the process of selecting and impacting their communities.
When you give people opportunity to help, they feel like their engagement with your brand is larger than their own use of your product or service. When they feel like their use is helping someone else, they will not only stay loyal, but they will increase their usage. This isn’t about manipulation. This is about giving people the opportunity to link arms with you. I know it is easier for your company or brand to pick a national organization to give to…but consider how much impact the tens of thousands of smaller organizations are making on a local level and why your raving fans would like to see impact there.
Giving both from a brand level and your branded community help foster that sense of belonging that is critical. Your customers will feel their giving is amplified by their engagement with your platforms and products. Don’t overlook the power this kind of engagement can have with your Branded Community.
As your business navigates a recession, your customers are also navigating inflation. Your brand and products need to survive any cuts those consumers need to make. Providing community, extra value and a way to give back will help your customers see additional value beyond your product or service. That additional value could be the factor that keeps them coming back even during difficult financial times.
Author: Liz Papagni is the number one, best-selling author of “Your Marketing Roadmap,” founder of MyCMO, and CEO of Marketing Initiative Worx, Inc. Liz is a leading brand and marketing thought leader who has worked with a vast array of clients, from established small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. As a marketing and leadership expert with a passion for helping companies develop strategies that convince and convert customers, she has launched and propelled numerous brands nationwide. You can contact Liz at marketingiw.com