Tips for community-based marketing
- Know your audience
- Use social media
- Host events
- Be genuine
- Be consistent
The Eugenia H. Young Memorial Library needed a new bookmobile to reach its most rural residents. When Dr. Betsy Jones and the Friends of the Library group in Shelby, North Carolina, decided to raise funds, Dr. Jones knew getting the word out would be key to reaching their goal.
While part of the cost was covered by grants, the Friends of the Library group was tasked with raising several thousand dollars for the vehicle, technology and materials to bring the project to fruition. To do this, they turned to the loyal members and shoppers who frequent its used book sales.
“We send membership requests and yearly reminders, and people join for a small fee,” Dr. Jones said. “But our biggest fundraiser is our book sale.”
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People also began noticing the group’s logo on tote bags shoppers received with each book sale purchase.
“People love the tote bags,” Dr. Jones said. “They’re high quality, plus people can use them for more than just books, so they’re multi-use.”
By increasing its brand’s visibility, the Friends of the Library group cultivated a loyal community that helps make its goals attainable.
Customers and clients that know your brand are an asset. They’re often willing to spend more and are more likely to make purchases and promote your organization through word of mouth. Community-based marketing, which involves bringing together a group of people with common interests or goals, is an important step in building awareness and loyalty. Read on for tips on how to create a community around your brand.
1. Know your audience
Knowing your audience can help your organization provide information and content tailored to their needs. Dr. Jones and the Friends of the Library group did their own market research to discover their members were primarily older females who preferred traditional mail communication.
“We decided to focus on traditional mail because many would choose not to share their emails or didn’t have one,” she explained. “That’s also how we send out information about events we host.”
Try one of these methods to narrow down your target audience:
- Elicit feedback: Send surveys to your email list, or after a customer makes a purchase, to get feedback on their characteristics and the type of content they’re interested in.
- Research competitors: If you can determine what kind of customers engage with other organizations like yours, use that info as a shortcut toward understanding your own target demographics.
2. Use social media
Social media is a powerful tool for building community. Users interact with each other and directly with your brand, strengthening ties and loyalty. A 2020 survey revealed that 90% of customers made purchases with brands they followed on social media, and 75% increased their spending with those same brands.
When The Wine Company, a fine wine and spirits distributor in St. Paul, Minnesota, wanted to increase brand awareness and loyalty among its customers, the team made social media integral to the strategy.
“Social media has more of a presence in our business now,” Jacob Stoltz, graphic designer, said.
“We try to engage customers that way a lot more now. We post multiple times a day,” Stoltz said.
To spread the word about the company’s social media accounts, they ordered Wolverine Pens imprinted with the company’s social media handles for prospects to use at a large wine tasting event.
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“All the guests have a packet to write their orders and notes during the event,” he explained. “They need a pen, but it’s also a giveaway. Adding the social media handles was new because we’re trying to put the word out there that we have these accounts.”
The event was a success and afterward, The Wine Company saw a huge spike in social media engagement. They’ve also seen an increase in new, younger and more diverse attendees at their events, which they credit to social media and branded giveaways.
3. Host events
Events are a great way to bring people together to bond over shared interests, as well as establish your brand’s credibility as a leader. Brainstorm experiences your audience would appreciate.
The Wine Company’s tastings and the Friends of the Library’s book sales and author talks provide excellent models. Engage your community with VIP access to tickets or other perks, such as special seating or promotional product giveaways they can take home with them after the event is done.
4. Be genuine
Members of your community crave authenticity and connection, so make sure that your content fits their needs. Irrelevant content or posting too many ads are two of the top reasons customers unfollow brands on social media. Be thoughtful about the content you share. Participate in discussions, offer exclusive behind-the-scenes videos or helpful informational blogs that will stoke your community’s passion about your shared interests and values.
5. Be consistent
As your community grows, prioritize consistency in your messaging. Maintaining a reliable presence can help you build trust with your audience over time. Consumers that view your organization as reliable and trustworthy will feel more engaged and will help grow your community through word of mouth.
For Dr. Jones and her Friends of the Library group, consistency is key in expanding their reach. Their large, semiannual sale and smaller, monthly popup events draw crowds who know when to look for deals.
“We promote our book sale on social media, and we do have a lot of repeat customers who know our sales are always at the end of the month,” she said.
Community-based marketing creates associations
Creating a community around your brand is easy. Community-based marketing efforts help you get to know your audience. Connect via social media, events and by maintaining a genuine and consistent presence. You’ll foster feelings of connection that will pay off big time for your organization.
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