How to Turn Your Customer Base Into a Community To Help Your Business Succeed
When people feel like they are part of something, good things happen.
When people feel like part of a community, amazing things can happen. When people can gather — in person or virtually — they form relationships that keep them coming back for more. One example is the ever-growing — 1.4 million members currently — a Facebook group for the Instant Pot Community, where Instant Pot users share their favorite recipes and latest trials and errors. People visit that page, sometimes multiple times a day. It's a community. And people love it.
There are ways that you can create this type of following for your product or service too. Bond your customers together so they keep you and your business top of mind by reminding one another. Here are some ways you can implement this.
1. Have a place where your customers or clients can connect and help one another
If your product or service solves a problem, there’s one thing all your customers have in common: They’re looking for a solution. And while that’s exactly what you provide, they can also mindshare and connect with like-minded people. Think of it this way: If your product is an email tracking software, your target customer or client base likely consists of salespeople or anyone who frequently sends cold emails. Use that knowledge to host a group or forum where people can share their best tips for cold emailing, follow-ups, etc.
This is what Sergej Heck, the founder of PEAK Tech does. “We bring blockchain companies together into a community so they can network and help one another,” Heck explained. “These companies all have low visibility so they need each other’s help.” He encourages other business owners to consider what they’re giving to the community. It’s not enough to just have one place where everyone can converse. That could be a community manager who poses discussion questions and offers resources, or there could be something else of value that’s continually given. “We both educate our community and share profits with them,” added Heck.
2. Create a system where the customer base holds each other accountable
Andrew James is the founder of Oasis, a company that helps businesses scale their marketing by connecting them with commission-based affiliates. James says that by building a community, they are better able to secure results for their customers. “We put such a big emphasis on building solid communities inside of our product because we found that if someone is going to get results, most of the time they need support. In our case, we have courses, which is the info they need to get results. The question is, 'why doesn't everyone get results if everyone has access to the same information?'" The answer is simple. "Most people don't execute," James added. "Maybe they're scared or they don't have a support system. So, we shifted our focus to building supportive communities."
James said right after they shifted focus, the results his customers were seeing from the products “sky-rocketed because people were actually going through using the product and staying engaged and focused.” If your product educates or encourages your clients to do something, it’s great to have accountability built into your community. Ask customers to share their progress or tips.
3. Create a centralized hub for education
How you get customers to stick around matters. In addition to letting the community foster itself through discussion and the sharing of resources and tips, consider how you can offer educational content of your own. According to smile.io, this is what fitness apparel company GymShark does via its blog.
“With articles loaded with tips, tutorials and exercises, their blog is jam-packed full of health and fitness-related information that has clearly positioned them as their members’ go-to source for anything health and fitness related," said author Tim Peckover. "This makes it easy for customers to decide to purchase their products as a way of strengthening their connection with the fitness community.”
Especially if you do any type of content marketing, consider how it can feed back to a centralized place where your customers, not just your prospects, can get information. This way, if conversation lulls, a new piece of educational content (via an article, video, podcast, or whatever you prefer) can bring customers back to the community.
There are many online platforms that can help you get a head start on this community — a Facebook group, a newsletter, Patreon, or a hosted forum right on your website. This is how one-time customers turn to lifelong customers and new prospects can feel like they’re part of something bigger when they stumble across your company for the first time. Community is a powerful tool to ensure you’re keeping in touch with all of your customer base.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor