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A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Community for Your Business Building a community is a central pillar to any growing business or brand. Discover key learnings to help your business grow and gain from your customers and community.

By Josh Bowden Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Community engagement and customer feedback are valuable for any business. They offer brands an opportunity not just to connect with their customers, but also to learn from them.

Throughout my experience building noissue and working with a global network of brands and creators — who in turn are also paying close attention to the needs and interests of their own customers — I've come to recognize that "community" isn't just a buzzword, but rather a central pillar of every great brand. Building a community and building for that community requires a concerted and proactive effort, so let's take a look at key learnings from my career with a step-by-step guide to growing and gaining from your community.

Related: 4 Reasons Why Focusing On Community Is Your Best Marketing Strategy

Identify and connect with your community on a values-level

Consumers today want to get to know brands to connect with them on a genuine level, so for brands looking to build their community, the importance of identifying customers' values cannot be overstated. Be sure that you develop an authentic brand voice and identity that is tied to and reflects your brand's values.

Everything from your brand aesthetic and copy to the choice of packaging materials and collaborative campaigns offers an opportunity to showcase those values and connect with your community on a deeper and more authentic level. Studies have shown that more and more consumers today pay close attention to values such as sustainability, diversity and inclusivity. If you build your brand and community to reflect a shared commitment to these values, your community will be stronger for it.

Harness the power of content to connect engage and grow your community

Today, a wide range of channels provide companies and creators with an ever-evolving range of opportunities to reach their target audience through digital content and activations. Content is an integral tool to build and grow your community and your brand — offering consumers the opportunity to get to know and engage with your brand on a regular basis.

Approach your content strategy as an iterative process to learn what type of content — be it video guides, Instagram Live interviews, blogs or podcasts — resonates most with community members. It won't happen overnight, but when you find something that works, invest in it to give your community more of what they're looking for.

Related: Building Community Is Good Business

Find creative ways to collect feedback

Encourage community members to engage in dialogue, provide feedback or voice their desire for new product types by rewarding them for their time. Perhaps you offer a small discount to survey participants or provide existing customers who have left reviews with early access to new products and offerings. Making your community feel like they're an important part of the brand itself will help drive participation to ultimately give you the information you need to make the best strategic decisions regarding your brand direction.

And be creative. From Instagram polls to surveys, sharing insight doesn't need to be boring, difficult or time-consuming. Find the sweet spot to create an information-gathering exercise that doesn't feel like work for participating community members.

Refine your product roadmap to reflect customer requests and needs

Creating the products that your customers want and need should always be central to your product development strategy and process. After collecting valuable feedback from your community, do something with it. Be open to refining your product roadmap based on community feedback to offer the exact solutions that your customers are looking for. Your community will thank you for it and your sales will reflect that.

Amplify your community on social

Bring your community and their love for you back to social — amplifying them and their specific use-cases with your brand. Whether it be showcasing how a customer styled one of your products or highlighting a brand's new campaign as demonstrated through their custom, sustainable packaging, posting user-generated content allows you to amplify both your community and brand on social media. It's an easy and organic way to say thank you to the community that's helping you grow.

Related: How I Built a Community of 98,000 People Using the Skills I Learned From Harvard

Leverage your community to fuel commerce

Ultimately, your community is your customers. And just as content should be strategically used to help engage and build your community, your community should help to drive sales. Developing an authentic relationship with your customers from the point of initial discovery and digital engagement to sales and even post-sale is key. Find creative ways to involve your community in helping to bring awareness to your brand, encourage referrals and viral sharing, fuel commerce and more. The opportunities are endless.

The business and consumer landscapes are constantly changing and evolving to reflect shifts in technology, business needs, consumer needs, values and more. It's absolutely critical to pay close attention to your audience to keep up. Brands in general are as reliant upon their communities as their communities are upon them. The relationship at its best should be symbiotic, and the responsibility falls on the brand to make it that way. Developing a relationship of mutual trust and respect, where consumer feedback is proactively and consciously considered and applied, is of the utmost importance in solidifying a long-term bond and maximizing the positive impact community can have on the growth and development of your business.

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Josh Bowden

CEO of noissue

Josh Bowden is co-founder and CEO of Noissue, the creative packaging platform making custom, sustainable packaging accessible to businesses of all sizes. An entrepreneur at heart, he is passionate about building a global brand with a positive impact on people, communities and the planet.

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