How to Build Strong Community Around Your Business
According to a study from Vanilla Forums, 66% percent of participants say that communities have made an impact on brand loyalty. So, it’s no question that having a robust community is key to running a strong business.
Your customers are advocates for your business, which builds legitimacy around your brand and encourages more people in the community to engage with your company. Here are a few tips for building a strong community around your business so you can get more customer engagement and loyalty.
Establish Your Business Identity
You’ll need to be confident in your business identity to understand how you fit into a potential community and to develop an approach to customers.
First, determine your mission. Having a mission gives you and your team a purpose towards a larger goal. Ask yourself the types of causes or initiatives you want your business to support. What changes do you want to see in your community, and how can your business help you get to that point?
Next, you’ll need to decide on your values. With your values top of mind, you can ensure that you are making sound business decisions aligned with these standards. They can serve as references for situations ranging from hiring prospective employees to conflict management. If you’re struggling to pinpoint your values, take a look at your business mission for inspiration. Your values should align with the causes your business stands behind.
Finally, focus on building your brand integrity. This is the public perception of your company and it can greatly influence customer loyalty. Building brand integrity takes time and consistency. Making sure that your business delivers on its values and mission is a crucial step in establishing integrity with your customers as well as the greater community.
Consider the instant commerce company Gopuff as an example of how establishing a business’ identity can build community. The founders Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev established their small business accelerator program, Put Me On Gopuff, with the mission to give a platform to businesses from underrepresented communities.
Additionally, this mission coincided with their core values, particularly with their value to “Win Together”. Initiatives like these can build a sense of community through uplifting other businesses around yours.
Connect with Your Employees
Your internal team is also a part of your community, so it's essential to build strong connections with them. Employee engagement and enthusiasm for the company will better advocate for your business to potential customers. There are countless ways to bond with your team, but the most important part is to connect with your employees on a human level.
Consider implementing a bi-weekly team-building activity or an employee recognition software program such as Assembly. For businesses on a tighter budget, this is an ideal option to show employees your gratitude since it’s free for up to 10 team members. If you’re unsure where to start, don’t be afraid to ask for employee insight to determine what will work best for your team.
Understand Your Customer Base
In order to deliver the best service possible to your customers, you need to know them inside and out. You’ll need to consider and anticipate their needs and preferences, but, maybe you don’t know where to start. A good place to begin is to go directly to the customer. Try conducting a customer survey—if possible, you can entice participation by offering a small discount upon their next visit! Make an effort to actively listen to their feedback and take action accordingly.
Customers will appreciate your willingness to elicit feedback and implement their suggestions, which could result in more customer loyalty. Another way to further your efforts to encourage loyalty is to offer a rewards program or membership to frequent customers. These initiatives can not only boost loyalty but also advocacy. Your customer’s advocacy is essential to building a stronger network around your business, and these initiatives can boost their loyalty to your company.
Put Your Business Out There
Whether it's in person, online, or a combination of the two, putting yourself out there will help grow your reach and ultimately grow your customer base. Consider getting you and your team involved in local activities. Round up colleagues to volunteer for a local event or host one yourself, there are many opportunities out there to get more engaged and meet new people.
Increasing your presence in person can only do so much. While you can only be in one place at a time, boosting your online presence can make your company more accessible at any time of the day. You can do this by setting up a user-friendly company website or putting more resources into your business’s marketing materials. Consider the following for inspiration on what you can share on your website:
…And more! Whatever you decide to feature on your website, make sure to keep your audience in mind. Think of what features customers might find helpful or fun to interact with when setting up your site.
Putting your business out there also means getting involved with other businesses in the area. You don’t have to view them solely as competitors, you can uplift them and they could be potential advocates for your business. At the end of the day, they’re a part of your community too. So, get to know other local business owners. You can build long-lasting relationships with them and potentially partner to extend your customer base as well as theirs.
Consider joining your local chamber of commerce business association. This is a great way to continue building your community. These associations can put you in front of a variety of people: government officials, other business owners, industry leaders, and more. Additionally, a membership with a chamber can lead to marketing opportunities that can enhance your presence in the community.
Building a community around your business should be among the top priorities on your to-do list. A strong community is essential for your business to thrive. By incorporating the tips above into your business plan, you’ll be sure to expand your reach and see growth.
- Company news
- Informational resources (such as guides, demonstrational videos, and blog posts.)
- Spotlight employee and customer stories
- Upcoming events
- Company social media profiles