Fostering Community as a Way to Grow Your Business 5

How to Foster a Community For Your Business

Though it certainly has its advantages, one problem with being a marketing professional is every human activity you engage in goes under your “marketing microscope”.

In other words, you’ll often find yourself in the middle of what, to most people looks like a crowd of people at a Farmers’ Market or shopping mall…

But looks for all the world to you like a fantastic opportunity to study what different types of people interested in, what they gravitate toward, and what they’re actually forking over their credit cards to buy.

This Memorial Day, as many past, I found myself in the midst of swiftly flowing river of nearly 50,000 fellow runners in the 2018 “Bolder Nation”, aka the 2018 Bolder Boulder 10k footrace, in — as you might guess — Boulder, Colorado, of all places.

In the before, during and after of my own personal “buyer’s journey”, I noticed several things that might be of use to you and me as marketers….

But one thing in particular stood out in particular.

How Community is at the Core of Humanity — And Buying Behavior

It’s the 7th principle that Robert Cialdini added to the six principles of influence he wrote about in his best-selling book, Influence: Science and Practice.

As I’ve said before, if you haven’t read that book, you must hate money.

He explores this new seventh principal in his newer book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade. Again an absolute MUST-READ for marketers.

So, what is this 7th principle?

It a powerful behavioral for us humans to bond together in groups.

Something he calls “we-ness”.

Examples abound…

Examples of Community in Action

The unification of as many as 100,000 people more in a stadium around the singing of the national anthem at sporting events. And the often viscerally stirring impact it can have on participants.

Or the way we identify ourselves with a sports team. When they do well, we feel a sense of pride. When they don’t, well not so much — but they’re still our team. Much like the feelings and behavior we have in relation to family members.

And then there was the “experiment” I engaged in a few days ago, observing the behavior of my fellow runners in the “Bolder Nation”.

Of course the “experiment” was controlled by the organizers of the event…

The Before, During and After

The “Before”: As I mentioned in last week’s post, between radio ads, social media, word of mouth, etc. you start getting drawn in… The T-shirt you got when you signed up drawing praise and encouragement from perfect strangers all over town as you run what would otherwise be mundane errands.

The During. Then during the event, there’s an endless plethora of measures taken to insure participants safety, enjoyment… and sense of community. From security personnel posted strategically, but not too conspicuously to countless fans, photographers, videographers, rock bands, bell-ringers and “high-fivers” all along the route (and yes, even a troupe of belly dancers) and much more, all encouraging runners in their run, jog or walk to the finish line.

The After. That’s when it really hits you. Gee, you think… now what? When do we do this again?

You look up your time, your “splits”… You proudly wear your T-shirt, again drawing admiration, congrats and — note this — a sense of camaraderie, again from folks all over town.

How to Build a Community Around Your Business

You just don’t attract almost 50,000 people (120,000 by one count I heard, if you include fans, staff and volunteers) so successfully, so joyously and so profitably (funds go to local charities) without a little forethought.

And recognition on at least some level of the concept of “we-ness”, as Cialdini calls it.

Okay, so they’ve been at it for 40 years — they’ve got a head start…

But what can we do right now, TODAY to start applying this principle to our businesses for sales growth and long-term equity?

Three things I’ll suggest:

  1. Be aware of the principle of “we-ness” (community). Notice how your customers see your business. Do they see it merely as a purveyor of products? Or it there something special there that they can feel a part of?  It’s easy to see, but you’ll find there’s plenty to do here.
  2. Use the media at your disposal today. Businesses that do well do social media well. Facebook Groups might one of the most powerful tools you have in the digital space. And it’s relatively easy to set up. Just be aware, once your group reaches a “critical mass” it will take guidance from a savvy and highly motivated community leader.
  3. Tweak your messaging. Let people know what the mission is. Show them a flag to follow. Talk not about other “customers” so much as other “members” where you can. Sure, you may need to create the structures to facilitate community, but languaging is where it all starts and can have great impact. Consider Trump’s simple four-word rallying cry: Make America Great Again. Or Apple’s “Think Different” (us vs. PCs). Or, as I alluded to a minute ago, the Bolder Boulder’s “BolderNation”.

Bottom Line: What Community Means for Your Business

In other words, to grow a really successful business today, don’t just make sales…

Don’t just create customers…

Create COMMUNITY.

Does your brand have a community?

Please share your story in the comments section below!

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About The Author

Mike Connolly

Dan Kennedy Certified Copywriter for Info-Marketers and Infusionsoft Certified Partner, Mike Connolly lives in Boulder, Colorado, builds marketing funnels that rock, and loves cycling (almost) all year round.

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