Building a business community: practical advice

Building a business community: practical advice

| Network marketing

Business communities are a rapidly growing trend, but very few entrepreneurs understand the meaning of this phenomenon. Let’s take a look at several stages in the history of business to fully understand the goal motivating the creation of these structures.

In the first stage, everything was straightforward: to sell a product, you only had to manufacture it. This was a time of low competition and closed markets. With time, the number of sellers increased, as well as the variety of products. Thus, brands, loyalty points and additional services were created.

Today, these marketing tools have been widely adopted, and their value has decreased. The market has entered the stage of personal brand creation: there is a powerful leader in charge of each corporation, with their reputation defining the success of the enterprise. This trend is currently at its peak, but its importance will eventually decrease, leaving the stage open for something new. In this case, we're talking about business communities - structures that emphasize the importance of shared values over individuals.

Let's take a look at some statistics to back up our claim.

  1. Customer acquisition costs are growing. To attract the first few clients, a new firm simply needs to launch a context marketing campaign. Searching for new clients, on the other hand, is much more difficult and expensive.
  2. Regular clients buy more. Statistics show that the average check of a repeat customer is twice as high as that of a new client.
  3. It costs 6-7 times less to attract a repeat customer than a new one.
  4. Internet users are increasingly blocking ads. The number of users of Adblock Plus and similar services is currently at 121 million, and further growth is expected.
  5. Only 8% of all clients have a positive opinion on the company that serves them, while 80% of top managers believe the opposite. By creating a business community, you can get relevant information from customers instead of relying on people with vested interests inside the company.

Defining business communities

Defining business communities

So what are business communities, anyway? This term stands for self-organized environments where both manufacturers and clients act as sellers. These communities all have the following traits in common:

  • a unified mission that goes beyond the project;
  • constant communication between participants;
  • support and mutual assistance;
  • internal initiatives.

Business communities are characterized by high involvement from their participants, so if you manage to build a similar structure, your company's financial indicators will go through the roof. You can build a community of regular clients, franchisees or other types of company partners.

Communities are especially relevant within the context of online business. For companies operating in the online sphere, it's difficult to determine how clients should be managed offline. Communities offer an excellent solution to this problem.

Learning by topic

Conditions for creating communities

Conditions for creating communities

You should only create a community if your product is good enough to withstand the market test. When the quality of your product needs improvement, promoting it using word-of-mouth can kill your business.

There's another important condition: your clients should have a reason to communicate with each other. If you're in the business of selling flowers, for example, people will have nothing to talk about.

Community development stages

Community development stages

The lifecycle of any community can be separated into three main phases, and each of them has some unique characteristics. Let's take a closer look.

Stage one. Creation of social connections

A business community is just like any other team, as social connections are crucial to its success. The best way to build them is by organizing group events: meetings, trips, games, lectures and discussions.

Here, variety is key. Events should vary both by theme and magnitude. Small events can sometimes be more important than larger ones, which should be held infrequently - for example, once a year.

Since the beginning of time, food has played a crucial role in creating bonds between people. Invite your partners to lunch, and watch your mutual respect and understanding reach new heights.

To get to know each other, try visiting a new place together. Shared adventures can build new social connections and leave fond memories for all team members.

Stage two. Creating a social body

With time, the social connections within your community will become stronger, and the team members will find their own language and inside jokes. A desire for communication and new emotions will become the driving force of your community, and all formal connections will lose their importance.

Fitness centers serve to illustrate this fact: all of them offer identical services, but each center is characterized by a specific culture that influences its patrons' experiences.
At this stage, you should work on the visual aspects of your brand (corporate uniforms, etc.), a shared sense of humor, coaching and creating shared experiences.

Stage three. Defining your mission

Most communities never reach this stage, but if you manage to secure the loyalty of your clients, it's only a matter of time before you have to define a common mission. This is something that can't be handed down by top management - the source of the mission should always be at the core of the community.

The best way to get to this stage is by creating a calendar of customer touchpoints: online messaging, Skype conferences, meetings and trips - all of these events need to be developed and planned. This should be your main focus, and only then can you start working on increasing engagement of defining your mission.

Take responsibility

Take responsibility

Marketing experts are responsible for sharing their ideas with the world. When working with communities, you need to understand what exactly you are 'feeding' to your clients. Make sure you are only sharing positive ideas - as a leader, you are responsible for the people who trust you.

Strive towards a high level of quality: not only in the product you are selling, but the values that you are working with. Many people want to be a part of something big. Make their dreams come true, and together you will reach impossible heights.

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