As human beings, we need community. Community allows us to connect with people. Think about your involvement in your church, your alumni association, trade association, your kid’s sports league, or the neighborhood where you live. Community gives us a sense of belonging.
In business, communities provide a way to connect with your audience. Once you’ve defined your niche audience, you can do one of two things: engage in existing communities that reach them or start a community that attracts them.
When aiming your marketing efforts at communities, the first consideration is your niche audience. You want to figure out where they spend their time, what their interests are, and where you can find them. Some good places to begin are:
- Online Communities
- Social Media Groups
- Facebook Fan Pages
- Professional Groups
- Geographic Communities
By and large, however, the most powerful type of community you can engage in is one you can create online.
Build Your Own Online Community
If you can turn your website into a community destination for your target audience, you will begin spinning gold. A simple five-page brochure website is not likely to draw people in by the thousands, but an online community with resources and valuable information can in itself become a client-generating machine.
Chris Garrett is a consultant specializing in blogging and social media, yet when you visit his website (www.chrisg.com) you’ll find far more than the standard five-page brochure site. Chris has made his blog a go-to resource for people interested in blogging and social media. It’s loaded with interesting how-to content, the same stuff he teaches his clients. Why would he give away so much information? Because most people still want to be guided through the process, or they simply want someone else to do it for them.
Important note: Don’t be afraid to give away your best ideas. This builds a loyal audience who will be MORE likely to hire you as a result!
Chris also offers a free ebook giveaway to new clients, actively responds to those who comment on his blog, and has a strong social media presence. He’s also co-author with Darren Rowse of the book ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. You can bet that his rates for consulting and speaking have gone through the roof as he’s increased his authority in his field and cultivated his community.
Consider how your website can become a community for your target audience. It can include any number of features such as articles, blogs, interviews with others in your field, client case studies, how-to guides, white papers, reports, ebooks, printable forms, fun quizzes, or a forum. You also don’t have to create all of the content yourself. Invite others to contribute articles and interviews. Hold contests, engage your audience, and make it valuable and fun.
Imagine how different your business could be if you tapped into the power of community and your customers came looking for you!
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