What is community and why it is so important for your business

Getting involved with communities, whether local or virtual, can set your business apart. They boost brand awareness, build trust and encourage loyalty among both staff and customers while showcasing that you’re a business with a heart and a social purpose.






 

Community defines your mission statement

community volunteering

Community defines your mission statement

Faced with a greater choice of products and services than ever before, consumers are increasingly shifting towards companies who undertake ethical, eco-friendly and philanthropic practices. Today, brand messaging is often the deciding factor for consumers. By openly giving back to your community or championing a cause that’s important to you and your customers, businesses are demonstrating that it isn’t all about profit.

The art of giving back

giving back

The art of giving back

A great example is the one-for-one model, pioneered by TOMS shoes, whose founder donated a pair for every pair bought. In the wake of TOMS’ incredible success, which even led to a best-selling book about giving back, other brands have caught on. Now customers – and communities – know there are brands out there who have a social conscience and will shop around. By making a tangible difference, the footwear designer proved it cares – and you can, too.

Community means support

support group

Community means support

Engaging with your community makes people feel supported. When safe to do so, by creating a physical space for your community to meet you (and each other), you’re building relationships, making you seem personable, approachable and real. This can solve customer service issues before they arise, as consumers know they’re important to you and that you’re willing to help.

 

Community increases reach

social media

Community increases reach

Building online communities is just as useful, and lets you connect with those further away, or less able to get out. (The temporary lockdown is a great example of why this is important). By using social media and email or even setting up a forum or chatbot, you’ll make customers feel acknowledged and connected to you, saving yourself – and them – time. Through these channels, you can encourage them to share their ideas for your product – as Lego does – and their images and experiences – as Orlebar Brown does – to generate free, valuable feedback and authentic marketing content.

Community means inclusivity

inclusivity

Community means inclusivity

Making sure you’re addressing a diverse audience further reinforces your values and shows that you care about people for who they are, not what they can do for your business. Celebrating different cultures and lifestyles widens the feeling of inclusivity, which will attract customers (and staff) who feel recognised and accepted as part of your community – and you’ll soon become part of theirs.

Community means loyalty

coffee loyalty

Community means loyalty

Doing these things will create a sense of loyalty among your customers. Customers who have met you, and then had you personally reply to a question, are likely to keep coming back because they’ve had a good experience. And among your loyal customers, there will always be self-appointed brand ambassadors who’ll shout your message from the rooftops, because they’re as passionate about your business and its values as you are. Reward them with loyalty programmes, exclusive content and offers.

Community is the feel-good factor

shop community

Community is the feel-good factor

Giving consumers a chance to feel they’ve done something for the community by engaging with your business makes them feel as good as you – and your staff – may feel by doing so. Offering to recycle, volunteer, run a marathon, or donate to those in need or a charity in an organised way helps reaffirm your brand’s values, and allows your customers to feel part of something positive by extension.

And makes staff feel good, too

working from home

And makes staff feel good, too

Your staff are the backbone of your business, and they’ll be happier if you create a sense of community. Almost every study on why employees leave companies indicates culture is key; a study by Robert Walters shows 73% of professionals have left a company because of its culture. A high turnover rate is bad for morale, and bad for the bank. Making sure you’re flexible and friendly, inclusive and diverse, and let staff pursue charitable or eco-friendly initiatives will make your business more attractive to those who share your values.

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