Part 6 in the 'Marketing With Your Community' series.
Knowledge and understanding leads to empowerment.
So far in this series, I've talked about the need for marketers to become as close as possible with the communities they sell to. Find them, communicate with them, join them, and finally, empower them. But while this may appear that all the marketing attention is being placed on the community, in fact as you carry out these steps, YOUR marketing is being transformed and empowered as well.
As you begin to communicate with your community, and understand them, you begin to better meet their wants and needs. If you take the process a step further and JOIN your community, then their wants and needs become your wants and needs. The end result is that your marketing becomes much more effective, and efficient. Less money is spend on wasted messages, because you KNOW what your customer wants, because you understand them. You aren't relying on 'market research' as your competitors are, you are relying on 'market interaction'.
And in the process, you are not only winning over new customers, you are creating an incredibly powerful barrier to entry for other competitors. Customers will be loyal to brands that are loyal to them. If you make the effort to communicate and understand exactly what your community wants and needs, they will reward you with their business. And as discussed in Part 5 of this series, they will tell others about you.
The marketing landscape is changing. People are hyper-connected, and have the ability to exchange information much more quickly than companies can send marketing messages to them. Ineffective marketing messages will quickly be the butt of jokes in these communities, while brand loyalty will quickly surround brands that 'get it' by attempting to communicate WITH their communities, instead of sending one-way messages TO them.
The marketers that see this change as an opportunity, will be the big winners. These will be the marketers that realize that relinquishing some control over their marketing message will actually lead to more efficient, and empowered marketing.
The question is of course: How does a marketer do this, i.e. identify and join their "community"?
If a person is marketing books, say, or Internet Security, or their own consulting services for say, motivating employees, what are the communities they're looking to join, to whom they're selling?
I can see a blogger who offers tips on how to blog to blogger babies.
Or a music/movie lover who promotes music or movies on their sites, for example.
Or a book seller who joins perhaps reading and writing clubs.
But if you're trying to get corporate business, who is the community to join?
Or if you sell office supplies, who is your community for purposes of joining it?
It seems like the more commodity like the product/service one is selling, the more difficult it is to define and join a 'community'.
Is there really a community around say, paper clips?
Of course, someone here may have proven this is not so...
"If a person is marketing books, say, or Internet Security, or their own consulting services for say, motivating employees, what are the communities they're looking to join, to whom they're selling?"
It might be that you have to first CREATE a community for your product, especially if it is a new product. Jeremy Botter and his group The Favorites did this, but they made the VERY smart move of joining their community as it was being created. That's why The Favorites is one of the most popular bands on MySpace.
"It seems like the more commodity like the product/service one is selling, the more difficult it is to define and join a 'community'."
I think you're right, but there are still many marketing opportunities here. You mentioned paper clips. IMO it would be very hard to even FIND a community for paper clip owners, much less join one. But that doesn't mean you still couldn't talk to retailers like Office Depot, Stapes, etc, and ask them what type of feedback they are getting from the people that buy paper clips. Perhaps they have noticed that people have started buying paper clips and using them in a completely different way than the manufactuers intended.
Let's say Company ABC makes several products, including a permanent marker, and a bathroom cleaner. After talking to Wal-Mart, Company ABC discovered that some customers are buying their bathroom cleaner to remove permanent markers off autographed footballs. Company ABC had no idea their product could even do this, and after Googling, they find out that there are actually several online autographing communities discussing how Company ABC's bathroom cleaner successfully removed the autographs off their footballs!
So Company ABC joins these online communities, and finds that most autograph collectors buy permanent markers when they buy the company's bathroom cleaner, so based on the communication that Company ABC has with autograph collectors, Company ABC creates a special 'Autograph collectors kit', that comes with their permanent marker AND bathroom cleaner!
The idea is, find the people that are using your product, and talk to them. It's that simple. Your marketing becomes more effectively, your community is more satisfied with your product, and a trust is developed.
But it doesn't start till we stop thinking of marketing TO our communities, and instead that we are marketing WITH them.
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