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Community Marketing: Definition, Strategies & Example

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Community marketing is a way of interacting with groups of consumers. In this lesson, you'll learn more about what community marketing is, and how it can be used.

Reaching Your Community

Imagine you're a vendor with an idea for a new product you think will appeal to football fans. Now, where's the best place to find a group of football fans? The stadium, of course! This Saturday!

You load your car with free samples of the product and arrive at the stadium on game day. Meeting with this community of fans will give you an opportunity to share what you've created, listen to the fans' opinions, allow them to ask questions, and take what you've learned back to your business to improve what you've designed. You're hopeful the fans will love your product and talk to all their friends - both football fans and non-football fans alike - about it.

Community marketing is a similar concept. Though it doesn't involve stepping out to market in your local community, it does involve finding a group of people who share the same likes, and then interacting with them to learn more.

What is Community Marketing?

You might think of community marketing as something that you do face-to-face in the town where you live, but that's not accurate. Community marketing is a tactic that involves a brand or business interacting with a group (or community) of like-minded individuals, typically in an online environment, such as a social media group, targeted blog website or online message board forum.

Community marketing means interacting with existing groups of consumers.
Community marketing means interacting with existing groups of consumers.

Most all other areas of marketing revolve around earning new customers, new leads, and new sales; however, community marketing is a strategy that focuses primarily on listening to the customers you have and meeting their needs and wants. This is a great way to foster a two-way relationship between your business and your audience because it not only gives your brand valuable information about your customers' preferences and buying habits, but also gives customers an arena where they feel important and valued by the brand itself. Satisfied customers can be your biggest brand advocates, helping to market your product for you through reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth.

Community Marketing Strategies

Getting involved in community marketing can be an organic or a sponsored process. Organic community marketing means you become involved in groups that are already established and include individuals who share a mutual affinity for a brand or product. Sponsored community marketing involves you, as the brand or business, creating a community where fans of your products or services can join and interact - not only with each other, but with the brand itself.

Good community marketing first begins with listening. Whether you choose to interact through social media groups or targeted blogs, the first step is listening to what people are saying about your products and services. What do they like? Dislike? What needs do they have that you can fill? You can also use this as an opportunity to provide support or troubleshooting.

Next, engage your community in conversation. Listen and respond, but also drive your own conversations that meet a business goal or objective. Are you wanting to find out how a current product is performing? Are you hoping for information that will help you enhance a product experience or create a new line to fill a need? These groups can often be a valuable source of information that can improve your products, processes, and overall sales.

Reward customer loyalty through free trials or samples, rewards programs, special coupons, and insider access. Rewards encourage continued brand loyalty because community members feel appreciated and needed.

Lastly, build trust. Online communities you've either joined or sponsored likely already feel a sense of appreciation for your brand or products. What they want to see from you is proof that their loyalties are deserved - be accessible and responsive, be authentic, be engaged and pro-active in responding to ideas, questions, concerns, and problems.

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