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A survey concluded that 86% of Fortune 500 companies reported communities provided important insights into customer needs, wants, and interests. That may not come as a surprise, as many brands and businesses are aware of the value that stems from building a community and how it can help with product development, brand awareness, and market research.

That said, it is important to understand that community can be leveraged as a growth marketing strategy and play a pivotal role in the continuing development of your company’s success as it aims to retain existing customers and acquire new ones.

As CEO and Founder of Moast, a company enabling brands to grow communities using existing customers, I have seen firsthand the impact that community can have on a business's growth marketing strategy. In this article, I’ll dive into how you can start to foster a dedicated community and implement it into your marketing endeavors.

What is Community, Really?  

In marketing, when referring to a community, we look for groups of individuals and consumers that share a common interest in a particular product, activity, or even person. For example, GoPro has done an excellent job of cultivating a community of adventure seekers that want to share their experiences doing the likes of skydiving, skateboarding, or alpine skiing, to name a few.

The goal is for the individuals in your brand’s community to be actively engaged with each other and the brand. It could be through sharing user-generated content, commenting in forums, and interacting with the different promotions being launched by your brand. 

Simply put, a marketing community provides these like-minded individuals with a space to discuss amongst each other, build new connections, provide feedback on products, and more. A strong community can be a key pillar in the loyalty, trust, and comfort consumers feel for your brand and its offerings, making it important for marketers to actively leverage the community to organize events, share exclusive content, and maintain engagement. 

How To Define Your Target Community

One of the first steps to be taken when it comes to building your community and then leveraging it as a growth marketing strategy is to define your target audience and the type of individuals you feel will identify best with your product's purpose or the benefit it provides.

Conduct Market Research

The first step is to gather demographic data, like age, gender, location, and education, in building the personas of potential buyers. From there, you can start analyzing more physiographic factors, including their interests, hobbies, and lifestyles. In doing so, you may uncover pain points and challenges they face to help with your product development and marketing endeavours. 

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Look at Your Existing Customer Base

Too many businesses spend more time focusing on onboarding prospects and new clients that they can sometimes ignore the customers they’ve already acquired. In most cases, retaining a customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one. Therefore, spend some time examining your current customer data to identify any trends that can be found. Compare it with your market research and make changes as necessary. 

Create Buyer Personas

With the information found above, you should have an easier time building out buyer personas, which are fictional representations of your brand’s ideal customers. Some of the things you might consider including in your buyer's personas are:

  • Demographics (age, income, location, gender)
  • Identifiers (Communication preferences, social media platforms used)
  • Background (Career, Family, Job)
  • Challenges (What challenges do they face?)
  • What can your brand do? (How to solve the challenges they face)

Leveraging Community as a Growth Strategy 

Leveraging your community as a growth marketing strategy is a great way to level up your business, retain customers, and acquire new ones. I’ve outlined a few tips to help you get started. 

Foster Engagement & Participation 

A community without any engagement is not going to have a significant impact on your brand’s success; therefore, it’s crucial to be creating content, events, and interactive campaigns that keep them involved. Here are a few ideas to get this started:

  • Picture or video contests on social media
  • Create content with clear calls to action
  • Launch a giveaway 

A great example of a successful photo contest comes from the popular cooler brand Yeti, which teamed up with Traeger Grills, asking participants to post a photo of their barbecue setups that they were prepared to use during the summer. As a result, they collected tons of UGC content to be repurposed for their marketing purposes and engaged their communities in a fun way!

Cultivate a Sense of Belonging

When building a community, one crucial factor is ensuring that community members feel valued and appreciated by both the brand and fellow members. Creating a sense of belonging and fostering meaningful connections is important for building a thriving community. To achieve this, it is important to provide a space where customers can freely express their concerns, questions, and ideas. Encouraging open dialogue and active listening to community feedback helps establish a culture of inclusivity and mutual respect.

It is beneficial to give customers a sense of ownership within the community; empowering them to take an active role in shaping the direction and activities of the community may strengthen their commitment and loyalty to the brand. For example, some brands have included members in decision-making, seeking their input on new initiatives and recognizing their contributions. 

Maintaining a humble approach as a brand is also crucial; while the brand may catalyze bringing the community together, it's crucial to preserve the individual agency of the members. 

By implementing these strategies, a brand can create an engaged community that thrives on mutual support, collaboration, and shared experiences. In turn, this strengthens customer relationships and provides valuable insights, generates organic word-of-mouth promotion, and ultimately contributes to the brand's long-term success.

Empower Community Members as Brand Ambassadors

Brand ambassadors are crucial to standing out in the highly competitive business landscape brands face today. A good brand ambassador can play a significant role in promoting the brand, acting as an advocate, and promoting it to new potential consumers. Moast recognizes the immense value of empowering its community members as brand ambassadors and understands that a brand’s customers should not be treated as mere consumers but as enthusiasts that can help to spread your company’s message.

At Moast, we go beyond traditional marketing approaches and leverage communities as a growth marketing strategy by providing companies with the tools to build a platform where customers can act as ‘Hosts,’ or ambassadors that interact with potential consumers by sharing content, answering messages, and arranging in-person meetups to view the companies products.

In empowering existing customers as brand ambassadors, we are fostering genuine interactions and building a community of like-minded individuals that can share their experiences with the brand and the industry it is within. For example, the brand Outer did a great job onboarding existing customers as Hosts, which led to numerous in-person meetups and newly acquired customers that loved having a platform where they could share their love of kayaking. 

By leveraging the power of your community of existing customers, companies can tap into a network of advocates familiar with your products or services and willing to promote why they love your brand, contributing to its growth and success.

Brands That Got it Right

One of the best ways to learn is through examples. Here are a few of the brands that have done an excellent job at growing their communities and leveraging them as a growth marketing strategy. 

Outer

Outer, led by CEO Jiake Liu, exemplifies the power of leveraging community as a growth strategy by effectively utilizing existing customers to build brand authority and drive sales. With its "Neighborhood Showrooms" platform launch, Outer provided customers with the option for an immersive experience before purchasing.

The platform allowed prospective buyers to schedule appointments with local hosts showcasing Outer's furniture in their homes. It enabled customers to witness the products firsthand and envision how they would fit into their spaces. Additionally, hosts shared pictures of their displayed homes, creating UGC and authentic testimonials to be used by Outer in their marketing.

Outer has cultivated a loyal following by prioritizing community engagement and creating a more authentic experience between potential consumers and the brand. Their success story inspires businesses seeking growth by nurturing genuine connections, empowering customers as advocates, and ultimately, building a community of like-minded individuals.

Nike

Nike is another larger-scale example of a brand that uses its community as a cornerstone for its marketing strategy. Part of the brand's success lies in tapping into its target audience's passion, aspirations, and values. Nike continues to position itself as a champion of athleticism, empowerment, and individuality. Their iconic "Just Do It" slogan and partnerships with hundreds of world-class athletes allow them to empower customers with a sense of inspiration when engaging with their brand.

Some examples of their community-building activities include The Nike+ and Nike Run Club apps, which enable users to sport their personalized fitness tracking, training plans, and social features to work alongside like-minded and fitness-motivated individuals. Nike is also actively involved in community events that allow individuals to come together and experience the brand and its community firsthand. On social media, they are active with their community members and quick to encourage them to post their content using the brand's products. Resharing the content and engaging with their community increases the brand's trust and loyalty among existing and potential customers. 

Oru

In collaboration with Moast, Oru Kayak has implemented an innovative growth market strategy by leveraging its existing customers and community to expand its reach. The brand has created a platform that facilitates engagement and communication between existing and prospective customers by transforming their customers into Oru Explorers.

The interactive platform allows current customers to share their experiences, knowledge, and insights with potential buyers. By becoming Oru Explorers, these customers act as brand ambassadors who can provide information and firsthand product accounts. The organic peer-to-peer interaction helps build trust and credibility, as potential buyers can hear directly from those who have already purchased and enjoyed the benefits of owning an Oru Kayak.

The platform also provides an interactive map showcasing the locations of Oru Explorers where customers can connect with nearby Explorers, potentially meeting in person to see and test the product firsthand. This feature contributes to the brand's sense of community and fosters a supportive network of individuals who share a passion for kayaking and the Oru Kayak brand.

In following this approach, Oru Kayak maximizes the impact of word-of-mouth marketing and leverages the power of its community in its marketing strategy. Using personal connections and real-life experiences, potential buyers gain confidence in the product and are more confident in purchasing the brand. 

Overall, Oru Kayak's collaboration with Moast to develop an interactive platform incorporating existing customers as Oru Explorers has proven to be a successful growth market strategy. By empowering their community and facilitating peer-to-peer interactions, Oru Kayak effectively harnesses their customers' collective enthusiasm and knowledge, ultimately driving brand awareness, trust, and sales.

Keep the Momentum Going

Not sure where to start growing your community or lack the resources to produce your brand’s content? Check out a recent post about how some of today’s leading CMOs leverage AI in their marketing initiatives.

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By Mark Yeramian

Mark Yeramian is the co-founder and CEO of Moast, an innovative interactive review platform that helps brands deliver authentic shopping experiences to their customers. Before launching Moast, Mark spent the better part of his career scaling e-commerce brands through performance media and creative growth strategies. He’s worked with 9 figure brands primarily in Canada and the United States helping them reduce customer acquisition costs and optimize their website’s conversion rates. Clients in Mark’s portfolio have seen anywhere from 26% to 115% growth in store conversion rates.