By D’Arcy Rahming
I’ll make a bold statement here. No matter what business you are in, you are in the business of creating community. I’ve written before about having great relationships with your customers and clients. I want to expand that definition, however, because many persons assume that your client and customers are only the persons that are paying you, or are expected to pay you. If this is your attitude, you are making a big mistake.
I believe that your community is your brand. I am not denying the importance of your product or service. I am not denying the importance of your logo or how you arrange your store. These are all critical to the branding process. But more important than all that is your community. Proof of this is McDonalds. While I would much rather eat at home and enjoy my wife’s cooking, when my children were small they wanted to eat at McDonalds.
If I had let them, they would have eaten McDonalds for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, even when we travelled abroad they wanted McDonalds. So I became a part of the McDonalds community. I have turned off many a highway because I saw those Golden Arches. The fact is, McDonalds has built a social brand that invites participation. And that participation takes place at many levels.
So who, then, is your community. According to media specialist Jo Barnes, your community is made up of paying customers, subscribers, readers, listeners, watchers, sharers, commenters, likers, followers, advocates and quiet observers. This is a great start to defining community, because it revolves around people you come in contact with and who show some measurable interest in your product or service at any level.
The importance of all these people is that they can propel actual paying customers to your products or service with a simple recommendation. So they need to be kept informed about what you are doing.
And that is where your marketing comes in. More than being in the community, you need to think of things that create community. So, for example, by creating an event or putting out some unique information you have given people a reason to get together and talk about your product or service. Become community focused in your planning and it will pay off in droves.
NB: D’Arcy Rahming holds an MBA from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. A lecturer at the College of the Bahamas, Mr Rahming has clients in general insurance, retail, the health and medical fields, sports federations and financial services. He is also treasurer of the Bahamas Olympic Committee. To contact him he can be reached at DArcyRahmingsr@gmail.com.