I hope the fact that you are reading this article means you’ve been following the series and you’ve been finding the articles helpful. If you missed the first 2 installments, start here.
In this article, I’m going to be covering Community as a value learned during the pandemic. You may have immediately thought about loyalty programs when I wrote that. You are not far off but I think there is much more value to be drawn from this concept. The idea is that, by enabling your business to act as a responsible citizen that participates in the community, you will inevitably position your business for more growth and success. Community creates goodwill and that goodwill can directly affect [positively] your business’ bottom line. CommunitiesI’ll refer back to the questions I left you with at the very beginning of this series:
Questions: How can you create a community around your product or service? How does your business participate (not just give back) in the community and what impact does it have?
In my first article I wrote briefly about how people in communities came together to find ways to help each other during the lockdowns. From making masks for donations, shopping for seniors, collecting medication for vulnerable community members and so many other heartwarming acts of kindness. It was a reminder of what I believe is the innate goodness of humanity. It was also a reminder of the power of community, even in business.
No business operates in isolation. Even if you’re a one-person band, your business exists somewhere and because of people and that is the where Community begins. Community extends beyond location because it’s also built on shared values, interests, motivations, needs and goals. As a business, it’s important to either create or identify your communities. Through communities, you can retain your customers and attract new customers because they want to be part of the community that you represent and support. By supporting you, your customers know they are supporting a greater interest or cause. What do I mean?
Creating & Identifying Your [Business] Community:
Your Product/Service Customer Community
Your business exists because you identified a need and your purpose is to fulfil that need. So your customers are your most obvious community. Your customers share the love of your product/service as a common interest. You can find ways to reward their loyalty to keep that community tight and growing.
Your Customer-Interests Community
Your customers may have common interests or values that are not about your product or service and that is another community. For instance, you may own a bike shop. You will likely find your customers are also interested in other exercising options and eating healthy habits. So you might find it beneficial to collaborate with a gym or health food business to offer your loyal customers special benefits; creating a community around ‘living a healthy lifestyle’ for instance.
Your Location-Based Community
Your business operates from a location. That may be your home office, business premises, shared office or wherever. The area around your location and all that is in it is your community. This means the people (including your employees), the institutions and the general environment, make up the common interests of your location-based community. You could create a community around issues important for any those groups of people.
Macro Issues Community
With the opportunities that digital technology provides, your customer base can be widespread and even international. In that case, aside from the product/service interests, your community can be built around broader issues such as climate change, social issue, economic crisis, health or food crisis. These are issues beyond your immediate location but that can resonate with your other customers across a greater geographic spectrum.
These are not the only interests that your communities can be based on but the idea is to get you to think about what other interests they may be. Now that I’ve explained the type of communities the table below can give you some ideas.