In this guest blog Nigel Temple shares his expertise on marketing through communities.
Marketing Through Communities
Established communities can provide you with numerous networking opportunities – if you take the right approach.
What are your objectives?
Begin by thinking about your marketing objectives. For example, is brand awareness important to you? If it is, then you may wish to consider sponsoring community events or a community website (or part thereof). This can be remarkably inexpensive.
Alternatively, are you trying to find customers ‘within the room’ or introducers (i.e. bank managers and accountants, in the case of an IFA). If so, then you will have to ‘show up’ on a regular basis.
Think about your target market segments. The communities you decide to join should either include members of these segments or people who can reach and influence them. Your choices will be guided by your business model and whether you are trying to reach business people or consumers.
Choose the right communities
Communities come in many different forms. Online examples include LinkedIn and Facebook. Locally, there are business groups such as The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) and Chambers of Commerce. There are professional and industry groups and networking organisations such as NRG Business Networks. In addition, there are lobbying, special interest groups and local groups within towns and cities.
By the way, direct selling within communities is always seen as a bad thing. The best approach is to take your time and build relationships. Remember that community members will talk about you – so it is important to act with integrity at all times.
Be helpful and don’t worry if your acts of kindness don’t appear to generate direct results (as you can’t hear the positive word of mouth which you are generating).
Position yourself as an expert
Once you are established within a community, look for opportunities to demonstrate your expertise. Depending on the nature of the community, these might include giving talks, writing articles and blogs and providing professional advice. Your objective is to become known as the go-to person within your field and to become a thought leader.
Multiple touch points
Once you have connected with someone within one community, connect with them elsewhere, in order to create multiple touch points. For example, look them up on LinkedIn and put in a connection request.
Find the ‘professional networkers’ who can introduce you to relevant contacts. This type of person always shows up, typically has a huge number of contacts and wants to help. Phone them and / or offer to meet.
Create your own network?
Finally, it may be worthwhile for you to create your own network. I have done this and it is called The Marketing Compass, a community of business owners who want to learn about marketing. We have our own social media website www.marketingcompass.co.uk where members ask marketing questions. This approach is not for the faint hearted! However, it will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Nigel is a long time supporter of NRG and is a marketing consultant, speaker and author. He is the Founder of The Marketing Compass, which provides impartial marketing advice and direction to thousands of business owners.