Consumers of today are no longer just buying products. Instead, they are turning their attention to the overall buying experience.
This is the reason why Brand Experiences are going mainstream. It’s not just about selling products or services - it’s about selling the experience of being part of an exclusive world.
With customized community-building tools, you can now offer your audience one-of-a-kind experiences that go beyond the products or services you’re selling. This allows you to cultivate a tribe of engaged fans who love your brand.
Before you start, here’s an important question to ask yourself:
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but the difference between an audience and a community boils down to one simple factor: engagement.
If your ‘community’ consumes your content, listens to what you have to say, and follows your online activity, what you actually have is an audience. But if your fans are connecting with you, interfacing with each other, sharing, discussing and exchanging, you’ve tapped into your ‘community’.
Brand engagement is the process of connecting with your customers through storytelling, interactive marketing and holistic experiences.
It involves sharing your business philosophy and developing customer-centred programs and events that allow your customers to feel and experience what your brand has to offer beyond what you’re selling to them.
Brand engagement is so much more than making your customers feel good about your brand. It’s also about the following:
When trying to please everyone, we often end up pleasing no one. Based on the 1000 True Fans theory - coined by founding executive editor of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly - if a business wants to build a lasting community, they don’t need to rack up millions of supporters. All they need is 1,000 die-hard fans, the type that will buy every album on pre-release and snatch up limited-edition product drops.
In its simplest form, it’s the classic ‘quality over quantity’ principle. In a similar vein, if we look at the Pareto Principle through a brand-building lens, 80% of a company’s profits can be traced back to 20% of its consumers. That doesn’t mean you should neglect the other 80% that aren’t as loyal, but it does suggest that your ‘core’ following is what can ultimately make (or break) your success.
Of course, the principle isn’t an exact science, and the percentage split can fluctuate depending on the business. The takeaway is to nurture one’s most committed fans, because they often hold the key to a brand’s staying power.
As a pushback to the soulless corporations of yore, the brand story pendulum has swung in the other direction. Now, people want to engage with circles and movements that have a well-developed story and purpose behind their existence.
The same can be said about brands. Think H&M’s ‘Cherish Waste’ Collection or Toms Shoes’ Buy 1 Gift 1 programme. People fall harder for brands and communities that have compelling stories to back them up, so make sure to share yours proudly.
The glory of belonging can’t be overstated, and ‘trust’ can be the password to tight-knit online communities.
Through a community-focused platform like Supercraft, you can create a committed tribe around your business and provide members exclusive access to offline and online events, competitions, multi-tiered loyalty programs, bidding and voting opportunities, and more.
Allow your customers to redeem and collect points as they complete certain purchase milestones. You should also give them the option to convert these points into real-life or digital prizes. This reward system is similar to when you’re playing an online game where you get a prize after breaking through various levels.
This is an effective way to get your customers to buy from you again and again. You can also use this to boost your internet marketing by getting them to flaunt their new achievement on social media. As a result, they might just convince their network of friends and family to give your brand a try.
In a piece for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a duo of PhD researchers explained this concept best: ‘Just like Russian Matryoshka dolls, communities often sit within other communities. For example, in a neighborhood — a community in and of itself — there may be ethnic or racial communities, communities based on people of different ages and with different needs, and communities based on common economic interests.’
To underscore the profound value of these microcosms, let’s run with another geography-based analogy. In the US, people tend to identify with their home state, region, or city: before declaring themselves an ‘American,’ they’ll call themselves a Texan, or a Bostonian, or a Yinzer. They’ll defend their Chicago deep-dish against the NYC slice any day, because that’s what really hits home.
Often, the closer we get to our individual identity (versus a far-reaching common identity), the more a concept will resonate with us. So, if people are initially drawn to a community, imagine how much deeper their connection can run if they hone in on an even more specific subculture or sub-interest within that space.
How can you create micro-communities?
You can sponsor giveaways and create exclusive collections based around an identity your customers connect with. To learn more, speak to us at Supercraft.
You can introduce a digital version of your products, which users can share online as the cool new thing. This is a great way to attract a younger audience.
Launching an exclusive digital collection can also get your fans hyped up and engage them.
Remember, engaged customers turn into repeat buyers, and repeat buyers equate to more sales. If you’re looking for ways to boost your profits, creating and managing a tribe of committed customers could be the answer.