If you haven’t put “Build a Thriving Community” at the top of your business goals, then it’s time for a serious shake-up.
A strong community is like a super-power for your business. When done well, your community will help you move people all the way through your Customer Value Journey from awareness to promotion.
Now Artificial Intelligence (AI) is quickly transforming the business landscape making information alone less valuable. It’s easy to think the machines have it all covered. But no matter how smart robots get, nothing can replace the human connection we are wired to crave.
Not convinced yet? Let me break the 5 undeniable benefits of a thriving community. If you don’t pay close attention to the fifth one, your business will struggle to survive.
#1 Get More Customers
A thriving community is like a magnet for new customers. It has the power to attract right-fit leads, build trust quickly, and convert them to buyers.
Ever heard of FOMO? It’s the “Fear of Missing Out,” and let me tell you, it’s a real thing. People see a buzzing community, and they just can’t help but want in.
Once they get in, they’re surrounded by the social proof of other community members that trust you and are enthusiastic advocates. It’s only natural for them to want to follow the crowd. This means existing members’ trust in you is easily passed on to new community members.
That fast-track to trust will ultimately lead to more conversions for your products, programs, and services.
Take Harley-Davidson for instance. They don’t just sell bikes; they sell a lifestyle. Harley owners don’t just feel like part of an exclusive club, they are. It’s called the H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group). It’s one of the world’s largest motorcycle owner communities.
H.O.G. has local chapters that organize events, rides, and rallies that not only bring existing owners together but also attract future owners. When people witness and experience the sense of belonging and camaraderie that comes with being a Harley owner, they want to join the ‘Harley family’.
#2 Keep Customers Longer
I recently worked with a client to survey their long-time members. When asked what they love the most about her online membership, the answer was overwhelmingly the community.
It’s long been known that keeping a customer is a whole lot cheaper than finding a new one. Getting more conversions is great, but the real money is made in retention because of its impact on customer lifetime value and profit margins. Retention is your ability to keep your recurring revenue customers longer or get your current buyers to become repeat buyers.
A thriving community creates a deeper level of connection that is really hard to walk away from. Plus, it supports buyers in getting more results from your programs and products.
More results lead to happier customers that want to buy more from you and ascend to your higher-level offers.
Let’s take a look at LEGO. By creating a community where fans share their custom creations, they turned customers into lifelong fans. Those brick-loving enthusiasts keep coming back for more because they’re part of a larger community that makes stacking those tiny bricks more than just a hobby.
There are clubs called LEGO User Groups (LUGs), where kids and grown-ups, known as AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) can show off their builds. Young builders get to be part of a special squad with the LEGO Life app and magazine. Imagine a clubhouse, but in an app, where you can share your LEGO creations and even get into fun challenges.
LEGO also hosts events like Brickworld, where you can gather in-person with other LEGO builders of all ages to see mind-blowing builds, trade bricks, and connect with other builders like you.
All of these community connections and events keep their customers – both young and old – engaged with the brand and continuing to buy and build new LEGO sets and designs.
#3 Create Raving Fans
Thriving communities create raving fans that buy and promote everything you sell. They’ll wear your merch, give social media shoutouts, and drag their friends to your store.
When you have a strong community, people who are part of it can’t help but spread the word. They feel like they have an invitation to something truly special that they feel privileged to share. They become customer evangelists.
That’s why active community members tend to be your best advocates that spread the word to friends, family, and their own circle of influence about your programs, products, and services. When they do, those they invite into your world are more likely to buy than someone that finds out about you elsewhere.
The trust that you’ve built through your community is now transferred to someone new to your business. That leads to more conversions, and the cycle continues. This is why word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing and it’s free!
Imagine walking into a gym and everyone’s cheering, not just for the super-fit ones, but for everybody. That’s the magic of CrossFit boxes, where gyms are like second homes and fellow CrossFitters are family. They sweat together, compete fiercely, and sometimes hang out after a tough workout.
Ever seen pics of folks lifting weights, captions flaunting #WOD (workout of the day), and inspiring stories of getting in shape? That’s the CrossFit family showing off and, guess what? It’s contagious! Friends start wondering if they too can be a part of this community.
And it’s not just about muscles; it’s a heart thing. CrossFitters share values like never giving up, having each other’s backs, and being the best version of themselves.
By fostering a tight-knit community, promoting shared values, and creating exciting events and social experiences, CrossFit has built an army of brand advocates who live and breathe the CrossFit lifestyle. This passionate advocacy helps CrossFit to continue to grow and attract new members.
#4 Reduce Customer Support
Your community can be like your very own customer support team—and they don’t even need to be on your payroll. When customers have questions or run into issues, often it’s other community members that jump in with solutions.
When a customer gets stuck or has a question, other community members jump in like superheroes to save the day. This is what we call peer-to-peer support, and it’s a big win for everyone.
Here’s why it’s awesome: First, it’s super fast. No one has to wait forever to get help because fellow customers know their stuff and can solve problems quickly. Second, they know all the cool tricks to get the most out of the products, kind of like having a friend who’s an expert.
Plus, it feels more personal, like getting help from a buddy who’s been in your shoes.
And guess what? Business owners save money because they don’t need a huge customer support team. The community’s got it covered! It’s like having a dream team that’s always ready to help out.
Imagine having a bunch of brainy friends who can help you out whenever you’re stuck with Microsoft products. That’s what Microsoft’s community is like.
In the Microsoft Answers Community, regular users and super-smart MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) swap tips and answers.
For the tech wizards, there are special hangout spots called TechNet and MSDN forums. That’s where the computer pros go to solve tricky tech stuff together so they can better serve the larger community.
This team effort means faster help for everyone and takes a huge load off Microsoft’s shoulders. They don’t need a giant team to answer questions because the community’s got it covered.
Often, issues are solved without an official support ticket ever being raised. It’s like having a go-to group of tech wizards ready to help out anytime, making things smoother for everyone involved. Microsoft just sits back and watches its community stars take the stage, saving big on customer support.
#5 Develop Better Products
This one’s a game-changer and in my opinion, the future of product creation. Your community is a gold mine of insights. Who better to tell you what your next product or service should be or how to improve existing ones than the people who use them?
Imagine having an arsenal of creative minds who are actively using your products and services. These are individuals who have seen firsthand the challenges and opportunities present in your offerings.
By having an environment where community members can share their ideas and feedback openly, you are essentially crowdsourcing innovation. This organic exchange of ideas can lead to enhancements in your existing products and services, and even the creation of new ones.
Chances are when you’re intentionally getting customer feedback early and often, the products and services you create are more aligned with your customers’ needs. And if they aren’t in love, you’ll be able to pivot fast before the impact hits your bottom line.
When members contribute their insights, they become more invested in your business’s success. They feel a part of the process, and this sense of ownership further cements their relationship with your brand.
Cassey Ho, the fitness guru behind Blogilates, is a prime example of harnessing the power of a thriving community to create better products. She launched Popflex Active, a community-driven line of fitness apparel, with her community’s insight at the forefront. How? By keeping her ear to the ground.
Cassey chatted with her followers to learn what they really wanted in workout gear. She got the scoop on the perfect fit, cool designs, and must-have features.
Next, she got her fans in on the action during the design phase. They were her sounding board, giving thumbs up or down to prototypes. And voila! Popflex Active was born—a collection that’s spot-on with what women in her community want.
Cassey continues to listen to her community’s desires and challenges, create products that solve them, and share with her community each step of the process.
Cassey’s playbook shows that when your community’s got your back, you can hit a home run in product creation. It’s crowdsourced creativity at its finest!
Unlock Success with a Thriving Community
For businesses seeking sustainable growth and a solid foundation in today’s competitive market, investing in building and nurturing a thriving online community is a surefire strategy.
It’s your secret weapon for pulling in customers, keeping them happily by your side, and turning them into raving fans. But that’s not all – they’re your guiding compass, helping you navigate product development, and they’re your unofficial customer support rock.
So, if building a thriving community isn’t at the top of your to-do list, it’s time to grab a pen and make that amendment. Your bottom line will thank you.