Starting a business takes time and effort and the reason we all do it is to be successful. What it takes to become successful can be broken down into a few elements:
- Creating a product or service that is wanted and/or needed
- Building awareness of your product or service
- Developing a reputation of good service and value for your customers
- Finding ways to do it over and over again with more profitability
Creating a product or service is the foundation of any business and it is definitely where everyone starts. After that, there are several things to do to make your business successful including making sure you develop the best reputation possible as we discussed in 5 Reasons to Respond to Your Customers. So, how do you get the customers in the first place? Well, that's all about building awareness and creating a community around you and your business to help spread the word so customers know about you. Let’s explore how you can spread the word and grow your community.
The more people that know about your product or service, the more business it will generate (it's a numbers game). Up until the last few years advertising had been the most effective medium to spread the word and build awareness for businesses. Advertising is a very established medium although it can be very costly...it doesn't matter if you're a new company or a seasoned business, it still costs money. And, typically advertising gets one look for every instance meaning nothing is guaranteed.
So, what else can you do to build a community that is connected with you for the long term. The answer...Social Media! We have highlighted the importance of social media several times with blog posts such as Social Media: Why We Should Embrace It and 7 Smart Ways to Juggle Social Media. The goal is to have all of your social media tools connected with a STRATEGY that will enable you to build a community who will support you in the long run.
Here are a few some simple steps that you can use to develop your strategy that will build your community:
- Set Goals: Setting goals will give you a benchmark to measure how well you are doing according to the plan and they should always be flexible. An example might be to have 1000 fans on Facebook in one year or maybe publishing 1 blog post per week...it's up to you.
- Manage Your Time: Every week a portion of your time should to be set aside specifically to building your community. You will see steady progress week after week eventually achieving your goal(s).
- Execute: This is very similar to working out and exercising. It's so important to be consistent in whatever you do as it will build trust and a following which will turn into a supportive community.
And, don't forget that it's important to always compliment your online communication with some human interaction. Tim Sanders summarized it so well in the article Stay in touch where he talks about how important it is to continue to build your community through a hand shake, a phone call and face to face interactions in addition to your online communications. Balance is the key to building your community.
Starting next week, we will be sharing some tips on building your communities for specific social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter in our Community Building Strategy Series so stay tuned...