Customer communities offer two things every marketer dreams of: direct access to the voice of the customer and (when done right) an army of advocates who are happy to spread the good word about your product.
But these benefits don’t just fall into your lap. You have to put the work in—and be systematic in your approach.
Here are three of the top takeaways from that conversation, including:
Community is any space where people come together to interact and exchange information—not because they’re paid to, but because they get something out of it, whether it’s knowledge, camaraderie, or something else.
“It's more important than ever now that we have communities because learning at the pace of experience just often isn't fast enough,” Dan said. “Community allows you to circumvent that and learn from other people's mistakes, and learn from their successes, and build a nice mentorship group around you.”
Some organizations try to put community in a box—dictating what it is and where it lives. But with so many ways for people to connect, communities can (and do) sprout up anywhere, whether brands are involved or not.
In order to tap into the value of community and align it with business goals, organizations must first understand what it means for their customers.
“Ask your customers—your closed-won customers, your closed-lost customers, your prospects—what is influencing them,” Dan said. “Maybe it's a podcast, maybe it's LinkedIn, maybe they're a member of RevGenius or Pavilion. You build a map of what the community ecosystem is for your ideal customer profile, and then it becomes about how to deploy the organic, authentic customer voice to those spaces.”
Get insane reply rates by reaching out with context.
Customer communities enable you to extend your brand reach by creating product champions who can advocate for you across channels and magnify your messaging.
The trick is understanding which distribution points will have the most impact.
“Step one: Identify what is influencing your customers,” Dan said. “Step two: Try to find a way to deploy the customer voice to those spaces.”
Let’s say that your ideal customers live on LinkedIn. It’s where they go to ask questions, share opinions, and source solutions. It influences them, and that makes it the perfect place to nurture customer advocacy.
But LinkedIn is only one distribution point. Maybe your ideal customers are also influenced by certain podcasts or in-person events. Once you know which spaces make the most sense, it’s time to encourage your brand advocates to show up for you in these spaces.
“The central thing is your audience is everywhere,” Dan said. “You figure that out from surveying, and then it's like, how do we deploy the customer voice to that space?”
Identify and engage with folks who love your product.
You can’t capitalize on customer love without first giving your customers a reason to love you.
And that starts with listening.
“A customer advisory board's probably the greatest way because it lets you take stock of your existing advocates before you go out there and try to create more,” Dan said. “Who are the people who are consistently advocating for your program? Who is the owner of the largest account, the champion account with the largest ARR? Build a structure for those people and then ask them, ‘Hey, how do you want to work with us? How can we support you?’”
The objective is organic, authentic advocacy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t lend a helping hand. For instance, if you want your champions to advocate on your behalf in a space that costs money—such as a members-only Slack group—you should be willing to foot the bill.
“When [your customers] show you love, reach back out, and then be really intentional about understanding where you need to influence and what are the different levers you can pull to drive influence in those spaces,” Dan said.
A paid advertisement or piece of content can help you move the needle, but the best marketing comes from your customers.
Your community isn’t just a chance to tell your story to thousands of people. It’s an opportunity to have thousands of people tell your story.
Ready to see how Common Room helps you get your brand awareness flywheel spinning?