Turning customers into Advocates will do wonders for your business. There may be no better way to create a sale than by having your customers rave about your business/product/service. In my last blog, I discussed how creating online communities will keep your customers on your site, and talking about you. But, what can you do to create a community in person?
This notion has been around for ages. One classic example is a book club sponsored or created by bookstores. What better way to get people reading more than to get a group of people to all read the same book and then gather to discuss it? There is something about sharing one’s passion with a fellow fan that brings a lot of joy. Plus, there is the peer pressure of finishing it by the allotted time, and being able to discuss it intelligently. Ultimately, it keeps the customers active in what you offer and, hopefully, your business “top of mind.”
You may be thinking, “But what about my business? I don’t sell books. What can I do to get people together to enjoy my service/product?”
The answer is simple, really. Start a group. Don’t think it is that easy? Meetup would beg to differ. Meetup claims to be “the world’s largest network of local groups.” With over 30 million members in over 182 countries, it states there are over 600,000 meetups available every month. Are you using this phenomenal tool?
There are two ways to use Meetup. First, create your own Meetup Group and host events. Second, become a sponsor of a group by offering discounts to already established groups that include your target demographic.
What kind of group would you create? The idea is for people to actually get together so, think small at first. Guerrilla Marketing often starts with grass roots efforts. Even if you are a national company, consider targeting one or two of your better markets to start. Your own marketing team or agency can give you ideas specific to your business but, in case you don’t have your own guerrilla marketer, here are some suggestions
- Have a charity, non-profit or cause-driven entity? Create a group that allows your volunteers and staff to host fun activities and fundraisers. There are 1,540 Meetups featuring the word “singles” within 50 miles of my zip code. Once a month, host a “Single Mingle” event where single adults can use a common interest as a way to meet other singles.
- Own a gym, fitness center or martial arts studio or chain? Start a hiking group (there are 361 hiking groups within 50 miles of my zip code). Have one of your instructors lead the group and invite your members.
- Own anything to do with food or alcohol (bar, restaurant, bakery, brewery, winery, etc.)? Start a “Tasters Group.” Once a month, invite your customers to try something new complimentary or for a nominal cost. People are looking for an excuse to mingle!
- Own a daycare, beauty salon or spa? There are over 600 groups within 50 miles of my zip code related to “Mom.” Create a group that allows your clients to occasionally get together for fun, camaraderie and a little much-deserved pampering.
Who will host your event? Whatever it is you offer, you have passionate customers. You know the kind… the ones who are your most frequent visitors/buyers/referrers. Ask them if they would lead a group or a social event for other passionate fans. Chances are, they would be honored you considered them. Then, create an event and invite people using Meetup and your normal communication channels (e-newsletter, home website, blog, social media, etc.).
Remember: You are trying to create a community – one where your customers will share a common passion or interest – not try to sell them something. Once they feel like this is a gimmick to get them to make a purchase, they will back off and not come back. So, my advice is to stay far away from the hard sell.
If you or your marketing guru can’t come up with how to create a group for your business, you can always simply become a sponsor. Each Meetup group has a page titled “Our Sponsors.” This is an excellent resource to connect with your target audience. Send an email to the organizer and ask them if you can help sponsor their group, or propose to them a discount or special offer.
If you are looking for a way to build customer loyalty, create a community. Whether online, in person, or both… you will instill within your customer-base a deep loyalty to your business/product/service – one where they are least likely to be swayed to purchase elsewhere and more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.
Rick Verbanas has brought his passion for marketing to Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and not-for-profits. He strives to stay current in the latest marketing best practices, and provides a weekly roundup for your news and enjoyment. To subscribe to future blogs, please enter your email address on the left hand side of the page.