Updated 05 January 22
As a startup, you’re not always blessed with a large budget or a marketing team. So achieving growth in the early stages can be a slog. There is a range of marketing channels to choose from, some paid some organic and deciding on the right one for your business can be a challenge.
Communities are a great place to find your first customers. And in this blog, we’re going to talk about how you can harness their power to grow your startup.
Communities fall into two main categories; online and offline.
An online community is a group of people with a shared interest or purpose who use the internet to communicate with each other. They can be found on social media, forums such as Mum's Net, Money-Saving Expert or more specific forums related to your industry.
Offline communities can encompass anything from sports clubs to business networking groups.
One of the main reasons to use communities to grow your startup is that you can identify very quickly those groups that consist of an engaged audience but more importantly, the right audience.
No matter how great you think your product or service is, getting it in front of a targeted audience is important as it will allow you to receive much-needed feedback from the people who will be using it. Ultimately, you're building your business to solve their problems, so feedback along the journey is crucial.
With a limited budget for marketing, you could spend time and money on paid ads. But with limited resources for time and money, you may be better off spending that energy engaging with your target audience on communities for free.
There are thousands of groups to choose from on Facebook and lots of questions that need answering on Quora. Take advantage of this free method of marketing instead of taking a punt on paid mediums such as social ads or paid search - at least in the early stages.
By engaging with your target audience you’re able to very quickly put a face to the name of your business. In doing so you can build brand loyalty from the very beginning. As a founder of a startup, it is important to ensure that the community trust you and your business.
Community members can quickly turn from customers to loyal fans. In turn, they become your brand ambassadors ready to refer their friends family and peers to you. Word of mouth is one of the most important and successful marketing strategies available to any business but it is not always the easiest to ascertain.
By immersing yourself in the community and listening to the members you can build this brand loyalty and turn customers into brand ambassadors.
By listening to your customers and engaging with them you’re in a prime position to understand the problems they face. You’ll be able to resolve these problems with a better understanding than you could by not being in a community.
Moreover, you'll receive regular feedback from an engaged and targeted audience allowing you to refine your product, pivot if necessary and spot opportunities in the market before your competitors. It’s like having free market research delivered to your business in real-time.
There are many communities available across the internet. On Facebook alone, you can join 6000 groups before you hit the limit.
We’re not suggesting you join 6,000 groups but there is a range of options across social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. You can also use forums such as Quora, Mum's Net and Reddit to name a few. You just need to identify the communities that are relevant to your business and start engaging with the kind of content that they are interested in.
We often think that we need to create amazing content videos blog posts podcasts in order to engage our audience and whilst that might be true when you've built up a social following, for communities it's slightly different.
Oftentimes a simple question or request such as "I’ve started a new business that is looking to solve problem XYZ would you mind providing some feedback on it by visiting our website."
You don’t need to go overboard on content creation because you won’t have the time or capacity to do so. Simply engage your audience by asking questions and responding with answers when they do too.
Good luck finding your communities. If you have any questions pop them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them.