Do you serve a group of customers who could benefit from getting to know each other? Could you also benefit from bringing them together?
Online communities are great for staying in contact with your customers, but you should not overlook the power of face-to-face contact, especially if your business operates locally.
One book store near me hosts several book clubs on topics related to writing, financial issues, fiction and more. These groups meet once or twice a month at the book store to talk about a book and enjoy time with others who share their interest. Of course, the members buy the book which will be discussed at the next meeting, and they buy other books, too.
Comic and trading card stores host tournaments for people who play card and role-playing games. The players hang out in the store, and spend money, too. A gift or toy shop could start a club for people who collect figurines, toys or other collectibles sold at the shop.
Could you host a group of people interested in collecting something you sell, or learning about a topic you can teach them? You can benefit by selling products to them, selling services, charging for membership in the group or attendance at the meetings, or just by elevating your profile and making more people aware of you, your business and your expertise.
To get people to attend, post notices in your store or other physical location where you will hold meetings, send out press releases, call, mail or e-mail people who are interested in the subject, put out fliers or a newsletter at various locations, and get word of mouth going everywhere you can.
If you do not have a local presence but do most of your business online, you can create an online community where your customers can gather. Create a forum where customers can share tips and advice or make other connections. You may find that customers provide support for each other, easing demands on you for support.
Your customer community is not a “set it and forget it” task, though. You may need to be very actively involved at the outset to get momentum going. After that, someone from your organization should monitor activities in the community and participate as warranted.
Creating an involved customer community can bring customers closer to you, keep them loyal, and increase their purchases.