Much has been written and said about the loss of trust in brands and institutions. Not surprisingly, when consumers are asked about how they make their buying decisions, far more say they rely on the opinion of people they know then a branded message/ad. If your brand is competing in a relevant category, chances are high there are many competitors there as well. Fortunately, getting through the white noise of the digital era, the holy grail of marketing, is simply a matter of building the right community for your brand, or as I call it, “Community Level Marketing” (CLM).
How do you do CLM? The first thing you have to do is identify your community. This may not be the consumers who buy your products. At Clean Currents, for example, we sold green energy, yet we identified people who love outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. as the target community for our “Energize Responsibly” campaign. We enlisted our commercial customers, as well as local relevant organizations, in the campaign. So we tabled at Charm City Run, a Baltimore area chain that serves the running community and we partnered with a local parks organization. To find the right community, think of the places, ideas, hobbies or interests that unite a segment of your core consumer group. It could be their faith institutions, schools, neighborhoods, or just love of the outdoors that unites them.
Once you have your target community identified, the next step is to build a campaign. There are four components to a good CLM campaign:
Before we get started, be sure you’re in the right frame of mind. As Polina Pinchevsky (@PolinaPeg) from socially-conscious marketing firm, RoundPeg Communications recently pointed out in a presentation on CLM, it’s not for the short-sighted or for those seeking immediate rewards for their brand. It requires a long-term commitment from all levels of your organization and the understanding that CLM is not just about selling a product or service. It’s about building a strong, credible, well-known brand whose messages will be trusted by the consumers it seeks. Ready to try it out? See Part 2 of this series as we delve into the four components of CLM.