Easter is behind us for another year. Many of my peers in all corners of Australia went camping. They sat around the campfire with other people enjoying the warmth of conversation and the closeness of their community.
In front of a campfire people share stories. They interact, they engage, they ask things fearlessly, getting to know each other, and they contribute to the conversation. They also take the time to sip their drink and just listen.
Businesses that communicate well with their community do the same. They know who is important to them and strive to create a central place of warmth that their community can sit around both online and offline using a clever mix of communications and interactions to bring them together regularly.
As confident communicators these businesses share stories about their experiences and observations online with their community on blogs and drive engagement through social media. They hold events that guide, lead, inform and share ideas. They ask things fearlessly online and offline, and get to know their clients and prospects well. They contribute to the conversation in their community, and they listen well to what the community wants and needs.
Contrary to many business’s believes creating a community around your business is so much more than just pushing out an enewsletter every month and throwing a party every year. It doesn’t take that much more effort, but it takes a different approach to the people around you.
How can you build warmth around your business?
Give more, more often
Abandon purely self-promotory newsletters and online presences and select some ways of communicating that are interactive. As a professional you need to give your community ideas and opportunities and build conversation so they can get to know you and trust you, and choose to engage with you; rather than telling them how great you are and hoping they will buy you.
Interactive communications build and demonstrate your thought leadership over time, and give valuable ideas and information to your community. Articles, blogs and social media are the best places to start. These supplement an offline marketing and BD program well and add warmth to your business. The tools like WordPress, Blogger, Mailchimp, Linkedin, Twitter, and even Facebook are all free and easy to use.
Stay humble, don’t self promote all the time
One of the unwritten rules of building warmth in your marketing is to stay humble and resist sending out overly self-promotional content.
In fact, publishing content on social media and blogs that is entirely self-promotional is one of the quickest ways to cut down your online reputation, and send people running from your blog, enewsletter or . If you want to build a well-followed business presence, or warm campfire, then you need to dial back the sales pitch and self promotion and focus on giving value to your community and clients. The reason for this is simple. No one cares about you. That isn’t why they read your blog. They care about how you can help them or add value to their lives.
Be yourself, be positive and be interesting.
Be comfortable that you are who you are. The more you that you show yourself, the more people are likely to be able to relate to you. Keep your communications positive and interesting and be someone that people can learn something from, or take away and idea from. And don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. Ideas are meant to be used, shared and improved upon by others!
Make time but don’t waste time
Social Marketing and community building takes time to setup, and get up and running, but once it is working well, with good processes in place for subscribing new contacts, responding to comments, updating your statuses and distributing your content, all you need to do is interact a little, every week. A good social media presence can take less than 30 minutes per week to maintain. And remember to share ideas other than your own … it shows you read and appreciate others.
Suck it up
Read widely. Suck up other people’s ideas, blend them, amalgamate them, learn from them and use them to create new ones. Be a part of other people’s communities… not just your own. Comment, ask, listen and respond to other people’s thought leadership and learn from it.
Many of the businesses we are working with are building their campfires actively the moment. They are carefully crafting their blogs, articles and events, forming up lists of people in their community that they want to invite into the warmth of their campfire and drive conversation with. They are exploring their own opinions, and considering what their communities could really find value in.
Some remain unsure of what they want the warmth for, but feel sure that warmth is better than cold in a competitive economy. I remind them that this is only the beginning of the social era. These new communications channels will become more and more important over time, and without them we are stuck in the cold.
How is your business working to achieve greater warmth in their marketing?
Image source: flickr.com fritzmb