Community Marketing: The “6th Man” Strategy

marketing lessons

Your Brand Needs a Sixth Man

Community marketing goes beyond traditional advertising techniques and has as its goal the building of a loyal and engaged community around a brand. In this digital age, where connections are often made with a click or a tap, community marketing stands out by fostering genuine relationships and a sense of belonging among customers.

In the dynamic world of basketball, the concept of the “sixth man” stands out as a testament to the power of support that comes from beyond the starting lineup, offering both a physical and emotional uplift to the team in crucial moments. This invaluable player, though not in the initial five, brings energy, skill, and a much-needed boost from the bench, often changing the course of the game. Similarly, in the realm of branding and marketing, the support of a passionate community acts as a brand’s own “sixth man.” Just as a basketball team can rely on this pivotal player to amplify their performance, a brand can leverage the engagement, loyalty, and advocacy of its community to elevate its market presence.

This concept underscores the essence of community marketing, where the collective power of a brand’s audience provides an indispensable boost, driving its success and resilience through the ebbs and flows of consumer trends and market dynamics.

What Is Community Marketing?

Community marketing is a strategy that focuses on building and nurturing a community of consumers, enthusiasts, or users around a brand or product. Unlike traditional marketing, which often prioritizes sales and conversions, community marketing emphasizes engagement, value creation, and mutual support within a group sharing common interests.

Forums, social media channels, and other digital spaces have become fertile ground for these communities, enabling brands to connect with their audience on a more personal level.

Five Essential Components of Community Marketing

Engagement

At the heart of community marketing is engagement. Brands must create content that not only captures attention but also encourages interaction. This could be through discussions, contests, or collaborative projects that invite community input.

Value Creation

Providing value, whether through informative content, exclusive deals, or emotional support, helps solidify the bond between the brand and its community. It’s about offering more than just a product or service; it’s about enriching the community’s experience.

Authenticity

Trust is the foundation of any strong community. Brands must be transparent, honest, and genuine in their interactions. Authenticity fosters a safe and open environment where members feel valued and heard.

Collaboration

Communities thrive on inclusivity and collaboration. By involving community members in decision-making processes or product development, brands can cultivate a sense of ownership and loyalty among their audience.

Sustainability

For a community to endure, it needs ongoing attention and nurturing. This means regularly evaluating the community’s needs, adapting strategies, and ensuring the community remains relevant and engaging.

How Community Marketing Fuels Brand Growth

Community marketing has the power to transform brand perception and loyalty. By building emotional connections, brands can cultivate a dedicated base of advocates who are more likely to repurchase and recommend products to others. User-generated content from community members serves as authentic, trusted endorsements. Moreover, a vibrant community becomes a hotbed for insights and feedback, enabling brands to tailor their offerings more precisely to consumer desires, driving innovation and growth.

Building a Community Marketing Campaign

Identifying Your Target Community: Start by understanding who your audience is, what they care about, and what brings them together. This clarity is crucial for creating relevant and resonant content.

Choosing the Right Platforms: Not all communities fit all platforms. Select spaces where your target audience is already active and engaged.

Creating Engaging Content: Content is the currency of community marketing. Plan and produce content that sparks conversations, shares valuable insights, and resonates with the community’s core values.

Encouraging Participation: Foster interaction through calls-to-action, organizing challenges, or offering incentives. Active participation is key to a thriving community.

Measuring Success: Establish clear metrics to evaluate engagement, community growth, and the impact on brand perception and sales. Adjust strategies based on these insights to nurture a more engaged community.

Examples of Brands Developing a Community

Community marketing strategies have become increasingly pivotal for brands aiming to deepen customer loyalty, enhance engagement, and foster a sense of belonging among their consumer base. Several businesses across different industries have employed successful community marketing strategies, turning customers into passionate advocates and contributors. 

Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson’s community marketing strategy revolves around creating an exclusive club for its riders, known as the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.). By fostering a sense of pride and belonging among owners, Harley-Davidson has built a loyal community that is passionate about the brand. H.O.G. members receive benefits such as organized group rides, exclusive events, and merchandise, encouraging a deeper emotional connection with the Harley-Davidson lifestyle. This approach has turned Harley-Davidson motorcycles into symbols of a shared identity rather than mere transportation vehicles, showcasing the power of community in brand marketing.

Sephora

Sephora’s Beauty Insider Community is an exemplary case of leveraging community marketing within the retail sector. This platform allows customers to share beauty tips, product recommendations, and personal experiences with one another. Sephora enhances this interaction by offering exclusive rewards, personalized product recommendations, and access to beauty events, making members feel valued and connected. This strategy not only boosts customer loyalty but also provides Sephora with invaluable insights into consumer preferences and behaviors.

LEGO

LEGO’s approach to community marketing has been multifaceted, involving the creation of an engaged and collaborative community. One standout initiative is the LEGO Ideas platform, where fans can submit their own LEGO set designs. The community then votes on these ideas, and winners can see their creations become official LEGO sets, complete with a share of the profits. This strategy not only fosters a strong sense of community but also drives innovation and product development directly influenced by the brand’s most passionate fans.

Peloton

Peloton has revolutionized the home fitness industry by integrating community directly into its product experience. Users can join live classes from the comfort of their homes, compete with others in real-time on the leaderboard, and join Peloton’s official social media groups to share experiences, achievements, and encouragement. This sense of community enhances the motivation and engagement of users, creating a loyal customer base that extends beyond the physical product to a shared fitness journey.

Community marketing represents a shift toward more meaningful and enduring connections between brands and consumers. By focusing on building communities, brands can create loyal advocates, drive growth, and stand out in a crowded marketplace.

The journey to building a successful community marketing campaign is both challenging and rewarding, requiring commitment, authenticity, and a deep understanding of the human need for connection. As we move forward, the power of community will undoubtedly play an increasingly central role in shaping the future of marketing, making it an essential strategy for brands aiming to thrive in the digital age.

Whether it’s community marketing you need help with, or influencer marketing, or even the development of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, you can turn to the New Target team. We have produced real results that make a significant difference to your bottom line and your ability to be seen and heard online.

A global team of digerati with offices in Washington, D.C. and Southern California, we provide digital marketing, web design, and creative for brands you know and nonprofits you love.

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