Personal Finance

Demonstrate your values in online customer communities

Last week we talked about focusing on developing customer communities as a way to find relevance through your online strategy, including website and social media. Now let’s strengthen this relevance by focusing on values.

Increasingly, prospects will turn into customers, and customers will become loyal, because they’re attracted to what your company stands for. They are looking for evidence of your values in your online elements. For example:

1. Are your brand elements – brand promise and image – all about you and your stuff, or do they sound like something that would benefit your customer community?

2. When delivering information to the community, is it all about you, or does it contribute to helping customers?

3. What is the tone of your marketing message? “Tone” is how brand messages are incorporated as you serve the community, from crassly commercial to almost subliminal. You should strike a tone balance between making a sale and serving the community.

In a world where everything you sell is a commodity, value – product, price, service – is the threshold of a customer community, but values are the foundation. Anyone can find value, but when customers like your values, they tell their friends. Indeed, the most dynamic and potentially viral element of any online community is the feeling members have about your values. But remember, that “feeling” can go either way – positive or negative.

Here are a few guidelines for establishing compelling values online that match your values offline:

1. Acquire and use the technology that makes online community building possible.

2. Create an environment where an online community can flourish around the value you deliver and the values you demonstrate.

3. Serve and protect your customer community, while accepting that you cannot control it. As customer members come and go, and say what’s on their minds, maximize the positive and repair the negative.

Once community members find your value and like your values, prospects will turn into customers and customers will turn into your best salespeople.

Write this on a rock…Build and serve customer communities by delivering value and demonstrating values.

Correction: Last week, when describing a customer community, I meant to say “accounts receivable” list, but inadvertently wrote “accounts payable.” First mistake this year - a thousand pardons.

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Jim Blasingame is one of the world's leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the creator and award-winning host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate® Show. In addition to his weekly columns, Jim is the author of two books; Small Business is like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Jim Blasingame

Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s leading experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He’s the creator and award-winning host of the syndicated radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, syndicated columnist and author of Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas and Three Minutes to Success. His third book, The Age of the Customer®, released in January 2014. Jim has received awards and recognition for his work and leadership on behalf of small businesses from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), New York Enterprise Report, FORTUNE Small Business and TALKERS magazine. Google ranks Jim as the #1 small business expert.

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