Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

5-Steps to Community Building — via Business Week

This is an addendum to my recent post on Business Week’s article — True Believers. Here’s a second serving of quotes from the article, which also serves as an overview of how-to “connect, foster, and build” a community of evangelists:

1. Don’t just preach; practice —

For many companies, transforming customers from passive buyers to active participants demands a seismic shift in thinking. You can’t just slap up a blog and expect people to get excited.

2. Customer evangelism is TANGIBLE!

The benefits of courting customer advocates are clear. Research by Bain & Co. over the past decade has found that revenues of companies with the highest levels of customer loyalty grew more than twice as fast as those of their competitors. And University of Michigan researchers have seen a strong correlation between a company’s ratings on its customer satisfaction index and its future stock market performance.

3. Court the lovers —

While bringing in customers from the get-go is a great strategy, every company has loyal followers who may become advocates. It’s simply a matter of finding them.

4. More importantly; Court the HATERS —

When looking for advocates, don’t make the mistake of writing off customers who have complaints about your company. Addressing their concerns may well convert them into your most fanatical followers.

5. The Secret Sauce — build the community:

It’s a lot less tangible than how often someone buys from you, but customers who see themselves mirrored in your brand are more likely to be loyal. You can develop that reflection by building a community in which customers can interact with your employees as well as their peers.

Are you a believer now? The best way to find out is by trying out the 5-step formula outlined above.

Filed under: Miscellaneous

8 Responses

  1. Excellent post. I am working with a client right now whose stores do all five of these things (building a community being perhaps at the epicenter of everything they do), and it is working VERY well.

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  2. […] 5-Steps to Community Building — via Business Week: ” […]

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  3. “When looking for advocates, don’t make the mistake of writing off customers who have complaints about your company. Addressing their concerns may well convert them into your most fanatical followers.”

    I actually see this as a very important part of community. Many “haters” will often tell you what you can do to make your product(s) better, something you may not always get from folks that already like your brand.

    Note: Even though all of this is called community, it is important to remember needs/wants are still largely determined by the individuals using your product.

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  4. Mario Sundar says:

    Yep, Damon… And, the fact that they passionately proclaim why they don’t like the product/service, amplifies the fact that they would love to use it — hence the complaining.

    I also do believe that the haters are ideal prospects turned customers turned evangelists once their complaints are remedied.

    I’m sure your experience, building communities, is a testament to this very concept, Damon?

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  5. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Olivier,

    Thanks for your comment. Can you share with us your client who is following all five rules?

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  6. Hi Mario,

    “I’m sure your experience, building communities, is a testament to this very concept, Damon?”

    I can guarantee I’ve had more haters than lovers. This applies to work and real life;-)

    “And, the fact that they passionately proclaim why they don’t like the product/service, amplifies the fact that they would love to use it ”

    I think that this is really where most companies miss the boat. If someone isn’t a current customer, they tend to ignore the fact that they could be a potential customer IF you made some changes. If you don’t pay attention to what they’re saying, perhaps the competition will LISTEN to what the haters are saying.

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  7. Mario Sundar says:

    D,

    As a friend of yours, I wonder who those haters are!? Hmm… 🙂

    I think community marketers, or evangelists, understand the principle of courting the haters; particularly if you receive repetitive requests for product features, I believe companies will be forced to listen to their audience.

    Thanks, buddy, for adding your thoughts and expertise to these discussions. I appreciate it.

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  8. […] really excited at this opportunity to convert my preaching into practice. My immediate goals are pretty […]

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