As small business owners, we’re expected to do it all–create the products and services, manage administrative tasks, come up with online marketing strategies, and ensure the T’s are crossed and I’s are dotted when it comes to taxes.
So just exactly how are we supposed to show up for our customers and build a devoted following online?
Build an educational community.
Now, before you start reminding us of all of the things on your to-do list (we know you’re here for online marketing strategies after all!), consider the following ways building an educational community can improve your business, customer experience and bottom line.
Create a Place for Customers to Connect
According to author C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’”
His logic applies to raving fandoms, too. Human connection is the reason why you can find entire online forums dedicated to classic cars, baking bread, hand-dyed yarn, the Hollywood of yesteryear and everything in between. People long for finding others to share their passions with, learn new things from, and even engage in some healthy debate. Why not give your customers a place to obsess over your industry as well?
While an educational community offers new resources and things to learn, it really offers a place to connect and build relationships.
For instance, if you own a bridal boutique and chose an educational community as your online marketing strategy for the year, you could create a digital hub for brides in your area to share wedding inspiration and ideas, vendor recommendations and personal stories. You could also offer up an educational resource like a guide to picking out the perfect veil, which points them back to your store.
Brides will come and go from the community as they plan and prepare for their big day, but your content will remain evergreen and the affinity they feel for you if you add value to their planning process will continue to grow.
Discover New Online Marketing Strategies Your Audience Craves
Another benefit of creating an educational community as an online marketing strategy is opening a direct line of communication with people who love and use your products or services. So you can ask them directly for their feedback or what new things they would like to see. This builds trust on both sides of the transaction because they feel valued for their opinion and you get honest feedback on what will likely work and what won’t in the future. Plus, you can continue to learn about their social media habits, what motivates them to engage with businesses, and so much more.
Let’s say you own a brick-and-mortar store that specializes in running gear. The coronavirus probably put a damper on whatever store-sponsored running club you hosted in your area, so you could take the in-person experience and put it in an educational community that’s free to join (or offered at a nominal cost). Create a mileage challenge to keep them engaged, then ask them what kind of virtual activities interest them.
Maybe you want to host a virtual race with a limited-edition swag bag, but your group tells you they would rather wait and train for an epic obstacle course after quarantine restrictions are lifted. Knowing this before you’re three months (and several thousand dollars) into planning prevents you from hosting an event no one wants.
Establish Your Expertise in the Market
One last benefit of an online marketing strategy like an educational community is that you get to show off what you know in front of a captive audience. Because you’ve created the platform, you can choose what to share, how to share it, and really set yourself apart from competitors. An educational community is a great place to test out new material you would like to cover at future speaking engagements and get a feel for what resonates and what doesn’t.
Not only are you providing value to your audience, but you’re also building your own credibility to use in future guest pitches for other podcasts. Not to mention, you will have an engaged audience that advertisers will love to see if you plan to monetize your show.
While there are many more benefits to choosing an educational community as your next online marketing strategy, those are our top three reasons to do so. In fact, we took our own advice and created an educational community for do-it-yourself marketers to learn how to market their business without breaking the bank. It’s called the SizzleForce Marketing Academy, and enrollment opens back up in a few weeks. If you need a little extra help with your online marketing strategies this year (or you’re just curious about how an educational community works!), join the waitlist now so you won’t miss your chance to be part of our Academy.