Building Small Business Communities The Right Way
One of the most pervasive, misused marketing techniques is building artificial communities. That’s because many online businesses fancy themselves the next Facebook, Twitter, or the early years of AOL. What results is a steady stream of friend requests to a constant deluge of new web communities. It’s really impossible to keep up. And it’s not very effective.
The new wave of community builders doesn’t really understand what building a community is all about. Marketers don’t help by presenting community as the magic marketing tool. But good news; we found two local business owners that have built successful communities. These communities are not about friend requests, they’re about enhancing the customer experience.
On Episode 13 of Power to the Small Business, we talk to two entrepreneurs who have built successful communities. Eric Brown is Founder of Urbane Apartments in Royal Oak, Michigan and he uses both online and offline elements to build a hip community of young adults in his eclectic brand of apartments. Gina Ford is owner of The Grape Wine Bistro in Waco, Texas and has built her community the old-fashioned way: through customer involvement and without the internet.
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– Eric Brown of Urbane Apartments. Cool, loftstyle, sophisticated apartment communities.
- Uses an online “lobby” on Urbane website.
- Organized “Pub Crawl” for Urbane residents
- Drop the fear and do it. Just jump in.
– Gina Ford of The Grape Wine Bistro. Local wine bar with a community consisting of many different demographics
- Instituted “Foodie Club” for patrons to make food and wine decisions for The Grape. Their participation makes them feel important.
- A pet-friendly patio with “Yappy Hour” so patrons can bring their puppies. Ties in with Gina’s volunteer work with the Humane Society.
- Gina has no website, just a MySpace page built by her daughter. Does feel the need to have a greater web presence.