Marketing is all about building relationships with customers where there is an exchange of value for both parties. The business provides a product or service and the customer sees value where they are willing to part with their hard earned cash.
One of the ways to engage your target market more effectively is to create communities of interest where you draw your customers into groups with other like minded people that share an interest. For example, if your a wine supply business, some of the things you can do is offer wine tasting events or classes on premise where you charge a nominal fee or even do it at no cost. Assuming your target market is the wine enthusiast that wants to learn more about wine, this can be a great way to establish a closer relationship with these customers. It’s also a great way to position your company as an expert in the field.
By offering customers these secondary services you create several new opportunities:
- Reason to communicate with your customer base. Offering new services is a great way to say something new and different about your brand. Keeping your brand fresh and interesting is key to remaining top of mind when customers are ready to make a purchase decision.
- Draws your customer closer to your brand. Engaging with customers in an atmosphere where they are open to new things and where you can add value builds brand equity. It reinforces your point of differentiation versus the other competitive alternatives.
- Communities of interest build loyalty. Making your brand or service part of a customers lifestyle or personal activity will engender loyalty because you create higher switching costs for that customer. They will find it harder to give up your brand versus another that doesn’t offer the same ‘extra’ services.
- Creates new sales opportunities. Bringing customers closer to your product or service will stimulate sales if you have limited distribution. Making it easier to buy your product or putting it where your customers are engaging in related activities will stimulate sales. Think of a winery tour……who doesn’t walk away from one of those events without at least one bottle.
LuLu Lemon is great example of this marketing activity by offering and conducting yoga classes at their stores. The Running Room also does this effectively with their running courses that get people out on the road and engaged in the sport.
Building strong brands requires marketers to think about their customers lifestyle and how they can become part of it. Those that do reap the rewards long-term.