If you want to build an on-line community, first you need to have a clear understanding of your business and your audience.
How well do you know your business, your clients and your audience? Do you understand what your business is really about? Every business owner knows what they do on a daily basis. The answers would be something like, “My business is sells X product or delivers Y service” or “My business is about … and they provide you with a description of the profession, product or service.”
While these answers, in some sense, would be generally correct, they don’t begin to touch on the business philosophy that deals with fundamental issues like the real reason why customers reach out to us, what solutions do we provide and what is our vision as a company and where do they want to be in the long run.
Business philosophy forces owners to think about performance, both today and in the future. It requires that owners have a plan to successfully guide their businesses into that future. It forces the owner to think about their businesses in a way that doesn’t directly affect profit and loss. In short, business owners who think about their business philosophy are more competitive in the marketplace over the long haul.
Gone are the days where the business philosophy is just about what the business does but about connecting with their customers needs at a much deeper level. At a level where they can engage and provide tailored solutions. In the real world there are still many businesses that just focus on what they do. It is more of a short term mentality that will have a direct correlation to the direction the business takes. These businesses tend to communicate with the marketplace in a one directional manner. The business talks and the customers or marketplace might listen. The owners and what the business produces or provides dominate the conversation.
A business that understand they exist because they are providing a solution valued by their customers has the capacity to communicate with the marketplace in a two directional manner. The business still talks, but it also lets the marketplace talk back. When the marketplace is talking the business listens. It doesn’t argue, belittle or disregard what is being said. Instead, the business understands that the dialogue with the marketplace is providing guidance on how to make the products and services that the marketplace wants and needs.
While it seems that listening to the marketplace is the preferable approach, many business owners let their egos block the message. They wrongly assume that because they own the business, started the business and assume the risks of the business that they have a moral or economic authority over their customer base. This is not a healthy approach. Technology has empowered customers and they expect to be heard. With an long selection of social media and listening tools available out there, customers opinions and reviews have become huge market drivers; so we must ensure we are paying attention to them.
So, what do your customers value from you? and how are you listening to them?
Once you can answer these important questions you can roll out your community building strategy.