The Branded Community.
Whether your operation is running offline
or on, the next few years are going to rock your business like nothing
ever before. The reason it's going to get a good shake up, is because
the strategies and tactics have been irreparably tweaked by -- you guessed
it -- the web.
And the biggest wave that's about to hit
are branded communities.
What is a branded community? It's what
people used to call a "consumer database" -- on steroids. It's
an organization of end-users that is so loyal (and this is pretty powerful,
so sit down for this) that their activity and response rates totally blow
normal strategies' results off the map. And I'm not talking about a few
points here or there. I'm talking major league cranking:
Typically, for example, a direct response
effort through traditional means is expected to generate response rates
of 1%. If you do better than that, you're smoking. If you do less than
that, you're out of business. If you use a targeted list, hitting anywhere
between 3% and 5% is considered pretty good. Either way, you can kiss
a minimum of 95% of your budget goodbye.
Branded communities, on the other
hand, can expect response rate of 10% to 25%.
Yeah. That's what I thought at first,
too. But it's true. And that's why branded communities are going to change
the way we do business -- big time.
First, you've got to understand that I
call them "branded' communities, because just dumping a bunch of
e-mail addresses into a listserv ain't gonna cut it. The whole thing has
to be built on a strong branded foundation. That's what creates the interest
and involvement from your branded community. Next, you have to care about
the people in that community. Give them what you can; help them where
you can. Let them know that you're as much a part of that community as
they are. Build out programs. Create an environment that furthers everyone's
interests, not just your own.
When you combine those factors, you get
a more positive, more responsive community. The members of your community
are more loyal to your brand, because...well why wouldn't they be? You're
doing a whole lot more than the next guy to help them and those who share
More reasons to establish your brand on
the very front end, amigos. Because the brands we develop today have to
be stronger than a simple logo or catchy tag line. They have to be click-proof,
impervious to that bored user's itchy mouse trigger.
And the branded community is the strongest
weapon in your arsenal.