When I worked full-time on a church staff doing communications, we were always trying to find a better way to spread the word about our organization and the initiatives we started. We found that the best way to market an event, program, or organization is to mobilize our community as a marketing tool.
Having a community of ?sneezers? as Seth Godin calls them?people who are influential and passionate about the ?product? we are producing to the point of rabidly telling others about it?is far more valuable than any amount of budget or clever PR we can do. I would even go so far as to assert that in today’s noisy world, any marketing effort that doesn’t leverage the power of our individual communities will fail to live up to its maximum promotional potential.
But how do we connect with our community in a way that motivates them to become our marketers? There are a few specific things we can do.
They’re Not Marketers
The first key we must remember is not to treat our community as marketers. They are people. The more we serve them, the more everyone benefits. The second we begin thinking of them as a tool or marketing gimmick we can ?leverage,? they will see through it and we will lose their goodwill. Further, if we see people only as marketing tools, we defeat the very purpose of our marketing?namely to get more people involved in hearing the important message we have to share.
There must be something exceptional and noteworthy about us if we want to capture the attention of our community to the point of them picking up the marketing mantle. Do something different?something significant that causes people’s lives to be changed and people will naturally want to share it with others. There is something in our human nature that draws us to uncommon and noteworthy causes.[quote]There must be something exceptional and noteworthy about us if we want to capture the attention of our community.[/quote]
Beyond being remarkable, it also helps to motivate our community. Let them know what’s in it for them. How will they benefit from sharing this significant thing they are a part of? Why should they become spokespeople for our project? How are they part of what’s going on?[quote]People like to be a part of something bigger than themselves.[/quote]
People like to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Let them know that they are part of the group. Remind them that they are the brand. Help them remember the whole cannot function without all of the individual people doing their part.
Remove Barriers and Obstacles
Part of connecting with the community in such a way that they voluntarily help spread our ideas involves making it easier for them to do so. We need to be constantly thinking about what might be preventing our audience from taking action.[quote]We need to be constantly thinking about what might be preventing our audience from taking action.[/quote]
Is it fear? Busyness? Knowledge? Apathy? Hopefully not apathy if we have a remarkable product. But whatever it might be, we need to take steps to help overcome those barriers.
Not only do we need to remove obstacles, we need to take it a step further and provide tools that help our community mobilize. What can we give them to make it easier for them to be sneezers?
Can we provide catchy-looking rave or invite cards that they can slip to friends at the right moment in a casual conversation? Or how about giving them graphics that they can easily post on their social networks? Spreading the word should be as easy as plugging a ?from? email address and a ?to? email address into a form and pressing ?go? to send a digital invitation.[quote]Mobilizing our community is the best way to maximize our efforts as marketers.[/quote]
Getting our community to do the work for marketing for us takes quite a bit of intentionality and sometimes more effort than doing marketing the ?traditional? way. It has to be a value that starts at the leadership level and permeates every area of our organization. Ultimately though, it delivers many more positive outcomes for our projects, and people will grow as a result. Mobilizing our community is the best way to maximize our efforts as marketers.