My business is blessed with insanely loyal brand fanatics. Don't believe me? How about the fact that a fan has tattooed her leg with my company's initials. Or that every week hundreds of loyal fans contribute to the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur (TPE) blog. OR the TPE fans putting toilet paper (yep, that's our symbol) everywhere in honor of the community. Kind of fanatical. And something you can do for yourself...
As an entrepreneur, you have likely heard about the importance of having a brand identity. And while all those details may be true enough, successfully branding your company is often easier said than done. That is, unless you have a strategy that will help you build brand fanatics.
Us, not them
There is a strategy to getting people to embrace your brand and become passionate about it. It’s about getting the people—or customers—involved and creating a community-driven company. When it comes to involvement in marketing, getting your customers involved in the development of your product is one of the smartest things you can do.
When people are involved in helping to create and shape your product or service, they will in turn market it for you. They automatically gravitate toward doing this because they have a sense of ownership. And when that happens, you no longer have to worry about big advertising budgets, designs, sales teams or a variety of other factors that could come into play.
The model in action
The community driven model of branding—and business success for that matter—can be seen in a variety of companies, including the likes of Threadless. The Chicago-based company started out as an online community to bring creative people together. As things progressed, those who ran the site began to make the community a part of the company by letting them design T-shirts.
Each week at Threadless, they put up designs from various artists that submit them and the online community votes on which ones they want printed. Because they vote, and get others to vote, they also end up buying the winning T-shirt designs that are chosen. And they do so to the tune of millions of dollars worth of shirts per year! Once the crowdsourcing innovators began making money from the sales, they also started compensating the winning artists for their designs.
This type of concept is genius because it keeps people interested in submitting designs, getting people to vote, and purchasing the shirts they help get into the marketplace—and Threadless wins because they have no advertising or sales team, and they don’t have to worry about everything that is involved in retail distribution of the shirts. All they do when new T-shirt designs are chosen is shoot a mass e-mail to the over one million registered users. The sales flood in, as you can imagine!
The many ways
The Threadless example is just one way of how a community driven company can be successful. There are others, and yours can adopt this style as well. All you need to do is determine what is needed, what those in the community will get involved in, and how to put it into action. And don’t worry, the community doesn’t have to be in your own town—it can include those in your state, country or beyond. Threadless has a community of people from all around the world.
The bottom line is that entrepreneurs spend a lot of time—and usually a lot of money—branding their company. But if you can get people in the community involved, they will end up doing all that leg work for you. Not only will you save on those expenses and your time, but you will also find that your profits go up and your business becomes more successful.
Image credit: TerryJohnston