Community Building as a marketing strategy

By Herb

There’s an old cliché “market where your customers hang out.” For the last few years that meant a focus on search engines. While search engine marketing is still critically important, innovative marketers are beginning to think beyond depending on search to attract prospects.

The popularity of search engine marketing has made achieving success more difficult. Keywords are more expensive, natural rankings on competitive search terms are more difficult to achieve. While this situation is likely to continue, and is good news for companies like Exclusive Concepts that have the expertise necessary to achieve search engine success – it’s time to start looking at online strategies that compliment search engine marketing.

What strategy are we recommending: community building. Just like Linkedin, the FaceBook and MySpace have created “communities of interest??, innovative marketers will be creating their own communities. In some sense, “permission marketing?? was a first step in this direction. At a high level, permission marketing is all about creating a community of prospects that are interested in what you have to say and sell. They have given you permission to market to them. This is great, as far as it goes, but how do you take this to the next level? How do you take advantage of the convergence of three important trends: online marketing + web 2.0 + blogs. The answer – develop a destination that will attract your target market, a place where they will want to spend time every day and where you will be able to make your pitch on an ongoing basis.

We are in the process of developing an offering that will allow companies to deliver on this vision. In the meantime, we suggest you take a look at Sermo. Sermo will create a certified community of physicians that will provide valuable insights and feedback to Sermo’s clients (the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device companies and payers). Sermo clients get a new research mechanism from the collective power of the physician’s community. Sermo enables physicians to become more expert, and work together to dramatically impact patient care through collective wisdom.

Start thinking about how to apply this model to your business.