darren-communityIf a tree falls in the woods and no one’s around to hear it, does it really make a sound? Your brand can have the best messaging, best visuals and best ambassadors ever, but if there’s no community behind it, you won’t get far.

A strong and engaged community leads to improved products, learning and innovation, as well as company growth. However, to be impactful, brands need to build communities that go beyond selling a product. They need to provide value and support for members.

APM is all about this. We’re here for the people we serve – and the people who serve them. I always say connection is our currency, and this is exactly what I’m talking about. It’s imperative that your user base and followers understand what you bring to the table. How you can improve their  situations, and how you can do this better than the competition.

So let’s get to it. Communities don’t build themselves, after all.

Support other businesses

Referral partners are a great way to expand your reach and, therefore, your community. Be sure to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with real estate agents, architects, lawyers, interior decorators, landscapers, you name it. If it involves a home, these people are part of your community.

Create charitable endeavors

Communities love to know what you stand for – and they love to get behind a cause. So don’t keep your philanthropic efforts secret. Share these endeavors with your larger audience and, when possible, welcome their participation. Food drives, pet adoptions, local GoFundMe pages, cancer walks, whatever lights you up inside, make it a team effort.

Get local

Have your marketing efforts targeted your immediate neighborhood? If not, it’s time to get to it. Funny thing about communities; they really love supporting…the community. Let it be known that you’re a local loan advisor who has lived and worked in their community for X years. This may include sending mailers to your neighbors, posting items on physical or digital bulletin boards and leaving business cards at local establishments. Just remember to return the favor whenever you can – it’s that whole supporting other businesses thing!

Focus on the “who” not the “what”

In case you forgot, you’re not in the sales business. You’re in the relationship-building business. Never let your customer, their needs or their situation take a backseat to your sales pitch. Client first. Always. Plus, how can you know which product or service is right for them if you haven’t taken the time to forge a relationship? Build the bond and the sales will follow.

Ask for reviews

A community is built on trust, right? And what is more trustworthy than hearing from your neighbors about what did – or did not – work for them? Make it a point to politely direct your current and former clients to review sites where they can rate you and leave a few comments about their experience. If this prospect makes you nervous, then you should focus on ways to improve your customer service until it’s at a point where you’re confident every client will leave you a five-star review.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a community isn’t, either. It’s built step by step, over time, through small actions like the ones listed above. Before you know it, you have a small army behind you and more than a few people ready to enlist your services.

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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