By Mark Helfen
Community initiatives can enhance your marketing communication program, make a small company look big, and help gain momentum for startups, all without big time or money commitments.
Even better, their impact can be measured, and they can even make money for your company.
Or so says Dylan Thomas. Thomas holds the title of Digital Director at Rassak Experience, a digital brand building and communications group. (My favorite quote from their web site - Don't outspend. Outthink!)
He will be speaking at next Monday's SDForum Marketing SIG (6/14) on the topic: Using Community Initiatives to Build Your Brand and Drive Business Results.
The current hot buzzword of social media is subset of community initiatives, which Thomas views with a "broad brush." He includes Facebook, Twitter, email marketing, and proprietary community web sites in his overall idea of a digital community.
As an example, Rassak Experience built a digital community for a marketing conference in Barcelona, allowing the participants to communicate with each other before the conference began.
"It enhanced the value of the conference by allowing people to connect in advance," said Thomas.
Monday's meeting will cover the different ways companies to get started, without investing a lot of time or money. One of the key questions that Thomas will discuss is whether to build or join - to build a custom site controlled by the company, or join an existing conversation about your company or products. Companies build and own their own site to better control what is being said about them. While the decision is not simple, in any case "you are better off being there than not being there."
If you attempt to control what people say, "they will just say it somewhere else." Plus, Thomas believes that with a little TLC, your critics can sometimes be turned into your vocal supporters.
Startups and small companies get a particular value from using community initiatives - they can build marketing momentum for their products with limited investment of the two things that are in the shortest supply in a startup - time and money. They cost little to start, and get a great return for their investment.
A community can make your company look larger than it really is. And if done right, it can almost run itself.
So stop by Monday night, ready to start your own community. Thomas promises both an informative and fun time.
Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:
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