Written by Keanna Kennington, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Our February Luncheon was centred around community and how it can help you grow your business. On February 16, we virtually welcomed Erin Blaskie, Fractional CMO and Marketing Consultant, as our keynote speaker. With nearly 20 years of experience and having worked with over 400 businesses in various roles, Erin is passionate about what she does, to say the least, and was the perfect person to talk about The Secret to Community-Led Growth.
Erin started by asking, “What is community-led growth?”. Community-led growth is a strategy in which companies place value beyond their product or service and focus on building customer relationships, brand loyalty, trust, and advocacy.
“I love this quote from Sheena Summers, the Senior Manager of DEI and Belonging at HubSpot. She says that community-led translates immediately into people-led. To be community led is to understand that your community voice comes first in everything. From the space content design of the community, product and marketing, everything you do is based on your community’s feedback,” said Erin.
She stated that in this day and age, community-led growth is a must-have strategy. She explains the four areas most businesses can adopt into their organizations: deepening consumer and brand interactions, providing educational resources, real-time support and feedback, and producing authentic content aligned with your organization’s values. As a case study, Erin mentioned Starbucks as an excellent example of bringing communities together, particularly on social media.
“Starbucks calls their employees Starbucks partners, not employees,” said Erin. “This is important because community building, growth and establishing a community in your business starts from within. So it can’t be something that is just an outward-facing strategy. It has to be something that is adopted by all.”
Erin then gave the audience tips on what works and doesn’t in marketing your product, service, or organization. One top tip is that ads are less effective than they used to be. But how? And why? She explains that not only is it much more challenging to target your intended audiences due to increasing privacy laws, but establishing trust with your customers first is critical to building your brand affinity.
“90% of online users trust recommendations from friends and family, but only 10% trust website ads,” explained Erin. “The ability to have that social proof and user-generated content that’s telling your story and not just coming from corporate speak is really important.”
During the fireside chat, our Board Chair, Mark Jones, asked, “How do smaller businesses lean into that strategy and develop it?” Erin said the magic comes from forming meaningful customer relationships early on.
She explained the advantage small businesses have over larger corporations when building out a community-led strategy and how being small enough to do the things that don’t scale can work in your favour.
“Community can also be in the micro-moments. It can be in those smaller interactions, like picking up the phone and calling someone to have a conversation to understand what motivates them, what their pains are, and what their needs are,” said Erin.
Erin ended with two crucial pieces of advice for attendees: get involved with your community and don’t think of marketing as a function. First, she reiterated that the chance for human interaction and communication is everywhere. Second, taking what you’re passionate about and what’s valuable and finding the people who need it is critical to a successful community-led marketing strategy.
“The fact that you’re all in this room indicates that human connection is of interest and value to you,” said Erin. “So think about how to do the same thing with your prospects and customers, and that’ll be powerful.”
So, who made you buy it?