People want to connect, so if you’re a marketplace owner or thinking about becoming one, it’s time to grow your community. Although communities evolve naturally in neighborhoods and online, they can also be fostered within online marketplaces. In a marketplace community, people interact with each other and with you as a brand, reinforcing trust which will lead to long-term relationships.
Create a Mission Statement that Speaks to People
I touched on how a mission statement needs to be part of your marketing plan in a previous blog, but let’s expand on how it can help connect people to your community. Etsy is a marketplace built on the mission statement of handmade crafts and fashion. It connects artists from all over the world in one, easy to use platform. There, artist cn list and sell their unique creations to people looking for a hand sewn skirt, or vintage style, silver necklace. Their philosophy contrasts sharply with the generic, factory-made mission of many corporations. Again we are seeing a shift in the way people consume, looking for a more personalized shopping experience where a one of a kind products is more valuable than a brand name item everyone else is sporting.
Trust is key for any business but especially in the sharing economy. The first step to winning over customers’ trust is having a great product or service. Reviews are the first place people flock to for compliments, or complaints, so be sure to deliver what it is you promised. Think of a customer like you would a person who loves chocolate. Can you just eat one piece or do you find yourself coming back for more? If you’re like me, you can never only eat one! The same applies to a standout product and customer service.
If you haven’t already seen Rachel Botsman’s Ted Talk on trust then I highly recommend you check it out. A thought leader on Collaborative Consumption, Botsman praises the new connections created in marketplaces.
“When you think about it, it’s amazing. Over the past twenty years we’ve evolved from trusting people online to share information to trusting people with our credit card information and now we’re entering the third trust wave: connecting complete strangers to create people powered marketplaces.”
Botsman is insightful to bring up consumers’ evolution when it comes to trust. Human beings are highly adaptive, but with change comes concerns over whether or not people’s online personas are the real thing. This is the reason why building a community is essential for any marketplace to be successful. When you already have people who are connecting, exchanging ideas or tweeting about your latest event, the cards are stacked in your favor because no amount of dollars spent on advertising can equate to the authenticity of real conversations.
- Moderate online forums and spark conversations with questions
- Engage with people on social media daily and in an approachable voice
- Create customer spotlights to give a human face to your product
- Organize local events because it’s good to connect people in real life too
I find it ironic how, with all the advances in technology, we all still want a very basic aspect of life: connection. Whether that means having a conversation in an online forum or liking a post on Facebook, community has become a broader term than the neighborhood we physically live in.