Brand Building

2021 Brand Booster: Community Commerce

“We’re all in this together,” became a global mantra in 2020. Going forward, collaboration makes more sense than competition. Group hug!

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December 18, 2020

As an everyday entrepreneur, you are no longer the outlier. Your goal of taking your livelihood into your own hands is the new normal. We have some ideas about how you can supercharge your efforts. 2021, friends, is yours for the hustling…

Key insights

1. The rapid shrinking of our world in lockdown made us all more locally aware. Practically, with global supply chains frozen, we shopped in our neighborhoods. Emotionally, we became more empathetic to local businesses we know and love.

2. In the rush to go global on internet platforms, don’t forget about the value of a strong community support base. The new opportunity is engaging both of these simultaneously.

3. We’re seeking smaller, safer, more-likeminded communities as refuge from the mass brawl on major platforms. Consider the “1000 true fans” idea: quality versus quantity.  

4. As a result of financial strain, we’re more attuned to value – buying with savvy (discounts, budget) and for the long- term (quality, durability). Offering promotions to cash-conscious consumers will be one way to help.

5. In the blizzard of advertising, we’re more and more cynical of brands telling us what they want us to hear, and placing greater value in word- of- mouth. Build authentic relationships with satisfied customers, and they’ll spread the good news.  

6. Crowdsource insider knowledge and local expertise by engaging your community.

*All of the templates you see here are available right now in Over, and can easily be customized for your brand!

Use Instagram Stories to give shout-outs to your favorite local businesses.

It’s A Small World After All

We’re all for going global. In fact, that’s pretty much our mission: to take everyday entrepreneurs like you as far as they can imagine… a vision that often includes worldwide sales, and business trips to places with beaches. However, one should never underestimate the value of a strong local support base. 2020 exposed the fault lines of global supply chains, and many companies experienced the shrinking of their domain, renewing appreciation for grassroots, community commerce. In 2021, there’s value in foregrounding localness. Let folks know you’re from around here.

Even though the system is mostly back online, there’s been a major paradigm shift towards self-sufficiency.  As consumers, we’re more wary of being too reliant on the international supermarket, or we’ve simply gotten quite used to spending our dollars locally, and it feels more… real. Malls are still a little scary for some of us, instigating a return to the high street.  

Get involved with community initiatives, or – even better – start one.

Getting To Know You

In the smaller, more localized economy, your social personality counts for a lot. In fact, this is where the opportunity lies. A visible presence in your community (both online and IURL) triggers recall when folks are looking to buy. It’s hard to engineer popularity, but putting your authentic, passionate, friendly face out there is unlikely to backfire. There’s no doubt that we’re more likely to develop relationships with brands when we consider their human dimension.

Don’t get all shy on us now – your story is probably more interesting than you realize; not simply who you are and what you do, but the people you work with, and the ideas and processes behind your product. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, even sharing your mistakes and learnings is refreshing, and something that little brands can do much better than big ones. Vulnerability is something we all experienced deeply in 2020, allowing us to finally unclench our gritted teeth. Take us with you on your business journey, stubbed toes and all.  

A consistent brand identity will help you run cross-platform campaigns on social, and your website.

No Brand Is An Island

The human story you tell needn’t be restricted to you and your core team alone. There are probably a whole bunch of people involved in your end product: employees, freelancers, suppliers, stockists, manufacturers, collaborators, friends, neighbors… consider all the branches in your extended family tree. Interview the bee-keeper you get honey from on your podcast, or take a selfie with your button suppliers in their shop. Foregrounding your fam positions your brand as community-minded. Offering end-to-end transparency in your processes will also make us trust you more.

Beyond public perception, getting more involved locally invariably helps build connections. You could always rely on chance encounters in the dog park or at the pub, but you’re better off making a concerted effort to network smartly. Keep an eye out for any and all events, gatherings, workshops, talks, and markets relevant to your industry – especially since many of them are now way more accessible in the virtual space. Participate wherever you can. Make up for the year spent in isolation, and get mingling in 2021!

Sharing skills and knowledge with your community should definitely be a part of your strategy in 2021.

1000 True Fans

Doubling down on deeper, more direct relationships with your customers does come at the cost of available time. However, no business has the time and resources to be all things to all people, so focus on what you can do really well with what you have. Your interpersonal skills are at least as valuable as your business savvy. Allocating more energy to actively engaged customers, instead of diffusing it across an infinite number of imaginary leads, is a considered decision in order to be a customer-oriented business. That’s smart, strategic thinking.  

A million followers on Instagram may have prestige, but a thousand ‘true fans’ – the ones who really love (and buy) your stuff – are probably of more real value to your brand. Plus, it’s a much more feasible goal to set your sights on in 2021: land three big fish a day with a rod and reel, instead of trying to trawl the ocean for 3000 minnows with a net.  

True fans will help you build a dependable customer base, offering you more long-term stability. Happy customers are also very willing to ripple out their satisfaction to others, and authentic referrals from people we know and trust are like manna from heaven for the everyday entrepreneur. There is no better form of marketing.  

Customer testimonials are gold for your brand. Try sharing some in a beautifully designed carousel.

Ear To The Ground

An actively engaged audience – a community – is more beneficial to you than a sea of anonymous customers. Putting work into developing rapport and having direct conversations with your audience won’t just make them happier, you’ll gain a far better understanding of their needs, desires, challenges, values, and priorities. Your community is your ear to the ground, your barometer telling you when the atmospheric pressure is changing. The more you engage with them, the more fine- tuned your awareness will be.  

Loyal and active is the ideal state of any customer. Most people won’t tick both these boxes, but the ones that do can have a profoundly positive effect on your brand. So much so, that it’s worth incentivizing them with special treatment – like unique offers, and personal correspondence. Aside from word- of- mouth, these are the people who will take the lead in sharing and creating content, answering polls, offering advice, entering competitions, buying tickets, and all the other activities that make your brand come to life in the world.

Boosting engagement with your community will be crucial to thriving in 2021.

Bargain Hunting

As businesses emerge from lockdown, into a world of less mobile, more frugal consumers, we’re seeing sales and discount promotions being used to lure people back through the doors. Expect this to be the norm throughout 2021, as our collective purse strings are pulled a little tighter. Lightening the load of financial stress, no matter how minor, is something positive you can do to help customers transition back into the local economy.

It’s not only about dropping prices where you can. After months in survival mode, you’ll need to re-activate your brand in the public imagination to thrive in 2021.  Look at the full gamut of promotions: sales, competitions, events, and collaborations, to energize your brand’s presence, and get people to notice you with fresh eyes. It sucks, but plenty businesses have been forced to close their doors in 2020, resulting in millions of stray customers. Sacrificing some profit in the early stages of the year to attract as many of these as you can, will pay dividends once you’ve gained their ongoing support.

2021 is filled with opportunities to build a loyal local customer base, and do some good.

3 Things You Can Do Today

1. Sketch out your business family tree, and identify all the opportunities for showcasing the humans behind your brand – starting with yourself.

2. Create an event designed to bring as many of your local customers, suppliers, and friends of the brand together, IRL.

3. Set up a sale, or a competition, to kick 2021 off with a strong indication that you’re open for business, and trying to make life for your audience a tiny bit easier.

Find all of these templates – and thousands more – in Over. Make them your own with customized colors, fonts, and graphics, and take your brand to the next level in 2021. This is the year it happens!

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