Not all of us start a business that is a direct reflection of our passions, however it’s hard for the things that mean most to us in life to not seep into what we do on a day to day basis.
When we are looking for customer loyalty and retention, we are trying to find ways to connect with people on a deeper level. What makes someone an advocate? Why does a person choose you over someone else that might be doing something similar? One way to look at it is by sharing what you love which in turn can attract like minded people to what you do.
Where to start? A thought experiment.
What specific interests/passions do you have that could be blended harmoniously with your business? Is there a niche interest, group or community who could identify with what you do? Think about your products, services provided, the aesthetics, or ethics that may connect with others. Is there a common theme throughout what you do that reflects your own unique interests that might be shared with others?
The sub-genre of groups/interests are endless and you can really niche right down to the unusual and unique. Generally speaking though and to help encourage some further thinking, here are some broader groups/interests that commonly have passionate communities attached to them;
- Sports – Whether it be a specific sport itself, kids leagues, cyclist groups, international sports that aren’t commonly played locally but carry a strong following (for Australians, think about North American sports).
- Music – All genres and sub-genres. Musicians themselves. Music enthusiasts. Collectors. Industry people.
- Creative Arts – Covering all formats, styles, expressions including basic arts & crafts.
- Retro – Throw back era interests. 20s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s etc.
- Cosplay/Roleplay – Broadly defined but could be anything from Anime/Sci-Fi to Medieval Renaissance.
- Writers/Readers – Authors, bloggers, journalists, researchers, students, book lovers.
- Cultural – A specific ethnicity or cultural activity/interest.
- Fashion – High end, re-purposed, style, etc.
- Gaming – E-sports, trading cards, board games, multiplayer/console gaming, etc.
It’s important to note that many of these groups will cross over into each other. While you might not completely identify with every interest group, you may find that others will be attracted to what you do due to that cross over appeal. Always be aware, open and willing to welcome in fringe groups who may find appeal in what you are doing, especially if a cross over can be found.
How to connect.
There are many ways of becoming a magnet for like minded people. You could offer your space or service at a discounted price. You could target key influencers in these communities by offering a form of sponsorship and cross promotion. Utilise your business and existing audience to highlight and promote the work that others are doing. Allow your world to become theirs and give as much as you can. Many communities thrive on acknowledgement and interest in what they do (in other words, we love talk about the things we love!). Give people your time and work with them to identify how you can bring them as much value as possible.
Case Study – Episode 10 – The Dog & Monocle.
Carley and Tess from The Dog & Monocle in Nowra have really tapped into the Steampunk community by integrating their love of it into The Dog & Monocle both aesthetically and on an interactive level. They have not only created a specific ambience but have also provided a hub for those in the Steam Punk community to display their art and as a result establish a social hot spot for those who might be travelling through the area. It’s become a landmark in a niche community that can grow loyalty. While their business is not only for Steampunk fans, they have been able to find a balance between the local area demand and their own personal niche interest.
You don’t have to niche your business right down to completely accommodate for one specific group. With that being said, however, if you’re passionate about a particular interest then you should find ways to talk about and express it through what you do on a day to day basis.
It’s not to create a novelty or take advantage of a current fad but rather to attract like-minded people who have a higher chance of loyalty to you and in turn creating repeat business.