Two years into their business and This Bar Saves Lives has built a successful brand backed by a board of advisors (including actress and philanthropist Kristen Bell) and donated over 500,000 packets of life-saving food to children in need – all in part thanks to their loyal brand community.
With help from Social Media Manager Chloe Obico, founders Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell and Ravi Patel share the story of how they successfully built a loyal brand community, and why this is an important aspect of business growth.
A stellar core team is important and a unique product doesn’t hurt, but in our experience, we’ve found that the best tool you can have is a loyal community.
When you jump into the business of owning your own business, you find out pretty quickly that the learning curve is steep. We’ve been in the field of social enterprise for two years now and have learned some pretty valuable lessons about what can make or break your company, especially in the early days.
So, what is the best resource you can have when starting your own business? A stellar core team is important and a unique product doesn’t hurt, but in our experience, we’ve found that the best tool you can have is a loyal community. That may not be the first thing you think of, but here are three reasons why you should invest in your supporters:
1) Followers for life? Yes, please
When you build a strong community around your brand, you’ll (hopefully) also win over some lifelong supporters of your company. Loyal, repeat customers are much more valuable than one-time buyers. They’re more likely to support you in the long run and spread the word about you and your business. They’re your own army of personal cheerleaders!
The key to building a community of die-hard fans is to have a strong grasp on your brand and what makes it unique. Market your company in interesting ways and be sure you know who your target audience is. For us, it was important to create a clear and consistent voice and image that highlighted our values and passions. We treat our customers like family, and by listening to their needs, making them an integral part of our mission and rewarding their participation in our movement, we’ve built a loyal brand community. In short, we gave our customers insight into who we are not only as a company, but also as people, and our supportive community built itself around us.
2) It’s not what you know. It’s who you know
When we started This Bar Saves Lives, we were three actors with absolutely no knowledge of how to start, run or sustain a granola bar company. What we did have was an idea and the passion to make that idea become a reality… and some generous friends and family who helped us find investors or became investors themselves. Even though we knew nothing about the snack bar business, we weren’t afraid to humbly ask for help, which led us to some amazing mentors in the food business.
We’re not saying these things to brag about our friends and mentors – though they are great. We’re saying this because you can always learn the things that you don’t know – that’s not hard. What is hard is finding people who can help you reach your goals, which is another reason that building a community around your brand is so important. You never know who you’ll meet through that network.
3) Instagram likes can be as good as cash
We live in a time when even dogs have Instagram accounts with millions of followers. (Yes, this dog has more online influence than the official White House account.) These days, it’s important to build a strong community online, especially through social media. A brand’s social media accounts can and should be used to offer insight into your company’s culture, values and voice. This will, in turn, attract a like-minded community. Plus, you’ll gain global reach and influence just by being online. When your followers share something of yours, it reaches their hundreds (or thousands) of friends.
Starting your own business is equally exciting and terrifying. It’s a huge risk that has the potential for amazing rewards, both personal and professional. And with the support and love of a loyal brand community, you’ll be one step closer to finding success.