2 Unexpected Ways to Build Community

by : 

Megy Karydes

October 19, 2015
Marketing Mondays - 2 Unexpected Ways to Build Community

What do a big city library and a real estate agent have in common with an indie retailer? Each provides a service, for one, but also, each helps build a community. How we build community helps build our brand and sets us apart in our customers’ eyes as not just another gift shop but “my local indie gift shop.”

This past month, two things caught my eye that I thought could work well in any retail setting, not only as a marketing approach but as a way to help build community. Could either of these work for you?

  1. In Chicago’s main downtown library, a few tables are outfitted with jigsaw puzzles. The pieces are laid out and a sign welcomes visitors to take a moment and try to fill in the puzzle. When I visited, I saw strangers sitting next to each other talking and helping one another fill in the puzzle. It was genius! Chicago is a big city, and while I consider it a friendly city, like any big city, sitting down and talking to strangers is not something we often do.
    Is there a place in your shop that you can carve out to fit a table and lay out a puzzle to be completed as customers walk in? I realize you want people shopping, but the idea behind creating a community is that your shop becomes a place people feel comfortable in and want to visit regularly. If you can create something like this, you’ll become known for more than just your stellar shop offerings—you’ll be known as a friend and safe partner in the community.

  3. Real estate agents have a tough job, because unless you’re in the market, you usually don’t pay attention to their direct-mail postcards, except when those postcards include what’s happening in your neighborhood! Again, this isn’t really a new way to build community, but it’s often one we forget. Encourage local community event organizers to send “news” your way that you might be able to include in your direct mail, e-newsletters, and social media posts. They’ll appreciate the reach of your resources, and your store will become known as the place that always knows what’s going on in the community.

How do you help build community in your shop? Send me a tweet @megy or tag me on Instagram (@megykarydes). I’d love to hear what you’re doing!

Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm and freelance writer who often covers retail for various magazines. She likes her calendars, whether digital or on paper, and has her editorial calendar pinned to her board in her office to remind her what day it is! Find her on Twitter at @megy.