Rule 34 states that if a thing exists anywhere in the universe, there is a porn version of that thing. The necessary corollary, which we’ll call Rule 35 because why not, is that if a thing exists, there must be a community that is built around that thing. If you can find a way to tap into that community, you can make great marketing happen.
Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me give you an example. I have a friend of a friend who is obsessed with multitools. While these tools are useful, I’ve never given them much thought. But she has. And so have a lot of other people. On the MultiTool.org forum, there are more than 200,000 posts discussing every minute intricacy of multitools in exquisite (or excruciating) detail.
Imagine if you were a marketer for Leatherman or another multitool manufacturer. How many different ways could you use a forum like this? Well:
- Product reviews. What do customers really think of your products?
- Competitive research. What do customers really think of your competitor’s products? Is there any way you can adapt to steal market share?
- Influencers. How can you get in touch with these passionate people and get them on your side? Can you send free swag, ask them to review something, hold a conference or otherwise rally their support around you and you alone?
Of course, your community might not be on a forum. It might be a community of blogs, in a Twitter chat, in a Facebook or LinkedIn group or even (gasp!) in person, gathered in a knitting circle, book club or professional organization. But no matter how niche, how obscure or how basic your product is, there is a community out there who freaking love it. Your challenge is to find them and reach out to them in a way that feels natural and organic without being patronizing.
For instance, Disney galvanizes its community by having a Disney Moms group. This select group of bloggers gets wined, dined and feted by Disney–and shares their experience with the larger Disney community. By giving intense attention and perks to a small group, they exponentially expand their reach and get real, honest-to-God humans to tell their stories for them. While trolling forums or handpicking bloggers might not be for you, you should always be on the lookout for new ways to engage with the people who already love you–and those who would love you more if only they knew you a bit better.