Leveraging Community to Build your Brand

IMC 2010 Session Recap: Leverage the Power of the Community to Build your Brand
Presented by: Nathalie Baudoin

How, on behalf of the community, can we create a strong brand?

MEC Background:

  • Conceived by a small group of Canadian climbers in 1971 in Vancouver
  • Today the largest outdoor community in Canada
  • 14 stores
  • 3.2 million membership
  • 1500 staff
  • 1 million online visitors per month
  • Medium sized retailer

Nathalie feels that the most important stats are penetration rates–pointing out that the penetration rates where they have a retail presence of 15%–25% in BC, and in some places, (like North Vancouver) 35%.

Also what is important is the number of members who would recommend MEC to their friends. This is MEC’s simple business model based on loyalty, retention, relying on you talking to your friends. If this model is going to continue it needs to be sustainable for the future and she believes it is.

She also knows that the competition is huge for share of wallet, time and internet space. The competition is no longer BC or Canada, it is the world. Their business model leverages their membership base and the presentation shares what they are doing to continue with the success.

The 4 pillars of their marketing efforts, The 4C’s of Community:

  1. Content – give the right information, but to reduce resources get content from members
  2. Context – not only one size fits all, but different mediums, adapt a holistic approach to communication
  3. Connectivity – use every point of entry to connect with customers, seamless from website to store etc.
  4. Continuity – or commitment, not enough to engage your members one time, you need to connect with them everyday. Long term commitment she says this is the most important “C”

Some of the tactics MEC has been using:

  1. Gear Swap – encourages everyone to be part of the community, a way to find cheap used gear
  2. Trip Partners – enriches community to find connections with similar people
  3. Events Calendar – anyone can list events to engage members

Once they have the gear, the people they want to do it with, the event, then they hope you contribute with the rest of the community. Strong way for members to engage with MEC either about their gear or experience; no moderation on gear.

Twitter is something MEC is watching closely but are getting more ‘action’ on Facebook.

Facebook – you don’t need 800k members, you need people who are engaged. Comment on individuals based on their profiles. Strong engagement tool for MEC. Staff recruiting is a huge component to MEC being successful. They used Facebook to recruit a store manager.

All brands speak about value but how do you define value. Ask your members what they value.

Everything MEC does can be used across all channels–everything is reused. For the photos MEC uses the users are compensated and for the stories MEC provides gift cards. But not for their ask/answer section which is more of a token of ‘thanks’ after. All content is open on the website, you do not need to be a member to access it.

Nathalie’s final slide:

Food for Thought
The corporate website of the future will be a credible source of facts and opinions authored by both the corporation and the community. The result? A true first stop community resource where information flows for better products and services.