Is the community more important than a sale?

The business world in 2011- Is the community more important than a sale?

In a recent talk, Jake Nickell, founder of threadless highlighted the importance of the community over the importance of sales for his business, a “crowdsourced” fashion brand.

That makes total sense for Jake since his brand relies on the community to come up with ideas and designs, hence the “crowdsourced” fashion brand.

However, can Jake’s thought be applied to all other business types?

There certainly is value in looking after the social media community and one knows that the advertising world has changed (see image below) but is the social media community really more important than a sale?

I guess it depends: Some argue that it is good to listen to the community (which is a subset of your customers) and their feedback. If the community is happy, then sales will come as a result.

A recent article by John Gerzema highlights the importance of value to the consumer (otherwise they are not buying it) and business values. Apparently, 71% of people are actively searching for companies who share their values, while two-thirds believe they and their friends can change corporate behavior by supporting companies that do the right thing.

Now if value and values is what it takes to make the community happy then what are you waiting for? Is there a better way than social media to listen to your community and engage with them? You can find out what is of value to your community and you can communicate your business values.

Others have seen listening to your community can backfire and suggest that listening does not mean forgetting who is in charge. Gap and also Pepsi have given in to social media community’s demands and have not much gained by doing so.

I guess there is no definite answer to the question. It depends on your business and your community and as always a happy medium solution is preferred. You need to find the balance between the community and sales and that can be very exciting and also a bit scary.

Let us know how you go and share your experience with us.

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