Last Updated: November 15, 2020

People strive to maintain meaningful relationships in their lives with family and friends, and customers crave the same with the companies they buy from. Businesses should not underestimate the strength of authentic dialogue to create those relationships with customers. Savvy companies are taking notice of this fundamental marketing concept by employing a strategy known as communal marketing to engage their customers.

The idea is simple: a company advertises that they want to incorporate customers’ stories about their experiences with products into an upcoming marketing campaign. Customers are often eager to share their experiences and have a moment in the spotlight. In exchange, customers spread the word about the marketing campaign throughout their networks.(See also Consumer-Generated Marketing)

Companies ask their customers to send in videos, statements, artwork or other forms of expression of their loyalty to a particular product or brand. The company or the public then chooses the best entries to be included in an upcoming marketing campaign. Loyalty to the company increases as a result of free publicity, and they, in turn, tell their networks about the company’s marketing campaign.

While communal marketing and viral marketing share similarities, communal marketing is different (See also Viral Marketing). A company directs its communal marketing efforts to a small sub-set of its customers — a sub-set that is critical to its success, not to the general public. This special group then spreads the word to potential new customers.

Communal Experience Marketing Efforts

  • Clothing retailer Lululemon offers free Yoga classes to customers in its stores, which look like a Yoga retreat. Customers stand in line to experience the communal feel of these classes.
  • The TV show “Glee” allowed fans to decide who would be on the next cast member through auditions.
  • Tough Mudder gets people to pay to complete a physical challenge course in teams that takes place in mud. Over 40 Tough Mudder locations now launch office workers into a new arena in which they work together to succeed.

For example, a communal marketing campaign for a shoe company might request that past customers send in pictures of them wearing their shoes doing their favorite activities. Customers tell interested acquaintances, and they send in more photos. The company then incorporates the photographs into an advertisement.

Businesses that utilize communal marketing are a step ahead of their competitors that seek only passive customer involvement. It offers real participation in a company and gives customers a chance to take part in its operations in a tangible, visible way.

Additionally, communal marketing ads show real people and their experiences with the product. While companies do put spins on entries in their ads, communal marketing ads are more believable than solely company-created ads. This added degree of transparency goes a long way to building positive relationships with customers.

Who Uses Communal Marketing?

Most companies may benefit from implementing communal marketing since the strategy is based on positive customer feedback and participation.

In particular, a company selling mainly to one target group benefits from communal marketing, and would likely suffer significant financial losses without that group’s patronage. A business that offers specialized products that are not of interest to the general public must market mainly to previous customers.

Effectiveness Statistics

These companies want to encourage its past customers to buy more in order to expand their current market (See also Precision Marketing). Implementing a communal marketing campaign helps the company build solid, long-term relationships with customers. Those customers then let their acquaintances know that the company values its customers, and this brings in new business.

For example,consider a business that sells mostly high-end soaps.. This business’s target customers are generally women with disposable income. A communal marketing strategy in this instance would be directed only to those customers, not to a national or worldwide audience. The target customers can then help generate new business by sharing their experience with the product.

One company that uses communal marketing is Gerber. Beginning in 1928, the company reached out to the public, asking people to submit pictures of babies to grace their baby food ad campaign. It continues to hold a similar annual contest today. Parents submit photos of their baby and encourage their friends and family to “like” their picture on Facebook in hopes of winning scholarship money and seeing their baby’s face on a Gerber advertisement. Since people often have more than one child, Gerber’s communal marketing strategy encourages parents to remain loyal and buy more Gerber products when they have more children.

Who Responds to Communal Marketing?

Customers loyal to a particular brand are likely to respond positively to communal marketing. They enjoy sharing their brand experiences with the company and the public. Participating in a communal marketing campaign further increases their loyalty, which encourages them to buy more.

When the collaboration with consumers is complete, the advertising campaign is spread among the community of consumers. They, in turn, tell others about the brand and send links to the video, website, blog or other form of advertisement. Acquaintances may then purchase the company’s products because a friend recommended it.

How is a Communal Marketing Plan Developed and Implemented?

The first step in a communal marketing plan is to advertise to loyal customers about a promotion that involves their input. One way is to post an update on your business Facebook page announcing a contest for customers to video record themselves relating how the product has impacted their lives (See also Facebook Marketing). Customers can also post comments on a business blog or send email entries in directly.

Communal Marketing Campaign Ideas

  • Videos of users’ experiences with a product
  • Essay contest, quotes from which would be included in the advertisement
  • Special promotions in exchange for each entry
  • Users submit photographs of a certain theme that complements the advertising theme.

After collecting all the entries, customers can vote for their favorites online. Marketing professionals then create an advertising campaign that incorporates customers’ entries in a compelling and engaging way.

For example, an outdoor clothing brand might send a “special bulletin” email newsletter out to repeat customers inviting them to make a short video of themselves wearing clothes, camping, fishing, hunting, riding four wheelers, or doing some activity they enjoy outside. Customers then send in their entries and followers can vote for their favorite videos on the company’s website.

The goal is to have customers tell their friends online to vote for their videos. When people register online to vote, the company can snag email addresses or likes on its Facebook page. The winning clip is then inserted into an advertisement for the Internet and another for television, while the winner continues to let others know about the company and campaign. (See also User-Generated Marketing)

What Types of Careers Work with Communal Marketing Strategies?

Marketing Research Analyst

What do they do?

Salaries in Communal Marketing

Career Type:25th PercentileMedian75th Percentile
Marketing Specialist$43,930$60,250$84,690
Public Relations Specialists$39,560$53,190$72,840
Marketing Managers$59,780$87,650$128,840

Marketing research analysts conduct the necessary background research and data examination to design and implement a successful communal marketing campaign. For example, analysts might ask customers if they would be interested in participating in an advertising campaign when they visit the company’s website, in the company’s e-newsletter, or perhaps through a post on Twitter or Facebook.

Education and Skills

Analysts typically need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, statistics, math, marketing, communications, public relations or the social sciences. Thinking critically and analytically is also essential to succeed in this position. Companies make marketing decisions based on analysts’ collection and examination of data from a variety of sources. In addition, communication and interpersonal skills play an important role in an analyst’s work as they regularly collaborate with other staff members, clients and the public.

Public Relations Specialists

What do they do?

Public relations specialists are also on the front lines of a communal marketing effort. Their goal is to ensure that a company reaches out to loyal customers in a way that lines up with the public relations goals. For example, PR specialists may team up with marketing analysts to create a communal marketing campaign that builds a company’s positive image and attracts potential new customers.

Education and Skills

Employers hiring PR specialists usually require a bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, business, English or public relations. Specialists must also have superior communication and interpersonal skills to cultivate positive relationships with the public and the media. When a PR problem arises, they are tactful and careful to maintain their clients’ reputations.

Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers

What do they do?

Advertising, promotions and marketing managers collaborate to generate public interest in their products. Using customer data marketing analysts collect, for example, these leaders determine which sub-set of customers to ask to participate in a communal marketing campaign. Managers who use communal marketing want their customers to be directly involved in creating a positive relationship between themselves and the company.

Education and Skills

Employers often require their managers to have master’s degrees, although bachelor’s degrees in related fields and relevant work experience may also qualify a candidate. Additionally, managers should consistently use data to drive marketing decisions and innovate in ways that draw in customers and keep current ones.

How Can a Marketing School Help You Succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

Marketing schools offer courses in the latest ways to engage customers. For instance, classes cover how to use social media to create dialogues with customers and how to use software to manage customer data. In addition, marketing courses teach you how to analyze customers’ thinking processes and predict their buying habits. When you know what interests customers and what they want to purchase, you can design an effective communal marketing campaign.

Marketers build relationships with customers based on transparency and integrity, and this is particularly true in communal marketing. Communal marketing’s success hinges on a company connection with customers through excellent listening and presentation skills. It is important to develop communication skills in marketing courses and learn how to convey a message that consumers will listen to.

Attending a marketing school can provide students with several networking opportunities. Marketing schools have relationships with businesses that offer internships and externships that might be difficult to find on your own. Professors and career fairs offer other opportunities to connect with potential employers.

Attributes and Skills for Communal Marketing

Professionals in the marketing field view communal marketing as a powerful way to reach and engage their customers on a personal and authentic level. They are original thinkers who create marketing campaigns that line up with the needs and desires of their customers.

It is important to pay attention to customers’ requests, opinions and demographics. Marketing professionals actively seek this information and incorporate it into a communal marketing campaign that incites excitement in customers and persuades them to spread the word about a brand. The public responds by being more receptive to a more realistic advertisement and purchasing more of a company’s products.

In the end, communal marketers are effective communicators who can connect with the public, colleagues and customers in an intimate and real way. They can see the details and larger trends from extensive data, and they tailor customers’ experiences to their particular needs.