Christy, founder of Urban Bella Marketing, arrived in our Community Marketing Tribe Lab to discuss her community with Tammy. Urban Bella believes that “the stories we weave must entice our audience to engage and take action.” And they deliver services tailored to experiential marketing, from events to tastings, and everything in between.
They slay the marketing game thanks, in large part, to their community of brand ambassadors. These folks play a crucial role in the ultimate success of their clients’ campaigns and initiatives. Urban Bella also has a community of clients who support their team, from Haribo (mmm candy!), Bell, and Top Shop - just to name a few.
However, it’s uncommon for an agency to focus on their own community when their work directly contributes to building the brand community of their clients. We definitely know a thing or two about that considering we’re a marketing agency too.
It's our belief that any organization or business model can benefit greatly from community marketing. Anyone can build a tribe if they take the time look at the fundamental elements that build loyal communities. If men who love My Little Pony can create a community of Bronies, there’s is no limit to who - and what - can have a community.
The first thing Christy had to consider is whether to focus on her internal community or a potential client base. She knew she wanted to focus on the area she felt had the biggest opportunity to grow, which is with her internal team of brand ambassadors.
Urban Bella boasts a few hundred brand ambassadors in every Canadian province. However, the community is always in a state of transition. The role of a brand ambassador is oftentimes a side gig for a quick buck and the best brand ambassadors eventually move on to full-time jobs.
When considering the common passion that ties their community of brand ambassadors together, one thing came to mind: money. It’s the nature of the job. The main motivator to being involved seemed strictly financial.
When a community is made up of contractors, it can be challenging to get beyond the allure of money, money, money. There has to be a stronger passion that ties this community together. Christy and her team have thought long and hard about how to instill their personal passion for the agency into the community of brand ambassadors.
Passion is defined as a common fanatical interest, regardless of what it is, it can be anything that qualifies as a huge interest. In Urban Bella’s case, we looked for something everyone shares within that community. Aside from making money, it seemed unclear. But we tossed around a few ideas.
Could it possibly be having fun and making friends?
Maybe their passion is something to do with project-based work, or working with different companies.
Maybe it's the passion for working to live, versus living to work.
There is a common thread to be found. It very well could be the flexibility a role ‘brand ambassador’ offers their community. They have a type of flexibility and autonomy that is really appealing to certain individuals.
Now, all Urban Bella needs to do is clearly define what that passion is, and it will help to get the foundation of their community together. Just wait, once the passion is nailed down, it is surprising how quickly the chips fall into place.
Urban Bella does have a clear vision for their agency. With hopes of continuing to expand both across the country and south of the American border, their business plan was easily articulated.
However, when talking about communities specifically, that’s a different type of vision. A company vision is strictly internal; while it can drive the core team towards a greater goal, it isn’t enough to activate the community to work towards something greater.
In order to get a higher score in the Vision category, Urban Bella first needs to define their passion. Once that is set in stone, they need to ask themselves what impact they want this community to make on society as a whole. Something their brand ambassadors can get behind, work towards, and be united under.
Urban Bella isn’t without their own leaders. These individuals take a great deal of pride in their work and illustrate it by going above and beyond to ensure their clients are successful. Christy can identify these folks because they take ownership of their role, and demonstrate a great deal of enthusiasm for the work they do.
They even go so far as to speak about Urban Bella and represent the agency at career fairs and on university campuses. Their brand superstars aren’t few either. With hundreds of brand ambassadors across the country, at least 90 of them are walking and talking the Urban Bella brand with pride.
It’s great to have strong leaders in a community because, as is the case with Urban Bella, that type of flair and leadership is infectious. The zeal for doing well rubs off on other community members. These types of people are needed in a tribe because they set a clear example of what the community should become.
While Urban Bella has leaders in their community, they could bolster them further by giving them more opportunities for exposure and a greater amount of responsibility. This results in them taking more ownership in their role, and allow them to be role models to the other community members. Leaders are also the individuals who police the community and protect the brand.
The community does achieve some wins in terms of allowing their community to openly disagree without muting opposing views happening within that community. This works towards building trust. What seems like a bad thing can become an opportunity to build more trust within it. Next on the win list, the leaders of Urban Bella have quick response times, and again this lends to trust. This will continue to strengthen the community as a whole.
Urban Bella does boast many all-star players. These individuals will read up about the clients, take extra initiative to merchandise displays, and some might even shell out a couple of their own dollars in order to make their customer experience all the better.
However, the only thing lacking here is that their conversations about Urban Bella and their community remain confined to the workspace. The challenge therein is creating more pathways for them to speak out about their passion and Urban Bella beyond the workplace and with their greater community.
An integral part of nurturing strong tribesmen is outlining the passion and vision, and ensuring these individuals align with those values. When an individual feels aligned with an organization’s passion and vision, they’re more likely to share it beyond their inner circle. By empowering them with a greater message, they will be proud to lead the way.
And the second thing is content. Being a source of valuable content is needed to engage the community and get them to actively participate.
That brings us to content.
Urban Bella does offer their brand ambassadors content, however, for the most part, its specific to their projects. This includes materials such as project briefs to allow ambassadors to read up on their role, expectations, and client profiles.
Sometimes, Urban Bella will have their clients come in to speak to the ambassadors about their brands. That’s some engaging content. Yet, the disconnect is this content is isolated and doesn’t lend itself to strengthening the community. It feeds into the culture of side-gigs and doesn’t speak to the values and vision of Urban Bella.
If Urban Bella were to define their passion as ‘flexible lifestyle’, suddenly creating valuable and entertaining content for the community becomes a much easier task. Rather than training in small groups for specific projects, they could unite their community by offering content that all of them — no matter where in Canada or what project they’re working on — would appreciate and engage with.
An example would be, “Work XX Amount of Hours to Travel Here”, or content tailored to the benefits of working a more flexible career. This community seems the types to buy into the “work to live” mentality, therefore it would be in Urban Bella’s best interest to leverage just that.
By focusing on the lifestyle passion, it becomes obvious what content could be used to generate genuine camaraderie by offering something shareable and engaging. The content could be framed to position the brand in a new light, expressing to the community, they’re not only joining Urban Bella as a brand ambassador, but they’re earning a lifestyle they’ve always wanted.
That’s some powerful stuff, hunni. Once the vision and passion come into play, anyone can build these tribesmen.
GATHERING PLACE 2/5
With ambassadors all across the nation, it can be difficult to find a gathering place that suits all their needs. However, the digital realm is a great way to bring people together despite the geographic differences.
Urban Bella does bring their brand ambassadors together, however, it is again based on the projects at hand. Generally, the most ambassadors they’d have together in one place would be 20-25. These meetups will be focused on an experiential campaign they are training for or a project they are learning about.
In order to solidify their community, they could create other types of in-person events that would help strengthen the ties and personal connections within their community. An in-person meetup, without an association to a brand, to celebrate and share in their passion and their commonalities would be a powerful way to make big impacts within the group.
Once a group engages in real life, it’s no surprise that there is a boost in engagement in the digital gathering place that follows. Not only does this build trust with community members, it builds friendships.
Christy has already seen her brand ambassadors connecting with one another after participating in events, so why not pour some gasoline on it and really get the community talking.
A great score!
Urban Bella has done their due in terms of establishing trust with their community. Their leaders offer quick response times, and there is a great deal of transparency among their community. They don’t mute open disagreements and instead give them space to breathe, they allow their community to have a voice. Admins are also open to admitting their mistakes and integrating feedback into the community in order for it to continually improve.
With just a little focus and thought about defining a clear passion and vision for their community, Urban Bella has nowhere to go but up. Hundreds of members across the country do have something in common that runs deeper than the almighty dollar. They just need to pull on that common thread and set activates their community.
Even a marketing agency can develop a community, it just takes energy to ensure all the elements are in place. Starting with that clear passion, the rest will take shape quickly.
Is it time for you to look at your community?
Pretty much any organization that has a passion and vision can create a community. When you have all the elements of a strong community, no matter what your community is about, you have a chance to build something strong around your brand.
If you want to learn more, it might be valuable to read our community marketing strategy posts
Header Image: Urban Bella