Community Building for Business

I see lots of people tweeting about how community is the next thing in building a business. I have been tinkering and studying this area for a long while and here are some notes about how to engage potential client who want to connect community to their business.

This is more about bolt on community effort than ground up stuff where you build a community around the product while it is in development. The hypothesis for that is more around product market fit. People seem to think they need to build a community in order to be told what to build. I would tread carefully here. My experience is that if there is no real community then I feel like I got sucked into a really really long sales funnel and I bail out with a bitter taste.

Hypothesis:
Feelings of belonging and community increase retention and referral

How this speaks to businesses:
- brand loyalty
- differentiation
— if you don’t do it your competition will
— and if you sell it but don’t live it you’re competition will use this to crush you with their offering
- authenticity: if you are marketing anything about community and it is just words, you look inauthentic..people’s trust in your value as a brand degrades over time via tiny cuts

Hypothesis:
Companies want to create community but do not
-they have no strategy
-because they don’t know how to create actionable steps
-“community” is just a big blob of an idea, a wish, a dream, a like to have when we deal with X, Y and Z

If competition uses community messages in marketing materials and they seem more authentic about it you will lose customers to them until you prove them fake

In other words there could be a big opportunity for differentiation here

Questions for any potential client for this service:
How does the concept of community apply to your bottom line?

Research to do in support of buy in:
Surveys by industry/vertical — would you sign up if community was promoted?
1. Run ads on FB with and without images and words expressing community
2. Measure ads

Client pitch info (assuming you are a trying to get buy in):
Client may say “I can just adjust my marketing to say community. Thanks for the data supporting the value of this messaging”
Response: Your competition will have access to this data as well. It is part of the core marketing of this product. You have no advantage having heard my pitch.
Then go into the differentiation opportunity and how this opportunity is available to their competition

Client might say “well if we all do the same thing then isn’t it wasted money on detente?”
Response: no…retention of current customers is still of value. You and competition may be attracting on same message but eventually it will come down to finding the right customers for your community. Attracting the right people might be valuable too.

Client might be afraid that having any sort of community could be a disadvantage as some members may feel left out or not like they fit.
Response: if the potential client markets at all on community then they just told you they are full of shit. move on.
If they don’t market on community then the question for them is if they value their service without community. In fact these people will be the last we would pitch to. A better lead will be those who market around community.

Bottom Line:
Must appeal to clients by proving that actual community efforts will help bottom line

Hypothesis:
ANY action is better than none
- this is not rocket science
- people just don’t know where to start, how to put together a plan and strategy and implement
- there isn’t really an end-point since new members must be added, old members leave, the community is always changing, the fabric getting tighter or looser knit
- so each little step forward will potentially benefit the company

Consider feeling states you want in your customers.
“Hey John, I’m looking for a coworking space to join. You’ve been to a few, what would you suggest?”
“I like SYZYXY because I feel like I am going to my office when I got there, not some strangers office that allowed me to use some space”

As you can see a target market is coworking spaces. I think large events are also (still) a great prospect. Large events just swallow up introverts.

Wrote a few things…maybe a few hundred words out of several trillion on the internet.