Craft Your Community Vision
What is it that you actually want to create with this community that you're building for your business? The more concrete you can make that vision, the bigger you can make that vision, the bolder you can make that vision, the more opportunity you create for yourself, for your company, and most importantly, for the members who will be part of that community. I really like this idea from Robbie Baxter, again in The Membership Economy, and we're gonna come back to this again, but you know we could spend a whole bunch of hours, many days, talking about the financial aspects of building a community; we're actually gonna spend quite a small amount of time because I think you guys actually know more about that than you realize. Robbie Baxter says membership is an attitude, an emotion, whereas a subscription is a financial arrangement. You guys know the financial arrangement piece. You are already business owners and if you're not, let me tell you it's not that hard to learn: You charge money,...
people pay you, the cycle continues, right? Of course and we have other classes for that. What we're here to talk about really is about membership, about community, about network effects, about bringing people together, about creating value by giving people access to each other and creating relationships instead of just, "hey isn't it nice to get paid every month or every year?" Yes, there's part of that, we're gonna get to that, but at this point in this class, what I really want you to hone in on is the attitude, the emotion, of what you are creating with your community. So, I'm gonna give you this as sort of homework as we head into a break here and if you're watching this later on, you're not live with us, this is a really good time to hit pause and to do some serious thinking and to come back to this class when you have done some thinking about this, when you've given yourself some time to dive into it. What emotion or attitude will your community stand for? At CoCOMMERCIAL, one of the attitudes, the emotions that we really want to stand for is relief. Building a business can be stressful, building a business can be isolating, building a business can make you feel like you don't know anything even if you're 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, and you've lived a whole life of learning things, building a business can make you think you don't know anything and so when people join CoCommercial, one part of my vision for our community is that everyone who joins, lets out a sigh of relief. These are my people, these are the answers, these are the stories that I need to take the next step forward. So, think about that for you. What is your community going to stand for in terms of an attitude or an emotion? Gina talked a lot about this piece as well. How will you members benefit by connecting with each other? What is it about connecting to someone else with that interest, with that identity, with that problem, with that need, with that passion that's gonna benefit them; what are the concrete things they're gonna be able to get out of that? At CoCommercial, we think about it in terms of being able to overcome the inevitable obstacles, the inevitable setbacks, the inevitable snags in your plan. When you're connected with someone else who's already overcome that thing, who's already made it through that challenge, who's faced that snag before, you can get passed it much more quickly. That's incredibly valuable and it's a very concrete aspect of that connection with someone else. I also want you to think about what you can accomplish as a community that you can't accomplish as individuals. What can you accomplish as a community that you can't accomplish as individuals? At CoCommercial, a huge part of my vision, is advocating on behalf of what I believe will be the new middle-class in this country, really in the world. I believe that the middle-class will soon turn into predominantly gig workers, small business owners like us, new economy type jobs, and that everything that the middle-class has stood for before will not pertain to the people who are now in the middle-class and we need people, we need a community, we need someone, something to be advocating for that next generation of the middle-class. That's part of my vision. We can accomplish that as a community. I can't accomplish that on my own. So, what do you want your community to be able to accomplish that you can't on your own and that your members can't as individuals? I want to talk very briefly here about values as well because a huge part of the vision for your community is the values that your community will embody. Community values guide everyone's behavior. Community values guide your vision. Community values guide your purpose, member engagement, member contribution, member attitude, member emotions, pretty much everything. If you've got your values front and center, you're in good shape. Now, explicit values don't matter if other values are implied by actions and this goes back to bringing members into the center of your business model as opposed to products or transactions. If you are making all of your decisions putting your members first and foremost, putting the values that you want them to embody, that the community is embodying, that you as a leadership team are embodying, if you put that front and center, those things will guide your actions as opposed to that nice list that you come up with at the company retreat or like at the coffee shop where you're just like, "these things sound good", right? So, I actually made you a list: common community values because I think there are really some core values instead of looking at a laundry list, a hundred items long of like "these are common personal values", I actually think we can kind of boil down community values into a fairly short list and I want you to think about which are the ones you really want to elevate, the ones you really want to highlight, the ones you want to embody here. Openness: are you open to new ideas? Is your community open to new members? Is it inviting, is it warm, does it create a space for people who want to be there whether they know the lingo or not, whether they had an "in" or not? Transparency, this is a huge one for us. We build our company transparently internally and externally; there is almost nothing we won't share inside CoCommercial with the rest of our community and we do that so everyone else brings that same attitude. You know, if I'm gonna share my numbers on this things or my strategy for that or "hey, we did this experiment and it did not work", I do that because I want everyone else to do that, as well. So, transparency is a huge community value. Collaboration, cooperation, respect, honesty, citizenship. When was the last time someone talked about citizenship as a value for building a business? In a community driven business model, citizenship is hugely important. What does it mean to be a great citizen of your community? We're gonna talk more about that when we talk about onboarding, and curiosity, I think curiosity as a value for community building is hugely important because if you're only there for the one-right-way, you're gonna be very disappointed. If instead, you are driven by a curiosity of what could be, of what the potential is, what the possibilities are and you allow that to be fueled by other people's stories and experiences and challenges, you are gonna get a lot out of a community experience. So, take a look at that list and think about which of those values, maybe pick just one or two or three off that list that you really want to elevate and focus on in your community. As we go throughout the rest of the class, I'm gonna ask you to think back to those things and really think through how you can guide member contribution, member onboarding, even pricing, to uphold those kinds of values. So, really there's three things that I want you to be thinking about as we close out this segment here. It's your vision for this community. What are you really building? What's the end-game? What do you wanna be able to do with this community that you can't do on your own? Our vision for CoCommercial is that it becomes the support hub and social network for small business owners building businesses online and with digital tools. Nothing more, nothing less, that's what we want to do. Our values, we have values for openness, curiosity, experimentation, transparency, and our purpose, and this is the other piece I really want you to focus on, why does this network exist? Why does this community exist? Our purpose is to turn today's small business owners into tomorrow's economic powerhouses. That's why we exist; why does your community exist? So, vision is the what? Values you can kind of think of as the "how", they're going to guide everything that you do and purpose is the "why". So, those are the three questions that I want you to answer as we take a break here, as you take a break online if you're watching later on, this is where I want you to pause and take some time to really think. I want you to take a stab at it now. Don't wait for it to be perfect because it's gonna grow, even probably between our first few lessons with me and these last few lessons with Gina, your vision is probably going (imitates explosion) Right, it is so much bigger than it was before when you came into this class so I guarantee you it's going to grow more but I want you to take a stab at it now. You can revisit it as often as you like. It will be there waiting for you and it will be there waiting to grow into a bigger body, into a bigger skin for you.
When you have a small business, you’re always on the lookout for your next customer. They might pop up at a networking event, they could subscribe to your email list, they might fill out the contact form on your website.
Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble.
Luckily, there’s a way to ensure you always know where your next customer is coming from—and that your existing customers purchase from you more often—and that’s by building a community.
All sorts of businesses can benefit from making community-building part of their growth strategy and many can benefit from making it part of their business model, too. Whether it’s an informal community (like an email list or Instagram hashtag), a brand-driven community (like a free Facebook group that brings together people in love with the same brand and values), or a dedicated community (like a local group, interest-based social network, or a support group, your business can cultivate deeper connections with existing and potential customers.
Of course, an engaged community doesn’t just happen. If you want to reap the benefits of community-building for your business, you need a plan.
In Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business, Tara Gentile, the founder of the small business support & social network CoCommercial, will share the must-dos, nice-to-haves, and compelling extras you need to make the most of the community you build around your business. By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan for making community-building an integral part of your marketing strategy—and always knowing where your next customer will come from.
Tara will cover:
- Simple ways to generate community without a group or forum
- Why and how to level up into a dedicated space for your business’s community
- How to create a clear reason Why for joining or participating in your community
- The systems and procedures you’ll need to manage the workload
- How to avoid community management burnout
- How to plan to earn more through your community—whether that’s through charging for membership, selling add-on offers, or generating more word of mouth marketing
Stop waiting for your next customer to come to you and start building a community that brings new business your way every day.