Support Your Customer's Journey Through Community
So let's talk about how community now can support your customers' journey. And how you can support your customers' journey to their goals through community. Because a community can function in your business in many, many different ways, and no doubt, you've seen businesses that incorporate community in all sorts of different ways. And I've talked a lot about my own experience and how my business is set up, but we're gonna go through a whole bunch of different examples here so you can see a real variety of ways that you can set this up. Because my way is not the right way, it's one way. So let's look at this: Where your community fits in your business. You could have a community that's built in terms of nurturing. And I use nurturing here instead of marketing on purpose. Although that's also kind of what I mean. But you can have a community where you are gathering people together who are in that sort of initial stage who are exploring, who are trying new things, who are just looking for...
that sense of belonging, and use it as an opportunity to nurture them. To help them take the next few steps along their path, maybe even steps beyond that, and along the way, make offers to them that do support your business. And that are what your business provides. The community is valuable in and of itself. Maybe it's free, maybe it's very low cost, maybe it's higher cost, but it still acts as nurturing for a more profitable offers down the line. You can also have an offer where your community or business model where you community is the core offer. If you watched the "Create a Product" plan in Grow Your Standout Business class, I talked about how we need to get rid of junk drawer business models and focus on a core offer. You can make your community that core offer. Doesn't mean you don't have other things. Doesn't mean you don't have other accessories, as I talked about in that class, in your business model, but you can make that community your core offer. You can also make your community your follow up offer. This works really, really well. We've talked about having paid classes or workshops or events be the sort of initial thing that people buy because the commitment, even if the price is higher, the commitment is lower because it's finite, it's contained. And then you can offer a community as an add on. As a follow up. "Hey, you wanna stay connected?" "Hey, you want additional supports?" "Hey, you wanna keep meeting with all these cool people that you just met?" Here's where you go do that. It could also be a supplemental offer. And supplemental, I'm gonna say, is kind of alongside. So if you've got your customer journey, and I'm going to show you that in a little bit to kind of clarify this, but if you've got your customer going along, you've got a core offer, you've got a follow up offer, maybe you need a supplement to both of those things. Okay, so let's say you've got an online course and you've got one-on-one coaching. So you've got online courses as your core offer. One-on-one coaching as your follow up offer. And maybe you just wanna have a place where all the people who are interested in both who are on that journey can come hang out. That's a supplemental offer: community. It can still be monetized. You can still make money off of it. But it kind of goes alongside and it helps people transition from one place on the journey to the next place on the journey to the next place on the journey which means that it make that easier for them to transition from one offer to the next offer. Then you can have a support community. So say you have a core product, and you can build a community that supports that offer. Now as I said way back in the beginning, we wanna be careful that we're still putting the emphasis on members and not on the product or the brand or the transaction. And so this one gets a little hairy, but I still wanted to put it out there because I think it's still very viable and there's a lot of good models of how support networks can be about the member instead of about the product. There's that. And then it can be a side project. Maybe it's not part of your full time business. Maybe it's not the thing you do, but it's something you do on the side to support the mission of your business. To support people you really care about. To support people on their journey. And so it can be just on the side. It doesn't have to be a vital, integral part of how your business model works. So let's look at some of these things in action. This is Becca Tracy from "The Uncaged Life". She has a nurturing community that's a Facebook group. She was doing this long before Facebook groups were kind of trendy. And it's been really successful for her. She uses this group to spark conversations to nurture people and it's part of then how she enrolls people into the "Uncage Your Business" program that she runs which is really, really successful. If you wanna hear a little bit more about this, there's an episode that I did of "Profit, Power, Pursuit" with Becca and she goes about this really smartly. And she's got it really streamlined so that the focus really is on connecting members as opposed to getting access to her. And so this is a great example of just what a really nice, nurturing, really community-based marketing model can look like. For a core offer, this is Jen Louden's "The Writer's Oasis". This is Jen's core thing that she has available that you can join in and pay her for. And this is just a place for writers to hang out and predominantly get prompts from her, but also connect for feedback on their work and talk to other writers and share when they stumble or when they get stuck. And this is the predominant way she generates revenue. That's her product. That's the main product she sells. Then we have, this is an example of a follow up offer. At CoCommercial, our core offer is CoCommercial. And then we have a follow up offer to that that is our Insider Mastermind, and they're small groups, six month Mastermind groups that kind of take the CoCommercial experience (laughs) and they elevate it to something where you have a lot more... You can really depend on your small group. We work really hard on making sure everyone's on the same page. We create bigger context, a different kind of container for that offer. We do weekly calls. We do weekly check ins. We do weekly commitments. It's just a whole different level. Similar type of experience but on a completely different level. That's a follow up offer type of community. We have the "Being Boss Clubhouse". Being Boss is a really popular business podcast run by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson. They are awesome. They're podcast is awesome. The Clubhouse is awesome. I'm gonna call this one a supplemental offer. They make a lot of revenue through sponsorships. They host Being Boss vacations. This is something that kind of was requested of them as a way to pull together people who have been on a Being Boss vacation before or who have connected in other places around the podcast. And so this isn't something that they're pushing all the time. It's not something that, you know, they're hittin' over the head in terms of marketing, but it exists there as another way that they're generating money. As another way they're supporting their customers through their journey. But it's kind of a little bit on the side. So that's a supplemental community. This is the Irresistibles. And this supports an online course. You can take the course and become part of the community. And then finally, we've got "I am a triangle" that Naomi Hattaway runs, and this is a side project essentially. Naomi doesn't charge membership for this community even though it's very large and she definitely could. She makes money from it in other ways, but another way that it works for her is that she has a real estate referral network. So "I am a triangle" is for people who have expatriated and then repatriated. I think I'm saying that right. And so they've come back to this country and they're dealing with re-entry. And how do you find someplace to live, and how do you connect with people who understand your experiences, and that is what "I am a triangle" is for. But there's a lot of logistical concerns these people have, too. That's where the real estate network comes in. That was her core business before she added this on as a side project. This, I think, could absolutely grow into a very revenue-generating business for her as well. But it's not her core offer. It's not even part of her core business model. Make sense? Alright, cool. So you guys have seen this from me before: "Your Customer Journey". Your customer is always on a journey. From having that itch to having their ideal life. Meeting goals and questions and frustrations all along the way, our customers are constantly changing. That's why I'm not big on ideal client profiles because it kind of gives you a snapshot of who someone is as opposed to recognizing that they're people who change and evolve. And if you've got a community as part of your business, you really want to think about how customers are changing and evolving over time. And so just like we wanna find out where your core offer is going to fit on the customer journey or where your follow up offer - there it is - is gonna fall on your customer journey, we wanna think about where your community is gonna fall on that customer journey as well. And the truth is, it could fall anywhere on that customer journey, but I want you to know where it's falling. And I want you to choose it intentionally. So there really are a huge number of different ways that you can go about fitting this into your business model. But the main thing you need to think about is how you're gonna support customers on that journey and how it's gonna tie into the rest of your business. Lots and lots of different options. We're gonna talk even more about how you can generate revenue with a community but this is the beginning of it. Questions about this initial piece of how it fits into your business model? Yeah, Maya?
This is a half-formed question.
Sure. I will give you a half-formed answer.
Okay, deal. (laughs) The customer journey maps been in the back of my mind the whole way through this class
Excellent. Good student.
Thank you. Because I've been thinking that my ideal vision for my community is one that can and will support any and all of my customers throughout that customer journey and I feel that CoCommercial does that. So are there any other examples of communities out there that do that that maybe we can explore and learn more from? Because we're all from, those of us in CoCo, we're familiar with that experience.
I mean, I think... I would say most community offers that are core offers, this is kind of a guess. This is, for real, a half-formed answer. It's a very good question. I think most communities that are core offers do tend to do this because in order for you to make a community, a recurring subscription model work, you best be gettin' your members in there for a long time. Which means you better be serving them for a long time on their journeys. So Jen's "The Writer's Oasis" offer that's something that could absolutely serve writers for a long time. You could be a beginner writer who, maybe you did some writing before and you're just starting to get back into it and you need those creative prompts. You could be a more advanced writer that's in there to kind of improve your chops on a regular basis and to get feedback. You could be a really advanced writer who's in there to improve their own writing by giving feedback to others or participating in a more... Constrained isn't the right word, but a more directed environment where it's not just your creativity that's inspiring you, but everybody else's as well. I think that that's really how most core offer communities tend to work is that they're there to support people for the long haul. And I think most communities, in general, are there to support people for the long haul or at least for an extended period of time. If you find yourself creating a community that really only has a very small, finite need, you should not be creating a community. That's a course. It's an event. There may be a community component that then you can add on to it later, but you better figure out how it's going to help people grow and change over time. The trick with creating something that can serve people at any point in their journey is that it becomes really difficult to create that context for getting people to join. So I feel like I've kind of figured that out with CoCommerical where it doesn't matter whether you're on the beginner side of being a business owner, whether you're a more mature business owner, whether you're a more advanced business owner. Everyone can identify with the fact that obstacles and setbacks and snags happen. And that the best way to get past those things is to find out how someone else has gotten past them in the past. Or to get inspired from other people's stories. It's generally not an online course that gets you past those things. It's talking to other people, and that's something we all experience at different points. And so that's a question you actually want to ask yourself. If I'm building a community that's gonna help people all along that journey, what is a problem that people have at every point along that journey? That's a hard question to answer. Doesn't mean it doesn't have an answer, but that's your challenge is figuring that out. Otherwise, your job is going to be to pick an entry point and then to nurture people over time. But everyone's gonna go through that same entry point. So it can be an early problem. Like, I've identified early in my journey this. This problem, this goal, this frustration. You use that as your entry point, and then people grow with you. And so that's kind of how you shape the community too. You give people... Stu McLaren talks about it as a success path. You kind of plot that journey out for them, and you say, "First you're gonna be in this stage, then this is gonna happen to you, then you're going to reach this stage and then this stage and then this stage." And that's when you've really reached your ideal outcome. Does that help?
Yeah it does. Because I'm also toying with the idea of having, again riffing off of Nadia's hot seat yesterday, having an expert kind of group and a layman kind of group.
If I do identify a universal pain, or even if I don't, would I then be looking for two entry points to cater to those two groups for that community? Does that make sense?
Yes, but I think it goes more to what Angie was saying about a right of passage. You're gonna want to create the process by which people can understand that next entry point. So I was talking about how creating a context, creating an exploration space, allows me to have more control over when people feel that urgency to join. It's the same thing with a right of passage kind of experience that's essentially "You're in the community. Now I'm going to create a new context for you to feel urgency around that's going to usher you into this next level." That could be an offer. It could be something paid. It could be just something that people go through automatically. It could be something you invite people to. It could be all sorts of different things, but that's kind of how I would look at it, and you can enroll people into a premium tier outside of the initial community as well. So it doesn't have to be first you do this and then you do this and then you do this. Just be very careful when you do that. Because when you enroll people at a higher tier or straight into an inner ring, they often don't have the sense of culture and belonging that they need to have to be really successful or feel that sense of belonging right away.
Yeah, because I do want there to be a permeable membrane between those two groups so I want to feel that collective. So that's helpful. Thank you.
Yeah. Any other questions? Yeah, Denise.
You just sparked an idea or a though here around inviting people in at a higher tier. When somebody comes in at a higher tier they have access to the lower tiers. So you want them to be able to integrate as well.
As much as possible so the ideal is having people come up through, but sometimes people will come in at the top.
Sometimes, it happens. Yes. Like I said, I would just be careful. Doesn't mean that you can't find a great member who's way more interested in jumping in at a premium tier than they are at a lower tier. We actually get that quite a bit. Sometimes it's much easier for me to sell a high-ticket offer than it is for me to sell a low-ticket offer. But I wanna make sure through that inner ring experience, through that premium tier experience, that they are getting a quick hit of what our culture is and how they belong. And I'm gonna actively direct their experience a little bit more. I'm gonna tell them, "Hey that's a really good question. Go post that in the main community." Or, "That's a really good life lesson Go post that in the main community." And give them that experience of going back and forth and supporting the community as a leader as well. Because any time you have a premium tier, an inner ring, those people are de facto leaders in your community, and you want to make sure that they know that and that everybody else knows that too. Because that also supports your business model as a whole.
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.