RUSSELL DALGLEISH says sharing your ideas and passion and will help you achieve your goals
In the last few years there has been a growing interest in “brand communities” as a method for driving increased sales, developing new product features, and overall increasing the value of any business. By Brand Community I mean a collection of individuals who see value in the vision behind your particular brand and look for ways to gather with others who share this passion.
In the world of consumables Apple would be a great example of this. Those who use Apple smart phones for example are incredibly passionate about the brand in a way that competitors such as Samsung cannot achieve.
Marketing guru Seth Goodin described a community (or in his words a “Tribe”) as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
In 2021 we can now gather and communicate with a community on a global basis using an array of low-cost technologies.
But what steps need to be followed to create a successful and thriving community? If I consider the approach, we have taken with Scottish Business Network I believe there are seven key steps to ensure your community succeeds.
You must be able to describe how your company is going to make the world a better place in such a way that others will want to join you. This vision must be achievable, inspiring and also compelling. This is best captured in your vision statement. For example, Tesla’s vision is “to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.” Wouldn’t you want to be part of that community?
There must be a clear way to target the individuals who would benefit from being part of the community. The simplest method to get started is to approach those who have purchased or used your product/service and offer them the opportunity to become involved in the community. These are likely to be the individuals you currently have on a mailing list, for example. Then to grow the community look for similarities between members, map these onto a “persona” and search on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to identify individuals who match this criteria.
The experience delivered from being part of the community must deliver sufficient value to encourage individuals to keep coming back. It may be early access to new products, invitations to exclusive events or the opportunity to comment on your product roadmap, etc.
When building a community there must be some location where you can invite members and potential members to gather. This could range from a Facebook or LinkedIn group through to a fully-fledged community management platform such as Very Connect or Wild Apricot
This is probably the key to building a successful community. You must facilitate regular interaction between members. At SBN we achieve this through events, regular communication but what we have found is most successful is to pick up the phone and speak to members. And on each of these calls there is a clear goal which is to add value by helping an individual overcome a challenge through an introduction.
My most significant learning has been to understand that members of a community want to contribute to the overall success of the community. Many are willing to give up their precious time to volunteer and help the community to delivers its goal and also to help other members to succeed.
Surround yourself with the best
Reach out and ask for help from those individuals who you believe will add most value to your community members. If for example you are building a community around a particular type of food, then why not invite top chefs to speak to your members?
In his book “Tribe – On Homecoming and Belonging” Sebastian Junger summed up the importance of belonging to a community by stating: “human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others. These values are considered “intrinsic” to human happiness and far outweigh “extrinsic” values such as beauty, money and status.”
This need to feel connected has been highlighted like never before during lockdown and this is certainly one lesson, we all need to take from this last year.
Russell Dalgleish is co-founder and chairman of Scottish Business Network