[Community] Don’t build your startup before you build your community
However after launching, you realize that the hardest part is not building your product or service, but trying to get customers to use it. So how do you make sure that you have a full marketing pipeline of customers lining up to buy your product? The answer is in building your community.
This could mean building it around your brand, your unique product or even a lifestyle. Building your community is the first thing every startup founder needs to do before launching their business.
But how do you build your business around your community before you start?
Create a great story
Maybe you know what your startup stands for, the values that you rally behind, but do your customers also know this? While you may know the kind of business you want to run and the things that guide your choices, your audience will not be able to pick those until you communicate the brand story.
And you have many tools to do that with. You could create videos like RedBull or GoPro does. Or you could publish great information that helps your target audience do their jobs better such as Hubspot or MarketingProfs.
Develop an audience persona and a brand positioning statement that will help clearly your company’s brand and will allow you to connect with the right target audience. Come up with ways to include your audience in your social media and encourage them to live them out alongside you.
- What would make you stand out?
- What information will your audience want to consume? And how will it be formatted?
- How will this content be consumed? What platform will your target audience will most likely consume it from?
- What your business will strive most to do, and what it will not be able to do.
Be as precise as possible because generalizations don’t seem to move anyone. If you are not connecting back to the big ideas that are larger than your current sales, your engagement is likely to suffer. This is because your community is not just a group of people ready to buy from your business. Your community has separate goals from your business and nurturing it requires you to be there for your customers.
Building community involves building trust, so let your big ideas lead first. Talking about things that matter most to your audience can go a long way in helping you build strong connections.
Make it easy for people to join
How easy is it for people to join? Are you going to make it exclusive by making them go through hoops in a private community or are you opening it up to everyone? The size and quality of your community depends on how easy new members can be a part of your story, and thanks to the power of the internet, how far your message goes.
MarketingProfs create value by providing great content geared towards marketers to do their jobs better. By putting a paywall in front of valuable content, they not only made it more exclusive, they also attracted people who were really interested in joining and willing to contribute.
When you have an idea about the quality and kind of relationship you want to create, you will be able to tailor the experience of your customers to create that relationship.
Connect community members to each other
Having Facebook likes or Twitter followers doesn’t mean you have a community. While it is good to engage your users on a personal level, what’s more important is that you connect them with each other. By building a place where your members can “meet” and talk to each other, you are on your way to building a sustainable community.
Do you want to create a passionate fan community like how the Grateful Dead have? The Deadheads as they are called follow their heroes from city-to-city, creating a subculture that revolves around concerts, memorabilia and apparel. Although the community was created organically, it was actively encouraged by the band through rewarding their loyal Deadheads and providing them with access to the band members and exclusive memorabilia.
Ensure that members are able to find value in their engagements and focus on facilitating it.
Even though your startup might be small, building a community before you hit the ground running gives you an edge because big brands can’t compete with the personal touch you give your fans. This is an investment that will pay itself over time as long as you focus on the needs of your members and create a valuable experience for them.