A community is more than just a list!
If you’ve been building your business over the last 5-10 years, you can’t have missed the immense amount of information or training out there to help you “build a list”. I remember one leading expert, who himself had built and re-built multi-million dollar companies, chanting consistently, “the number one job is to build a list”.
Well, this is quite true. Without a database of people who have given you their permission to market to them, you don’t have the people you need to sell to and therefore you don’t have a business.
This is one of the mistakes that a lot of start-ups make. They build a large volume of “followers” on other people’s platforms (ie a social media platform) but don’t have them as part of their own infrastructure. Their names are not in a company owned data base, they are not opted-in to the company marketing, therefore they are just passing through and not really committing to learning more about the business, and a lot of time is being wasted by all concerned.
However even a list is a mis-leading asset these days. The hype then becomes about how big your list is and all focus is on growing the list, rather than on retaining and converting that list into sales and ideally into evangelists about your value in the niche.
This is where you as a business owner can really take the lead. Start to think of your list as a community. It’s not just there to feed you with sales, but there for a bigger purpose.
Communities share, they support, they cross-promote, they are loyal. Communities care about each other and the topic at hand. A community is much more than just an interested group, it is a precious commodity and takes time to create, and effort to maintain.
To form a community there must be a level of trust. Think about what you look for when you feel you are part of a community. There is a difference in the way you consider the Facebook group you’re part of (and probably swamped by) and the community you may have as being part of your children’s school or your village.
In the community you feel secure, you contribute in order to help, you feel comfortable about asking for help in return. You join forces and collaborate to produce something – the village fete for example or the school play. You also have a voice in your community and can help shape the environment of that community, and you would take a longer time considering whether or not to leave that community, versus the instant click it takes on a social media group.
However, going back to thinking about your business – growing, nurturing and maintaining a community is a specialist task. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s not just about changing the name of your contacts from list to group to community. It’s about the actions you take, the content you serve, the interaction you have with your members. That also includes how you monetize the community, as you are after all still running a business.
To support you in your new vision of creating a community versus just building a list, consider these attributes of your systems, processes and methods in running your business:
Connectivity – how can you connect with your audience (ideally a two-way communication, but at scale)
Distraction – how can your members get information about the aspect of the niche that they want and not all the generic stuff too – how can the customise their information flow to keep it super relevant.
Privacy – how can you ensure the member interaction and content remains private and secure to just the community they feel safe in?
Collaboration – how can the members collaborate on an idea or discuss a subject in more depth?
Accessibility - how can the audience keep in contact in this modern age of mobile and omni-platform?
These are really important attributes for a business owner to consider when looking to build influence, grow an audience and monetise in a meaningful way. It’s about time efficiency, reach, security and trust all in a repeatable scalable process for the business owner, while in an easy to consume and manageable format for the community members.
If you think that is a hard task to manage, you’re right. We tried to do this ourselves within our own communities where we were members. Constantly looking for more efficient ways to connect people asking for things with people offering things, without bugging the whole community on a subject that only a portion were interested in. (You know the habit - the school class WhatsApp group where someone is asking for a spare pair of football boots and everyone chimes in to say that they haven’t got any)
The solution just didn’t exist – so we built it!
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Welcome to Ugenie, where community comes first, and we focus on efficiency of meaningful valuable communication, collaboration and growth.
If this sounds interesting to you, why not join us on our platform and learn more about communities and why they are the leading approach to business growth in this age of technology that keeps far too many people behind closed doors?
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