Admittedly, as a marketer, I toss the word “community” around quite a bit.
Most marketers do. But here’s the funny thing…
Most of them do it the wrong way.
Instead of building a community, they build the product, and expect people to come running once their new product is finished!
“Phew! Glad we spent 6 months on that product design. Now, let’s kick our legs up and watch all the new users come rolling in!”
If that sounds even vaguely familiar, then you need to read the rest of this article.
While it may not be the most tactical advice on how to build a community, it will give you great advice for how to utilize a pre-existing community to make everyone’s life better.
The last four to five months at Pneuma Media, I’ve focused on building a small, yet
purposeful, community for my lead generation efforts.
Instead of building the best website strategies and templates out there, and then building the community after, we decided to build a community before we even began to design websites.
By simply messaging people on LinkedIn and asking them about their biggest pain point when it came to websites, we were able to learn about what our product should be.
This is where most companies go wrong. They spend months making a product or building a service that they find cool. Don’t do that. Instead, be the champion for your clients — build a product or service that THEY find cool.
Once we gathered information, we realized that most companies want a website that looks good, but most importantly, they want a website that works for them.
As simple as this sounds, everyone I talked to seemed amazed that 1, it was possible to create websites that took care of small business tasks and 2, that it wasn’t all that difficult.
For the past three to four years, many of these potential clients we spoke to felt like they were never heard.
They felt that, in order to work with an agency, they had to change their entire business model to fit the standards of service that the agency worked under.
That is not, and will never be, our standard. While we have certain areas or strategies that are included in every project, we take an agile approach to most things.
It gives us an opportunity to ask questions and tailor our product and service to our client’s needs.
Once we had a few projects under our belt, and our clients had their new websites for a month or so, we went back to them and asked them one very simple question.
Knowing what you do now, what else would you have liked to see on your new website?
While it’s a simple question, it gives us a lot of ideas for how to better tailor our projects.
We then take that feedback, and do two things with it.
First, we return to our project communication and schedule guidelines and update areas that need to be updated.
Second, we take that new insight, and continue to build a larger community of potential clients.
While my agency will likely not go down in any record books, I am extremely proud of the way we built our service over time with the help of our community.
If you feel like you’re in similar shoes, or your product just isn’t aligning exactly with potential clients, here are a few reminders I’d offer.
1, You’re never done updating and fixing your product/service. Seriously. That may come as a bummer to some of you, but it’s true. If you feel like your product/service needs to be updated, then you’re probably right.
2, Just ask. When I go on to Twitter or LinkedIn, quite literally everyone has thoughts about how to talk to potential clients or past clients or future clients or any other type of client.
I honestly laugh.
Want to know the best way to figure out what your past clients’ wanted? Or what your future clients will want?
Call them. Say hello. Ask them for five minutes of your time. Ask your question. Write down their answer. And then say thank you.
3, Apply their advice.
This is a step I struggle with still. The advice that you receive should not spend its life in your leather bound notebook.
It needs to be applied.
(Note: Not every piece of advice is applicable. That’s okay. You just have to use your brain to sift through every piece of advice and find the good pieces)
4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Or something like that.
Every time I share with people our process, I think of recycling.
Their process is very repetitive, and it never ends. Once they are done recycling, they start all over again.
And that’s what we do. Much like the reminder I shared in point 1, our product or service is never done evolving. As soon as we’ve updated it, we take it back out to our target audience and ask them what they think of it, take their advice, and start all over again.
This article may not be life changing, but it is the EXACT article I wish the younger version of myself would have had in front of him when he was starting out.
So, to the up and coming entrepreneurs who are building and creating, don’t forget to take a step back and ask the people you are trying to help how best you can help them.
It’ll work wonders for you and your business.