Why It’s Needed And Why It’s Easier To Than You Might Think
Google has spoiled plenty of business owners and made marketing look like it should be incredibly simple. But then they were left disappointed.
Here’s the thing:
Google ads are great for transactional things that you can clearly define (You want to buy a new computer? Type it in.) – but if you want to know how to overcome a particularly complicated problem, that’s when things can get pretty tricky.
In a lot of cases, Google Ads is just not the right channel or the right tool for consumers who are looking for unique solutions that they can trust.
When Google fails, they turn to a new source to get the answers they’ve been looking for: communities.
Simon Chappuzeau, the founder and Managing Director of StoryLux, is an expert in building communities from the ground up. From the film industry to the blockchain, he has dedicated his life to building communities and coaching entrepreneurs.
Chappuzeau’s focus is on bringing people together, both personally and virtually, through all sorts of tools and techniques – but without needlessly reinventing the wheel.
There is no one marketing framework or platform that works for every product or service because every product or service is different. But, according to Chappuzeau that doesn’t mean marketing has to be as challenging as many people make it.
“Marketing is very challenging because there are a lot of opportunities and possibilities,” Chappuzeau explained, “but I think a lot of people are reinventing the wheel when there is no need. There are people who’ve done what you were trying to do before.”
According to him, most people are trying to find the golden bullet for their marketing challenges, wrongly thinking that they have to find something entirely unique to their company, their service, or their product.
Instead, Chappuzeau recommends relying on trusted expertise.
“It helps to have an expert who understands your industry and your unique challenge,” Chappuzeau said. “You can find someone who has done something similar with somebody else and already knows how it works.”
The two most important questions to ask yourself about potential customers/clients you’re trying to reach are:
- Is that person ready to speak with you
- Is that person ready for what you have to offer?
“Very often that’s not the case,” Chappuzaeu explained. “So if you send a cold email to somebody who’s not in the market for business coaching, you’ll just hammer that person with emails.
But I think that we have to understand that – with some services and products – often it’s not the right time to sell. It’s more about establishing contact or building a connection. And that is where community building comes into play.”
True vs. Faux Communities
Community building is a great way to engage with people that are not quite ready for “the big thing”, but who have an interest in it or are sensing they have a problem. For them, communities offer a different way to engage. You’re no longer pushing sales onto them. You’re connecting with people, but building true communities takes time and a whole lot of patience.
It’s no longer, “Hey, you wanna buy this now?” Instead, it becomes, “You should become part of this thing because it will expose you to new ideas regarding something you’re interested in.”
In that way, community building is a very natural, authentic thing. If it is deliberate or forced, it will come across as unnatural.
As Chappuzeau warns:
“If you’re trying to build a community just to sell stuff, it won’t feel very nice.”
Companies who have tried forced community building have found that working with a disingenuous purpose meant their efforts came across as inauthentic – and thus, they weren’t as effective – because people can sense they’re being tricked.
True community building, on the other hand, isn’t about bringing buyers and sellers together in a marketplace with the purpose of selling something. Instead, it’s an organic process done with the intention of connecting people with similar interests.
For your company, it might start with you bringing people together with genuine shared interests and then working to leverage the knowledge and insights they bring to help one another.
When that starts happening and everyone is benefiting from it, you can trust you’re building a community. When that community becomes customers, you’ll have earned their loyalty.
Another great thing about community building is that, by proxy, you’re automatically doing market research. You’re learning to understand your buyer better and how you can better solve their problems.
Curiosity: The Driver Behind Communities That Impact
True community building is driven by two things:
- A genuine curiosity in whatever you’re trying to solve or do
- A real desire to bring people together
“If you really want to help people to get this thing done (whatever it is they are struggling with) – then that is a great point to start from,” Chappuzeau explained. Because authenticity means having a genuine interest in what you do, the problem you solve, and the people you do that for.
You have to have enough curiosity to build a product, service, or community that tackles that problem, and these questions are a great place to start:
- What exactly is the problem?
- How can we solve it?
- How can other people help?
Chappuzeau gave an example of a community he helped build:
“We had this online community for blockchain entrepreneurs (and I never thought of it as building a community as we were doing it.) All we did was initiate conversations among the members.
Then we found people within the community that were interesting and invited them to speak on their core expertise. It was super interesting and we didn’t really have to make an effort. People felt so connected and really appreciated the value they gained from being brought together in that community.”
Organic. Authentic. Effortless. Impactful. These are the hallmarks of a true community.
How Community Building Has Changed With The Rise In Technology
With social media, Zoom meetings, online learning, and conferences, more of our communities are online than before.
This is a double-edged sword.
With the ever-increasing digital space, it is easier than ever to bring people together – but it’s also easier for them to leave. In the offline, in-person world, when people come together in a room, there’s a higher level of commitment. You are expected to be punctual. You don’t get up in the middle of a talk. You can’t just leave if it’s boring.
But, today, if you are on a group call, and it’s boring, you can just jump off the call. With fleeting interest and diminishing attention spans, it’s more important than ever that community leaders counter it by getting really clear on “the why.”
- Why are we here?
- What are you getting out of this?
- What do you have to contribute?
- What do you have to gain?
Use these questions to find your “why” and then communicate that “why” clearly to your members.
How To Make A Virtual Experience More Engaging
When it comes to virtual experiences, seminars, and conferences, two things need to be the focus for hosts:
According to Chappuzeau, a lot of people mistakenly believe “big is better.”
They aim for more members – instead of aiming for greater value for those members.
“If the value is high,” he said, “the community doesn’t need to be big. A group of 50 people can be more valuable to somebody than a group of like 5,000 people.”
And he also warns: Don’t overcomplicate tech features.
“Anything that helps to bring out the personality of members in an online setting is 10 times more valuable than having another feature,” according to Chappuzeau. “There are a lot of things we can do right now that are not rocket science but I see missing in a lot of communities.”
Here are 4 simple things he says anybody can do:
- Give a specific name to people in the group.
Instead of ‘attendee’ or ‘participant’, call them ‘member’. This subtle change in language is enough to give them an elevated experience.
- Introduce new members.
You can do this by sending out a message with a photo or a highly stylized introduction that will make that person look cool and interesting. This not only makes them feel welcome, but it also helps other members understand what that person brings to the community.
- Send a weekly email.
This sum-up of the week’s chats helps the people who couldn’t attend stay in the loop and feel connected to the community.
- Begin with breakouts.
Before a meeting, create breakout rooms of 3-5 people where they make some quick introductions and discuss this one particular topic or idea for the first 10 or 15 minutes. This creates space for intimate connections between people who never get a chance to talk to each other to form a little tribe that will make them more open to engaging with the bigger, whole group.
Using It For Good: The Human Need For Community
It’s a natural human desire to want to interact, exchange ideas, and understand each other’s needs. Building a community is all about tapping into that natural desire in an authentic way.
It’s important to remember that it’s not companies that join communities; it’s people. And it’s not companies that lead communities, it’s people. As executives, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to leverage our position and technology to build better communities.
This article was produced from the interview with Simon Chappuzeau featured on Episode #36 of the “Fractional C-Suite Retreat” podcast, a yorCMO podcast hosted by Joseph Frost, yorCMO co-founder, speaker and founder of The Fractional Professionals Association.
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