How to Make Community the Secret To Success

community building
The word community has been with us for centuries.

A town, a church, a school, a collection of hobbyists, have all long been identified as communities.

Only in more recent years have we begun to apply the concept to business.

Every business today has a community that is made up of its employees, customers, supporters, networks, suppliers, and mentors.

The real question I suppose is whether each business realizes both the existence and power of this community.

Today, a healthy business is defined by the health of the community it draws.

Recognition of the fact that total community is far greater than a customer list is key to the most profitable business growth.

Many members in one’s business community – seen and unseen – wield tremendous influence on the growth, reputation and success of a business and intentionally nurturing community participation must be seen as a core element of business development.

A community, as described above, can serve a business in a number of ways.

A community can be a direct element of a business or it can simply be an ecosystem that indirectly serves a business.

Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Community

Here’s an example to illustrate my thinking on this.

I have a network of independent marketing consultants that make up a business known as the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.

These business owners choose to join this network in order to gain access to a set of tools and other benefits, but they are also drawn by a common point of view and network of like-minded individuals.

They voluntarily pay a fee to be part of this network as they see it as a valuable contributor to both their business and personal growth.

On paper, this is a transaction based on perceived return on investment.

In reality, the value of this network or in belonging to this network grows as each member chooses to contribute in ways that benefit other members.

Recently, we held our annual Summit at a ranch in the Colorado Rockies and session after session of the 3-day event were led, facilitated and orchestrated by various network members willing to share their individual talents to benefit the group.

New mastermind groups formed to go to work on areas of specific interest. Documents, templates, examples and other intellectual property were freely distributed to participants.

A regional leadership team made up of long-standing members was formed with the express intention of helping to assure that new members successfully tapped the benefits of the network.

These regional leaders plan to create accountability groups and hold “office hours” communication sessions to ensure that information is broadly spread across the network.

This layer of community infrastructure is what will allow this network to grow and prosper.

The World Domination Community

The second example I want to share is a community of which I am a member.

Chris Guillebeau has created what could only be called a movement that sprung out of his pursuit of non-conformity. The WDS community is one that’s unified by a simple idea that work can be what you say it is and that there are many, many people who would like to help you realize the work you were meant to do.

Each year for last five years WDS types trek to Portland Oregon to commune at the World Domination Summit.

I spoke at the event in 2014 and while I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences over the years I can say with little hesitation this is the most fun I’ve had in my speaking career.

The event itself is ridiculously well run and put together, but it’s the tribe that shows up that makes this a one of a kind event.

While I’m sure that Chris’ business benefits from the collective word of mouth, sharing and spending of community members, this is first and foremost a community curated around an idea more than a business.

Members meet, mastermind, support, push and promote each other with vigor I’ve witnessed in few other places.

The event draws over 3,000 attendees and is planned by a few paid positions, but it’s run by community volunteers willing to contribute significant amounts of time and energy to ensure the experience is unique and fulfilling.

When Chris released a new book (he’s written three to date) WDS members around the world vie to host him in their city. The power of this very active community is evident to anyone that’s exposed to it.

So, I guess the real point of all of this is ask and answer this question – If intentional community building is so vital how does one go about embracing the idea.

There are certainly those who know more about this than I, but over the years I’ve experienced the positive benefits of community by focusing on these five elements.

Communicate a unifying why

This advice is pretty mainstream these days as there’s no question that people rally around ideas, not businesses.

Whether you have the next big way to save the world or those in need or you simply want to create an innovation in your industry, you must create something worth joining.

Show me a business with a healthy culture and I’ll show you a unifying why. Show me a strong community and you can rest assured there is something that draws and engages its members.

People like to have fun, they like to feel they are making a difference, they like to contribute to ideas worth spreading, they like to be around people with similar values, they like to fight injustice, and they like to know they aren’t the only weirdoes who have been told they are crazy for going for something they feel passionate about.

The mistake many organizations make is to limit their community building efforts to marketing initiatives. When community starts with your why you quickly come to realize that community is every department.

Find your fire starters

When an idea grows big enough that divergent tribes start to form from within it’s essential to find and nurture leaders in the community. These leaders start little fires in little pockets and sometimes form their own communities. But, more often than not they help hold a community together by mentoring new members, spreading the good news and even performing functions that benefit the community as a whole with little regard for reward and recognition.

Nurture these fire starters as they hold the keys to creating a blaze that attracts far and wide.

In some instances, it makes sense to hire these fire starters and give them an official capacity.

Mike Stelzner of Social Media Examiner has done an incredible job identifying his fire starters and in some cases making them a part of the full-time team. He’s also got a large number of volunteer fire starters who help run the extremely popular and growing Social Media Marketing World Conference.

Manifest engagement

While a big idea is what attracts people to a community, giving members the ability to engage and contribute is what holds them.

You might start by forming some mastermind groups to help attack issues, contribute to long-range plans and advise on short-term initiatives.

There’s no question that live events help community members connect in ways that no other tactic can. Spending time working on problems or just having lunch with someone is incredibly bonding.

Simply asking opinions before charging ahead can be a great way to gain some valuable insight while giving people a sense that their voice matters.

Waiting for consensus on every decision is a sure path to paralysis, but letting people participate in and fight for things they believe in is how you create loyalty and commitment.

Create ownership

As a community grows and fire starters shoulder more and more work a sense of community ownership must evolve.

If members of the community are to become more deeply committed they must also feed a much deeper stake in the planning and outcome.

This step may indeed be the greatest test for any leader in a movement or business. This step requires letting go in a way that may feel both foreign and frightening, but without it a community will plateau.

Start by letting go of things that don’t work like they should. Look at the things hold you or your business back. You may just be surprised at what an energized group of individuals tasked with tackling a community constraint just might come up with.

Protect and serve

As a community grows that role of leader or leaders comes full circle. While you may indeed spark the fire that attracts people to rally, you eventually need to step back and perform a more strategic function.

The leader of any successful organization starts as the visionary, builds a team of leaders and then transitions to the role of story or brand leader.

Your job is to protect the vision, tell the story, and be the voice of the unifying why.

That’s how you serve a community that has matured to the point where the founder is more of an advisor and cheerleader than an implementer.

I don’t mean to suggest that this role is passive in any sense. If the core values of the community veer from a vision that serves, the leader must jump in aggressively to protect the community.

Community is a hot term in business these days and rightly so. In the past, community was about place, but today it’s about belonging, regardless of physical location and that change has the power to transform any business that embraces it.

I would love to hear about the communities that you belong to – the ones that make you feel you are part of something worth joining.

Re-engage With Leads & Increase Sales – Easy, Effective Ways to Bring Back Visitors Who Intend to Buy

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photo credit: Flickr

 We’ve all found those pennies behind the couch pillow, and that occasional quarter in the crevice can eventually pack a punch—a cup of coffee here, a trip to the movies there. But how much does that analogy reflect on those lost leads that slip through the cracks in our customer buying funnel?

Below are some easy and effective ways to re-engage with visitors who have visited your website but may have forgotten to get back to their project, or worse, may already be engaging with your competitors.  In any case, you’ll want to creatively remind them to re-visit your site and finish the purchase.

Use Re-marketing Ads & Target Specific Visitors

Re-marketing ads are ads that display to people who have previously visited your website, or leads from whom you collected an email address.  They’re offered by many publishers and serving platforms.  While some of the larger advertisers use products like Adroll or Criteo, other large and small advertisers still see a lot of advantages re-marketing directly in the publishers.  Some of the most popular publishers are Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter Ads, and even Instagram as of late. However, many would agree that Google and Facebook are probably the top two options for the most impact of performance.

Whether or not you are using Google for paid search or contextual ads, consider an Adwords remarketing ad campaign.  Adwords provides great tools for tracking performance and easily creating image ads, even for those of us with no creative capabilities—making ads is as easy as uploading your logo or image and drafting some text in the tool.

Facebook Ads is another great channel for re-marketing.  One and a half billion people hangout on its social platform providing an extensive reach, and many agree that the advertising costs are still quite low compared to other channels.


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Upload a List of Emails in Facebook for Targeting

Like the target settings that segment audiences by page visits and actions on the website, Facebook, Twitter Ads, and others allow email list uploading.  You can then easily create ads to show to your most valuable emails, which is great if you are scoring leads from a CRM and want to focus efforts based on lead quality or positions of a conversion process.

Reach Only the Visitors Who Show Interest in Your Product or Service

Since re-marketing ads are not free, many advertisers roll up their sleeves and take steps to increase their ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend).  Both Google and Facebook allow advertisers to create rules that will allow spend to only show ads to people who have taken specific actions on a website or in a conversion path.  Try setting up uniquely targeted campaigns to people who have visited your shopping cart in the last seven days, but who have not made a purchase. Or, run an ad exclusively to people who have filled out a form to learn more about your business.

By targeting only users who have shown certain levels of intent to purchase your product, marketers often save money by eliminated wasted ad spend on traffic that bears no fruit.

Measure Your Results and Refine Your Strategy

Implementing re-marketing ads to help bring users back into the conversion funnel should be common sense. But don’t forget to use good data when making decisions about your investment.  These tools all offer robust tracking to enable insights into what’s working and what might be cut out.

Read some good resources about tactics that work for other businesses and apply to refine your efforts.  Whatever you do, don’t leave those open leads to your competitors.

Engage with those lost gems and drive results to your top and bottom line.


9.30 cDavid Johns is the Digital Marketing Director for RushOrderTees, a national screen printing company that specializes in custom printed apparel for every occasion. He is a senior PPC, SEO, and SMO marketing specialist with skills and experience optimizing ROI through advanced data-driven strategies. He hails from San Francisco, but currently resides in Philadelphia.