[Podcast] How to Build Community

[Podcast] How to Build Community

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In this episode, Jacob Cass & Matt Davies delve into the subject of community building for both brands & creatives.

We jump straight into understanding your audience, where we cover defining your target audience, understanding their needs and behaviors, and researching to gain insights.

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We then move on to defining your community’s purpose, highlighting the importance of identifying core values and the overall mission, setting goals and objectives, and aligning with your audience’s goals.

Building and growing your community is next on the agenda, where we discuss strategies for attracting members, engaging them, managing conflicts, and measuring success.

We also touch on monetizing your community, finding the right strategy, and ensuring that it benefits both your community and its members.

Finally, we share best practices and tips for success, including common mistakes to avoid, recommendations for successful community building, and tips for management and growth.

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Transcript (Auto Generated)

Hello, and welcome to JUST Branding, the only podcast dedicated to helping designers and entrepreneurs grow brands. Here are your hosts, Jacob Cass and Matt Davies.

Hello, folks, and welcome to another episode of JUST Branding Season 4. We’re getting into it now, and you’ve got, unfortunately for you, just me and Jacob again, because we’ve got some kind of key topics we want to kind of get through and add some value to you as our listeners. But don’t worry, we’ve got more interviews.

We’ve got loads of interviews lined up. But before we get into those, one of the things that we thought would be worth touching on is this concept of brand building and communities. You know, I think as time has gone on, particularly in this world of AI that we live in, brands need to kind of really build that human connection.

And I see it a lot in the B2B space where, you know, there’s tremendous opportunities for people to connect, to build peer networks, and there’s a real craving and desire for us to kind of have that human connection. So communities and brands that provide the space for communities to grow are becoming more and more strategically, I would say, important in order to kind of build really, you know, thriving brands. So that’s what we thought we’d do our topic on.

And the reason why we haven’t invited the guests is because basically we have our own resident guru in this area of our Mr. Jacob Cass, who probably would hate me for calling him that, but you know, he is a little bit-

I’m going to change my LinkedIn title.

Yeah, do it, guru-like. But yeah, as to say, I think it’s the years that the Yoda-like is, it makes us all wonder. No, but in all seriousness, I know, Jacob, you have built some fantastic communities, and we’ll tuck into that in a minute.

And just to kind of be full to transparency, I’m at the start of a community building journey. And so I’ve done it with brands, and I’m now doing it for me, Matt Davies, as myself. So I’m really excited to kind of tuck into this, just to pick your brains in a way, Jacob, to hopefully ask some interesting questions.

And then, but hopefully, I think this conversation will be relevant to anybody in brand building who really wants to build a powerful brand that actually, you know, connects with people and builds networks around it. And for me, the management of meaning and branding is all about that. And if you’re not in the community building space, I think it’s not for every brand, obviously, but I think there’s tremendous opportunity for you if you’re not in there to actually think about that as a strategic move.

So hopefully it’s very relevant to you. And even if not, hopefully you’ll enjoy what we have to say as we go through. So Jacob, I think what would be great is if maybe we could tuck into your personal journey and then I can share mine.

And then we’ve got some kind of key things, perhaps key topics we could dive into. So give us a little snapshot of your background. Why did you start a community?

What are your communities and what happens in there?

Sure thing. All right. So I’ve been running JUST Creative, which is my brand agency, also a community since 2007.

So I’ve built an audience up there. I want to share the difference between an audience and a community because it’s really important to define that. And we often start with definitions here.

I love a good definition, let’s do that.

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Audiences, right? We all put out content, right? And that is our audience.

We’re projecting our messages onto them. Communities are about connecting on a deeper level to have shared values, belonging, and to really share resources and connect with other people that have similar interests. And it’s more of a multi-directional connection, right?

Other members connect with other members versus me projecting onto my audience. So one way, often one way conversation, maybe two ways occasionally, but communities are multi-directional. This is really, really important.

So that’s the difference between building an audience versus a community. And you engage with members in different ways based on the community purpose, right? So purpose is a really, really important aspect of community building.

I’m just giving context and I’ll get into my journey soon, but understanding your audience, who you’re bringing together, what the purpose of a community is, how to actually grow and build that community and how to monetize it, if you are into that. And then also some best practices and some mistakes that I’ve learned along the way. So that’s really where I will take this, but for context of community building, I’ve definitely made many mistakes along the way.

I built up a Facebook community of 100,000 members. 100,000? Yeah, so this was before, yeah, so this was a while back now, probably five years ago, and they’re still all there.

But the mistake I made there was not fanning the fire, right? And I was all about the numbers back then versus the connection. And Facebook is, it’s not my favorite place.

There’s a lot of ads and the connections are really, they’re hard to connect members. So purpose-built platforms, I use a platform called Circle. They’re a great platform.

There’s many others out there, Heartbeats, Peerboard, and there’s many more, many more. But yeah, building up that community, I learned what not to do. I learned how to get people into a community, but not actually how to get them to engage.

So in the past few years, just around when COVID hit, I started two masterminds, right? And they were fully booked within when I launched. So I had, I was actually, I only planned to do one mastermind group.

That split into two. So I had a professional group and then a beginner’s group. And I ran that, I’m actually still running that now.

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So it’s been three years nearly since COVID hit. And I’ve also built a community, a membership community, a paid membership community as well called the exponential creatives. And it’s funny we’re doing this now because I’m actually gonna be joining these two together.

So the mastermind and the community together. So we’re gonna have a wider reach, more impact for the members. So that’s my experience, you know, building up a Facebook group, letting that go to s**t, it’s just the language, but it’s literally like, it’s like tumbleweeds in there now, even though there’s a hundred thousand members, the reach has been capped because of Facebook and algorithm changes.

You know, Facebook pushes personal updates and photos versus pages and communities. So that’s the problem when you don’t own the platform, right? So yeah, you can put all this effort into it, you know, Instagram’s the same thing, Facebook.

But if you own a community, you know, on place like Circle, for example, you have more control. Yes, it’s not actually on your server, but you have more control and it’s purpose-built for a community. So I’ll leave it there.

That’s my quick experience.

I just have one quick question. You know, you mentioned numbers and I know you’re not focused on numbers, but you mentioned it was sold out or that all the seats were taken within the first few days or something. What’s the, how big are those communities?

And, you know, just to give us an idea of size and of what you like to get your community sizes to.

Yeah, so I found through experimentation that it was around 12 people as a maximum that was in any mastermind, because then you didn’t, not everyone got to speak and there was just, yeah, everyone didn’t have a turn. You can do more, it’s just then people have more of a passive role in it. So if it’s a mastermind and everyone wants to speak and learn from another, I found 12 to be a sweet spot.

But generally, you know, I found that because of sickness and schedules and everything, maybe like eight would turn up on a work, like a session. And that was really, really intimate. We did have some bigger ones.

It just didn’t, the connection wasn’t with everyone. So that’s okay. Just really depends on the purpose of the mastermind.

So that’s my experience, but I know there’s masterminds out there that have like dozens and dozens or even hundreds as well.

Yeah, no, fascinating. So, okay, so shall I share my journey? So basically, just to full cards on the table, I was kind of inspired by you, to be absolutely honest, because I knew you had those things going on.

And we talk after doing podcasts over the last few years, so I’ve kind of been along for your journey. And I kind of had something going on, which wasn’t, I didn’t intend. So I kind of stumbled into this, right?

It’s not really my focus. My day-to-day focus is my consultancy work with my clients, which we talk about a lot. But what happened was, I was part of, well, a couple of things happened actually.

I did the Level C courses with Marty. And one of the things that I actually set up with Andy Starr was a LinkedIn group for anybody that goes through the Level C kind of courses. And what I found by that is quite passive, but there was kind of a need, and people were going on there and asking questions, and I was responding, and Andy was responding, and others were responding.

So I’ve kind of, and I still help Andy manage that. It’s kind of more of a passive thing though. So I thought that was interesting.

But the other thing is, is that when COVID hit, Level C did a competition called MetaSkills, and I think they were just sort of testing out the waters in terms of how virtual might work. And I was involved in that, and part of, I don’t know how many people took part, few hundreds, some of our listeners may have taken part. I was privileged enough to be in a really cool team, and we came second in the competition, which was amazing.

Anyway, but I’m glad I came second, but putting that to one side. That group said to me afterwards, I became the little spokesperson for that group, and they said, Matt, would you mentor us? Would you mentor us?

Because we really like enjoying hanging out. So I was like, yeah, well, I don’t really see myself as a mentor to you. We’re equals here.

Why don’t I just, I’ll arrange a Zoom call once a month, and we’ll all jump on the Zoom call, and we can just talk about hot topics. And so this kind of went on for a couple of years. I started adding people to the group, so we’d meet up and we’d be talking.

I mean, it’s quite lonely sometimes, if you’re, particularly if you’re a solopreneur, or even if you’re in brand building just generally, there’s a lot of pressure and it can be quite lonely. And you can come across quite strange challenges sometimes, with individuals or within projects or terminology or systems or methods or whatever it might be that the business that you’re, investment, whatever it might be that the business is that you’re working with are kind of struggling with. So I found it very useful for me personally as a facilitator of that.

But I know everybody else had a good time as well and we had good fun. Anyway, I kept promising them. I said, I kept getting people saying, Matt, I couldn’t make it on Thursday.

Could you send me the video or could you send me the recording? And after a while, this got really annoying, right? Frankly.

So I thought, right, I need to do this properly. And I saw what you’d done over with your groups, Jacob. And I thought, right, you’d mentioned to me the Circle platform.

And as we say, there’s plenty more. We’re not being sponsored by Circle here. Unfortunately, maybe we should have done that, Jacob.

Move on. Anyway, and what we decided was, okay, I decided was I’ll set this up. So over the Christmas holidays, I set up the community properly.

It’s a paid membership now because I needed to initially just needed to cover the costs. But now I realized that was probably a mistake because what happened was I released it. And I’ve had inundated with people wanting to join this group.

I’ve rejected some, I’ve accepted some. And I think we’re now around 20 members. So as you say, that’s probably on the large side.

I don’t know, I’m gonna see how it goes. Obviously, I wanna add huge value to this group. And what we do is we meet once a month as we’ve always done, and we select a key topic for the kind of the month ahead.

And so that’s kind of a community based decision. But the members also have access online to all the resources and tools and chat. And I know that’s the same with your groups as well.

So there’s something physical. There’s a physical connection. There’s a real community that meets and talks and interacts.

But then outside of that, they can still talk and do whatever they want to do within the group on the platform that I own, which I get to see. So that’s how it works. And I think that model…

Let’s imagine we’re not in strategy space for a second or freelancer space. Imagine you’re a brand and you are, I don’t know, in a very technical science space, right? What would stop you from gathering people of like-mindedness around the key topic that you’re working on?

So all your science people can start talking together, right? Industry, partners, whoever, put them together. What if you were in more of a product category?

Could you build a community around your product? Well, if you’ve done your strategy right, you’ve got a big idea, there’s beliefs and values that you think about, then surely there’s an opportunity to create a community that likewise believes in those things and will get value out of you talking about them or getting guests in to talk to them about it. So I think that’s what it’s all about.

And in the meantime, when you’re not on camera or facilitating a virtual meeting, the community can start talking. And this is one of the wonderful things I’ve found. It’s like they’re all talking in my little group, but I’m like, oh my goodness, I’m not having to do anything.

They’re getting value out of talking to each other and supporting each other. And that’s what this is all about really. It’s not about you as the owner of the group, it’s about the community as a whole, moving together, becoming stronger together, being inspired together and really kind of building that movement around whatever the key topic is that you’ve selected.

So I think we can get into that in a second, but that’s my story. I probably waffled on too long there, but you know me.

Let’s think about community, right? It’s about connection. That’s what it’s about, and that’s what the aim is, to connect people.

And this is the mistake I made with Facebook, is that I got all these people in there, and it was a one-way conversation still. I posted things, and you got some comments, but there was no engagement between other members. And that’s where Facebook lacks, what it lacks.

So moving forward, I used this knowledge of the mistakes I made to create a community where there was connection, where the members knew each other. So when I kept it small in those 12 in each group, everyone knew each other by their first name, everyone talked to each other, and it was a really strong connection. And I learned that it’s not about the numbers, it’s about that connection, and you can create a much deeper, more meaningful connection with these people and create more impact to these individuals because of that connection.

So I used this for the beginners, and we focused on different topics, and we used it for the same approach for the advanced people. And now we’re doing this at scale in a coaching, or in a community, sorry, where we have all of those things you mentioned, they can interact on a forum. There’s events, there’s webinars, there are guest speakers.

You’ve even been a guest speaker in our community. So exponential creatives is the community. If you do want to check it out, you can see how it’s set up.

And this is why I’m sharing that, is you can see what’s there, see how users are interacting, see the content, and you can understand the purpose. And the purpose for this particular community is to connect other creatives who are all from around the world and from different disciplines. There’s brand builders, there are photographers, there’s web designers, there’s freelancers, there’s agency folks.

So it’s a very diverse mix in the group. So that way you can learn from people ahead of you, and you can also provide resources to people who are underneath you as well. So it’s about giving back.

It’s also about growing from others, connecting with others. And that’s what community is about. And that’s what I’ve learned.

You have to really understand your audience. Who are you doing this for? Understand the purpose.

Why are they there? What do they want to get out of it? And the value is different for everyone.

And this is the thing I struggle with the most, because when you have a diverse group of people, everyone’s idea of value is different. There are people at different levels, and there are people looking for different things at different time zones. That’s really, really challenging.

Oh, time zones. So understanding, connecting with these people, and truly understanding what they’re looking for is integral to maintaining engagement and reducing churn, which is basically people not resubscribing. If you’re on a membership model, they unsubscribe, right?

And then you lose engagement and there’s a snowball effect. And I’ve also noticed this in the past few months, because I’ve been scaling my blog and we have a team of 10 now, my focus went away from this community for about three to six months naturally. But I noticed the engagement will go down and that’s because I wasn’t fanning the fire, engagement went down and that has a snowball effect, right?

If there’s no one engaging, people aren’t showing up, then people will ask themselves, why am I here? Why am I paying this money? Why am I showing up when I’m not getting any value?

So I’ve learned from that and my membership has gone down, we’ve peaked at about 125. And then I don’t know the exact numbers now, but it’s dropped down. So I’m refanning the fire, reinvigorating, restructuring it this year to get the right people in here.

And I’m doubling down on over delivering with value to this group. Because I know the impact that you can have when you have this deeper connection and you’re not just there for the numbers. So yeah, coming back to the audience, knowing your audience, knowing why they’re there, the purpose, I guess we can get into how we build an audience next, unless you had something else to say on purpose.

Well, yeah, I just thought I’d say, from my perspective, purpose is always crucial, right? Not because people are going to join you in this enterprise. So what’s the purpose?

I mean, for my mastermind group, the aim is to help support, inspire and inform members as they navigate the tricky world of brand building is basically the line. And so that is kind of it. So as you say, you’ve got different people at different levels.

And I always kind of, what I’ve been doing is particularly for our meetups is to sort of reach out to the community and say, look, what topic do you want to talk about next time we meet up? And if I don’t actually know about that, what I’d do is I’d ask somebody within the group who I know is great. So we had someone on NFTs, we had somebody on internal branding who was brilliant at that.

To basically come on Meg, in fact, to I think was one of our guests last season. She did some sessions. So the point is that, again, it’s not driven by just me, but what I find out is that I get to listen and hear what’s a hot topic and what’s on people’s minds.

And I get to spot issues and challenges and see how people solve them so I can deploy them in my work. So I become better as well. And I’m just thinking again, to pull back from just you and I for a second, any business out there who is keen to remain relevant, which should be all businesses, right?

If you do engage with your community, that’s the sort of thing that can happen. You can understand the problems that your customers are facing, the problems your partners are facing and really be integral to talking that through with them in order to then go away and think about how could you innovate and create solutions with them or for them? And so I would say, a lot of brands should be thinking about creating roles within their marketing teams or for communities.

And if you’re not, think that through because I think you’ve heard from me and Jacob today is the power of that if you do it right. So all wrong, as the case might be. And we can all learn, can’t we, together from our mistakes.

So let’s get into the next sort of step stage of things.

Well, Matt, before we do, so I just wanted, because we’re talking about brands, so to give this context to brands, right? Other brands out there, Nike, for example, or Apple, let’s just go with Nike for one. You know, Nike is a huge brand, but they have sub-sectors, right?

There’s golf and there’s run-in and they all have little sub-communities within them. So you have to think about the people inside of it. They have shared interests and that’s how they’re gonna connect, right?

Is it run-in or is it trail run-in or is it sprint-in? There’s all these sub-sections and that’s what brands can do is create these platforms to allow or empower their members or their customers or their tribe to connect with one another. That strengthens the bond between them and actually builds the brand up for Nike, right?

As an example. So think about your brand. How can you empower your customers, your audience to connect better?

Yeah. Yeah, a hundred percent, sorry. And I was just gonna say, yeah, Nike’s such a great example because of the running clubs that they set up.

They do a lot of kind of virtual challenges and stuff. I think, and they’ve got tech and then product to support that, right? And also the other thing is, when you’re part of those communities, it’s kind of like a step change, isn’t it?

It’s like, you can just be a consumer of these brands, but you can then belong to these brands and really kind of work within their communities. And that I think is super powerful because you get that extra added loyalty. You’re actually creating real difference for people in their lives.

And I think it’s super, super powerful. You were gonna talk about Apple. Was there an example there you wanted to give?

It’s the same thing, but I think Nike is a perfect example book because it’s more relatable with the sub-sectors, right? It’s the same thing. It’s about connecting the tribe.

But let’s move into building and growing your community. Like I mentioned, I built up a community of over 100,000 designers, creators from around the world. And that was done through Facebook, emails, search and funneling people into the Facebook group.

Unfortunately, the algorithms changed. It just went downhill, as I mentioned, unfortunately. I still have it today, but with 100,000 people, I get more engagement with a community of 100 people.

So it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the connection. Yeah. So how I built that audience was, I did have an existing audience.

So tapping into that is the first place to start. Just like you have, Matt, it’s been a natural progression. You can test the waters.

You don’t know who wants to connect with you. And when COVID hit, that’s literally what I did. I’m thinking of starting a mastermind group.

Who’s interested? Here’s my waiting list. People sign up the waiting list, you test the waters.

Then, okay, well, I’m going to be opening this soon. Here’s an application. So I want to get the right people.

And then from that application, I can see who’s going to be on the wait list. So there’s a bit of exclusivity behind it. If you people love scarcity, but it’s also to get the right people in there.

So it’s a bit of marketing tactics, but it’s also truth behind it, because you want the right people in there, and you also want that connection to happen between all of them. So I found this using your audience, testing the waters, then building up a wait list to see how much true interest there is, and then using a bit of scarcity to get the right people in there. And then letting them apply, that’s what I did with this community.

Whereas the blasted out approach on Facebook, it was literally just share everywhere, right? And get people in to Facebook. And it was a little bit more organic and natural back then to get people into your page.

Because back then Facebook was pushing these pages big time. So it was much easier, not so much these days. And it’s, but I do know a lot of people that use Facebook exclusively for community building, selling their products, building community as well.

So it’s really about how you use it. It’s just a tool. So I’m not just, I’m not bagging on Facebook.

It was just my mistakes on not doing it properly, but that’s how I built it.

You also with Facebook, as I understand it, I might be wrong, you can correct me, but you can’t have that process that you’ve just talked about. You’re either in or you opt in or out or whatever.

There is some questions you have to answer. Like there’s some questions you have to answer and then you can approve them to get in, but it’s not to the level.

Yeah, I mean, that exclusivity is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I mean, that is about getting, you mentioned about getting the right people, because as we’ve said at the start of this, it’s not just about growing the numbers, it’s about those people being able to engage with each other, right? So if somebody enters my group, I want to make sure that they’re committed, in my example, they’re in the brand space, not kind of too newbie in the situation.

And they’re genuinely seeking to grow their knowledge and understanding and give back, right? So I think that is such a crucial thing. Someone can’t just be part of these groups and not connect or not give back or not need any value, otherwise it’s pointless to being there, they’re just gonna drop out as you say.

So you need to understand that, you need to kind of create that. And I think the other thing is, is when you think about that from a brand perspective, let’s say you’re building a product business or something, again, you’ve got to think that through. You’re not here just for the numbers.

So how are you gonna create that exclusivity that Jacob says? How do you create, ask the right questions so that the right people are connected in that group? Because if you don’t do that, you’re just gonna get any old person, Larry wandering in and then the whole value of the group is gonna go down because people are gonna be like, oh, I joined that thing from ABC limited and it was just so dull and boring and no one was talking in any sense.

It was just loaded with people trying to sell to each other. I’m not going there again and you’ve wrecked it.

It’s funny what we’re talking about here is, what is it, Matt?

What are we talking about?


Oh yes, we totally are. Why did I miss that one? It is, it’s all about culture.

It’s about culture strategist.

I know, well, that’s what it is. And what we’re talking about here is, is the behavior, you know, you’re looking for people with the right behaviors, the right values, the right beliefs to connect in. As an extension, if you like, of your brand.

So you’ve done that work as a brand. Right now go out and create spaces for those people to actually, for those audiences, the people you’re showing up for to create value and share and connect together. You’re absolutely right, it’s culture.

I had a quick question. So the way that you run your communities, obviously there’s an online element, there’s a meetup element like similar to mine as well. But what do you do if you find there’s somebody misbehaving?

This hasn’t happened to me yet. And I wondered if, obviously you can’t go into specifics, don’t name names, but it’ll be useful to just kind of understand for those people out there looking to build communities, that might be a fear, that might be a concern that they have. So how have you dealt with that?

Yeah, so the screening process in the beginning is really important. So you’ll have a big interest when you announce it and you’ll get an influx of people wanting to join. You have to screen these people.

And over time, you’ll peak out, right? In the beginning, it’s like a real, it’s the honeymoon period, everyone’s excited. But as things progress, engagement does go down and things drop off, there is some churn.

So you have to constantly be marketing if you wanna keep it growing, just like anything really. But the screening process is really important. However, it’s not perfect.

So there are some people that may not be the best fit. And it’s about communicating, right? Just warning them.

Sometimes there’s spam, right? You can get escort services coming in, saying, leaving links and everything.

You get escort companies in your communities. I love that.

We actually have two community managers to manage this. I totally underestimated how difficult it is to run a community with more members than 24 is manageable. But just managing on the backend, renewals and contact, making sure they have the right value.

It’s like, it’s a lot. It’s really difficult not to scare anyone off, but the value thing is really important. Just asking questions, getting onto their level, connecting with people.

That’s a real way to understand what they’re looking for. So you can provide them with the value that they’re looking for. So yeah, that’s how I know screening and management community managers.


Yeah, so I guess that’s something to bear in mind, folks. Make sure you set that up. Do you have rules in your community?

I’ve not really done that. I just kind of keep it fairly informal, but I mean, brands, I imagine…

We do, we have like the onboarding process, so people join and then they go to a page where it has, here’s what you do next, here’s a couple of code of contact rules, here’s a tour video just to get people onboarded with it all. And a lot of this is automated through Zapier, right? So someone joins in and they get directed to the right place and so forth.

Yeah, because I’ve not had any issues with that yet. I’ve not really thought that through, but that’s been one great thing I’m going to take away from this conversation. Yeah, maybe I need a community guideline role section, but how dull is that?

Do you know what I mean? So I need to think about this.

Yeah, it’s just policy, right? I think common sense these days, people are pretty, at least professionals, I’ve found that if they’re into a topic and they’re professional and signing up to this sort of thing and paying money for it, like generally that gate keeping keeps the time wastes out. And that’s the other thing about Facebook, right?

They just join any community and you don’t see them again. Whereas like a real community that has connection is a little bit different.

So 100%. Okay, great. Well, we’ve obviously danced around that quite a bit.

Well, let’s shift gear a little bit. So, what about monetization, should we touch on that nasty little kind of area? Because I guess, I was just going to say from a brand perspective, let’s say you’re a business trying to build that, I still think that this is super relevant.

So somebody might think, well, hang on, if I’m a brand, I just want to get as many people as I want. But no, not necessarily, right? And you can do different tiers within a community.

So you can have an elite class. And if you’ve built up enough brand loyalty, you know, your top believers, your top followers, your top fans, they’re going to be one, they’re going to want to get the best content, the newest information, the most personal connection. And so you can create that elite thing at the top.

And I know that’s something that you’ve looked at, Jacob. So tell us about what your thoughts are on monetization.

There’s many different ways to monetize a community. You can have free communities and they’re great, you know. However, you can monetize them on the front end or the backend, right?

So it could be a paid gate to get into the community or you could have offers on the backend or, you know, selling products or services or coaching or masterminds that, you know, up level, you can up level. So there’s different strategies. I like to use Tony as an example, Tony Robbins as an example, because-

I love how you just call him Tony, like he’s your mate. Like, yeah, I just like to use Tony as an example. Good old T, Tezza, Big T.

Okay, yeah, what does he do?

T-Dogs. He’s like the peak of masterminds and performance and coaching and everything. So to get access to Tony is the big deal.

You pay a lot of money to get that access. When you’re building communities, small communities around a certain niche topic, brand, for example, you may not have the- Not everyone’s Marty Neumayor, right?

They can’t just have these communities with so much access. And he’s doing it with Level C, but the point here is that you have to understand how things are being monetized and how much access someone has to you and your community. So obviously Matt Davies, mastermind community is gonna be about Matt Davies, but it’s also the value that the other members bring as well, but you’re still the facilitator.

And Tony Robbins is still branded Tony Robbins, but he has other facilitators doing the work for him underneath the Tony Robbins brand. So I think the ultimate goal could be to get to this exclusive place where you are unreachable, if that’s one of your goals. I’m not saying you do that, but it’s that idea of monetization is one strategy.

It’s about getting access to you, your mind and your resources and your processes and your thinking, which is really the most valuable thing here, is your experience. That’s one way to monetize it. The second way is like the gatekeeping I mentioned, so paying a membership fee per month or per year to get access to the community.

And how you find the right amount is based on the value and your audience and how you’re positioning the community as well. So there’s a few things to consider and brand builders will know a little bit about positioning and understanding that. So you really have to understand your audience and what they want to get out of it.

No, absolutely. Yeah, brilliant. As I say, I’m sort of new to this.

I’m just keeping my structure really simple at the moment. But as time goes on, I imagine I could look at that. But yeah, I think it’s really interesting.

I think imagine you’re a luxury brand or you’re representing a luxury brand. How interesting would it be, for example, to create a very high-end community that costs a lot to be involved in, that gives people access and gives them value to information, ideas, product, what experiences even, that are next level. Disney.

Yeah, yeah, I mean, that’s it.

So you have that special VIP room.

Yeah, well, I mean, that’s true, but I’m more thinking like we’re thinking, well, I was gonna say, we’re talking very much virtual communities, right? But there are physical communities, like Formula One, Ferrari and so on. I think you can belong to really exclusive communities, which give you access, as I say, to stuff that nobody else can get to.

So I think that as a strategic building block, as part of your arsenal, as you’re building your brands, think through how that element’s gonna work. We often say on JUST Branding, your brand isn’t just your logo and your fonts, right? It’s a lot deeper than that.

It’s about the meaning people connect with you to you and your business. So how can you leverage that so it’s real, right? So we’re not talking just the veneer.

Let’s give them something real and tangible and really amazing experiences. And they’ll be willing to pay for that, right? So it can become a product, a whole channel in its own right and a way of listening as well.

So as you say, omnidirectional, which you mentioned at the start, which I think is a really great way of putting it.

I didn’t say that word. That would have been very helpful if you should. I’m sure you said multi-directional.

There we go. What did I just say? Omnidirectional.

There we are, everybody. Just come and listen to me. I’ll give you some good words to plan this on.

Anyway, I’m here until the end of the session. Anyway, so I wanted to kind of touch on a couple, well, just a couple of other sort of things. You’ve obviously been in this game of community building for some years.

What would you say best practice tips for success are? And is there anything you think people should avoid? You’ve talked a little bit about things that have gone wrong, but what are the best practices and the worst practices, if you like, give us a snapshot of what your tips would be.

Yeah, so based from my experience, I understand in your audience and what they value is really, really important because that’s going to allow you to provide that value, you know, allow them to connect, allow them to download resources or connect or whatever you’re empowering them to do, that’s really, really important. So knowing your audience, knowing what they value.

And I guess allowing them to do that by providing the right tools and resources, that’s it. And that’s why you need a platform like Circle, not Facebook in my opinion, because it allows that omni-directional connection to happen. So knowing your audience, knowing your purpose, providing them with the tools and resources to allow them to connect.

And I think I’ll leave it there because those are the essentials. Monetizing, best practices. I’m just trying to think off the top of my head, but yeah, constant contact, right?

Checking in, that’s really, really important as well. So if you don’t hear from someone for a while, you can check in with them. So you have to be diligent.

Can I ask a question on that one? How frequently do you check in with your community? Like how, is it weekly, is it daily?

Like what’s the sort of level of commitment that you sort of expect of yourself?

Yeah, so if I don’t see them for one month or more, then I have a community manager ping them on email. It often falls on deaf ears. I don’t know what it is, but if they’re away and we don’t get a response, life gets in the way sometimes, but it’s just about being there, right?

Even if they see an email, they may not respond. It’s about you showing that you care. So I think it’s that care, now that we’re talking about, that really matters.

And yeah, so purpose, audience, value, care, connection. These are some values that are really, really important to community building.

Love that, love that.

I really should have had a list prepared for this, but that’s the things that came to mind.

No, I prefer it like this. Off the gut, you know, off the gut, off the bat. Off the gut is even a better expression than omnidirectional, let’s just use that.

So off the gut, I think it’s really good. It’s great to kind of get your-

Well, we should have chat GPT’d it, because we, full disclosure, Matt and I, both, we’re like, let’s do a podcast on community building. And then we’re like, both go in a ChatGPT and then send each other emails. Like, here’s a rough outline.

I said, oh, I actually use ChatGPT for this. He’s like, oh, me too.

AI is taking over our world, guys.

It is, it’s crazy good. It’s crazy good. But literally typed in, give me an outline for a 60 minute podcast for building a community.

And it pumped out understanding your audience, defining your community’s purpose, building and growing your community, monetizing best practices. And that’s literally what we’ve been following and just sharing our personal journey. So just on the topic of AI, like I’m really excited about this topic.

Yeah, maybe we should do something on that in some future episodes. I think folks, there’s a lot of fear out there about AI. There’s a lot of kind of interest.

So let’s do that. But I think it’s all about the prompts. You gave some very specific prompts.

Mine was more just like 10 questions people ask around community building. And I got 10 questions back which we’ve answered throughout this episode. So, it’s a different way of looking at it and framing things, but yeah, let’s do that.

Let’s get into that in the future.

Yeah, we’ll get into AI for sure. Yeah, context is 100% key for that. So we’ll come back to it.

But yeah, just to summarize, those are things, right? Knowing your audience, defining the purpose, building and growing it, monetizing it and having some care about your members, connecting with them. That is so important, yeah.

I agree, care would be the biggest one I take out. You know, don’t do this. Don’t set up communities if you don’t really care, folks.

That’s seriously not good. It won’t make you look good. It will frustrate the heck out of everybody.

So I think that’s the takeaway from today’s episode. Thanks so much everybody for joining us. We hope you found that interesting.

We’ve got some, so as I say, some really exciting guests lined up for us. So we’d see you on the next episode. All the best and take care.


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