Starting a business is hard. The odds for success is only 1 in 10. This is why any entrepreneur would want to make sure he or she is setting himself/herself for success. One of the most crucial part of a successful business is the customers, not neccessarily the products as many people think.
Customers > Product.
Getting customers for your business is a function of marketing, which I consider the hardest part of running a business. That’s why I think we all should give it more focus, than the product or service we offer.
Joseph Barisonzi has this to say about marketing.
The title of this blogpost, was the title of a talk by Community building authority, Richard of FeverBee during one of the tech meetup events I once attended. The main content of this post are my processed thoughts on the subject and I will share 6 points from the talk.
- Build communities, not audiences.
- Talk about the community, not the brand / product
- On how to initiate discussions: Ask a Question, don’t just give information.
- Build relationship with key people
- We interact in niche groups. Friends and families first, then people with common interests –that’s a strong one.
- There is a difference between a [social] network of people and a community, one has no common interest and the later does have.
Our everyday living as humans thrives on communities and if we can apply some principles of communities to starting business in this digital age, we would have much better results.
Today, technology allows us to create communities that have more diversity than the offline communities we create as humans. Notice the subtle irony in that. It’s powerful!
To the crust of the matter – speeding up your new business.
You have to totally dig that this is a marketing game.
Here is my point exactly: You are starting a new business, a startup as it were, understand that the most critical thing to your survival is getting your customers to pay. You must find them and get them to pay.
Finding your customers and getting them to pay is the most critical thing – If so Why not do it FIRST.
The convention today, especially for technology startups, is to have the idea, do some research and all gather all what is needed to begin execution and then begin execution.
The mind is naturally focused on getting the obvious work done. Without considering the most critical thing -the reason why you will be in business, the paying customer.
Bringing this back to community building, with a mind of having your first customers – you don’t make that so obvious by the way.
You’ll have to discover a common interest that would resonate with the members and that your startup idea can relate with.
A few examples.
Redbull has a strong community and they rarely talk about the drink. The common interest is Extreme sports and that’s what they really focus on. We all remember the Felix dude that jumped-off the edge of space.
Nike, the sport brand, has a solid community too. The common interest here is running or an active lifestyle.
You would rarely see Nike try to sell you some shoes, but you’ll find them sharing about athletes and sporting lifestyle.
The goal with the community is to foster engagement and interaction around a common interest.
It’s also a perfect platform to develop your customers before your products or service. The aim should be to sustain and guide the interactions as much as possible to the point where-by the discussion nearly focuses or focuses on a point where your offering can solve a problem or meet a need. These are the moments you don’t want to miss.
By doing this the members discover the need for your product almost by themselves, you really did not bring it to them in their faces – which when they notice you are marketing, they activate their marketing guards, then it becomes tougher to sell.
By them discovering it as a result of committing their thoughts to something they are already interested in, selling would be easier, you would spend less on marketing, really.
However, community building is a skill on its own.
At this point, you have early adopters within reach. You can now offer the minimum viable product/offering, (MVP is no longer exclusive to tech startups) which becomes a way to demonstrate traction and begin business, weather by bootstrapping or via investment.
Starting your business this way, versus completing the product and then trying to run ads like- “Hey this is a product x that does magic y, you will like.. bla bla bla” -You may likely do that for a while before you gain some traction. Reason being that, the process of selling is in stages.
You as a person don’t just see a new product and say “Hey, take my money, I like you already” – rarely happens.
The process involves you getting the message clearly, thinking about it, then getting interested e.t.c
You don’t face that hurdle using the community way, they are passed naturally and quickly since interest exist.
The community way to starting a new business offers much more. If it is just for the feedback, that’s valuable enough.
Your community can be online or offline, the point is fostering the interactions – However you do it, really doesn’t matter.
This is one strategy we would be using more often to get more of our customers to discover Loystar. We would like to discover stories of exceptional customer service and promote them.
If you know a brand or business that delivers exception customer experience, time and again, please leave a comment below.
Also published on Medium.