This is a guest post by Sarah Robinson, President and CEO of Sarah Robinson Co. She is a seasoned business coach, strategist, advisor and speaker who helps business owners set their companies apart from the pack. Based in Birmingham, Alabama, Sarah advises her international clients on how to build a thriving, successful community, how to increase social media effectiveness, and how to develop a remarkable online and offline business presence.
Her expertise in personal and business change was developed through many years of working with and providing coaching to entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-up non-profits, where she honed her ability to “turn around” thousands of struggling individuals and organizations. You can learn more about Sarah and Fierce Loyalty at http://www.fierce-loyalty.com.
I know you may be thinking “Why do I need to read about the case for building a community? Isn’t that what associations DO? We already know how to do that.” Which is precisely my point.
The strategies and approaches for community building are changing. And gaining fierce loyalty from your community is becoming increasingly difficult. There is just so much out there competing for the attention, and for the heart, of your members that doing things the same way you’ve always done them will no longer yield the results you are after.
To help you view your community through a fresh lens, (which will also give you new ideas for engagement), I’d like to share what I call The ROI of a Fiercely Loyal Community. With a solid understanding of this Return on Investment, you can breathe new life into your community and foster a tribe full of fiercely loyal members.
Ready to get some of that? Let’s roll up our sleeves and get going!
ROI #1: Raving Fans Who Will Help You Spread The Word
In this loud crowded marketplace we all operate in, it’s critical to have a group of people who will help you spread the word about your association.
What makes them want to spread the word?
Maybe you’ve let them beta-test your latest new thing for free and they’ve found out how awesome it is. Maybe you asked them to help you create your latest new thing so they feel ownership in it. Or maybe you’ve made them feel like such a vital part of what you are doing that they feel invested in making sure it succeeds.
ROI #2: A Grassroots Research and Development Team
A fiercely loyal community that is invested in your success is like having access to a brain trust comprised of your ideal members.
Instead of just asking them what they want, tap into their imaginations. Empower them to help you tease out the real problems they are facing so you can co-design powerful solutions. Let them play with the stuff you’re working on so they can help you make it better before you ever release it to the public.
ROI #3: A Membership Base Waiting to Gobble Up Whatever You Offer
You’ve got to have members to stay in business right? Imagine members who’ve been involved in helping you design and build your latest thing. They know it’s going to solve their problem and that it’s going to fit them like a glove. Think they’ll want to buy it?
Even if they haven’t been intimately involved in the design process, bring them along with you as you are designing. Ask them questions. Learn who they are. This insider feeling helps them see how you design solutions just for them.
ROI #4: Reduction in Member Attrition
We’ve all heard it: “It’s cheaper to keep a member than it is to go out and get a new one.” Happy, thriving, fiercely loyal communities are your greatest asset in keeping your current members engaged with you.
When your members are engaged in your community and feel like it plays a vital role in their lives and/ or their organizations, they aren’t likely to leave you for the latest and greatest widget. Leaving you means leaving the community and that is just a price they aren’t willing to pay.
ROI #5: Happier Members
Happy members are a delight to do business with. They complain less, refer more and actually may invest more with you.
Did you know that all of the happiness research out there points to two things that are most vital to our happiness: connection and engagement? Many of your members are actively looking for this connection and engagement. When you provide that for them, they will see you as a source of happiness. Which is a pretty awesome (and uncommon) thing for an association to provide.
So there you are: five ROI’s of a Fiercely Loyal Community. Which ones speak to you? Which ones would have the biggest and/or most immediate impact on your association? Focus on building those ROI’s into your community first, then focus on building the others. You’ll be well on your way to re-vitalizing your members and your community and inspiring a fiercely loyal tribe.