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Struggling to grow your business during nap times, school lines, seeking balance? Been there, ready to guide you from survival to success!
When you think about the brands that are super successful, and that a lot of people look up to, oftentimes it can seem as if they have a “cult-like” following. And as someone who has recently gotten very invested in docuseries shows about cults, it got me thinking… Why is it that people buy into these ideas? What about the cult leaders is so appealing?
As crazy as cult behavior is, in a way, it can also be applied (in a much less creepy way) to our businesses and how we can build a community of engaged followers.
Before I scare you off, let me be clear, you do not need to go out and create a cult. However, you can take some of the same ideas and figure out what exactly draws people to these leaders or these ideas. And they can be applied to your business.
Let’s take the Stanley cup craze for example. Both of my daughters have them and are obsessed. And at first I really didn’t understand why. But as time has gone on, I started to see what the hype is about. Other than it being a good quality cup, there is a part of owning one that just makes you feel good because you have a sense of belonging. When you purchase a Stanley cup, you have now become part of this entire community of people who are similar to you in some way.
The Stanley brand is now to the point where anytime they release a new color or style of cup, it sells out almost immediately. So the question is, how can you create this same kind of craze over your own brand and business?
You want to have a community around your brand who are so excited about what you offer, what you do, what you are putting out into the world. People that are not only excited to work with you or buy from you, but also excited to talk about you to their friends, family, coworkers, etc. Word of mouth is such a powerful tool to utilize when growing your business. You might find yourself as a business owner going through slower seasons and feeling stressed out because of it. But the fact is, if you build a solid community around your brand, then you will have less moments of panic on where your next sale is going to come from.
My goal is to get you to a solid foundation in your business so that you don’t have to revert to those moments of desperation and randomly throwing out discounts and offers just to make ends meet. Instead, you will always be able to know where your next sale is coming from because it will be coming from the loyal community that is already full of raving fans for your business.
The first thing you need to understand are the differences between a community and an audience. For a long time, I was obsessed with the numbers on my social media. My follower number and creating an audience meant everything to me. But in reality, all it was, was just a number on a screen.
An audience is just a group of people who are in the background, following along, but probably not very engaged. A community is going to be the people who show up, know about you, what you sell, and are always waiting for the next thing. They will be the ones to cheer for you and purchase from you time and time again.
You want to change your mindset from “I need to build an audience” to “I need to build a community of people who want to support me”. Get away from the idea that a bigger number means a bigger community. A large follower count doesn’t always mean you have a large amount of people wanting to buy from you.
The next thing you want to do is give your community someone to connect with. If you are a solopreneur, then that person is going to be you. Gone are the days of hiding behind a logo or pretty pictures. People are craving connection with other humans.
A good example of this is insurance companies. Most of the popular insurance companies have created a face to a really boring brand. Jake from State Farm, Flo from Progressive, The Geico Gecko. When you think about insurance, you probably don’t get very excited about the company itself. But with these characters they have created, you are able to connect with them and the company has become more memorable to you.
Before I started to put myself on social media, I was just hiding behind my work as a photographer. And I never really felt like I had any connection with my audience. But once I started showing up regularly and people got to know the real me, I started building connections and relationships with some people who I never even met in real life. These relationships make my brand stronger because my community is connected to me as a person, not just my work.
Once you have people connecting with you, you’ll want to create a space where they can have a sense of ownership in your brand. Give them the opportunity to have a conversation with you. This can be done simply by asking them for input or feedback. Or even just asking them to comment on a post you made. Bring them along the journey with you instead of putting yourself up on a pedestal and talking down to them. A true community is going to feel like you are in it with them.
The more you can build a space for your community to get involved, the longer they are going to stick around and the more loyal they will become because they will be invested in whatever you are doing.
Have you ever been inside a Facebook group where someone asks members to follow them so they can reach a certain follower number? I think we all probably have. But here is the problem with that. In order to build a community of people who actually want to work with you, you have to build a community of potential buyers.
With follow trains, what usually happens is there will be a big influx of people that follow the person asking, but then a few days later, that very same person will be wondering why their engagement is so low. What happened is, that person built a following of their own peers, not of people who are interested in purchasing from them.
Chances are, the people within the same industry as you are likely not going to be your ideal customer. It’s better to have a smaller community of potential clients versus a larger audience of your peers. Remember: quality over quantity!
All in all it’s important to remember that building a community is going to benefit you much greater than building an audience. And also keep in mind that this is not something that is going to happen over night. You might even lose some followers in the process, it’s okay! You are going to be refining your audience, and scrubbing out the people who are just there lurking in the shadows and keeping the ones who truly want to be there for you.
Listen to the full episode below