It’s well known that when you can sell a product that is used for more than one purpose, the value of that product goes up. In the marketing world, it’s called the “stickiness” of the product. Dan & Chip Heath’s book “Made to Stick” is all about this concept.
As a business owner coach and connector, I’m less interested in creating sticky marketing and more interested in building a sticky community. I want those in the Business Builder Camp Community to find so much value that they never leave. I want our emails to be the ones that are always opened. I want our workshops to be never-miss opportunities. I want the others in this community to be the first call when a business owner has a challenge. I want the community members to tap into one another’s expertise and energy. And, I want Business Builders to invite other amazing people they trust into this community to share in this value.
The cool thing — each of the Business Builders wants the same thing in their specific context regardless of what industry they serve. Of course, that’s NOT true for all business owners. But that’s what makes us different. We value community, connection, and generosity much more deeply than others.
These individuals also know that when they create a community, the value of their products and services goes far beyond the surface-level value. Rarely are we the only ones that offer what we offer. So, if we can create a valuable community around what we offer, we differentiate ourselves from our competition. Of course, that’s a good reason to do this. But, more importantly, Business Builders know that relationships are what make the real difference, not just on the bottom line, but in life. Why not support the people you serve in this way!?
Step 1 – Start Small and Experiment
An overgeneralization, I know, but entrepreneurs tend to be dreamers. It’s true of me. I can come up with a handful of ideas one day, be ready to say yes and go gangbusters with them, then do it again the next day, forgetting about the ideas of the day before. My challenge isn’t in coming up with ways to connect to my community and connect them with one another; it’s in narrowing down what I want to do first and then doing it well.
The problem with my spaghetti-on-the-wall approach is that I sometimes don’t keep doing it long enough to see what sticks to the wall and what falls off. I have to discipline myself to create one thing at a time, test it, ask questions, and then decide if it is working enough to try again.
Throughout history, communities have connected for the sake of survival. Each member understands what they need to do to survive and they work together to accomplish it. When a community is born from an agreed-upon need and rallies around that need as a sticking point, they also tend to last longer.
While the communities we seek to build aren’t usually life-or-death, they can be critical to the survival of a business.
As you build a sticky community, start small and focus on the people. Connect to them in meaningful ways. Connect them to one another.
Step 2 – Build and Grow and Be Willing to Fail
As your community grows, you will find things that work and things that don’t. Resist the urge to copy and paste from other sticky networks. Sure – borrow ideas. But then make them your own. Create an authentic network true to your shared values and needs, not a cookie-cutter network that they can get anywhere.
We often think that the path from nothing to something is a straight line. It NEVER is. Frankly, if it was, it loses the fun of the challenge. Lean into the hiccups and find joy in learning from the things that didn’t work.
As a Dad to four kids, I consistently watch as they learn new sports, engage with new teams, connect with new friends, and try new things. With every instance, there is always a reminder to remember the basics. Whether trusting one another or fundamental skills, we all need to remember that the basics never stop being important. In sticky community building, those basics are connecting to your community members in meaningful ways, and connecting them to one another.
Step 3 – Keep Going
The thing about building a sticky community is that it’s never done. There is no final destination. And, the beauty of it doesn’t come in a pinnacle moment or event. Instead, the magic happens in the everyday connections.
Sometimes I envision what creating a significant mountaintop experience might look like for the Business Builder Camp community. Would it be an annual event? An award? Maybe those things will come to fruition one of these days. In the meantime, I look for wins in the following ways:
- That distant look that a community member gets when they hear something that matters and are trying to process what it means to them
- When a community member shares resources with another member
- When community members seek out and hire one another
- When a mastermind group member saves 30 minutes after each call so that he can either extend the conversation or take time to write a thank you to another member that added value that day
You may be thinking, “I’m not a coach, and my business objective isn’t to create a community.”
I would challenge you to wonder:
- Who would benefit from a community created around the product/services I offer?
- How would it allow myself and my business to live out our values in a meaningful way?”
- How might I start small and test an idea or two?
- What might make it sticky?