We first met Jules Taggart at a networking event and were instantly won over by her infectious enthusiasm. She’s cheery, super smart and she knows her way around a good wine – our kind of girl! As the marketing expert half of the Kickstart Kitchen duo, Jules really knows her stuff. Her approach to business and community building is fresh and fun-filled – just the way we like it. Today she’s sharing her thoughts on building a community around your business and why you may have been doing it all wrong.
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A couple of years ago I went to Bonnaroo music and arts festival in Tennessee. One night during the festival I stumbled upon the Silent Disco.
Have you ever been a part of a Silent Disco? There was this huge tent with hundreds of people packed inside. Every single person was dancing their ass off, moving in near unison, but the tent was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. All the dancers wore headphones.
The Silent Disco wasn’t listed in the lineup, but word about it spread fast. Even I was hooked and I am quite possibly the worst dancer ever. As soon as I wrapped the headphones around my ears and heard the music pulsing, I had to move.
I was in a place where everybody “got” me. They didn’t care that I can’t dance (believe me…it’s pretty bad). They just knew that whatever they felt under that tent was the same thing that I felt. That gave us a feeling of community.
The Silent Disco works in business too. If you want to establish a deeper connection with your audience, you’ve got to turn the sales funnel upside down.
What exactly does that mean? The traditional business model treats selling your products and services like filling a funnel that’s wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. The general idea is to create lots of traffic and shove it into the top of that funnel, then hope that all of that activity turns into prospects, then leads, then customers. Boring, boring, boring. Right?
It’s true that if you start with the masses you can whittle it down to just a few who will actually buy what you have to sell and you’ll probably come out ok.
I don’t know about you, but as a customer it doesn’t put me in the mood to buy anything when being referred to as “traffic”. Plus, as a business owner it’s a lot of work to get all of those leads. To have so few of them convert just doesn’t work for the average entrepreneur who is wearing many hats, with sales being just one of them.
That’s where community comes in. By building a community of enthusiasts, you essentially turn the sales funnel upside down.
For instance, let’s say your version of creating a Silent Disco is to start a Facebook group that solves a specific challenge that your customers face. Unlike the traditional funnel, you don’t have to invite thousands of people to the group. You just have to invite a few.
Then make sure the people you invite feel in the know, connected and a part of something that matters. They deserve to be more than just another name on your email list.
The people who join your community early on will probably already know you. They believe in what you’re doing and they trust you to help them find solutions to their challenges.
What do you give them in return? Access and information. You are easy to reach and they can pick your brain at any time. You respond personally to their questions.
From that narrow point of entry the funnel begins to get wider and wider. Communities grow because the people within them really get one another. It feels good to be “gotten”, so they tell their friends, who tell more friends.
So, with a small investment of effort at the beginning you get big results as the community grows because the people within it are doing most of the work. And who can blame them? They love being a part of it.
That’s the thing about community – if you’re the one building it, you have to understand that people won’t be a part of it just because you tell them to. They aren’t there to see you.
Like the Silent Disco dancers, they are there to see a better version of themselves. Show it to them.
A community begins when two people connect. That’s really all it takes. What can you do to create a community that has meaning for your customers? If you’re already a part of a community that you love, share the link in the comments below and let us know about it.
Jules Taggart is the co-founder of Kickstart Kitchen and creator of several online communities for women entrepreneurs including Bootstrap Book Club and Thrive Hive. She’s on a mission to empower women through the shared knowledge and deep connections that are created within meaningful communities.