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IMC Podcast #12 How to build a supportive community Part 1

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Over the next two episodes I focus on growing a community of like minded people online, why you might do it, how to start and keep it going. In this episode an I’ll share a clip from my interview with Tom Ross last year He talks about how he’s built up his community of customers the hard way, one at a time.

There’s lots of great advice here but no shortcuts!

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Episode Notes

How to get from zero to growing that business and scaling it up?

…we cherry pick the best products and creators and will only work with them… what we have seen with a lot of businesses including our competitors they want to scale as quickly as possible and when they are at that maximum compacity they start to back pedal – no we want to try and be more curated but it is very hard to do that when you have already bloated yourself out. To be honest Ben, the way I tent to work is to ahve a few core pillars that I believe in… I get the main pillar, the main idea, then I have creative application, so how am I going to find creative ways to apply that to my business and then I have the execution, which is just the hard work.. putting in the hours and so on… one pillar for me for example is quality over quantity and that applies to everything we do…

Tom Ross, Design Cuts

Community building is so important, how do you balance that with the two different sides of your business?

… pretty differently, the customer side of the business is a lot bigger than our product creators… We have a full time relationship manage, who looks after them and keeps them happy, giving a smooth experience… The customers is probably the trickier one of the two because when I started it – I was such a believer in these deep, personal relationships that when I started the business and it was just me, we had a Facebook group with 40 people on. With our first 1-200 customers my community building strategy was becoming best friends with those 1-200 people, that was it. I put in the time and work, I put in 18hours a day, 7 days a week, it was ridiculous… I really cared about them so much, I knew everything about them… we were literally friends and they just happened to love the products I offered… they felt so much more brand loyalty towards our site, compared to our competitors who were faceless and impersonal… for me community building happens one person at a time…

Tom Ross, Design Cuts

Don’t shout into the void of social media

I talk about this alot when people are doing marketing, social media, content building, they are often shouting into the void… they are bellowing out care about me, care about, why does not one care about me? It can be really depressing… stop trying to think so scalable, stop trying to shout aimlessly at so many people and go and find one person and give them value, help them, build a relationship and then do it with another person, then another… it’s not that hard to get 10 people to care about enough to engage with your content… equally it can be hard to scale, we have done that and we have done that very well but it’s no longer me being best friends with a 100 people.

Tom Ross, Design Cuts

If you want to have a successful community do you have to put a lot of hours in?

I think everyone has their own way of doing things and there are a lot of different paths to success but for me it is input and output… you get out what you put in, in anything in life and I don’t think you can half arse community. Out of everything in business that is the one thing you can’t be lazy about. If you want to spend 10minutes a day caring about the people that are buying from you. Then great, good luck building a community… I know people always say work smart, yep I’m a big believer in that and being efficient but equally being hands on and in the trenches, knowing your people and caring about them… there are no shortcuts to that, you just need to know them and put in the work…

Tom Ross, Design Cuts