Key takeaways on how to build a community from scratch
- Community is not going to be your next big acquisition-based marketing tactic.
- “Community” is a place where people can come together to support one another; to be stronger than they would be alone; to connect in a meaningful way; to give a gift first and to do it with a long-term perspective.
- Three reasons to engage in community:
- Bring humans with a common interest together meaningfully.
- Share an experience.
- Long-term opportunities through human interaction.
- Through bringing people together, community is an exercise in humanity.
- Community is built on the bedrock of love, kindness, and humanity.
PART I: Building your community from scratch
Step 1: Identify the problem.
- By identifying your problem, you can home in on the most appropriate messaging and tone of voice that will most resonate with the people who are meant to be a part of your community.
Step 2: Have a target market.
- Your target market is never everybody.
- Over time, your target market should continue to become more specific.
Step 3: Leverage existing communities similar to yours.
- Offer something valuable to these groups or organizations.
- Be sure that whatever it is, is mutually beneficial.
Step 4: Future-proof your community—Don’t let third-party platforms control access to your audience.
- Relying on platforms that you do not have ultimate control over puts you at risk of losing your entire community.
- For example, those who have built their community entirely through Meetup have most likely lost access to them all at the onset of the pandemic
- It’s best to have a mailing list so that you are always connected with each member of your community.
PART II: Nurturing your community
Step 1: Choose a culture—Always exhibit welcoming behaviours
- Behaviours = Brand
- Examples: listen, say “hello”, be positively lovely
- Once you identify them, double down on them
- Make people’s toes curl
- Aim for love or hate
- People these days only talk about either extreme in a world full of noise
Step 2: “Can I do this closer to my house?”
- You’re not alone! Ask for help.
- Your people will start to build on the community for
- Your community’s continued success will truly be a team effort
Step 3: Stay consistent for 30 months.
- As John Espirian writes in his book, Content DNA, a long-term view and the willingness to keep at it till then is what separates the most successful from everybody else.
- Say “hello”
- Be positively lovely
Step 4: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes along the way.
- When you make mistakes, be humble and say sorry.
- Honesty will never fail you.
Step 5: Identify your purpose.
- Ask why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Make sure that you’re ultimately trying to help people.
- Try asking “why” five times to get to the root of it all.
Q and A on how to build a community from scratch
Q: What channels do you recommend for businesses just starting a community?
A: Start with creating your personal brand on LinkedIn as a “hub”, and build your email list as early as possible to future-proof your community. Ultimately, channel selection always comes down to your particular niche and what your particular audience is going to benefit from.
Q: What was your inspiration for starting a community?
A: To provide a safe place for people to come together.
Q: Will physical events make a comeback?
A: One day, but not necessarily exactly how they were pre-COVID. There are possibilities around a hybrid model that combines online and physical events.
Q: Why did you create events paid for by sponsors and how did you get people to attend?
A: It starts and ends with the community. I wanted to provide resources that would be as accessible as possible. The audience grew itself via word-of-mouth. I also found support from gaining access to other communities and helping them out in meaningful ways.
Q: How do you persuade senior people in business to create community?
A: It’s a long-term play. You have to argue the value. Use the marketing hierarchy if you want to convince the board to take action: If you can argue the numbers, argue the numbers. If you can’t argue the numbers, argue the logic. If you can’t argue the logic, argue the example. And if you can’t argue the example, argue the magic. Community truly is a marketing piece of magic, and it’s an investment in human relationships.
so today’s session is all about building communities that people care about and how the bloomin’ heck to do it.
And that’s because the year is 2020 and the community is becoming dangerously close to becoming a buzzword. It’s you see articles pop up throughout the web, looking a little bit like this saying community-based marketing is the next big thing, and it’s enough to make you feel a little bit slimy. So let me be very clear.
Community is not going to be your next big acquisition based marketing tactic. And that’s a real mouthful for eight 30 in the morning. Instead, I choose to define community as something very different. It’s a place where people can come together to support one another, to be stronger than they would be alone to connect in a meaningful way to give a gift first and to do it with a long-term perspective.
Now you might’ve heard me say that and go, yeah, that’s all great. That sounds very idealistic, but I’m running a business and I want to be able to drive some customers. I need the money. That’s what business is about. So why would I engage in community? Well, for me, there’s three reasons. The first is that you want to be able to bring humans together with a common interest to do something meaningfully.
And that meaningfully is really the key word. Here you do that through shared experience and fundamentally this Cate creates longterm opportunities through human interaction. Now let me just reemphasize that last one. Long-term opportunities through human interaction. If you look in the chat feature today, you think about the businesses that you run, that you’re in many, many of these opportunities.
In fact, I have those of guests that all of them have been created through opportunities where human beings have interacted and created something that didn’t exist before. All that means to say is that community is an absolute catalyst for creating opportunity. However, it is not the best, um, marketing attribute attributable channel in the entire world.
PPC. It is not who knows what could come out of it. Rory Sutland famously speaks about the magic of marketing and the magic found within marketing. I would say the community is one of the most magical experiences that can bring any marketing channels together, any marketing team, but more importantly, any bunch of human beings.
So that’s the what and the why, but how about the, how. Well, I need to give a caveat first. So this caveat is the, uh, the best piece of advice that I’ve ever been given was from my dad, which is the best advice is not to give advice. So instead, I want to share a story and that’s the story about how the marketing meetup group I’m going to do it in three acts.
Um, really the hope is that by the end of the story, uh, you’ll be able to pluck out the lessons that you need, whether it’s building your own business or building your own community. I’ve delivered this talk to a couple of people, uh, recently just to test it out. And they said, you know, it’s really interesting that actually the lessons that you’re speaking about is not just applicable to community.
It’s also applicable to, um, businesses in general. So take what you need from this. So let’s get going with the story and act one a problem. The year was 2014 and my wife and I would moved into our first home, just outside of Cambridge. She is a scientist working at Addenbrooke’s hospital. I took a job as a solo marketer, working in a small company.
Life was blessed. However over the course of time, a problem reared its ugly head. This problem had a two fold, uh, kind of thing to it. The first was that I wanted to learn about marketing. And the second was that I wanted to meet other marketers. Now the answer for this probably would have been traditional networking.
However, that was enough to scare the bejesus out of me, it was, it was absolutely terrifying to walk into those rooms. And that was the on a threefold basis. The first was those tortoise shell formations that people always put themselves in and networking scenarios, as foreign, as it seems in 2020, where people stand in those circles and you got to barge your way in to introduce yourself.
The second was the corporate ties, uh, corporate speak that seemed to, uh, just absolutely be everywhere at these events and never felt like it could be me. I felt like I had to be a professional version of me, which has never really sat particularly well. And then the final, um, head of the Hydra, this beast that needed slang was that.
You would walk up to people and even if you did pluck up the courage to say hello, then there was the absolute possibility that, um, these people would just look at you as money, just as something to sell at, but not to go speak with, to engage with on a human basis. All of this was enough to leave me in a place where, when I entered marketing events, uh, across the world, then I just wanted to be the guy in the corner hiding away or more.
Ideally the guy in the car in his hotel room, not speaking to people, this was a Hydra. This was a problem that needed fighting. So summoning as much courage as I possibly could on a train. One day, the Cambridge marketing meetup was born. Although at the time on today of all days, then it’s important to emphasize that the branding looked a little bit like this.
Um, and that’s because, um, that’s all I could do on paint at its core. The marketing meetup is a safe and welcoming space to learn and meet others where you will be treated as a human being first. How this manifested itself was an event at the red gate software canteen with a buffet. Um, a great buffet provided by, uh, the two sponsors, two speakers and 40 lovely people.
And just as a quick aside, I think there’s well over 200 people here today, 235 right now. Um, which is a really lovely thing to sort of think how far we’ve come. This is a picture of the event. Um, not the first event, uh, the canteen and, and, um, in the, uh, apart from the, uh, missing social distancing, you can see that it was a lovely environment to start things off with
Hydra, with it, three heads was immediately slang. We have provided a welcoming, lovely environment where people came and treated each other as human beings. First, something new had entered the world as a quick aside. I just want to say a big, big, thank you. Like. There’s probably quite a few people on the call today who were actually part of the story, right from the beginning.
And if you were, it’s not lost on me, how special that is, your friendship, your support, your word of mouth and getting the word out for us. Every bit of it, it’s been a complete team effort. It’s been a community effort. So just a massive, thank you. But this isn’t just my story. This is how to build a community.
So let’s try to unpack some of the things that we’ve already identified that are going to be crucial. If you want to build your own community out, or indeed you use these lessons for your business. The first is the identify the identification of a problem. I was a marketer who wanted to learn and connect, but do it in a nice place.
Through the identification of this problem, I was able to identify messaging and tone of voice that was going to resonate with these people who I wanted to help to. Here. We can see that there’s a, uh, this is the w the description on the Cambridge marketing meetup page. And you can see that some of the key phrases that I’ve highlighted really reinforce this, uh, this idea that it’s a welcoming place that we’re going to learn, and we’re going to connect.
So words like positive and non salesy, uh, telling people exactly what’s going to happen. So events run once a month and feature two experts, speakers, informal, unhappy networking. These are words that are probably not used in an overly corporate environment. So they’re going to speak to a certain type of person and then the reinforcement of the values and behaviors that we encourage listening overselling, saying hello to everyone and being positively lovely.
We’ll get back to that one a little bit later. The next lesson was all about target market and for the benefit of this webinar, then I think it’s important to say that it’s important to have a target market. Your target market is never everybody. For me, it was marketers. That’s what I started out with at the top level.
And over the course of time, it has developed and become, uh, more, more specific. Indeed. You’ll see, on the season three, uh, event list that most of the talks start with how to, uh, because we’ve decided and, and noticed and got the feedback that people really get the most from talks, which tell you exactly how to do things.
Uh, and with that in mind there, the idea is that’s going to be a certain type of marketer and then the tactics to get the word out. So I use meetup.com, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that today. When I established, uh, the group on meetup.com, it was in a place where I got a hundred members after two weeks.
And that was enough to give me the encouragement to say, uh, I’m going to, I’m going to carry on. I’m going to put on an event and see what happens. I’d say meetup.com. Isn’t in that place right now, specifically because of the coronavirus world. I’d say treat meetup.com as a, as a, as a channel, but not the be-all.
End-all, I’d say that if I was doing things today, instead of using meetup.com, I’d probably do things on the Eventbrite and, uh, have my own website laid into that and then use the website as promotion. It would take more time, but I think it would be more relevant for today’s audience. One of the additional tactics that I used was to leverage the audience of existing, uh, existing organizations who are doing similar things for similar audiences, but not in the same way as we were two examples.
Uh, one was a message that I sent to Steve Mann, who is the founder of brand recruitment. Although he also runs a company called prepped, which is why his LinkedIn profile has since changed. Um, and this was the reply that you sent back in 2016 saying, you know, that basically I sent a connection request and said that I’m doing this thing and whether he became for supports in it.
And he said yes, which was amazing because when we suddenly had buffet food, which was really, really cool, Likewise for Cambridge marketing college, uh, have been absolutely phenomenal since day one. Um, and they were likewise happy to do, uh, an email out to their database in return for being treated as a sponsor.
So the lesson right there for me is that if you can offer something to these existing organizations, There’s is genuinely valuable to them. They’re likely to want to do it. There is a right way to do it. I do get lots of messages each week asking like, will you promote this to your community? And that’s not the way to do it.
The way to do it is to find that mutual, beneficial, mutually beneficial scenario. I also hit up LinkedIn. Uh, so this is an example of a message that I sent, uh, the beginning of the London event. And crucially here, I did not engage in any automation. It was completely manual, but I did search for marketer in LinkedIn and then sent through a connection requests.
So that was the message I sent in the connection request with a high Rishi. Trying to get a useful, friendly community for London’s markets, just off the ground. And then I’ve followed it up with the link crucially. At this point, I talked to the head of marketing. Um, and if the heads of marketing said, that sounds interesting, but they can come.
I said, would you mind telling your team, um, so hopefully that we’re doing a little bit of word of mouth for us too. I must’ve spent two, three weeks at the beginning of every new location, just going through and adding people, uh, on LinkedIn, uh, over the course of time. And it proves to be relatively successful.
There’s a final lesson here, which is that you shouldn’t let third party platforms control access to your audience. And we made this mistake with the marketing meetup. All of our audience was, uh, within, um, meetup.com and at the beginning of the Corona virus, then meta.com took a bit of a downturn. It sort of didn’t become as popular.
If we hadn’t had the mailing list at the time and the LinkedIn profiles and the Twitter profile and all that other stuff, then we would have probably lost access to our audience in quite a significant way. So I think there’s a real point that encouragement here, which is try your best to future-proof the, the audience in the best way that you possibly can.
So you can still reach them. If a third party platform decides to change their policies or becomes less popular. No, it’s all well, and good me telling you what to do, but instead I wanted to ask you some questions, I’ll make these available afterwards, rather than read them out right now. Um, but there’s just some things here, which I think if you were to go through and either with the view of creating your new marketing strategy for the year, or looking to start a community, they’re going to be really useful.
So those are some, so that was at number one. Yeah. We saw a Hydra. We slayed the hydro and now we grew, this took over from 2016 to early 2020. So it was quite a long period, but it was after that first event, really the mission was achieved. We already felt like the champions and we just continued to grow and evolve while retaining that homespun field.
Because this is a long time, a long time period. I can’t speak about everything, but what I’m going to focus in on five specific things. So the first is the behaviors that we encouraged at the beginning of every event that the marketing meter ran. Uh, we encourage people to listen say, hello, be positively lovely.
Listening, like actually listening because that’s a real scale and many people have it, but when they do, it’s a really quite incredible thing saying hello, because that’s literally the hardest word in networking, but once you set it low, you’re kind of forced into a conversation. Once you’ve plugged up that courage.
It’s amazing what happens. And being positively lovely. That was the encapsulation of the kindness that we wanted people to show. It was, you know, it was, it wasn’t a particularly well thought through statement, but it’s something that people started to latch onto and speak back to us. They would say, you know, I’ll positively lovely or the kind of smirk on their face, but it was, it was amazing.
It was funny going over to America in the New York event at the beginning of the year, because, uh, you know, it was literally picked up as the most British phrase of all time, but also you’ve never heard more Americans say the word lovely by the end of the session. And you know, that’s not a denigrating statement, you know, it was amazing to see.
It was amazing. Amazing, amazing. And the thing that I think is just really important here is that it’s something that, um, not many people would say in a normal place. Positively lovely, uh, bled into everything that we do at the marketing meetup. We started acting positively lovely lately, lately, um, with stuff like child support donations and the one pound challenge.
The child’s with donations was an example where instead of taking a ticketing fee, we would give the ticketing fee to local charities. And the one pound challenge was something that we repeated a few weeks ago, where we gave every attendee or people who requested a one pound coin, the opportunity to make someone else’s day.
And we would pay for it. It was free money, but it was free money to go and make someone else’s day, which reinforced everything about being positively lovely. It also bled into the events, emails, social podcasts, the website, but very, very specifically, it seems like the events, uh, the emails was the one that people seem to pick up on.
You can see here from this, um, this email that I sent at the beginning of the marketing meter back in 2017, this was, um, the elements of what you see today from the marketing research still held true. This is the world’s longest email. Like I do it very differently now, but you can see at the top now I open it up with good morning.
You wonderful person. It’s just a different tone. And it was the type of thing that people would come back to me and say, you know, that’s unique in the space, which was really, really kind. You know, I, I, you know, I think that was a really important part of us sort of grasping a little spot in the marketing community.
More recently, these email greetings as an example of being positively lovely have developed, um, and. What happens is that people like Louis, uh, start speaking them back to you on, on public forums as well. They’re saying, thinking of changing my LinkedIn job description to whatever salutation Joe Glover uses in the marketing meter emails, this wasn’t something that was done on purpose, but when you see these opportunities, you’ve got to take them.
So sending an email to many, many thousands of people, uh, you decide to have a little bit fun and say, Hey, Louis, you dainty ballerina you captain of the ship, you cute Apple of my eye and so on and so forth. Like that was so much fun. Then Louis like, uh, did change his name on LinkedIn and it was amazing.
It was such good, fun and light. It’s just elements of that, where you can look to build in a little bit of fun, a little bit of cheekiness. A little bit of positivity, lovely. Um, that really made the big difference, uh, within your growth community, or it certainly was for me. And it’s important that when you identify these things that you double down on them.
So for us, it was doubling down on positively. Lovely. But for you, it will be something different. I think the important point here is however that. Um, you need to aim for love or hate. I think in marketing, in life, in business, um, there’s so much out there these days that people spend so much time consuming that they only really speak about or really recognize the things that speak to the extreme ends of, of a spectrum of love and hate for us, we’ve really lent into love because it’s something that is truly our core.
Um, But I think, you know, as a wider point, I really think love or hate is something you should be aiming for. Ultimately, the behaviors that we exhibited also developed into our brand, as you can see on the header of the website today, it starts off with the positively lovely community that helps you become a better marketer.
The second thing that happened over the course of time, Was, um, some lovely folks came up to me. These are the marketing meetup organizers. So we’ve got Nick fi Lynn, Kim, Kim, James, Jeff Guy, Zoe max, all unbelievable human beings and people I’m so, so grateful for. They came up to me and said, can I do this closer to my house?
Because I was making it up. At the time and I still am, by the way, then now I said, yeah, sure, whatever, you know, I’ll help you as a Canberra. I don’t know really what I’m going to do for you. Other examples of people jumping in will be people like bass who’s, uh, once again, being the brains behind the marketing meter branding, without him, none of this would have happened in terms of the marketing meets at branding.
But most importantly, It was you, it was the people who were part of this community who made the biggest difference. And, you know, I mean, the line that I sometimes did that joke that I used to tell was the one that if nobody turned up, then, uh, it would be just me to pissed off speakers, lots of beer and pizza, but truly the most important part of the marketing meetup is you.
So thank you genuinely. Um, one way that you’ve been amazing over the course of time, um, beyond turning up beyond contributing is that you help spread the word by word of mouth. I cannot overestimate the importance of word of mouth. We haven’t spent an awful lot of advertising over the course of time.
Word of mouth has been the most important marketing channel that our community has had. And I would suggest that it probably will be if your business or your community too. Fundamentally, all of this has been a true team effort. So thank you very much. Number three, after about three years, the marketing meetup started to make some money, not a lot, but enough that I was able to take the leap into doing the marketing at full time.
This enabled me to take my hobby to be something which was my full attention. And as John, the Spearin recommends in his great book, content DNA, he recommends taking a 30 month mindset. When it takes a look at you, developing your content for your blog feed LinkedIn or whatever it may be. I think this whole truth holds true for community to 30 months to make an impact 30 months of consistent effort, 30 months of not giving up.
I think that’s probably one of the things which most people fall down on when it comes to business, when it comes to community building. So I really encourage you to take a long-term view on things. And if you want to see another brand who do a really great job with that, then you need to look no further than the Patagonia.
You have a hundred year outlook, not only what’s the current generation of customers thing, but what did their children think? And their children’s children. If you’re looking to build something that, um, will stand the test of time, just like that, then I think you can only start to build something really, truly, truly special.
So number four, I made a ton of mistakes along the way. I have sent more, hello, first name emails than I care to admit, but I have done it a number of times and it’s so, so embarrassing. Cause you like you satirize it and say, Oh yeah, it’s that thing that marketers is. And then, then you’re going to do it.
But Hey, on those things, Another thing that I’ve been really bad at over the course of time, um, is delegation and sharing the workload, especially even when people have been willing to help. Um, I think the, the event organizers can speak to this, that over the course of this year, I’ve probably taken more on my shoulders and asked them to do basically not a lot.
Not because they haven’t been willing, but because I’ve been terrible at delegation. And I think there’s a lesson there, which is that truly, when you allow people in, then you can, you can do better things and you need to allow yourself to do that. Whether it’s your community or your business. And next, this is probably the thing which I’m most ashamed of to a certain extent.
But I think it’s important to highlight at the beginning of this year when coronavirus first struck, I think it was after the first event. I was messing around with the zoom automation of, um, of our emails. And zoom provides you two options there. It provides you the option to email attendees, and the, uh, gives you the option to email non attendees.
Now you need to remember the space which people’s heads were at at the beginning of March. It was, everyone was really quite sensitive and, and in a truly understandable way. I was messing around with zoom for the first time, trying to figure out how to run our events on there. And stupidly I set an autoresponder or two or an automated email to the folks who didn’t turn up to the event and said, we really missed you, but why would you sign up for an event that you wouldn’t turn up to?
That email was never supposed to see the light of day. It was. The most gut wrenching horrible thing, and I felt impossibly guilty for it. And I still do to this day, you know, I’m not very good at not beating myself up for mistakes. That being said, all I could do the next day was go out and say salary genuinely and mean it.
And I think this is a point about community, that ultimately is an exercise in humanity. It’s an exercise in bringing people together and, and through admission of our own humanity. Then we also have to admit that we’re going to make mistakes along the way. But when you’re honest about it, then I think you can only say, sorry.
And I’d genuinely say that probably 60% of people didn’t bother, uh, didn’t reply to that email. I’d say 30% of people came back to me and said, you know what? I really didn’t like it, but. The fact that you said, sorry, makes me think more of you now. And then there was about 10% of people who said, you know what?
You messed up and I’m really angry. And that was absolutely fine too. And you know, I’m sorry about that to this day, but you know, that was, that was a mistake, but had I not owned it, had it not been honest, then, you know, it would have been so much worse. And then the fifth thing that happened over this course of time was finding purpose.
So I remember driving home one day after an event in Norwich and the road had been closed and it was raining and it was about 11 o’clock and I was already well beyond my nine o’clock bedtime. And on that particular night, I just wasn’t feeling it. You know, when you run a lot of events and stuff like that, there aren’t going to be days where you don’t feel it.
And so much so that I was like, you know, I was on profit about mood and. It caused me to reflect and it’s like, why am I doing what I’m doing? And the reason why I do what I do is that moment when people come up to me and say, you know what? You really helped me you’ve really, really helped me. So thank you so much.
That’s enough to make the hairs on my arms, sort of stand up on end. It gives me goosebumps because in those means that I’m really achieving my mission. So for a long time, I started operating with a purpose to help people. However, um, it was only a couple of years later that I attended a workshop by David Hyatt, who was the founder of the do lectures.
And I’m really, really, really pleased to say we’ll be taking part in season three of our webinars, too. David encouraged us to do the five whys exercise to really inspect that sense of why we do what we do. What’s our purpose in life, through the exercise of starting with top statement of, I would like to help people and then asking yourself the question of why five times leaving you to, what is the core of why you’d like to tell people in my specific example, For me, it ended up with a place of legacy, but not the one of statues or anything like that, but instead, a place of legacy, which means that I have a fundamental belief that you can leave part of your personality and other people and leave your, your, your Mark on the world.
In, in that kind of way. In that moment, the marketing meet, it became a different kind of organization. It became a vehicle and an exercise in leave. Leaving a legacy of kindness in this world is kind of a bit of a selfish one to a certain extent because it’s my business and my community that I run, but it’s an exercise and leaving kindness in this world.
So I think there’s just a point there, which is one about, uh, really establishing your purpose.
So the beginning of 2020, and actually life felt pretty blessed. The hydro had been killed, but as any person who has climbed any kind of mountain will know, you think you’ve reached the peak, but then there’s always another. And that will take us into act three. However, before we do that, I just want to reflect on some lessons from that.
Remember two. So first choose a culture that matters for us. It was about being positively lovely. Make people’s toes curl with it. That point I made about love and hate. It really, really matters. We had a chap who, uh, I didn’t know. Uh, and I spoke to him on LinkedIn, or I saw a comment about the marketing meetup on LinkedIn, who said that our emails make his toes curl because, uh, because of the tone of them, it was in that moment.
I knew that we were onto something special because it was something worthy of both being loved and hated. You’re not alone in all of this, sorry, that’s my dog snoring in the background. You’re not alone in all of this. So be sure to ask for help wherever you can. And I should listen to that advice more as well.
Take a 30 month mindset when it comes to it. Community is not a marketing channel that is going to be based around an acquisition mistakes happen, but when you can own them and be honest, And identify your purpose if you can. But it’s also very important to say at this stage that, um, with purpose is fine to operate without it too, because, uh, I think a lot of people put pressure on other people to find their purpose.
When that’s not particularly fair, we can go for a lot of time without purpose in our actions, as long as we’re working towards a place, which may eventually lead to that, that purpose. So here’s some questions. What culture would you like to promote? How can you communicate uniquely to you? What’s your tone of voice and you’re not alone.
You can help. And do you have the time backing and patients to make something truly special?
Number three, we’re getting that folks at the beginning of 2020, we had 140 events planned for the beginning of this year. We’d also started in New York, which felt like a real watershed moment. But little did I know as I was walking through my own little world, having a nice little time, I was approaching a big boss, the angry coronavirus, what a beast, what a horrible, horrible thing.
Within a moment, we had to cancel all 140 events that we have planned for the year. It felt like the world was falling beneath us. And, you know, I think we can all speak to that in our own unique individual ways. But in the context of the marketing meetup, it felt like four years of work gone down the drain in an instant on March 13th.
I sent this email with this video to the community. I’ll only play a little bit of it.
So this is a video that I’ve been avoiding making for the past couple of weeks, in any case, uh, due to the, uh, outbreak and continue spreading of coronavirus. It makes sense that with, uh, future marketing meetup events that we postpone, ultimately, this is a decision about making sure that we don’t make anyone.
Sick on our watch. It seems to make a lot of sense while this decision would likely have been enforced upon us at some point. Um, it does also feel like a bit of a moral obligation to our communities to make sure that we’re looking after ourselves as a business owner, a first time business owner. I got to say that this is fricking scary.
As you can see in that particular video, I felt like a deer in the headlights making that video. And, and, and I lost a number of nights sleep over what was going to happen as I’m sure. So many of us did. However, one thing about adversity is that in those moments, there are moments where we all rally together.
And this email was probably my favorite, favorite email from the entire year of the marketing meetup. It was from, uh, Michael who’s, the CEO of one of our sponsors that like, um, like I, I can’t begin to express, you know, my nose is going funny at the moment. Cause I feel I can go to the terror, but like fear not we’re right here to help and support you.
Everyone. No exceptions has to adapt and make the most of our unusual yeah. I like to think even the stuff we take for granted will emerge from the ashes in a more widespread form. What a man, what a lovely sentiment, the marketing meetup with this other sponsors as well, could continue to exist and it could continue to exist because we didn’t know, think of ourselves as an event company.
We thought of ourselves as a community. A community is one that is built on a bedrock of love, kindness, and humanity. And for us, our channels, our webinars, our newsletter, our podcast, our Facebook group. But frankly, the channels don’t matter. They could be Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Lala, and Pope. It doesn’t matter what the channels are.
It matters that we’re creating a human experience. That is in one for the longterm where people are brought together to support one another, bring them together and to give first. So, again, summoning, whatever I could from within me that weekend, where I just made that video. The day later I sent as many emails as I could send the most famous marketers that I could find in the world and said, you know what?
There’s a lot of scare people out there right now. And even though marketing talks won’t solve it. I think a bit of normality and something special will give them something to look forward to. And you know what they said? Yes. Well, there was some people were harder to reach than others in this particular post.
Uh, when we announced the first season of webinars, we had a bunch of, uh, amazing names like Rand Fishkin, Dave Gerhardt, Margaret Malloy, and max and Lisa. But there was a bit where I’d just love to have anyone. Who’s got links to Roy and Mark, uh, to see if they could come along and in a moment of magic. Uh, then Margaret’s and said, hello.
And he said, he’ll do a session. And that’s a day to still today remains the best attended session of all time from the marketing meetup. So the business, the community had been saved. We’d had an offering. But I think it’s also really important to note that any community is made up of real people and real people were hurting at the beginning of creative virus and continue to hurt today.
Yeah. So in the spirit of community, we send emails like this. Hi there, are you okay? This might be our mailing list, but we can, and your reply will be picked up. That email was sent to about 4,000 people at the time. And we had over 200 responses. Every one of those responses got a response back. And in some cases, a video back, in some cases, a phone call, it was here to look after people.
That’s not to Pat ourselves on the back, but it is to say that the spirit of community is one where we look after each other. We come together, we make each other stronger and we look after each other.
And unlike the Hydra, the crone, the virus is yet to be defeated. It is still a big, big part of our lives. It’s why I’m sat here in my office and that we’re down today. So it was important to create moments of joy throughout the duration of, uh, this weird, weird year. Um, one example of this, um, was the surprise message.
Then we got Sean Paul to do for the marketing, meet up community. It’s about 48 seconds long and it bears repeating because it was blooming brilliant.
Bless the money. Ready, no stress. And it doesn’t know. And Sean party guns and move her out of her standing. Todd, uh, yo I’m bigging up right now. The market’s in meet up community. You know what I mean? I hope y’all safe. And I hope y’all staying healthy. You know what I mean? I’d be happy because it’s just going to be all over soon.
They’re going to be, Oh, Epic, turn up. You know what I mean? So be go to market team community in the world. The best marketing community in the world, seeing little new to each and every one of you and yo, well, my new head at time code. I want to be keeping you. Wow. I got up right then.
wait a minute. Bye bye. You can be tomorrow. Be tomorrow. Oh, bless Dan. That was amazing. The response to that was incredible. So, what can we learn from this? Well, I think there’s two crucial points for Mac number three. The thing that you do does not equal community community is about bringing people together, meaningfully.
So it’s not about events. It’s not about webinars. It’s not about the newsletter. It’s about how you connect human beings and the meaningful.
I don’t see the EPADOG or is it. Now, if this was the hero’s journey, then right now I would be returning with new knowledge to a new world. And, uh, you know, B, B why is it better than I was before? And in some ways that’s true. That house that we started out with, well, just off the picture behind that fence there, that’s where I’m sat right now.
And you know, that’s been a mathematic journey, but in another way it feels like. We’re just beginning the journey together, whether it’s the new branding being launched today, the new season that’s coming next month, which by the way, like, I’m not one to be proud of myself very often, but I think looks absolutely amazing.
Or the membership launching next month, which will again, signify another great stage in the marketing meter. I’m not going to speak about that a great length, unless you want me to in the questions and I’m coming to the end. So do let me know if you’ve got any questions in the Q and a feature. The future looks bright.
So let’s just summarize act number one, the questions. What problem are you looking to solve? We were looking to solve the problem of horrible networking, and we wants to provide a lovely space who are the people we can help the most? Well, for us, it was marketers for you. It’d be someone else. What messages will resonate them and what makes you special?
Well, for us, it was about a unique tone of voice in the market being positively lovely. You’re not, um, are you able to provide genuine value to other communities? So that was the example that we gave with Brandon Cambridge marketing college. And how can you, future-proof the community by making sure that you don’t restrict your access to your community through other third party platforms?
Enact number two, we spoke about what culture we would like to promote. What behaviors do we encourage? How can we communicate uniquely? What’s the tone of voice that you’re going to use, who are going to be the people that you can, who can help you along the way. And do you have the time and the backing to build something meaningfully?
And that’s whether it’s in a corporate or in your, off your own back, and then finally at number three, your community is not about what you do. So never forget what community is truly about. It’s about the humans that you can connect meaningfully. And I would suggest that also stands true for business in general.
So that’s my talk. I hope you enjoyed it. I want to say thank you so much on so many levels. Like this year has been bunkers, but the support throughout has been more than I deserve. And I don’t know. I just, yeah, it’s been a year. So thank you so much for listening today. I love you all genuinely. Well, yeah, 20, 28 last nights when he was 21.
Really, really good. So let me stop sharing my screen and we’ll answer some questions. We’ve got about 10 minutes left. Right? There we go. That’s uh, that’s, that’s the presentation. I’m just going to exit that so I can see. I hope you’re all packing it, Pat yourselves on the back as well. Like you, you all deserve all of this.
So like, this is all of you, um, Thank you all so much for these lovely messages. Um, so let’s go to the questions. So we’ve got one from Rachel, uh, do drop any questions into the Q and a feature if you’d like them answered. Um, so from Rachel, uh, what channels do you recommend for a business? Just starting to build a community?
Um, so I think channel choice is an interesting one. I think inevitably, um, It’s easy to give the answer that you should, um, do every channel ever. And I think that’s indeed what a lot of people encourage, you know, do Facebook through Twitter, through LinkedIn, by the blah, blah, blah. Right now I would say that, um, the two channels that work for the market to meet up and the ones that I would encourage you to build out yourselves right now is a personal brand on LinkedIn.
Uh, because I think that’s a really great HubSpot, you know, as in like, not as in the company, but like a hub. Place where people could come together and have like a really great conversation. Um, and then email, because that’s something that you, you, I don’t like using the word own because it suggests that you own people, but you don’t, but like you can control it more than you can control third party platforms.
So if I was starting out, those two channels have been really useful for me. That being said, it depends. What’s good for your audience. Channel selection always has to come back down to your audience. Where are they? What are the things that they’re going to benefit from? Um, what are the things that they’re going to resonate with the most.
And it might be if indeed you’re speaking to a younger demographic there’s stuff like Tik TOK is going to be a better place to, uh, speak to your community. So also make sure that you always go back to, um, to who your community are. Uh, we’ve got a question from David who says, what was the inspiration that was the driver to start the community?
Well, hopefully I’ve answered it that to a certain extent with, with the, the talk, um, the driver, it was to provide a safe place for people to come together. These comments are so lovely. Like thank you very much. I can see them taking away and it’s, it’s unreal. So thank you all so much. Um, yeah, just lovely.
Um, Sarah asks, do you see the physical events having a place in the community wants the dreaded Lagi has done one? Yes, absolutely. Um, so the events would definitely return one day. I don’t necessarily think there’ll be in the same shape as what they were pre COVID. I think there’s a couple of things that happening right now.
The first is if I give the example that my wife suggested going to a Christmas market at the weekend. And in my head, I’m not there yet, you know, like, and I think other people will be too, you know, I’m not in that safe space yet where I feel like I can go to a place and turn up and sort of be surrounded by people and feel safe.
So for that reason, um, I don’t think it’s going to be exactly the same shape. I also think that what this world has shown us is there is possibility in a hybrid model. So, um, one where we, um, do the online stuff still, but also have physical events. So yes, they will absolutely return. I don’t know when, and I can’t wait to bring them back.
Um, but when they do, uh, let’s just make it amazing. Right. I think we’re all gonna appreciate it so much more. Um, let’s go to Stewart Stuart S yes. Details on the membership, please. Fab. Um, so what we’re going to do is, uh, I sent an email out a couple of months ago to the effect of, um, you know, we’re thinking of launching a membership.
What do you think? I mean, I’ve got, well over 250 replies from people saying, um, you know, like, This feels good, this feels bad. And the thing that kept getting replayed to me back to me, that was like the most, best idea that we had was, um, something we’re coining. Um, got be careful not to be sued here, but like, and Netflix for marketers.
Um, so it’s not. It’s akin to a Netflix for marketers in effect. We’re building out a database right now. So like there’s going to be 75 videos on launch. That will be, um, how to based videos no more than 10 minutes. Um, and the ambition behind it is that any marketer could go in and be able to search for a video on anything from how to.
Post something on WordPress all the way through to how to build a meaningful strategy with some of the world’s best marketing minds, um, and all access for 10 pounds a month. So that’s, that’s the ambition for it. Um, like there’s a lot of work to be done, but as I say, we’re going to be launching with up to a hundred, um, Probably around 75 videos in the first instance, and then aiming to the sort of building lots more over the course of time.
Um, the webinars themselves will continue to be free though. Uh, James asks, will Eric ever appear in the webinars? Well, mate, you missed the beginning, Jay. Uh, Eric has already appeared in the webinar. Um, Sarah asks, how did you come up with the idea of a free event paid for by sponsors and how do you promo to get people to attend?
Um, There wasn’t a great amount of Fort furnace that was applied into the, um, into the logic of making it free. It just felt right. It just felt accessible. So, uh, I think in the spirit of everything we’ve always tried to do, it’s always about making things available for folks. Um, As in when they need it. I think it’s also important to say with the membership, then if people are further or presently unemployed, then, then we’ll be helping them out, you know, and sort of giving them access for free.
And so they can get back on their feet because that’s the spirit of the way that we want to do things. Um, and that was the same for the events. So, um, I think that was the biggest thing. I think in terms of promo then truly the best. Promotion that we’ve ever had is through the community. Like, um, the word of mouth has been ridiculous.
You know, hopefully if you’ve enjoyed today, you guys will help out by posting on LinkedIn or wherever it is. Um, that really makes a big, big difference. So, um, so yeah, I’d really encourage word of mouth in the first instance and then, um, gaining access to other communities and helping, uh, you know, helping them out in the most meaningful way.
Uh, are you considering a mix of in-person and online once we got over this period? Um, so yes, uh, we will be online and in-person afterwards, how would you persuade senior people in the business to see the value in creating the community amongst our most loved clients? Um, thank you Emily, for that question.
I think it’s a long-term play. I think you have to argue the example or they think so. I think broadly speaking as a marketing hierarchy, when you’re speaking about, uh, convincing the board to do something, if you can argue the numbers, then argue the numbers. If you can’t argue the numbers argue the logic.
If you can’t argue the logic, argue the example. So what other people have done, and if you can’t argue the example, then argue. Uh, the magic. And I think that a community truly is a marketing, uh, piece of magic. I do think it’s a long-term play, but I also think it’s a very human level thing. So I think hopefully folks will be able to understand that it’s a, it’s an investment in human relationships.
If they can’t, you know, it’s a shame, but it’s also the type of thing where it’s going to be very hard to convince them otherwise, uh, Was I in presented you the entire time? That’s hilarious. Well, I’m really sorry about that. Um, at least you got to see how many slides were in. Um, so thank you for that question.
Uh, Any plans to look for Brighton for a meetup from Dave? Um, so yes, um, I’d love to do one in Brighton, but more broadly, if folks want to run the marketing meetup closer to, uh, an event close to themselves, then let me know. I think one of the important things for the marketing meetup for, uh, going forwards is that we’ve got to make sure that everything’s on the shore financial footing.
Something I was really bad at in the first instance was, um, basing things around any kind of money, um, which while, um, I still don’t want to do very much, like with a baby on the way and stuff like that, then it’s got to make sure that, um, that will make sense. Um, that being said, um, you know, like if you’d like to run a mock to me at prevent near you, then, then by all means, let me know.
Uh, I’m going to see if there’s any different questions. Uh, I think that’s it. Oh, how’d you get next to him for, to do a video for you? Uh, so that was just on a platform called cameo.com. Um, so, uh, yeah, it was a bit cheeky, but I think I got a little bit ahead of it. Anyway, I think that’s it. It’s nearly half past.
So, uh, folks, thank you so much. Uh, it’s hilarious that I was in presentive you the entire time. So 178 slides, at least you can see the effort that went into it. Thank you all once again, for the effort this year, you guys have been unreal in, so, so many ways, um, impossibly grateful for all of you. Um, Check out the brand sign up for season three time, have a great Christmas.
I love you all. I look forward to seeing you on January the 12th, uh, for our first event. Um, please help get the word out and yeah, we’ll see you sing. So take care of them. Have a good one.