When I first got into the community building industry,
it was one of the most exhilarating pivots in my career as a business developer / entrepreneur. I found a way to generate profound and lasting friendships even faster and more efficiently than ever before (note: I’m what some would label an “old school marketer”). And, I discovered ways to help my clients do the same, and to measure their business growth along the way.
To me, it’s icing on the cake, using social media tools as one method of making “friends”, prospecting (in a new way), generating awareness, making it easy to encourage referrals, building email lists, and continuing the cycle of repeat business over years and years as relationships grow.
“Use the tools, don’t let the tools use you.”
Here’s what I have discovered about the extraordinary business of building community around brands today (no matter what size or type of brand).
It’s the same as it always was, long before the internet existed: You gotta have a strong identity, know yourself; who you are for yourself and who you are for your community/customers/clients. I mean to every detail. For many marketers, this entails creating what is known as “avatars/buyer personas”, code for identifying your “target market”, which is code for “who are your ideal customers?”.
I always say, “there’s nothing new under the sun” (and I still really don’t know where I picked up that expression. Probably from my mom, who is my business idol and to this day, one of my strongest mentors).
So, back to business identity.
Once you clarify all the “right stuff”, and have a business model (I’m simplifying here), you’ll develop your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which is code for:
The results (measured in numbers) that will make you happy and successful in your business in any given day/week/month/year….and then two to five years from now, and beyond, even as far as your exit plans.
I get soooo weary of “size queens” in our world who go after “vanity metrics” like number of Twitter followers (although plenty of brands are impressed by big numbers because they don’t realize that fake and irrelevant fans and followers can be purchased) and Facebook page likes, for example. These mean nothing if your bottom line (cash in hand) is not directly affected. Are there strategies to win new business using these channels? Yes, you bet there are, but that’s for another conversation.
Measure what matters in YOUR business. It’s good, old-fashioned goal setting!
“Goals are dreams with due dates”
Determine (hopefully with partners, team members, investors, coaches – in other words, people who care about your wildly successful, growing business; holding the vision for it) metrics that matter and measure THOSE.
For the sake of this conversation, your bottom line is determined by cash-in-hand. It’s not just a warm-fuzzy (fluffy likes and conversations that lead to nowhere). It’s what gives you the financial freedom and independence to take care of business and live your life (including the ability to support philanthropic goals).
Set up regular time intervals to measure what your business is actually generating and determine where there is room for growth (say, every quarter or bi-annually, depending on your business).
Use time wisely. Measure what matters.
Only YOU can do the real measuring from within your business.
Only YOU know what you need at any given time.
I recommend using Google Analytics for your website, to track your web traffic….however, if that traffic isn’t coming THROUGH your business doors and generating sales/income, those metrics don’t matter much. What those metrics do is inform you (over time) as to whether you are on a path that leads to growth, in terms of lead generation, referrals, and all the elements that go into driving traffic to your point of sale.
Every business is unique, and yet the same.
Every business is built upon relationships with people, and the really good ones actually put People First, or as I like to say, “People Forward”, in all things.
How do you measure what matters? What works and what doesn’t work?
I’d love it if you let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading this entire post!