Christian Jacobsen
CEO & Co-Founder
Crema

Podcast

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Startup Contributor

Take Your Business to the Next Level With Community

By Christian Jacobsen | Tue, 08/09/2022 - 16:00

All you need is community. It really is true, if you are a business, that is.

If you haven’t yet, you need to create a community around your business ASAP. Few businesses have the luxury of not doing that and the truth is, all great businesses have created a community, whether voluntarily or not. Apple, for example, has managed to create products that spawned several communities of Apple lovers. It's a cult, with Apple lovers standing in line days before new releases, raving about the products, and promoting them as if they were getting something in return. Spoiler: they aren’t.

But, that's the power of community. Even Coca-Cola has managed to do the same, creating a community of people who gather to celebrate their common love for their favorite beverage. Although their intent was never to create a community, they managed to do it by creating a product so good and addictive that users just found a way to gather and talk about how much they love the drink. Figma, on the other hand, was very intentional about building a community because they knew it was going to be what drove their growth, and they were right. Created with great intention or not, a community is almost always ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the brand survives, and thrives. And that is why it’s so important these days.

Unfortunately, building a community around your business is almost never in the game plan whenever companies start, or when management talks about how they are going to grow their business. It’s incredible. It’s right in front of you and it’s so obvious. But, since it isn’t taught in business school, it isn’t on the agenda. Luckily, that's where the newer generations of entrepreneurs come in. If you have created a startup before, I can almost guarantee that building a community is going to be among your top priorities. If it's the first time you are starting a company, perhaps not. And it might cost you an arm and a leg to figure out that community is most often the difference between a major success and not so much.

What's good is that founders who have created companies before are starting to give advice about creating a community from Day 1. It’s not something that you are going to find if you are Googling how to start a startup, and unfortunately, most founders start and live by Google as the source of truth. It is also unfortunate that there isn’t a recipe for success in creating a company. There are, however, guidelines that you can follow to ensure a “safer path” toward building something meaningful. But those guidelines are unique to each founder, and what has worked and what hasn’t worked for you in the past. This is why so much of venture capital goes to second-time founders. It is a much “safer” path because they have lived what works, and what doesn’t. And, what works is community, in one form or another.

It is time to put it on the agenda, front and center. And, we are not just talking about startups here. Mature companies should also start paying attention to community. Their own community. And see how they can grow it, focus on it, and make it a part of their strategy. It’s never too late to start but act fast before your competitors start taking advantage and migrate your users to their community, and soon, their products.

At Crema, our go-to-market strategy lives alongside our go-to-community strategy, which is a strategy we put a lot of heart into. It’s a strategy we keep implementing, changing, iterating and perfecting. Community is not just an item to cross off in your go-to-market strategy. Although that would be a start for most companies. Community is a strategy in itself, and should be, in most cases, thought of with the same detail as your company’s go-to-market.

Community also needs planning and a dedicated effort. That is why you shouldn’t mix within your go-to-market. Because reaching your audience, building for that audience, and creating a community is as demanding as doing the same for your product or service. The difference is that community is going to be what keeps your company growing, and it will, in many cases, build the famous moat that protects you from competitors and keeps your customers loyal.

Without giving too much away, I’ll briefly explain how we are thinking about building community at Crema. First, we always knew community was going to be important. It is, as they say, not our first rodeo. We knew community was going to be important not just because no matter the solution, community should be important, but also due to the nature of our product and audience. Our audience is freelancers, and, as most are aware, freelancers ride solo. They spend most of their time working alone. And, since we’ve lived that life, we know what it feels like. What it feels like to figure everything out by yourself, what it feels like to only depend on yourself. So, we knew that a latent need for many freelancers is to socialize, engage with peers, learn, give away knowledge, and just find a community of like-minded people.

Based on that, we knew that community would be of the utmost importance, and we knew exactly what we wanted to do to create our community. We wanted to create content for our audience, an audience that is constantly learning and self-educating. We wanted to create that content ourselves but also have our community contribute to the content creation. We also wanted to educate new generations of freelancers just recently starting out, dipping their toe in the waters so to speak. We wanted to teach them how to become a freelancer and give these new freelancers a place where they could ask questions, get answers, and learn from others with more experience. That is something we wish we had had when we started out. We also wanted to create a space where freelancers could interact. A space where they could find their peers, engage, and just be close to like-minded people who are looking for the same thing. So, we did just that. For our audience, our community, this has worked fairly well. It’s now a growing community and every day, we are learning how to make it even better, how to better serve our community. In turn, that community gives us immense power to grow without investing incredible amounts of money in paid marketing.

Community was on our agenda from Day 1, and it should be on yours as well. It doesn’t really matter what your product or service is. I bet that you can build a community around it, even if you think you can’t. If you really know your users and their pains, you can create a community around those users, help them on their journey, and get them to help you along the way. It’s a long-term strategy. But a strategy that will give you long-term success as well if you apply it correctly.

Photo by:   Christian Jacobsen