Building a Business Case For Your Community Initiative

  • June 19, 2015
    community initiative

    You should not present your business case to John Hamm. He is an actor, and cannot approve your budget.

    Community has a lot of benefits, to several departments of your company, but your community initiative has to compete with other budget requests. If you’re going to get what you need from the resource gatekeepers, you’ll need to build a strong business case for why a community is vital. Here are a few points you can hit to make sure your business case is killer:

    Tie Objectives to Company KPIs

    A common mistake is to use some of the softer benefits of a community to sell them to decision makers. Elements like improved customer relationships may be a great boon to your brand, but your boss is likely to be looking at the bottom line. The two major driving factors are going to be increasing revenue and decreasing expenses, so focus your case on these. It will vary from business to business, but generating more sales and freeing support resources are common benefits to concentrate on.

    Build Out an ROI Model Focused on Quantifiable Metrics

    Once you know what elements you need to concentrate on, you can come up with an estimate for the ROI that you expect to see from the community. Some elements to focus on could be:

    • Ticket deflection: What’s your cost to handle a ticket? This will vary depending on the complexity of both your product and the case in hand, but is often somewhere between $ 1- and $ 100
    • New leads: Consider your community as a marketing asset to help prospects, to upsell and to cross sell. Include the added SEO value provided by your community forum
    • Lead conversion rate: Your community can be a place where your prospects validate their decision to buy your products. They can see what kind of community support is available to them, and how much other customers are enjoying your product. Community allows for a strong secondary benefit to a purchase. Not just your product, but the community that comes along with it.
    • Reducing churn: Every business needs repeat custom, so give your users a reason to stay with your product. When customers have strong bonds in the community, they aren’t just leaving your product. They’re leaving a social group, and the relationships they’ve built there.
    • Customer Advocacy: Brand advocates are a powerful force in marketing, and the best way to recruit them is a strong community. Getting these heavy-hitting customers in your corner is a way to ensure that everyone they know will hear about your products, without a penny of extra spending from you

    Justifying Community is Easy

    The business case for your community initiative doesn’t need to be complicated. Community is a tried and tested strategy that offers real and measurable benefits to any business. If the business case for your community initiative is tied to these benefits and has simple measures in place to chart its success, the approval of the fiscal gatekeepers is a foregone conclusion.

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