— May 14, 2019
We all know community is important. Most of us belong to some sort of community, be it a church, neighborhood association, or professional organization. We like communities because they help define our identity, make us feel safe, and give us purpose.
Roy Williams discusses community in his book, Pendulum. Roy says that throughout recorded human history, societies have experienced twenty-year pendular swings.
On one end of the pendulum, we tend toward an idealistic, “me-centric” society. At this stage, people strive to be more individualized and look to stand out from the crowd.
Then there is a twenty-year shift to a more neutral society, the bottom of the pendulum swing, and then another twenty-year shift to a community or “we-oriented” society, where people strive to fit in more than they do to stand out.
We are currently operating in a “we” culture that will peak in 2023. In a “we” culture, people want to be involved in a community and move the needle together.
People change their Facebook profile photos during significant events in solidarity with people who reside at a large geographical distance—people they don’t know but with whom they share a common stand. That’s what a “we” culture looks like.
As a business owner, are you tapping into the power of community? If not, this article will lay some helpful pointers for building a community around your business.
Build Your Community
When you create a community, the members will develop an affinity for you as the leader and be predisposed to utilizing your services. Here’s a great example.
For Dr. Grant Dennis, one of our affiliates based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has identified his ideal client as a male hunter, a traditional classic sportsman.
Admittedly, this seems like a broad market, difficult to target, but by leveraging this idea of community, he’s become one of our most successful franchisees.
Dr. Dennis created a group called the Society of Classic Gentlemen. He invites men of his community to come together for events like scotch tasting and educational sessions about cigars, fashion suits, different ways to tie a tie—all things that center around being a “distinguished gentleman.” It started small, but grew quickly, because the people who attended these events told their friends about them and brought them along.
Who is your ideal client and what kind of community can you build for them?
When you create a community, be sure to have it meet regularly. Keep it a scheduled event, which participants can both plan for and look forward to.
Make each event different. Don’t give members an excuse not to attend an event because it was the same theme the month prior. Keep it fresh.
Affinity Converts to Business
By keeping things fresh and meeting regularly, you’ll discover something incredible: the community will go on without you. That’s what happened with Dr. Dennis.
Because of the regularity of his gatherings, one meeting fell on a day when he was unable to attend. The group asked if he’d mind if they met in his absence. That they wanted to do so was a telltale sign that Dr. Dennis had developed such a strong community that they didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get together.
That affinity converts to business. Though these meetings have nothing to do with chiropractic services, Dr. Dennis has built a strong community of his ideal clients who regularly engage with his care. In fact, it’s likely because these gatherings have nothing to do with chiropractic, not in spite of this, that he’s so successful.
It is important to acknowledge that a group like this might seem almost too exclusive, in that it consists of only men. However, that is our franchisee’s ideal client, the people who allow him to do his best work when they utilize his service.
Another of our franchisees, Dr. Alex Nunn, created a group called Books & Bubbly, targeted at her ideal client, an audience that is almost exclusively female.
Would a woman be welcome at the Society of Classic Gentlemen? Certainly, though it’s likely she wouldn’t be comfortable. The same holds true for a man at Books & Bubbly.
Creating a community means creating an environment that welcomes your ideal client.
Your Business Should Reflect Your Community
Once you build your community, you want your business to reflect that same welcoming environment. Let’s say your clientele consists of C-suite executives in your region.
Because of their position, the majority of these individuals are going to come to your office either from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. or from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., so that is when you should maintain your hours to best serve them. The décor of your office should be plush with clean lines and with a large amount of white throughout.
As with the examples above, if a mechanic wearing a jumpsuit covered in motor oil and grease came into your office, would he feel comfortable? In all probability, he’d feel quite out of place because you didn’t create that environment for him.
Some of you might experience some discomfort with this concept. You didn’t create an environment such as this to exclude him, to drive him away, or to keep him from darkening your door. You built your office to suit your ideal client, the person with whom you do your best work. There is an office that is built to suit to the mechanic and those from his community in which your ideal client would feel equally uncomfortable.
It is to that office where you would refer the mechanic because it is probable that he’ll receive the best service from someone for whom he is the ideal client.
Communities Are All-In for Your Business
All things being equal, people prefer to do business with those they like and trust. By this, we mean that if everything were the same, if two businesses presented the same qualifications to provide their service, if they advertised the same price and the same availability, the client would choose the provider they like the most.
Likewise, if everything is unequal, if one business is less available and more expensive, clients will still choose that service if the provider stands for something in which they feel an alignment. That’s where this idea of community is the tipping point.
Let’s look at two examples to see how this works.
Take Lululemon. They produce women’s yoga pants that are much more expensive than most other similar products. However, they have no issue selling them because their community loves what they offer. They aren’t gauging their decision to buy based on technical data about the quality. They aren’t making the purchase because it’s affordable. They do it because they have created a community that puts them in alignment. Their friends wear it, so they have to buy it too.
Apple is another example. The iPhone has been pushed to the upper limits of pricing, and it simply doesn’t matter. Regardless of when you read this book, we can say with a high degree of confidence that when the next iPhone comes out, no matter which iteration, no matter what the price point, there will be a line around the block to buy one.
Apple has built an incredible community. What does that community do? They buy the newest product offering. When the next one comes out, they buy that. The core Apple community always buys the next new product. People in the Apple community are there because they like what Apple stands for. You rarely meet someone who isn’t Apple head to toe. They’re either all in or all out. There is no in between.
Questions You Need to Answer
As you consider how this idea of community impacts your business, it can seem a bit overwhelming. The questions you have to ask yourself are:
- How can I create a community that is all-in for my business?
- What can I stand for that will make people want to stand with me?
- When I have that community, how can I convert them to customers?
Answer those questions before 2023, and you’ll be golden!
This article is adapted from the book None Of Your Business: A Winning Approach to Turn Service Providers into Entrepreneurs, by Shawn Dill and Lacey Book. For more advice on building a community around your business, you can find None Of Your Business on Amazon.