Marketing graduates are well-drilled in the buyer's decision making process. It goes something like this…
- The customer identifies a need.
- The customer searches for information to satisfy that need.
- The customer evaluates a set of products which claim to satisfy that need.
- The customer purchases the product
- The customer evaluates the product.
Most marketing is geared to intersect a customer at one or more stages of this process.
Joining a community is nothing like buying a product. Members don't weigh the pros and cons of joining a community against its competitors. They don’t try to make a rational decision. They don’t identify a missing need and look to fill it.
The member joining process is far more complex and will be closer to this:
- Member hears about the community.
- Member visits and browses
- Member identifies something they want to participate in.
- Member registers.
- Member participates.
- Member returns to see reaction to participation.
- Member gradually builds relationships and continues to return.
Your community efforts should be orientated to help membes at one of these stages.
Personally, I suspect a lot of members are lost at stages 1, 3 and 6 through shoddy growth efforts, limited exciting activites for people to participate in and an inability to persuade members to return.