We often come across disgruntled prospects who have flown blindly into building a community.
This happens when a senior executive decides to create a community (and typically drops the task upon someone in marketing).
This person speaks to a few platforms and picks a vendor they like best. The vendor recommends a trusted implementation partner. The implementation partner designs a great-looking website which is live within 3 to 6 months.
A few common problems arise here.
First, you will spend too much. This usually means buying modules you don’t need. Trust us, no platform vendor will refuse to sell you additional modules if you decide you need them later. The goal of the salesperson is to get you to sign a 3-year contract.
Second, the implementation partner will often design a site better suited to a mature, developed, community rather than you just starting. If you’re not providing specific guidance for what you need today, you will end up with something that looks great but functions poorly.
Third, this approach tends to force a big bang launch. Once you’ve spent $100k+ on a website, your company is expecting great results. That means thousands of active members quickly. That means having to report numbers early on. This means you can’t test and adjust concepts under the radar. Your colleagues and execs judge you.
(It also means people are quicker to cut their losses if it’s not working out.)
Platform vendors, implementation partners, and others do terrific work. But don’t put them at the controls of your effort. Become informed first. See what other communities were like when they launched. Ask questions from those who have been through your situation.
Don’t fly blind here…it could become an expensive trip.