Pride and Potential

Tomorrow, we’re raising the cost of our Strategic Community Management course from $675 to $750 USD.

However, I want to briefly explain why most of you won’t take this course.

 

My Biggest Obstacle

Early in my career, I was too scared to ask for help, admit there were things I didn’t know, or even get a second opinion from people much smarter than I to see what I could be doing better.

I felt forced to pretend I was an expert, even in fields in which I had no experience.

For example, until three years’ ago our entire website was hosted on an outdated Typepad blog. I told myself if the blog content was good enough, people would hire us. They wouldn’t need pesky things like case studies proving we could do what we claimed.

Once we revamped the website (several times), added our case studies, and began sharing the results of our work, business grew significantly.

Not asking for help was pure pride…and a big mistake.

Today I try to spend at least a couple of hours each week having research calls with our audience, talking to other people running a business, getting expert opinion (especially in statistics/analytics) to see what we could be doing better, or taking training courses in specific areas (public speaking, analytics, psychology etc…).

If you’ve noticed any change in how we work in the past few years, now you know why. This is what it took us to really take our work to a higher level.

I suspect this problem crops up a lot in the community space too.

 

Wasting $1k+ Per Day

A while back, my colleague Todd and I braved a New York snowstorm to meet with a potential client.

The meeting went well, but they decided to go it alone instead.

In the past 18 months, they’ve made a bunch of easily avoidable mistakes, from the site design to daily management of the community, and failed to gain any meaningful level of activity.

They’re still signed to a 3-year contract (for $150k per annum), hired a full-time community manager and sunk at least an additional $50k into the design of the community.

Which means they’re losing at least $1k per day on their community and will do so until their contract runs out. By that point they would have wasted over half a million dollars on a failed community project.

Around the same time, another prospect decided to go it alone too. Again, they made a bunch of almost identical mistakes (from the community concept to daily engagement tactics).

Today the only activity comes from community managers posting huge weekly @mention lists which elicit no further discussions. They’re on the same platform, signed to a 3-year contract, and will never turn the community around. That’s another half a million dollars wasted.

Pride gets expensive pretty fast.

These aren’t isolated stories. Scrolling through our list of community examples, there are hundreds of organizations repeating the same mistakes and wasting six-figure sums in the process. At any time they could have reached out to others for help, but have continued to go it alone and their communities have suffered.

 

Wasted Potential

At the other end of the scale are communities which are doing ok, but not achieving their potential.

Their community managers respond to activity, optimize what they can, and work with the resources they have.

But they’re barely scratching the surface of their community’s potential.

They usually don’t have a clear roadmap, are focused on a single objective (an objective which isn’t fully supported internally), haven’t developed unique member segments to target, haven’t validated member journeys, and often find themselves measuring the level of engagement instead of the end result.

Worse yet, they are often trying to execute on a dozen or more tactics per week because they can’t pinpoint the few which really move the needle on the metrics which really matter.

They’re working within their comfort zones instead of stretching both themselves and the potential of their communities.

As a result, nothing changes. They will have the same level of activity, support, and deliver the same kind of results next year as they do today. They’re completely at the mercy of external forces and trends they can’t control.

 

What Stops Us Taking A Community To The Next Level?

Every big leap we’ve taken has been the direct result of acknowledging we can (and should) do a lot better.

It’s this acknowledgement that lead us to seek advice or learn from the experiences of others. It’s why today we still (and hopefully always will) invest huge amounts of time learning from others in our field (and other fields).

If Usain Bolt was still getting training and advice after running faster than anyone in history, we each probably have a lot to learn too.

And whether you sign up for our course or not, I hope at the very least you invest the time and resources to be as good as you can be in this field. Your career aspirations and your community deserves nothing less.

If you want to learn more about the course, click here.

(price rises to $750 USD by the end of tomorrow)

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