Most of our strategies have guiding principles.
These are the assumptions upon which the success of the community is built.
They often cover a combination of:
1. The unique target audience we’re targeting. Who is the community for and who is it not for? What is the rationale (data) behind this?
2. The unique advantage of the organization. What does the organization bring to the table which no-one else building a similar community can match?
3. The unique value to members. What is the unique value of this community to members?
4. What is the unique value of the community to the organization? What does the community offer to the organization it couldn’t get from elsewhere?
5. How the community survives in a changing world (i.e. incorporates trends). What are the major trends in the sector and how does the community negate them/thrive within them?
6. What is the key challenge that must be overcome? Most communities have a key challenge they must overcome to succeed. It might be getting questions, competing for experts, or budget issues. What is yours and how will it be tackled?
Guiding principles aren’t plucked from thin air in some virtuoso act of creativity. They’re the summation of everything the organization knows about its members, the sector, and itself.
For example, a set of guiding principles might include:
- Our community is for newcomers to our sector. We aim to help newcomers progress quickly up the learning curve. We acknowledge we, therefore, won’t be the destination for experts looking for advanced, niche, tips.
- The community drives retention of free trials to paying customers. Too many customers are lost to churn. The purpose of the community is to increase retention of customers through the trial to paid accounts.
- The community reduces frustration for members. The community provides members with an easy way to get quickly up to speed. We filter out the best content for newcomers, proactively tackle their most likely questions, and do everything we can to reduce their sense of frustration.
- The community will be distributed across many platforms. We expect less traffic to come from Google in the future. We will therefore proactively share the best members tips and address questions across any platform mentioned, used by more than 50% of our members.
While the strategy might change over the years, the guiding principles generally don’t.
The guiding principles act as constraints that focus everything you do. Once you know you’re building a community to reduce the frustration of newcomers, you can design an entire experience, recruit members, and take steps specifically to satisfy that strategy.
Develop your community guiding principles and share them with your colleagues, you might be surprised just how much it improves all your strategic efforts.