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12 Ways to Connect With a Community of Fiercely Loyal Fans [Day 24 of 28 Days to BFL]

February 24th, 2012

This is Day 24 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Mike Matchett’s post yesterday on a Heifer International community that was built on loyalty in Nepal was so incredibly moving. I was honored just to read it. We’re shifting gears today with the illustrious Liz Strauss who is giving us 12 practical, do-them-now ways to connect with a fiercely loyal community. And yes, I said do them now. :-)

12 Ways to Connect With a Community of Fiercely Loyal Fans

By: Liz Strauss| @LizStrauss

Ever been to a great restaurant or hotel where the mood is right; the service is grand; and every perfectly suits you? When you look around don’t you start thinking about when you’ll be back even before you’ve gone? That club or restaurant has made decisions that show they know who you are and that they share your values. How do they connect with you so well that you recognize them immediately? What makes you want to come back and bring your friends?

The businesses we love offer us an immediate sense of connection. Whether our dearest quest is about is about having fun, learning, meeting new people, getting work done, or making millions, people and places that understand our quest win our loyalty. They value us and our quest. They attract and introduce us to others who share the same loyalty. They are a community. We become fiercely loyal fans.

How do we build a community that inspires loyalty like that?

A community of fiercely loyal fans isn’t built. It offers space for a community to create itself. Loyalty like that comes by allowing people to bring who are and participate. Here are 12 ways to connect with a community of fiercely loyal fans.

  1. Be a person (or people) who likes people. People work with, talk with, and relate to other people not a business.
  2. Articulate a clear and passionate vision worth investing in. Live your commitment. Get your hands dirty.
  3. Seek out people who would love what you’re doing. Find them where they are already gathering and talking. Join THEIR conversations. Get to know them.
  4. Be a beginner, but keep the vision. Learn from everyone who’s been anywhere near where you’re going. Learn to sort wrong from unexpected or different. Ideas that jar you could be the best ones.
  5. Invite everyone who “gets” the vision to help build this new thing. Look for ways to include their skills and their passions.
  6. Keep participation efficient and easy. Curb the urge to add cool things that get in the way of conversation and sharing.
  7. Let trust sort things. Model the standards of behavior. Keep rules to a minimum.
  8. Be visible authenticity. Lean toward full disclosure, but avoid over-exposure. Most of us look better with our clothes on.
  9. Protect everyone’s investment. Forgive mistakes. Ignore little missteps. Eradicate what is destructive. Know the difference by holding thing up to trust, values, and the community vision.
  10. Stop doing what isn’t working. Be lethal about keeping things easy, efficient, and meaningful.
  11. Promote your members … and honor your competition! Secure communities need both to thrive and get new ideas.
  12. Encourage mutation. Let the environment change to meet the changing needs of the people it serves.
  13. Celebrate contagion. Make it heroic to share what’s going on!
  14. Be grateful and always about the people. The community wouldn’t be a community without them.

Those are the basics of building a fiercely loyal community. It’s a lot like opening your mind and inviting people to be a part of what you’re thinking. Put your quest out there and make room for folks who want to share it. Be a fan of the folks you meet and align your quest with theirs.

How will you create a community of fiercely loyal fans?

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Liz Strauss of lizstrauss.com is a brand strategist and community builder for corporations, small business, and service professionals. She is founder of SOBCon, a social business workshop that grew out of her website Successful-Blog.com.

 

P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyaltyplease sign up here.

P.P.S. Just in case you missed my announcement about my only live coaching retreat in 2012, you can catch up on the details (like there are only going to be 10 people there) and grab your seat here: http://www.escaping-mediocrity.com/entrepreneur-expedition-live-retreat/

A Community Built on Loyalty [Day 23 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 23rd, 2012

This is Day 23 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Wasn’t Eric Klein’s post yesterday awesome? I love how he addresses the inner work we must do the build fierce loyalty. Today is a real treat for all of us as Mike Matchett shares a Heifer Project International story about a community in Nepal that was built on loyalty. SO excited about this!

A Community Built on Loyalty

By: Mike Matchett  @mikematchett

Life lessons and inspiration can come from unexpected places.   When Sarah asked me to write about creating community and fierce loyalty, I immediately thought of the women I met through my work with Heifer International in Nepal.  These women have overcome staggering obstacles to lift their communities out of poverty.

They are not focused on their online communities, Twitter feeds or Facebook friends. But rather, quite literally, building the community around them.  The lessons I have learned from them apply surprisingly well to my daily life.

You can watch the award-winning short film that inspired this post is here: http://vimeo.com/31042623

12 Stones from Heifer International on Vimeo.

Heifer in a Nutshell

First, I need to briefly explain what Heifer International does around the world.

Heifer provides livestock and training for people in rural areas.  It’s kind of like giving someone a small business because the livestock are income-generating through sales of the milk, eggs, wool, etc. The secret sauce is the extensive training and education that each recipient receives—in caring for the animals, improving crop yields and much more. I’ll focus on one key ingredient—what Heifer calls the cornerstone of “Pass on the Gift.”

Pass on the Gift, is the commitment each recipient makes to “pay it forward.”  The assistance received from Heifer –an animal and training —is like a microloan that is only repaid when they “pass on” the offspring to others in the community.

The Story of Sita

Sita Poudel personifies this concept.  One of my true heroes, she was living in poverty in southern Nepal when she helped form a group of local women and sought the assistance of Heifer International.

Sita and her fellow group members wanted to escape the grinding poverty they faced on a daily basis.  Further, they lived in a society in which women had to ask their husbands’ permission just to leave the house and had no say in family matters, yet did most of the work.  Boys were sent to school. Girls were thought to be unworthy of being educated.

The group was formed to improve conditions in the village. They went to a local bank to request a loan to buy goats.  A goat is a life-changing asset in a country such as Nepal.  They are a great source of income due to things like the milk, cheese and offspring that can be sold. The banker was surprised to be approached by a group of women and admired their courage.   However, he refused their request because no men were guaranteeing the loan.

The women left the office vowing to one day start their own bank, so that others in need could have loans.  They called their group “namura” meaning “example” because they aspired to be role models for other women in Nepal.

A short while later they learned of the opportunity to work with Heifer, which agreed to supply goats and training.

The women had to commit to months of training on how to care for the goats, the land and how to sell the by-products before receiving the goats.  Because so many women joined the group, there would not be enough goats for each member. Many would have to wait several more months until the first goats had given birth.  The offspring would be “pass-ons” from the initial recipients.

The group nearly fell apart at that point because no one wanted to wait.  Young Sita led by example, and volunteered to be in the group that waited.  All were silent initially, contemplating Sita’s gesture. And then, one by one, other women stepped forward to join the second group.

Months later, the time came to pass on the offspring to the second group.  Many were reluctant, one even hiding her goats in another village.  After some drama, including kicking out a member who refused to participate, the first pass on the gift ceremony took place.

The goats Sita received at the pass on ceremony were the runts of the litter.  She was grateful, but vowed that when it was her turn, she would pass along the biggest and healthiest goats she could.  Gradually, through her leadership, passing on the best, to assure the recipients would be successful, became a point of pride within the Heifer women’s groups in Nepal. People who had never been able to afford to give anyone anything before were now giving life-changing assets in the form of livestock. And giving felt good.

Through the proceeds from the program, Sita was able to move from a shack to a sturdy cement house.  The structure she used to live in is now a barn.  The group members made sure all the girls joined the boys in school and today a generation of girls are being educated in this part of Nepal.

Today, these women who could not get a loan, have achieved their goal of having a bank by building up a microcredit fund of over $10,000. After centuries of being voiceless, political parties now ask for their endorsement.    They have built successful businesses and a thriving, tight-knit community.

And they didn’t stop there.

During regular group planning meetings, Sita and the others decided they should pass on the gift by helping women in other communities.   They began going to other villages to help form groups that would be assisted by Heifer.

At first, they only mentored women from their caste.  After some soul-searching, they decided it was time to reach across centuries-old caste barriers to mentor “untouchable” women in a neighboring village.   It was shocking to many who had grown up having to bathe after coming into contact with an untouchable. Yet Sita and the others knew it was the right thing to do.

Initially the women of the lower caste, which are now called “Dalits,” were suspicious of a higher caste wanting to help them.   But Sita persisted.

I have had the privilege of watching this and other villages transform over the years to become model communities.  Now, I see the castes mixing like sisters.

Sita has continued training new groups and passing on the gift, despite threats from insurgents in her region of Nepal who do not want women to have a voice.

Inspiration and Lessons Learned

I have learned so much from these women who, by our standards, have so little.   They made the most of an opportunity through their persistence, courage and amazing spirit. They focus on what is long-term and sustainable vs. the short-term, transactional focus we see so often in our society. Passing on the gift made for stronger, more loyal communities in Nepal and this contagious spirit is something that applies here at home, as well.

So, what about you?  Where do you find inspiration?  Do you listen for it from unexpected places?

 

 

Mike Matchett is a startup veteran, speaker and social entrepreneur.   A decade ago he took a detour from running an apparel company he co-founded to lead marketing for Heifer International.   Today, he represents Heifer in developing strategic alliances and partnerships and advises entrepreneurs and startups.  He is currently on an international adventure with his family in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyaltyplease sign up here.

P.P.S. Just in case you missed my announcement about my only live coaching retreat in 2012, you can catch up on the details (like there are only going to be 10 people there) and grab your seat here: http://www.escaping-mediocrity.com/entrepreneur-expedition-live-retreat/

How to Ignite Fierce Loyalty: The Inner Secret [Day 22 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 22nd, 2012

This is Day 22 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday Julie Steelman drew profiles of five distinct social “styles” and how they apply to our efforts at building fierce loyalty. Great “a-ha’s in the comments! Today, Eric Klein taps into our inner eye to teach us the secret of igniting fierce loyalty. He also drew a doodle just for us. :-)

How to Ignite Fierce Loyalty: The Inner Secret

By: Eric Klein| @EricKlein

I was at our local YMCA this week to swim laps.

To get to the lap pool, I had to walk by the family pool. A toddler was standing at the edge of the pool shaking in fear. His mother was in the water with her arms out-stretched. She was gesturing and encouraging him to jump in.

Watching them, I recalled experiences with my sons when they were toddlers.

They’d standing at the pool’s edge trembling in fear while I stood in the water coaxing them to take the plunge. It takes more than one request.

It takes fierce loyalty to take the plunge.

Think about that kid. His body’s telling him to stay put; that to jump is to die; that the water is life threatening.

What’s true for that kid is true for your customer or client.

They’re at an edge. They’ve gone as far as they can, based on the skills, knowledge, and actions of the past. And they’re stuck. You can see what they need and want to help them take the plunge; take the next step.

But they hold back.

They hesitate. And maybe even walk (run?) away.

How can you help them past their fear so they can benefit from what you have to offer? Through creating a relationship of fierce loyalty.

Fierce loyalty carries people past their fear-conditioned limits.

Fierce loyalty cuts through fear. Before fierce loyalty is ignited, people can only offer you fear-based loyalty.

Fear-based loyalty says:

I’ll follow your lead and let you influence me as long as you:

  • Support my beliefs
  • Reinforce my identity
  • Make me feel good

Fierce loyalty changes the game. Fierce loyalty says:

I’ll follow your lead and let you influence me even when you:

  • Confront my beliefs
  • Challenge my identity
  • Make me feel uncomfortable

What makes it possible for a person to make that shift?

To allow you to influence them to that degree.

The answer comes from studying your own life. Take a moment and reflect on this:

Who do you allow to influence you?

I’ve asked this question of over 2,000 leaders participating in my program on influence and communication. I had them make a list. (You should too.)

Then I asked them, “Why? Why do you allow these people to influence you?

They gave three basic answers.

One was fear.

Another was respect for technical skills or knowledge.

But the deepest reason and the only one that generated fierce loyalty was this: because they have my best interest at heart.

We give fierce loyalty to those people who have our best interest at heart.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

The implication is clear.  If you want to ignite fierce loyalty in another person – have that person’s best interest at heart. Really, deeply, honestly.

This isn’t a marketing tactic. It’s an inner commitment.

When you make this commitment, it transmits itself through your words and action.

People will sense it. They may not be able to put it into words. But when they’re standing on the edge of the pool frozen in fear – it’s your inner commitment to their best interest that they will feel. It’s your inner commitment to their best interest that will communicate.

Because what you hold deeply, truly in your heart will:

  • Shape your thoughts.
  • Shine through your words.
  • Transmit through your actions.

With this inner commitment you’ll be able to study science of influence and all the  marketing tactics and systems – without slipping into sleaze or manipulation.

Okay I can hear an objection.

The objection says, “Eric, I have a business to run. If I just focus on what’s best for them  . . . what about me, my business, my life?”

Great question.

Here’s the short answer: to have their best interest at heart includes your staying in business. It includes you having the financial flow and stability that will support you in having their best interest at heart.

There’s no conflict between your success and having their best interest at heart.

Unless there is . . . for you. But don’t worry. All you have to do is . . . embrace the principle of having their best interest at heart.

When you embrace this principle fiercely – it will bring to light all the ways in which you do not have their best interest at heart. Because even when you consciously choose to hold their best interest at heart – there are parts of you that hesitate, hold back, and are unsure.

There are parts of your mind that believe it’s you or them.

Revealing those parts of your mind that are fearful, needy, and distrusting – is part of becoming fiercely committed to their best interest.

It’s an inner process of that reveals the parts of you that

  • buy into magic bullets
  • get-rich-quick schemes
  • flim-flam manipulation tactics

All of which comprise your ability to spark fierce loyalty. All of which divert you from having their best interest at heart.

Being fierce about having their best interest at heart will show you those parts of your mind that are petty, manipulative, fearful. It’s not pretty. But it’s real.

What do you do when you see those parts of your mind?

You act like that mother in the YMCA pool. You look the fearful parts of your mind in the eye – with love. And you tell them, “It’s okay. You can jump into my arms. I’m here for you. Let’s create something beautiful together.”

As more and more parts of your being make the commitment to holding others best interest at heart  – the people in your world will feel it. They’ll respond to your fierce resolve.

And as you become more fiercely aligned with that commitment –people will naturally line up at the edge of the pool and when you invite them to jump . . . they will.

 

Eric Klein is one of the few people on the planet who is both a lineage holder in a 5,000 year old yoga lineage and a best-selling business book author. You can get his free book 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma: Freedom, Fear, and the Art of Getting Unstuck at www.wisdomheart.org/50Ways.

Eric has worked with over 35,000 people to infuse greater meaning, awareness, and purpose into their work and lives. His book You are the Leader You’ve Been Waiting For won a 2008 Nautilus Book Award for being “a world-changing book promoting positive social change and responsible leadership”. He is the author of the best-seller, Awakening Corporate Soul: Four Paths to Unleash the Power of People at Work (over 200,000 copies sold) and To Do or Not To Do: How Successful Leaders Make Better Decisions.

He lives in Encinitas, California with his wife Devi. Learn more about their work (and get the free book) go to www.wisdomheart.org

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyaltyplease sign up here.

P.P.S. Just in case you missed my announcement about my only live coaching retreat in 2012, you can catch up on the details (like there are only going to be 10 people there) and grab your seat here: http://www.escaping-mediocrity.com/entrepreneur-expedition-live-retreat/

Creating Fierce Loyalty Is More Art Than Science [Day 21 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 21st, 2012

This is Day 21 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday John Haydoshowed us EXACTLY what to do on Facebook to build fierce loyalty. Really great ideas and discussion. Today, Julia Steelman draws on her YEARS of experience in the corporate world to draw five distinct social “styles” and how they apply to our efforts at building fierce loyalty.

Creating Fierce Loyalty Is More Art Than Science

By: Julie Steelman| @JulieSteelman

Long ago to build fierce loyalty, you had to be a fierce leader. You had to be the bravest warrior and most confident samurai. You had to have mad nunchuck skills and be willing to take a spear in the heart for your tribe. Gulp.

Today, the rules have changed: you have to be tweetable.

While it sounds simple, a good social media presence is more art than science. And as a sales mentor, I get this question all the time: “I’m spending time on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but I’m not making any money … what am I doing wrong?”

Ah, grasshopper, you’ve come to the right place; I have the answer. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve got a social selling style. I’m not talking about what kind of slippers you wear while you update your status; I’m talking about how well you play with others on the cyber playgrounds.

I’ve identified five distinct styles; two are effective and three are not. See if you can identify yourself.

I call the first style Ghosting. This entrepreneur uses social media because “everybody’s doing it,” but she has no idea what she’s doing or why. Her posts are inconsistent, vague and she’s simply going through the motions. If this sounds like you … stop it! You’re just wasting time. Social media is about building connections. You wouldn’t attend a meeting, shake the potential client’s hand, leave and expect to close the sale, right? Ghosters do.

The next style is Posting and Coasting. This entrepreneur hits the social media “easy button” by using other people’s material. She posts quotes. She re-tweets. And she shares links to other people’s blogs and articles. Problem is she’s not sharing much about herself, and she’s not establishing herself as an expert. Posting and Coasting is safe because you don’t have to be original and set yourself up for criticism. But I think Coco Chanel said it well: “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”  ‘Nuff said.

Style #3 is Boasting. This entrepreneur talks about herself incessantly. She is concerned with one thing and one thing only: promoting herself. Remember the ‘80s movie Beaches? Bette Midler’s character CC Bloom is a textbook Boaster. She asks her friend, “But enough about me, let’s talk about you … what do you think about me?” Boasting might get you fans, but they won’t stick around. Remember relationships create sales. And the only relationship in which a Boaster engages is the one she has with herself.

The fourth style is Hosting. (Now we’re getting somewhere.) This entrepreneur understands her job is to serve others by continually providing value. She hosts events, chats and conversations, and provides valuable information. She’s an expert in her niche and generously shares what she knows. Hosting produces great results because potential customers feel cared for. She refills their virtual glass before they even realize it’s empty. They trust her and want more. So they visit her site, attend her events, comment on her blog or Facebook page or re-tweet her tweets. They become part of her tribe.

Finally, the holy grail of social selling styles: Toasting. This entrepreneur’s style is the most effective, and she produces phenomenal results. Toasting combines Hosting with a well-defined Social Persona, which is the feeling, emotion, energy, words, messaging, and heart of who you are and what you’re here to do. She is authentic to herself, her brand and her mission. She effectively merges her personal and business life together in a way that creates profound messages. She energizes those around her and is an influencer. End result: her tribe becomes fiercely loyal.

 

So which style are you? Which style would you like to be? How can you take the first step today?

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Julie Steelman’s former clients read like a Who’s Who of big-name corporate giants with Apple, Microsoft, Toyota, CBS, Sony Studios and Universal Pictures in her rolodex.  She generated more than $100+ million in sales during her 30-year sales career. Julie is the author of The Effortless Yes! And is known as The Sales, Success & Bankability Mentor. Her heart-centered selling strategies make her the go-to guru for entrepreneurial business owners who want to master the art of selling and maximize their company’s bankability.  Julie retired at early and now lives in Hawaii with her husband.  She was recently featured on Entrepreneur.com, Forbes.com and MariaShriver.com.  Http://www.JulieSteelman.com

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

P.P.S. Just in case you missed my announcement about my only live coaching retreat in 2012, you can catch up on the details (like there are only going to be 10 people there) and grab your seat here: http://www.escaping-mediocrity.com/entrepreneur-expedition-live-retreat/

Eight Ways to Engage Facebook Fans in Less Than 60 Seconds [Day 20 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 20th, 2012

This is Day 20 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. On Friday, Gini Dietrich gave us her personal and very specific strategies for building fierce loyalty. Continuing with that trend, today my friend John Haydon, author of  Facebook Marketing for Dummies, shows us EXACTLY what to do on Facebook to build fierce loyalty. I don’t know about you, but I really need this kind of specific guidance. Enjoy!

Eight Ways to Engage Facebook Fans in Less Than 60 Seconds

By: John Haydon| @JohnHaydon

One obvious requirement for marketing on Facebook is consistently posting interesting content on your Facebook Page.

Now don’t be scared by the word “content” – it’s definition includes a lot more than blog posts and videos. And status updates count.

Become A Status Update Ninja

I while ago, I conducted a few experiments with some Facebook Pages and my own Facebook Profile. I wanted to see how people engage with status updates alone (no links, videos, photos) versus shared URLs, videos and photos (with no status update). I found that folks were three or four times more likely to engage with a pithy status update over a shared URL, photo or video.

I wasn’t surprised at the results. Status updates are the language of Facebook friends. It’s what they engage with most of the time.

Eight Simple Ways To Engage Your Facebook Fans

  1. Don’t Be All Work And No Play – It’s ok to ask people what plans they have for the weekend, or if they saw Toy Story 3. Facebook users love sharing the human details of their lives. You’re human too – right?
  2. Ask Simple Questions – Ask your connections how they’ve been personally effected by your business’ cause. For example, the Brain Aneurysm Foundation (an Inbound Zombie client) asked “How has a Brain Aneurysm personally impacted your life?” which received a lot of comments.
  3. Play Tag With Like-Minded Pages - This is a way to create awareness about your Page on another Facebook Page. The best way to avoid coming across as spam is to 100% promote the other Page on your Page. For example, I noticed Mari Smith asking what people to share their goals for the second half of 2010. I simply shared her post on my Page in an effort to send her new fans.
  4. Tell Them You Love Them - Your Page connections (fans) make you who you are. They give you their money, tell others how great you are, and keep coming back. Say thanks once in a while. And mean it when you thank them. They deserve it.
  5. Shine The Spotlight – Facebook users love to look cool. They love to be recognized in front of their peers. Post a status update that expresses appreciation for one of your die-hard supporters. The other fans won’t feel left out.
  6. Comment Back To The Clusters – When your Page gets a lot of updates from fans, like during an event, don’t worry about responding to every single person. Ask yourself where your organizational voice is needed most. For example, focus on the posts that have the highest number of comments.
  7. Get Some Insight - Use your Page insights to quickly find the posts with the highest engagement. Focus your blood and sweat on those fans.
  8. Ask Simple Choice Questions – Try asking your fans simple preference questions. For example, Centerville Pie (another Inbound Zombie client) can ask “Which do you like better – Blueberry Pie or Apple Pie?”

Put On Your Lab Coat

As with anything related to Facebook marketing, result will vary. Stay true to your brand / mission / personality and season to taste. No two Facebook Page communities are alike. See what works for yours -and measure, measure, measure.

 

John Haydon is immune to kryptonite. He also wrote Facebook Marketing for Dummies

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

Stroke People’s Egos [Day 17 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 17th, 2012

This is Day 17 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Reese Spykerman taught us all about how design influences where and how we feel loyalty. The discussion was awesome! Today, it’s my friend Gini Dietrich‘s turn to spark our thoughts. She’s sharing her personal (and successful) strategies for building a fiercely loyal community, so sit up and pay attention. :-)

Stroke People’s Egos

By: Gini Dietrich| @GiniDietrich

I knew I should have gotten this blog post in on time. If I had, it would have run before Danny Brown, Shelly Kramer, and Britt Michaelian.

But noooo. I missed my deadline and Sarah had to push me back a week (special thanks to Liz Marshall for stepping up and taking my original spot) and now it’s going to look like I copied the three of them.

You see, building a fiercely loyal community means you must be fiercely loyal, you must be human, and you must be selfless.

Britt said it best: It’s not about you.

The secret to a fiercely loyal community?

Stroke people’s egos.

That’s all there is to it.

Starting from Scratch

Some people disagree with me. Mitch Joel, for instance, thinks blog comments are nice, but the real juice is in the content.

I agree. But I also think if you aren’t giving people a reason to comment, they’re not going to. If you don’t stroke their egos by visiting the places where they participate online, they’re not going to come to you. And this is very important, especially when you’re starting out.

But how do you go about doing such a thing?

Four years ago I began blogging for the sheer purpose of figuring it out so we could counsel clients on the pros, cons, and how to make a blog effective.

And something interesting happened along the way. I built a community.

It actually wasn’t on purpose. You see, I had 128 visitors the first month of blogging. No one commented; not even my mom.

But I began reading other blogs, and commenting on them. Soon, those bloggers came to my blog and commented on my content.

Well, let’s be real. It took me 10 months to figure that out. But when I figured that out, our traffic jumped, oh, nearly four thousand percent. Yes, four thousand percent.

All I was doing? Stroking other people’s egos by commenting on their blogs and being smart (and sometimes silly) about what I said.

The funny thing is that, when you comment consistently, the blogger wants to know who you are. So they check you out. And, if they like what they see, they comment, subscribe, and share.

Building Community

But, of course, for this double type A personality, that wasn’t enough. I really wanted more than traffic and comments.

I wanted community.

Back to Mitch Joel…I read a blog post he wrote about community. He said (I’m paraphrasing) that you don’t have a community until people begin talking to one another without your participation. Until then, it’s just comments.

And he’s right. You know you’ve hit community mecca when people come to your site to talk to one another, with your content as the conversation starter.

One of the things we did to really help build community was install Livefyre as our commenting platform. You see, it invites people to come back over and over and over again.

But it’s not the end all, be all. It’s only a tool. It’s in how you use it that makes community building successful.

The consistent content has to drive conversation. Create a polarizing opinion and watch people talk to one another (professionally, of course) about the topic.

Additional Things to Consider

So we’ve talked about stroking people’s egos, having good and consistent content, creating a conversation, installing Livefyre, and providing some banter.

A few additional things you should consider:

  1. Know what your vision is for the blog. It’s easy to forget when you read other blogs and you’re moved so much by what the bloggers have written that you want to write something similar. Unless it matches your vision, don’t do it.
  2. Have goals, just like you do for everything else you do in business. We started out with silly goals, such as “beat Danny Brown in the AdAge rankings,” which keeps me, particularly, motivated, but doesn’t do much for the business. Know what you’re trying to achieve and don’t take your eye off the ball.
  3. Your content should always have a call-to-action to it. This was a really hard lesson for me to learn. When I figured that out, this last year, our traffic grew 281 percent. Our community grew. And you know what else? Our sales increased because we gave people a reason to buy from us.

Four years of blogging. Nearly a 50,000 percent increase in traffic since the beginning. Ten blog posts per week (four from guests). A highly engaged community. And increased sales.

All because I believe if you stroke other people’s egos, your benefits far outweigh the cons.


Gini Dietrich
is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, the author of Spin Sucks, the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Spin Sucks Pro, and co-author of the forthcoming Marketing In the Round.

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

Why Design Shows Us Where We Belong [Day 16 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 16th, 2012

This is Day 16 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Jamie Notter led a great discussion on collaborating to build fierce loyalty. Today, my wildly creative friend, Reese Spykerman,  helps us understand how design plays a major role in building a fiercely loyal community. Such a great perspective! 

Why Design Shows Us Where We Belong

By: Reese Spykerman| @Reese

A Chinese mooncake festival comes every Autumn.

The festival’s meaning varies throughout Chinese culture, but it celebrates the moon, rituals, rewards. Though I am not Chinese, its meaning for me is beauty, for with every mooncake festival comes mooncake boxes.

My husband eats the egg-filled cakes each year, while I relish in ornately crafted packaging. I am loyal to the mooncake box, for its delights, its uniquely Asian characteristics, and they house my paper clips in something more ornate than I’d ever find at the office supplies store. They are quirky, they mix modern and traditional, and they are me.

Mooncake boxes make me fall on my knees. So does Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Never mind Martha’s jail time, her ridicule of Rachael Ray for not having a garden. The beauty inherent in that magazine inspires me to renew my subscription annually.

We find meaning in design. It shows us where we belong. Visual beauty and aesthetics, subjective as they may be, ignite us in interesting ways.

My friend Gini, a mind-body advocate, raves about her Ikea stool.

“It’s designed perfectly for my height so my bare feet rest comfortably on the floor, taking pressure off my joints and allowing me to sit for long periods with ease.” Just in case Ikea should ever discontinue the stool, Gini bought and stored eight of them.

In 2010, Gap changed its iconic logo, to the passionate distress of thousands of customers. So fierce was their loyalty to the original logo that Gap reversed its design decision a week later.

Pattern and bag designer Orla Kiely introduced Stem in the midst of a fashion period permeated by solid black. The spring-colored Stem pattern catapulted her business, and introduced a landmark print to the world of hangbags, fashion and furniture.

Starbucks fans gravitate not just toward its coffee, but to its cozy interiors, warm hues and soft couches. Imagine a design change in Starbucks to stark white, with plastic hard-backed chairs and florescent lighting. Customers would revolt.

These symbols, markers, environments and visuals all give us subconscious cues about our values and often create a sense of community, too. When we see a Harley Davidson motorcycle, we immediately associate that bike with a certain group and type of community.

Design inspires loyalty. A re-used website template without any personalization inspires no sense of belonging to that person or business. Contrast that with Sarah’s illustration of her and the YT. Because of that cue, we know — from our first pit stop here — what her values are and whether they fit into our own value system.

Homogeny is death for any growing business or person in this marketplace. Neutrality, both in voice and in design, is near guaranteed failure. Design will be the great growth mechanism of the next 25 years.

Our people need immediate gut checks to decide whether to stay or go, to understand whether they belong. This means as much as you can use design to inspire loyalty, the more differentiated your design, the more you will also alienate people.

Here’s where the fear lies, and what drives entrepreneurs into the land of templates and safety. Alienation. The threat of not being liked, of turning someone away.

But for every 10 people your design, your business values or your positioning turns away, it will draw at least one exceptionally loyal fan. Think about Harley. How much it’s probably NOT for you. The same thing that makes it not for you inspires fierce loyalty among its fans and customers.

Beauty’s subjective. Design’s subjective. I can give you a million different rules to follow with design, but if there’s one adage I’d give you to propel your business forward and attract the kind of people who will walk with you into the fire, it’s this: design with your heart and values on your sleeve.

Do not compromise those, in your visuals, in your words, in how you choose to respond to the world. Use design to show people what it is you stand for, and stop trying to please everyone. Use personal integrity as your guide. Be courageous enough to be radically different (unless, of course, you’re boring as hell). But don’t be different to be different. Be different because you’re showing us your meaning and what’s important to you.

Fierce loyalty is given to the risk takers of the world. Those who stand up for something rather than speak of nothing.

To become beloved, become meaningful. And color that meaning into everything you do.

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YOUR TURN: What company, product, or person inspires your loyalty because of design, and why?

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reese spykermanReese Spykerman is a designer for business pioneers who seek knowledge on mastering the art & science of customer experience, brand image, and delight. Her company offers a variety of design services from website reviews, headers, brand consultation and comprehensive visual design systems. Her anthem for 2012 is Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out”. Reese spent a year crafting the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Mooncake box image from qqjawe on Flickr

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Loyalty Through Collaboration [Day 15 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 15th, 2012

This is Day 15 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Mark Silver showed us how to put our heart smack in the middle of building fierce loyalty. Today, author Jamie Notter turns the spotlight on using collaboration to build fierce loyalty. Good stuff!

Loyalty Through Collaboration

By: Jamie Notter| @JamieNotter

Everybody wants loyalty. In the business context, that means loyal employees, loyal customers, and loyal business partners. You want that stronger connection. You want people who will stay with you, keep your interests in mind, over time, even when things get rough or become unpredictable. That’s what loyalty is: when the seas get rough, the loyal ones stay the course, right by your side.

Understandably, we tend to look inward when figuring out how to secure these loyal partners. What can I/we do in order to earn the loyalty of these other people? Unfortunately this approach has an unintended side effect: it leads us down a path of treating loyalty as a transactional thing. I do x, y, or z, and that earns me the loyalty of my target audience.

Here’s the rub: it’s not about you. It’s about them. Loyalty is a relationship dynamic, not a transaction. And for the people who are your target audience (employees, customers, partners, etc.), the loyalty decision is ultimately in THEIR court, not yours. It’s something they develop inside themselves. They either feel loyalty, or they don’t.

So if you want their loyalty, I recommend starting with a focus on them, not you. Take a look, for example, at how you can collaborate with them more effectively. In Humanize, Maddie Grant and I write about collaboration as an integral part of becoming a more human organization. We look at organizational activities around things like “brand” and “strategy” and talk about what they would be like if they were truly collaborative. Where companies let their customers actually help define the brand (and even define the products and services). Where organizational “leaders” involve employees at all levels in making strategic choices (because your strategic environment rarely takes your strategic planning schedule into account when presenting you with opportunities).

This is different than how we usually do it. But by collaborating with people on things that you used to deliver to them (or at them), you stand a much better chance of gaining their loyalty. It means you will be giving up some control, and it’s going to demand a lot more clarity on your part (so yes, there are things you need to do). But in doing those things, you’re building a stronger relationship with the people that matter, and that’s where loyalty really starts.

So what could you do differently in your company that would generate more collaboration with the stakeholder groups whose loyalty you are seeking?

(image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thowi/182298390/ )

 

Jamie NotterJamie Notter is a vice president at Management Solutions Plus, Inc., where he leads the consulting division. He and Maddie Grant are co-authors of the book, Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World. www.humanizebook.com

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P.S. If you aren’t already signed up and don’t want to miss out on  28 Days to Building Fierce Loyalty, please sign up here.

 

 

The Three Ingredients of Loyalty [Day 14 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 14th, 2012

This is Day 14 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Yesterday, Helen Kim, in her ever-so-smart way,gave us her Riff on Fierce Loyalty (if you missed it – go read it. NOW.) Because today is Valentine’s Day, I can’t imagine a better person to be posting than Mark Silver who puts the Heart at the center of Building Fierce Loyalty.

The Three Ingredients for Loyalty

By: Mark Silver| @MarkHeartofBiz

The recipe for loyalty is relatively simple, but the ingredients are not the most common ones found in business.

Ready? Here they are:

First Ingredient: Love.

You have to love the people you want loyalty from. Love comprises a number of other qualities, including caring, respect, admiration, equality, and generosity, among others.

But the heart of it is love. The human heart responds to love with more love. If you give love, love comes back to you.

Second Ingredient: Loyalty

Seems a little circular, but if you’re asking for loyalty, you need to show loyalty. But here’s the trick, you don’t need to show loyalty to the folks you want loyalty from. You’re already giving them love, which has many of the qualities that loyalty has, so you’ve got that covered.

Your loyalty has to be to something larger. And here’s why.

Loyalty is Like Faith

The human heart is made to serve, not to be worshipped. When people are given too much loyalty, it corrupts the heart. Hear me out, just for a second.

I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t stick with people through tough times, or that you should abandon anyone. But love is enough glue to hold you together. The human heart is healed by love.

Loyalty, however, can be intoxicating. Loyalty, as separate from love, can corrupt the best people. Because human beings are constantly growing and changing, and because we’re imperfect and constantly making mistakes, loyalty, or faith, has two choices.

The first choice is to fade away in the face of imperfections, changes and mistakes. The second choice is to become blind. “My country, right or wrong.” It’s the loyalty that creates dictators and tyrants. It is disconnected from reality.

So putting your loyalty, faith, commitment into something larger than you, a larger purpose, intention, or reality allows others to be loyal through you to that larger thing.

It also allows your community to own their loyalty. Rather than just trying to follow you, they are following something larger.

Third Ingredient: Semi-Permeability

Loyalty and love can all be reinforced by community, and community means belonging. But after years of working with communities of all sorts, I’ve found that one of the most under-appreciated ingredients of a community is the wall around it.

A community is not everybody. A community is a specific group of people. It can be incredibly small, or mind-bogglingly large, but what needs to be clear is that people know when they are a member of your community and when they aren’t.

This involves passing through the wall. And here’s where it gets a little tricky.

You want the membrane around the community (Whoa, switching metaphors. Now we’re into cellular biology.) to be semi-permeable. Meaning you want it to be strong enough to keep people in and keep others out, but you want it to be open enough that people can enter and leave.

The easier it is to join a community, the weaker the sense of belonging, and the less loyalty and commitment is formed. The harder it is to join a community, the stronger the sense of belonging and the more loyalty and commitment is created.

Some communities are impossible to enter, and the sense of belonging is incredibly powerful, such as those formed around ethnic identity or sexual orientation. You can’t change those, and so you know you belong. Religious identity can be changed, but even if it’s relatively easy to officially convert, it often requires big changes in your life, so there’s the gate.

So here are the questions you need to answer:

1. Do you really, truly love the people in your community? How can you nourish that love in your own heart, and express it to them in a way they’ll receive it?

2. What are you loyal to that you also want your community loyal to? How can you express your loyalty?

3. What is the membrane around your community? How does someone know whether they are in or out? What do they have to do to enter or exit your community?

Because that’s a lot to answer, I’m going to invite you to pick one of those questions, and answer it in the comments. And particularly I want you to focus on questions 2 and 3, because they are more quantifiable and easier to talk about.

Go to it. Pick one of the questions, and let’s hear it.

Mark Silver
Mark Silver and his team have worked with thousands of small business owners, teaching them that every act of business can be an act of love, and still be effective. But, you may wonder why it’s hard for him to be cheerful sometimes.

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A Riff on Building Fierce Loyalty [Day 13 – 28 Days to BFL]

February 13th, 2012

This is Day 13 of 28 Days of Building Fierce Loyalty. Friday, Carol Roth (of MSNBC and FOX fame) gave us an Old-School lens for Building Fierce LoyaltyToday, former Hay House radio show host and soon-to-be author Helen Kim (she’s also one of my favorite people in the world to talk to!) gives us her riff on what it takes to build fierce Loyalty. Guess what? It’s an inside/outside job. :-)

A Riff on Fierce Loyalty

By: Helen Kim| @HelenKim

We live in times where technology has lent to the illusion that time is spinning forward faster and faster. The speed with which we can now access information and products lends a hand at making it more or less easy to inspire fierce loyalty and can influence our perceptions.

Technology makes things rather frictionless, making it easy for anyone to post and access opinions, comments and ideas. We are wired to share.

The desire to be loyal is a natural human instinct as it is deeply satisfying. People want to feel like they are part of a family or devoted to their favorite sports team, church, country,  employer,  products – anything, really.

We develop loyalty when we see leaders continue to try and make the right decisions for the benefit of their clients and employees. A business that can deliver their message effectively and instill in us a feeling of alignment toward a common vision garners loyalty or at least curiousity to experience the product or service.

Self-awareness

No one wants to feel like you are using your business to work out your unresolved issues with your past. Self awareness is key in business and inspiring fierce loyalty. Do all the inner work (and do the outer work too because that is sometimes the way in). I once worked for a large management agency where one of the top earning agents had such a temper that there was a permanent hole in his wall where he had thrown a computer at someone in a fit of hysteria. This agency is no longer at the top of its

Know what you stand for and have create good boundaries around your brand/business.

We are constantly evolving and transforming and expect the same, or at least, hope for the same from others. This means you have to earn that loyalty again and again and again. It’s not a given. You have to manage experiences so that people want to return and be a part of your community.

It’s easy to be loyal when people behave but what do we do when we aren’t feelin’ the love? Someone with whom you feel fierce loyalty does something insensitive and it can rattle your faith in you, your business and them.

Preventive measures:

~Always be upfront, because you never lose when you tell the truth

~Be flexible which might mean that you have to compromise.

~Come up with delivery methods that better suit your clients.

Here is what I continue to work on for myself as I move into the next chapter of my life and business:

Your word is gold. When you say you will do something, you do it.

Show up – Attend conferences, parties, book signings, any place where your expression of support is seen, heard and felt.

Think about people’s problems and help them solve them.

Acknowledge everyone who shares a thoughtful comment/insight, whether a colleague, client, potential client, employee

Ask questions and LISTEN.

LISTEN

“You talkin’ to me?” ~Taxi Driver

I recently took a great storytelling workshop where the the first half of the day was devoted to listening.  Those first hours in a room with 12 people caused me to see how I skewed my own conversations with certain people was that how we listen and engage in conversation with anyone is dependent on how they are listening to us. When I think of the way

How do you listen to your employees? Your clients and customers? Is it with an open heart and mind or do you come with preconceived notions?

We all leave trails now. “With every idea we post, comment we share, we’re actually signaling how well we collaborate, and whether we can or can’t be trusted. It’s a new social currency, so to speak, that could become as powerful as our credit rating.” (Rachel Botsman’s TED Talk)

Innovation 

As we progress in life we have to make changes in order to stay vital.

Ask, “What’s next?”

Joseph Coughlin, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, says that businesses must “innovate everyday to justify loyalty for a lifetime. Middle-aged baby boomer women are key consumers and influencers. Companies must do more than provide a product or service, they must offer solutions that respond to changing life-stage needs and desires. Older consumers demand new and different – making tomorrow as exciting as a first kiss.”

We need to meet our clients and employees at the place economists call “the coincidence of wants,” addressing needs and experiences the way  Zipcar, Rent the Runway and  Bag, Borrow & Steal have done.

In Conclusion

Fierce indicates an indomitable energy – unrelenting…

So in the words of Winston Churchill, when it comes to developing fierce loyalty, “Never, never, never, never give up.”

I would love to know what you think about all of the above. How have you developed fierce loyalty in your life (business, life – it all stems from the same place!).

Thank you to Sarah Robinson for inviting me to participate in this wonderful exchange. I feel fiercely loyal to her.

 


HELEN KIM
 is the founder of this company and former host of “Conscious Wealth,” featured on Hay House Radio. The program emerged from Helen’s experiences in counseling individuals in their relationship with money.  She featured teachers and authors such as Byron Katie, Julia Cameron and John Bradshaw and will continue to feature other experts’ work as it relates to money, relationships and work life. Helen is currently writing a book that will help people understand, reframe and ultimately transform their relationship to money. A former cellist, she is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music

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