We’ve talked a little bit about B2B Community Building, but there’s so much to cover that we just had to bring in another expert to share additional perspectives in this episode of Growth Marketing Chat.
Will Alverson, Director of Marketing for Highwing, has extensive experience with community-driven marketing as part of a demand gen strategy, so we asked him to walk us through his approach to developing strong, lasting communities in the B2B marketplace.
Build Your B2B Marketing Community
Some highlights of his approach include:
Making the consumer the main character in your community-building story
Elevating members’ voices and making them feel heard
Focusing more on developing relationships and less on monitoring vanity metrics
If you’re a B2B marketer, we highly recommend you stop what you’re doing and take 5 minutes to check out Will’s insights. He provides actionable steps you can be taking now, and he even highlights some of his favorite real-life examples of companies excelling at building these marketing communities.
Tune in now – you won’t be sorry!
CAROLINE: Hi! Today, I’m here with Will Elverson. Will is the Director of Marketing at Highwing, and he has a lot of experience building communities. Will, thank you so much for being with me today.
WILL: Yeah. Thank you for having me, excited to chat about community building.
CAROLINE: Yeah. So, I think right now, like, community building has been very important in B2C and D2C for a very long time, but this is a trend that is starting to really happen in B2B as well, and people and marketers are really trying to figure out how they can build a true marketing community in their market. And so, I wanted to ask you about, what’s your approach to build a marketing community and connect people to each other?
WILL: Yeah, so I think the biggest piece of advice I have, and I think the best piece of advice I’ve gotten, as far as community building goes through a marketing lens, is really try and make your audience the main character. I think a lot of traditional advertising and marketing campaigns, there’s a lot of focus on optimization. How do we tell people the right way, and reach the right people?
But I think the difference with community-driven marketing is that you’re placing the emphasis on the individuals who you’re trying to reach. It’s not about you, it’s not about your product or service. It’s about the journey that they’re on, and how you can help them get there. You know, it’s kind of a tale as old as time, of this hero’s journey. And, you know, maybe there’s a mentor or advisory figure, somebody once gave me the analogy of, you know, use an example from “Star Wars”, where, you know, Luke is the main character, but, you know, he has Yoda as a mentor figure, and has this tool in the lightsaber that helps him accomplish the goal, and I think that’s really similar to what you have to do with community marketing.
You make them the main character. You understand that they’re not perfect. Sometimes they might even push you away, but being patient and being really empathetic with that, and really emphasizing those individuals, making it about them, and not you, or your company, or your product or service, that’s, I think, the foundation for any strong community marketing effort. And in order to do that effectively, you know, “empathy” is a word that gets tossed around in a lot of start-up communities, you know, Techstars, which is an accelerator based in Denver, they preach a lot, you know, empathy for founders, for marketing teams, for product teams, really understand what’s keeping your audience up at night. And then with that, once you’re listening a lot, and when you elevate stories, then you start to see, kind of, trends, and, you know, some of these things that, like I said, might be pain points, or might be aspirations. And when you are raising up your audience’s voices, and then making them really feel heard, which requires acting on that afterwards, then the community kind of starts to build itself.
CAROLINE: Right, so it’s… I love this concept of elevating voices, right, really, if you want to build a community, right, you need to let your audience do the talking.
WILL: Exactly. Yeah, and I think, you know, one of the big mistakes that I’ve made early in my career as a marketer, and I think a lot of people, especially with how much B2C social media marketing there is, where there’s sort of this emphasis on vanity metrics, and how many people can we reach, and how many followers do we have? I think the more important thing is actually listening to your people, but when you take that a step further, it’s not just listen to them and seeing, okay, how can we tweak our messaging around that? But when you actually allow that to become your marketing content, when you don’t just say, “Okay, great, thanks for the feedback. Thanks for talking to me on this,” taking that a step further, it goes a long way.
And I think some examples of what that looks like, is, you know, at Highwing, for example, we’re starting to build out a pretty robust, I guess you could call it, like, a loyalty program, where, for people at firms who are helping onboard new teammates, or who are teaching their teammates how to use this well, kind of expanding usership. One of the things that we’re implementing now, is taking that and really showing these people off, and showing the whole industry, “Hey, these people are forward-thinking technologists. It ends up being good for their career.” You stroke their ego a little bit, but you’re also creating a mechanism where feedback is publicly addressed. It’s acted upon, and you’re creating passionate supporters because they get something in return.
CAROLINE: Right, right, okay, and a company that does this really, really, well is Marketo, even though it’s not my tool of choice for our marketing, necessarily, but they have an amazing, incredible community of people that can connect to each other, help each other, and they do recognize they have the market of 50, or something like this, and we recognize, like, who are the core users, right? And advocate for them.
WILL: Mm-hmm. Yeah. One of the other ones I really love is Monday.com, the project management software.
WILL: I think their overall marketing has been really impressive to me. One of the things that I really like is, kind of, fusing their creative marketing efforts with this community-driven model. You know, there’s a lot of forums where different users can exchange ideas, and to talk about how they’ve been able to use the platform. But one of the things that I really like, they have a YouTube channel called “Will It Automate”, where this guy goes in and builds these really ridiculous, funny automations with Monday, but then makes them publicly available. And it creates conversation on social media among users, people show off their use of the product, and they think it’s fun. And even the main corporate accounts are very responsive. So, you know, if I tweet out that something is wrong with the platform, which I’ve done before, or that I really like an update, I can expect to get a personalized response back. And like I said, that makes me feel heard. And it also makes me feel a little bit more involved.
CAROLINE: Right, exactly, exactly. Well, thanks, Will, I think that was really helpful. So, thank you so much for coming here and participating today.
WILL: Yeah, of course.