Scale

Key Takeaways from Reach Academy Live – Day 3

Day 3 of Reach Academy Live focused on creating a business and offers that make it possible to create much more value from the stages you land. Where most speakers get hung up on how much their honorarium is, this event focused on creating a offers that scale beyond the stage, leading to much greater revenues down the road.

If you missed them, you can check out the highlights from Day 1 and Day 2 here.

There are many different ways to scale; each has certain advantages and drawbacks. Pete opened day 3, presenting the Stage Revenue Model, which serves as a map to help speakers identify what opportunities for scale.

Scale is key for speakers to transition from “road warrior” taking any stage and living off the honorariums, to landing just a few dream stages a year that lead to big revenue, to building a team of speakers to spread their message for them.

With even one or two pieces of scale you can change the value of your stage from whatever the honorarium is, to multiple six figures by having products or services to sell beyond the talk. This is a game-changer for many businesses and many speakers.

How do I know what offer to develop?

With so many different products and offers to consider, it can be difficult to know which will work best for you.

To help decide, Pete has put together the R.I.P. (resistance, impact, profitability) filter system. This filter helps you decide where the best opportunities for your business lie.

Resistance – how difficult will it be to bring this to market? Look for opportunities with low resistance.

Impact – How much impact will this have on people’s lives? Will you be able to help a lot of people with this? Or at least a will this add a lot of value to the people you serve?

Profitability – You need to have a product that leads to profit. Without profit, you can’t scale your message or expand your reach.

As you read through the many different opportunities for stage revenue, consider the R.I.P. filter, and see which fits best for you.

Angelique Rewers – How to work with corporate clients

Angelique Rewers is a master at helping speakers with many different skills to find corporate clients. She pointed out the incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs in corporate markets.

In 2015, the global spend for corporations on training and professional development for their teams was over $355 billion, and that they regularly hire individuals and small firms to help them.

She further drove home her point showing a few key statistics about entrepreneurs and corporate clients. The average top-line revenue for solopreneurs is just $44,000, yet within 2 years of landing their first corporate client, their revenues increase by 264%. Better yet, 63% of small business owners who have corporate clients make over $500,000 a year.

She then walked the audience through the process of taking talk and turning it into 7 streams of income from corporate clients starting with, one simple phrase:

“At the heart of my speaking topic what I’m really teaching people about is…”

If you can answer that question clearly, then you can build a training program around it, sell it to corporations, and turn it into 7 streams of revenue:

  1. Get paid to deliver the content
  2. Get paid to create the content
  3. Get paid to teach your client how to deliver your content
  4. Get paid to allow your client to continue to use your content
  5. Get paid to record your training and share it with more employees
  6. Get paid to teach others your expertise (coach the coaches)
  7. Get paid to let others teach your content to their clients.

Few are really aware of the many diverse ways you can charge corporate clients, and often sell themselves short a lot of the revenue that a corporate client could generate for them. Use the list above to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship is an often overlooked form of scale, especially for for-profit businesses. For-profits often assume there’s not much opportunity for sponsorship available. But each year there are billions of sponsorship dollars up for grabs for both non-profit and for-profit causes.

There are three keys to succeeding with sponsorship:

  1. You need to connect your sponsor with and asset. This is usually a talk or a program.
  2. You need to stand out from everyone else in your industry.
  3. You need to be connected to their target customer.

You can have your talks sponsored and deliver your content for free to a community that needs to hear your message at no cost to them. Or you can be sponsored to run a program and teach.

Just make sure that if you do win a big sponsorship deal that you don’t become overly dependent on that stream of revenue, it can go away quickly.

Fundraising

Ron Forseth shared his story of working with Pete to invite 15 couples to The Broadmoor, a luxury hotel in Colorado Springs, to share their story and ask for donations for his cause. Though spending over 70k on hosting these couples at a luxury hotel seemed like a gamble, they netted over 600k in donations from the event. He closed by encouraging the audience to master their story and have a powerful call to action that will make people excited to support your cause.

“You need to work on a story that’s going to change the world. The head’s not going to get it, the heart will help move them along, but a transformation call to action will get you there” – Ron Forseth

For more information on giving a great talk and storytelling for your business, check out: How the best speakers use storytelling as a business growth tool.

Courses – With Dr. Carrie Rose

Carrie Rose has many years of experience in public education and a PhD in educational leadership. She’s developed her own process for creating great courses.

She went on to point out some of the benefits of courses:

Huge demand – Though many people don’t see courses as a business model, Carrie pointed out how it’s a $107 Billion industry.

Scaleable – Creating a course once can drive value continuously.

Duplicatable – Once you learn how to create your first course, you’ll be able to repeat that process and create as many courses as you want. If you think of your content as a continuum, you can create courses that address the different areas of that continuum.

Courses for onboarding – Courses aren’t just for teaching customers. You can use them to onboard and train your team members. This is particularly powerful when you’re training people for a highly scaleable job like sales or customer service.

There are some common pitfalls that challenge many course makers. They are all challenges that can be overcome, but you need to have a good understanding of your audience and market, as well as strong confidence and belief in yourself to make it work.

They don’t sell themselves – Though the work creating a course only needs to be done once, you need to apply consistent effort to selling your course.

They take effort – A course does not have to take months or years, but it will take at least a few days of highly concentrated effort to create.

They require some technical skill – It can be challenging to manage all of the technology that goes into making a good course. They also require some moderate knowledge of audio, design, and writing.

A common problem that causes many courses to fail is that many people create very broad courses that cover many topics. Carrie encourages courses that dive deep into a specific and clear pain point. Many are afraid to do this because it usually means their courses come out shorter. But it’s a misconception to think to equate time invested with learning. It’s better to have a short course with a laser focus on a problem than a long one that does not go deep on any.

Hosting your own events

Hosting your own event can be one of the most powerful forms of scale, but it also one of the riskiest.

The upsides are:

  • Good to build trust – Being on stage at your own event is one of the most powerful trust builders out there. You can build the same amount of trust in a few days from the stage that would take years from digital marketing.
  • You make money on both ends – You can profit from the event tickets itself, or you can sell some of your offers on the back end. You also can take a cut from the sales of offers your speakers make.
  • Build a community of fans – People go to conferences once because of a big name, topic, or opportunity, but they come back because of the people they meet. These communities and relationships keep people coming back to your events.
  • Understand your customers – Hosting your own event gives you a place to do great market research and speak with many of your potential customers in person to learn their needs and create better offers for them.

Some of the downsides are:

  • They’re expensive – There’s lots of little costs that can add up quickly. That soda that you would normally buy for $1 can be as much as $6 with all the markup, fees and taxes. Multiply that by the hundreds of sodas and $250 per gallon coffee you’ll buy for your guests and you can start to see how the expenses can snowball.
  • They’re risky – Aside from the financial costs, events also demand a great deal of work. It’s a big challenge to fill a room as well. Unless it’s planned and marketed well, it could be difficult to profit or even break even on events.

Depending on your audience, style, and goals, you’ll decide the length of your event and how many other speakers you’ll need. You can host an event entirely on your own, but if you’re bringing more speakers in making sure they contribute to the event by helping promote it and adding value to the audience.

You’ll also need to choose where you host it, will it be a local one-day event that people can attend and return home to in the same day? Or will you promote it nationally and need to provide options for lodging?

Service businesses

Service-based businesses can do very well leveraging stages to drive customers.

Advantages of service businesses:

  • High demand – Many high end clients only want to purchase “done-for-you” services.
  • Big dividends – Done for your services can command a very high retainer fee, especially if they drive a lot of value for the business.
  • You can leverage small stages – A good service business may only need to land one high end customer to have a successful event. Meaning they can leverage smaller stages more easily than someone who depends on selling a product.

Disadvantages of service businesses:

  • High touch – Done-for-you services usually require a great deal of skill and time investment. This can make them hard to grow and scale.
  • High expectations – When making a big investment into a service business, clients can often have very high expectations and little patience when waiting for results.

Setting good expectations early can help manage some of the downsides that are common in service businesses. You can start setting expectations even from the stage or in passing conversation.

Here’s an example of how to do that inside a story:

“A few days ago, I got a call from a big potential client. I let them know I could not start work with them for another few months and the work would cost $30,000. They said “We were thinking more like $20,000,” and they asked if I had a cancellation policy.

Now, I was willing to give them a bit of a discount if they paid it all up front but told them I didn’t have a cancellation policy, I only worked with people who were serious about this.

They respected this boundary and ended up taking my offer to pay upfront.”

Coaching and masterminds

Coaching and masterminds are often a good way to add some scale to high-end services. You can often coach several people in the same amount of time it would take to manage a single done-for-you client, you can even bundle the work into a group coaching program and work with many clients simultaneously.

It’s also possible to have your clients teach and support each other through masterminds. A mastermind is usually a small group that meets regularly to share insights on a certain problem and keep people accountable. As a coach or facilitator, you’ll still direct the group and the discussion, but you can allow space for your clients to teach each other. Your clients will still find value in being in a group of peers that they can relate to and work with.

Many people create Facebook communities to support their mastermind groups and give them a place where they can engage with each other. A great community is a powerful source of revenue, but it can be difficult to build successfully. If you’re interested in learning more about what it takes to manage a great Facebook community check out 8 Keys to Growing a Great Facebook Community.

How to create value through narrative

Nicolas Kusmich is a master of Facebook ads and a dynamic speaker. He opened his talk by asking the audience:

“I’m selling a used car for $1,000,000… does anyone want it?”

Predictably, nobody raised a hand. He then went on to describe the car in more detail. This was a 1960 Ferrari worth over $10 million. He asked again if anyone was interested and many more hands raised. He pointed out how, through the background story of the car, its perceived value dramatically changes.

We can create this same effect with our Facebook ads. Often we try to make an offer through Facebook in the same way that Nicolas tried to sell the car at first to us, no narrative, no value. Nicolas provided a framework to help create value in our ads.

Nicolas is known for making statements that trigger a perfect mix of confusion and intrigue. He lived up to his reputation when explaining his framework for a perfect Facebook Ad – “A good ad F.A.R.T.S.”

Here’s what he means by F.A.R.T.S.:

Forward moving – It hits on a powerful emotion and encourages action. It also has an image that stands out in the newsfeed and tells a story in itself that supports the narrative of the ad.

Applicable – It’s clear how your message applies to their life.

Relevant – The solution you present needs to make sense to them and connect with the emotions you conjure in your copy.

Titled well – A good title will call out who the target customer is, and capture their interest and attention enough to get them to take action.

Closing remarks – take action

Reach Live closed with Pete Vargas encouraging the audience to take action on what they’ve learned over these past few days. It’s easy to leave an event like that with good intentions and a sense of productivity. But as we return to our normal lives, energy and momentum tend to slip away. The plans we made in and goals we set face inevitable setbacks and challenges.

 

Reach Academy Live Pete Vargas

 

Pete shared the 3 things that kept him going during one of the most challenging times in his life.

  • Purpose – You must connect with something bigger than yourself that will keep you going through any challenge.
  • Community – A community of people that will be there for you and support you when you need them most.
  • A mission – A purpose for yourself and a plan to fulfill it will bring meaning to your life and help give you direction. Even though your plans may not work perfectly, your mission will give you the strength and perspective to figure it out and continue.

He recalled a video from Price EA he shared to open the conference:

Pete shared his desire to be liked by everyone in the audience, but that has resulted in problems for him in the past. He would not speak his mind when people told him “they weren’t quite ready” or “They’ll take action once X is done” but he found they leave with the best intentions, but nothing changed and they would often lose touch.

Don’t be one of those people that disappear and never takes any action.

Don’t be the person that comes back to the next event exactly the same.

Don’t let your ideas, aspirations, and dreams end up in the graveyard.

Don’t miss out!

These takeaways are just a small piece of the value you can expect from Reach Academy Live, in addition to great talks you can expect to meet amazing people, form lifetime relationships, and grow your business beyond what you thought possible.

Get your tickets to the next Reach Academy Live in November here.

Insights from 10 years of hosting live events from James Schramko

Many businesses think of hosting live events, like an annual conference or training event, as a way to fatten their wallets. Attendees will pay big bucks for tickets, show up, maybe even post to social media during the event and provide some free marketing. They might buy products when they’re there. The businesses hope to attract some big-name speakers, who in turn want to make quick money selling their products to a captive audience.

What’s wrong with this picture?

The attendees might learn something. They might buy another course or product from the company hosting the event, or from one of the speakers. But they probably won’t come back the next year, to

Image of surfers in the ocean
Attendees hang loose at SFB Live 2014.

See the same speakers give the same hard sell. They certainly won’t come back the year after that, when they’ve seen two years of the same stale presentations and have nothing to show for it. They won’t recommend the event to their colleagues, and they won’t think back on it fondly a few years later.

James Schramko has built his annual event, SuperFastBusiness Live, into a touchstone of his community. Notice that word – community. SFB’s event isn’t about pitching affiliate products or bilking attendees out of a few thousand dollars. Their attendees come back year after year. They become coaching clients, customers, devoted members of SFB’s online community, and even business partners.

How do they do it?

Keep your eye on the future

The long-term goal of SFB’s annual event is to build their community of paid members and coaching clients. They want to build a positive, lasting relationship with their attendees. (Of course, you have to be ready to build a great community that keeps your customers loyal. Check out our post on growing a great Facebook community for strategy and practical insights.)

The short term goal is exactly the same. There is no short-term profit goal, no quick cash. They make sure the event doesn’t run at a loss, but beyond that, the event is completely oriented towards their customers and the long-term relationship.

Image of conference room full of attendees, some raising hands.
SFB Live is packed with an attentive audience. Hosting live events is about having the right content, attracting the right audience, and running a tight ship.

Schramko explains that he had to make a key decision years ago, of whether he’d try to keep hosting the same event for a different audience each year, or whether he’d host new, evolving events for the same core audience. “A lot of event companies have gone out of business,” he says, “because they’ve cycled through their audience and run out of victims. They’re making a classic sales mistake where they’re thinking about their own needs, and they’ve forgotten about the customer’s needs.”

Their core philosophy is hosting live events that people will love and remember. This builds the best possible customer relationship. They want a lifetime customer, and the event is an important means to that goal – but not an end in itself.

The customer is always right – if it’s the right customer

SFB has been successful by putting its attendees first. This means that they curate speakers who are going to teach something that their audience actually wants. How can they be sure? “I know that because I survey them,” Schramko explains.

Image of income pie chart. The largest slice is $100,000-$1m, with 71.4%
A graph on the SFB Live website shows the income levels of attendees. Schramko knows his audience and targets people who are going to get the most out of his events.

A pre-event survey ensures that they understand exactly where their attendees are in their careers, and what they need to learn now. Because SFB has been so successful in building loyalty and bringing customers back every year, they have to keep content fresh and new, to meet their customers where they are this year. If they learned it last year, they don’t need to learn it again now.

Image of chart of topics for SFB Live 2017. The categories are Traffic, Conversions, Content, Scaling, and Exit.
When hosting live events, Schramko carefully curates content for his audience, based on their interests and needs. He can be confident he knows what they want because he surveys them beforehand.

Even more importantly, they make sure they have the right people attending the events. It’s not enough to sell tickets, and they want to sell tickets specifically to people who will benefit from the event. Those attendees will recommend the event, become part of the community, and come back next year. Someone who is a bad fit might shell out for a ticket once, but they won’t be coming back again and they won’t be writing glowing testimonials. Worst-case-scenario, they’ll start spreading rumors that the event is a waste of money. “Be deliberate about who you attract to your events, Schramko says. “You should tell people who the right person to get the most from the event should be, and who might not get the most – and be honest about that. If you want to maximize the event, you have to have the right people there.”

No one comes to hear a sales pitch

Image of conference speaker in white t-shirt, arm extended.
Hosting live events is all about getting the right speakers. A high-pressure sales pitch means attendees feel like they’re being sold, not taught.

The speakers at SFB’s events are given specific, unusual instructions. Schramko first carefully curates speakers he knows and trusts. They’re usually business partners, or leaders who he has coached, who he knows are absolute experts in their field. Then, he says, “I ask them to trim the whole 30 minutes of lead-up – let’s just assume they’re there for a reason, so we don’t need to know about their journey to fame and fortune. Then trim the whole 30-minute sales pitch, stick to the content. Give us some full-on training, show us how it’s done.”

Another key factor is the presentations themselves. Schramko doesn’t allow presenters to put on a ‘hard sell,’ encouraging attendees to rush to the back of the room in a frenzy and buy their courses. The content must drive the presentations. This lets the attendees relax and learn. And they’ll come back next year because they know they won’t be pressured into dropping $5,000 on a course they don’t need and can’t afford.

Every presentation has to be tight and compelling. The presenter should be talking about an area where they’re a true expert, in a way that only they can – the foundation of great business storytelling.

Content, content, content

James Schramko has learned the hard way how to structure content when he’s hosting live events. At his earliest events, attendees would bring their own laptop and expect to leave the event with a brand new, fully-built website. This was enormously risky, as everything from the hotel wifi to the quality of the attendees owns computers could sabotage the entire enterprise.

Image of notebook with pen, and text "Starter Pack - Give new ninjas everything they need to win on their first day"
Content packed sessions lead to attendees focusing up and taking detailed notes.

Now, he says, “instead of a to-do list, they have an action plan.” Schramko focuses on content that will give his students the right ideas, help them understand the why and the how then directs them to resources to get the actual mechanics of the idea done. The session content is still practical, real instruction, but he no longer attempts to train people to be web developers in 48-hours. Instead, attendees leave with ideas, resources, and practical case studies.

By focusing on content, SFB is actually accomplishing two major things. First, attendees get enormous, practical value out of every session. They learn practical, hands-on techniques to grow their businesses. Second, SFB is growing their own content library for the SFB blog and paid community. Each session is packed full of useful, meaty content, which can be developed for multiple purposes. The high-quality recorded sessions are released online, along with transcriptions, illustrations, and blog posts. Some are available for free, and others are restricted to the paid membership community. Each event session serves double duty as high quality paid content and a content marketing tool year-round.

The devil’s in the details

Every aspect of hosting live events contributes to success or failure, and you can’t afford to scrimp on the details.

Imagine arriving in an unfamiliar city. You’re jetlagged and get up at the crack of dawn to make it to the first session. It finally breaks time – but there’s no coffee. You pull out your phone, only to learn that the nearest Starbuck’s is miles away. And the next session starts in 5 minutes.

This is exactly what happened to Schramko at an event he attended years ago, and he’s determined not to let it happen to his attendees. Snacks, coffee, water, and meals are all taken care of, so attendees can stick around during breaks for valuable networking. Every session starts and ends exactly on time. Notepads and pens are provided, so there’s nothing to worry about if something gets left behind. Social time and ample breaks are built into the schedule – no glassy eyes or dozing off.

Image of conference attendees smiling, sitting at lunch tables.
Event attendees relax during a break. Ample time for rest and networking are key to hosting live events.

Attendees want to get the most out of an event, but too many organizers treat their events like marathons. They expect attendees to suffer through it. It’s a simple equation: set the attendee up for success, then they’ll actually feel successful and come back next year. Set them up for exhaustion and failure, and – well, you get the picture.

This attention to extends to everything from check-in to swag, by the way. Even the lanyards are selected carefully. “We have lanyards with hooks instead of clips, so they can keep using it as a keyring – they won’t throw it away,” Schramko explains. After the event, “they have something to anchor that learning. They’ll see it 100,000 times.”

Make a list, and check it twice

Schramko has SuperFastBusiness Live down to a science. He’s perfected a checklist of everything he needs to get his event ready. Every year, he and his assistant copy over a new version of the checklist, and use that to make sure everything stays on track. “We get it all locked down nice and early,” Schramko says, so they never risk overlooking any details or putting themselves into a last-minute panic. He’s even provided his entire checklist online, for anyone to use.

Leave a lasting impression

“We surf at our event.”

Image of surfers in the ocean
Attendees hang loose at SFB Live 2014.

Schramko is hosting live events geared toward web marketers, looking to grow their businesses and create new opportunities for themselves. Surfing might not seem like the most obvious activity, but on the last day of the event, SFB organizes an optional group surfing lesson. “We give people a challenge – they can conquer a fear or try a bucket list item,” Schramko says. By the last day of the event, attendees have learned new skills, built up their confidence, and prepared to take on new challenges in their business life. So why not let them take on a new challenge right now, today?

Every year, over 50 attendees get into the water and hang ten. “Afterwards, they just feel like they’ve levelled up,” Schramko says. “They’ve come away with an experience.” You can bet that for those new surfers, this event was uniquely memorable. They remember SFB as a place, a culture, and a community that brought them outside of their comfort zone and put them on a new path to success. This unique opportunity builds a unique culture, where attendees want to keep coming back to “level up” year after year.

Make every event count

Live events can move your business forward – whether you’re hosting live events or speaking at them. Want to know how to 10X (or more) the value of your stage? Check out the Speak to Scale Formula Worksheet.

8 Keys to Growing a Great Facebook Community

Building an engaged Facebook community can help build your brand and extend your reach. The community itself is a critical marketing channel. Group members help each other get the most out of your products, driving its value up with little additional investment on your end. On top of that, members are loyal to your product, deeply engaged, and likely to promote your products outside of the group walls.

Where is Your Community?

There are a lot of tools out there for creating a community, from simple message boards and forums, to Slack, to custom-built paywall websites. But what about Facebook?

Facebook is powerful. Your community is already there, waiting to be engaged. They check in regularly, and they’re comfortable scrolling through posts and jumping into discussion threads. There are other tools that work well for community building, but Facebook has the lowest barrier to entry for your users.

To Paywall or Not To Paywall

These communities come in two flavors: paid and unpaid. In an unpaid Facebook community, group membership is open to anyone interested in the product, and group members stick around for as long as they’d like. Paid Facebook communities are closed groups, requiring monthly or annual dues to join.

Unpaid communities can be great for building your brand and extending your reach on social media. Members don’t feel particularly invested in the group content and goals, and might not interact regularly. However, the more you can drive value in the group content, the more engaged your members will be, and the more likely they’ll stay in the group and stay connected to your brand.

A paid Facebook community is an especially excellent way to build a consistent recurring revenue stream. Monthly dues can be relied on in a way that one-time product launches can’t, and they provide the stability that you can use to take other business risks. Churn is even more critical here because each lost member is a blow to your revenue.

Self-Publishing School Mastermind Community
Self-Publishing School has a Facebook community of over 1,000 paying monthly members.

But how do you keep users engaged? We talked to Sean Sumner at Self-Publishing School about the techniques they’ve used to grow a community of over 1,000 paying monthly members.

Your Keys to Building a Great Facebook Community

1. Prevent Overwhelm

“The number one reason people leave these programs is overwhelming, too much content, too many contacts, not knowing what’s right for them,” Sean explains. They’re overwhelmed, and unsure where they fit in. Sooner or later, they give up on trying to find what’s relevant and just leave the group.

This is a theme that you’ll see keep coming up in the keys below, and it needs to be baked into your strategy from the beginning. Think about the purpose of your community and the journey that each community member is on. You might even diagram this. If you’re starting a community for new entrepreneurs, for example, you’ll have some people who’ve just come up with their first business idea, and others who have had their business up and running for a year and trying to figure out how to do their taxes. Those two members are going to be interested in different content.

Find ways to tag or organize content so that each user knows which posts are relevant to them. Make sure your round-ups or highlight posts delineate wherein the journey each featured post fits.

This should apply both inside and outside of the Facebook community. Keep your customers oriented within your product. Many training courses use level numbers or course numbers to do this, or you might use descriptive titles or named goals. It all depends on your business and your customers. Use that same terminology in your community and encourage posters to do the same. That’ll keep everyone on the same page and prevent fatigue, letting community members skim past irrelevant posts.

2. Drive Value

What does your community do for its members? If you don’t know the answer immediately, your community members don’t either. If they’re not getting value, they’ll leave.

“A community is a two-way conversation. A living, breathing thing. Extremely interactive. Social,” explains David Garland in The Rise to the Top blog. Active engagement is key. Does your community support a product, so that community members can ask each other clarifying questions? Does it support a course, offering a space for additional discussion and interaction? Is it a product itself, with experts giving advice to novices?

A great community can feel like friends, or even like a family, where members get to know each other and support each other. But ultimately, members need to feel that they’re getting a benefit. That benefit might just be moral support, but the strongest communities offer more to keep their members coming back.

When you’ve figured out what value your community offers, encourage engagement that drives that value. This might be as simple as throwing some good social media juju at a poster who provides a great answer to a question, by giving it a like, posting a thumbs-up, or calling them out in a weekly update to the community.

3. Be Consistent

A consistent weekly schedule prevents overwhelm and keeps your group organized. Some community members will post at all hours of the day and night – which, by the way, is exactly what you want them to do! But others will worry that if they’re not constantly checked in, they might miss something. They get fatigued trying to constantly monitor the message boards. On top of that, spending too much time on the Facebook community boards makes it harder to work towards the goals that they had in mind when they joined in the first place.

Have your moderators track the best posts throughout the week. Then post a weekly digest of the top posts, and keep it on a regular schedule – say, Monday at 10 a.m. Group members will learn that they’ll still get the most valuable content even if they aren’t checked in 24/7.

Think of other content that would be useful in a weekly schedule. Live Q& A sessions. User highlights. Posts welcoming new users. A weekly leaderboard of top users. Self-Publishing School rolls several of these into their Weekly Bulletin. They use the weekly bulletin to shoutout their top group members, announce book launches, and provide important group updates or plug other top content. Members know to look out for it and know that they don’t have to worry about missing anything important. Your weekly schedule will put your best content front and center, showing off the value of the group and preventing fatigue.

Image of a weekly bulletin post from Facebook group
A well-organized weekly bulletin keeps users engaged without feeling fatigued.

4. Enforce the Rules…

Post a list of clear, simple, important rules somewhere easily accessible in your group. It might be in a pinned post, or in the group description. Then enforce them.

At first, it’s tempting to let freewheeling, off-topic discussions creep into your boards. You think, ‘People are here, in my group, being social and making friends! Great!’ But ultimately, it will drive users away. They’re in your group because they’re interested in the group topic, and they’ll only stay if they see valuable, relevant content. If they feel that their time is being wasted by off-topic (or worse, off-color) posts, they won’t be interested in staying in your group – much less paying for a subscription community – for long.

Make the rules clear and easy to follow, and remove posts that break them. When you remove a post, always be sure to send a friendly private message to the poster explaining why it was removed. Include a screenshot of the post and a link back to the rules. More often than not, people don’t intend to break the rules and will be glad that there’s someone there keeping posts on-topic and appropriate.

5. … But Understand Why They’re Broken

If there’s a rule that’s constantly getting broken, there may be a good reason for it.

Self-Publishing School found that their Facebook community members were frequently adding posts announcing their book launches. In one sense, this was an annoyance. Nobody joins the community to ready a constant stream of book launch announcements. But on the other hand, it meant that their members were meeting their goals – actually launching books! Plus, the community was a valuable audience for their announcements. The ability to share their book launches was one reason people joined the community in the first place.

Image of post asking users to submit book launch information
Community leadership encourages members to promote their launches through the right channels.

They hit on a solution that works for everyone. Book launch announcements aren’t allowed as regular posts and are removed promptly when they show up. Instead, group members can submit their book launch info to the moderator, who rounds them up in a regular weekly feature post. This makes the book launch announcements visible, important highlights in the group message board, a win for the authors. And it keeps the feed from getting clogged with announcements, a win for the moderators and the business.

6. Map Out Your Entry Points

This is a critical key for paid Facebook communities. If you’re running a paid membership system, it’s probably tied to your product. For example, the Self-Publishing School’s Facebook community originally supported users who enrolled in one of their paid courses. But they found that the community itself was valuable, even to people who might be too experienced and knowledgeable to be interested in one of their intro courses. They expanded their business model to allow more entry points into the community. They now offer a trial membership at just $1 for the first month, and they also offer a free month as a benefit of purchasing a small $7 guide.

Image of $1 30-day trial offer
The entry points to your community should be well-planned, to capture and retain new members.

The risk of offering these free trials is that someone will join their paid Facebook community, download all the information they want in the first month, then leave. We’ll call them the Free Trial Guy. Free Trial Guy just got access to their best content practically for free. Self-Publishing School has to work hard to ensure that the community itself – not just the exclusive content, but the community of people who answer questions and support each other – is so valuable that Free Trial Guy stays on past their free month and becomes Paying Member Guy.

They’ve created entry points with very low barriers – remember, the trial membership is just $1 – then retained those members through thoughtful engagement. Their community is supportive, helpful, and provides useful, specific advice – which you just can’t get by downloading a month’s worth of content.

7. Roll Out the Red Carpet

Each new member of your community should feel welcomed and valued. This is especially critical for paid communities. You should be going out of your way (or at least seeming like you’ve gone out of your way) to provide a personal touch from the start. Welcome each new person with a private message from your group leader or moderator. Then welcome them publicly in a weekly post, and encourage them to introduce themselves.

Image of post welcoming new members to the community
Self-Publishing School welcomes its new community members each week.

Build a warm welcome into the culture of your community. Encourage members to say hello when they see an introduction. Then the new member will pay it forward when new introductions are posted next week.

8. Empower Your Leaders

One of the best ways to ensure valuable engagement and content is to empower your best users to provide it. They’re already there, deeply engaged in the community, and with a little effort, you can multiply their effect.

Leverage experienced, knowledgeable members of your community. Give them a small gift or reward – like, say, discounted membership to your community – and an honorary title. Send them back into the group as Ambassadors, or Community Leaders, or Trusted Experts. They’ll feel empowered to answer more questions and jump into more discussions, and they’ll spread their expert knowledge and good vibes throughout the group. It’s a small cost to you and provides an enormous benefit to the quality of content in the group.

Wrapping Up

Communities keep your customers engaged beyond the initial purchase of your product and keep them coming back for more. Bringing new customers into your engaged community can turn a one-time purchaser into a brand promoter. It’s one of the many tools you should have in your toolbox to grow your business.

Live events are one of the best places to promote your community and move your business forward – whether you’re hosting live events or speaking at them. Want to know how to 10X (or more) the value of your next stage? Check out the Speak to Scale Formula Worksheet.