What do you want out of a Go-to-Market strategy? Loyal customers that are engaged with your brand? Value-led products? Sustained business growth?
If any of the above are your goals, you might want to consider a customer-led motion for your Go-to-Market strategy. Motions are the broad groups the different styles of GTM strategies can be divided into. There are a myriad of types of Go-to-Market strategy, product-led and sales-led being the most well known, but a community-led strategy is an often overlooked and very effective route-to-market.
Community-led is unfamiliar for most, so we’ve brought in an expert that lives and breathes community-led growth: Rebecca Boucher, Community Director for The Alliance. Read on for an in-depth understanding of how community-led GTM works, the benefits of this strategy and how you can implement it in your own business.
But first, let’s pin down exactly what this strategy is.
What is community-led Go-to-Market?
With this motion, growth, revenue and customer acquisitions are driven by community. Community-led Go-to-Market, more than any other motion, starts and ends with your customers. Let’s get a bit more depth on how it works.
First up, establish the values of your brand. If you want people to care about your business, you need to give them a reason. You also can’t just tell your values, you need to show them. Every year in June, we watch Coca-Cola and Burger King slap Pride flags on their products, but that doesn’t mean we actually believe they care about LGBTQ+ rights. The same will go for your company. If you only address your values superficially, then you won’t be perceived as authentic.
You need to work out what your values are as a company and then emulate said values in every aspect of your business, so the community you’re building can feel that those values are sincere. What do you care about as a business? What motivated you to design your products? Customer experience? Education? Sustainable business practices? Whatever it is, hammer it into your business model.
Next up, give your community a dedicated home. To foster a community there needs to be a specific place your users are visiting with a regular frequency. If you set up a book group and invite all your friends, but don’t tell them when or where it’s happening, you can’t expect anyone to show up. Be it a Slack channel, Teams meetings, or a private LinkedIn group, put the effort into carving out a community space and ensure that people know where to find it.
And lastly, communication. For a community to model to work the idea is that it grows organically. For that to happen, you need your community to be talking to one another. Otherwise, they’re not a community, they’re independent users. Your brand needs to be what’s brought them together, so be sure to encourage discussion and networking opportunities.
So, how does building this community help your Go-to-Market strategy?
- You have a captive audience for your product launches. With each launch you’re not going out looking for an audience, it’s ready and eagerly awaiting your next product.
- Growth. Loyal and engaged customers will recommend you to others. And that, my friends, is organic growth.
- Customer feedback. How often do you wonder what your customers like about your product or what improvements would extend their lifetime value? With a community-led model, you don’t have to wonder, you can just ask. Your community can tell you what they need from you as a company and what’ll improve their experience of your products, meaning you’ll be able to consistently deliver consumer-validated product roadmaps.
And as if that wasn’t enough, you get the twofold benefit of demonstrating to your customers that you listen to them and value their feedback, which will further their loyalty to your business.
Community-led Go-to-Market, with Rebecca Boucher
In what circumstances would you choose a community-led Go-to-Market model (over other GTM motions)?
To me choosing a community-led go-to-market approach means putting value beyond the product or service you’re providing and focusing instead on providing value via member relationships and trust. You can’t ask a consumer to purchase something if they don’t see value first in what you’re trying to provide. Community-led means providing value before anything else so when a member does purchase the product it’s because they know first hand their ROI is evident.
Essentially, it’s building trust and value with a group of people over a long period of time, it isn’t a quick fix to closing leads or generating revenue. It’s a long-term play of delivering free true value to the community. The community is there to take as much value from each other through networking and the sharing of resources. Over time this trust will be strong enough that a product to purchase can be introduced.
What are the benefits of community-led Go-to-Market?
If you build your product around your community then the community doesn’t feel like consumers of the brand but rather a part of something bigger that’s valuable to their professional lives. You’re building a community of trust, and in a world of so many consumer options, people tend to come back to the option they trust time and time again.
When community is put at the forefront of the business model, it’s a long-term sustainable approach that promotes current consumer interests before the goal of generating quick revenue.
This means that people keep coming back and purchasing over time because they’ve seen the value in the long-term and know that they’re spending their money (eventually) on something they already like.
Community members then become brand ambassadors and advocates of the brand over time because they understand the value, as well as leads that eventually internal teams can up-sell and cross-sell to because they’re interested in investing in their value.
Are there any risks to look out for with community-led Go-to-Market?
Trying to scale too quickly - taking on opportunities when there’s not enough resources to do it properly
You must understand how many resources you need to invest in marketing, sales, and back-end processes.
It’s a long-term approach, so you need to believe in what you’re doing and invest in the people to support your community-led growth approach
Can you give an example of a time you successfully used a community-led Go-to-Market strategy to beat out a competitor or set yourself apart in the industry?
At the Alliance, we have established ourselves as a distinctive player in our field by prioritizing the seamless integration of social and educational aspects within our platform. We view these two components as interconnected rather than separate, with the ultimate goal of providing our users with a social platform that delivers an immersive educational experience. This approach deviates from the traditional marketing mindset that can be rigid and formal, reflecting our commitment to being a forward-thinking and people-centric company.
Our users are immediately drawn into the community side of our business, as it serves as the cornerstone of everything we do. By employing this model, we are able to deliver value to our users in a timely manner, since they are immediately immersed in the social channels upon accessing our site.
How did you decide community-led Go-to-Market was right for your company?
The Alliance was always going to be community-led because it reflects the values of our brand and why we started this in the first place. The mission from day one has been to support product marketers and other lesser known roles like customer success and sales enablement that make Go-to-Market what it is.
The individuals in these roles too often don’t get the resources, support or recognition they deserve, and we set out to change that. But you can’t do that well without building a community for those individuals, so we always had to start there.
Do you have any other comments you’d like to add about community-led Go-to-Market?
Continue to provide value, believe in the value you’re providing and know that the ROI is long-term and sustainable. Ultimately, it’s long-term play that gives true investment.
NB: This interview was taken from our Go-to-Market Motions playbook. If you want to learn more about community-led Go-to-Market, as well as the other leading GTM motions, download your free copy now.
Community-led Go-to-Market strategy focuses on building a community around your brand and products by offering value-led opportunities to your target audience. It can be slow starting, but when used effectively, it enables you to achieve sustained customer, business and revenue growth.
Community-led growth helps to build trust and authenticity with your customers, which increases their lifetime value and generates organic growth.