Creating and animating a community of several thousand members is a real challenge for many B2B companies. But is the challenge really so (over) ambitious? Or is it realistic and accessible, in a sustainable way?
To answer this question, we turned our microphone to Faustine Rohr-Lacoste (ex-Head of Community at Spendesk). For 4 years, she brilliantly launched and animated the Spendesk CFO Connect community. And in just a few short years, this community of CFOs has grown to 6,000 committed members.
Thanks to her experience as Head of Community, Faustine confirms that creating, animating and engaging a community is not impossible. But to do so, you need to define a well-structured Community-Led Growth strategy and know basic best practices. Here are 5 of her tips from our MeltingSpot webinar with her 👇
Tip 1: (Always) start with a customer need
Before creating CFO Connect, the startup Spendesk used to organize events to meet its various customers. Ideas and needs began to surface throughout these meetings. The CFOs frequently expressed the need to network and get together to discuss common issues... So, at that moment, the Spendesk team got an idea: why not create a group?
From a customer need, CFO Meet Up was born (a group dedicated to meetings during physical events), later evolving into CFO Connect, a virtual community. In a few months, the community quickly grew as a result of a community strategy structured around the various customer needs.
By identifying the different needs of community members and attending to them with care, CFO Connect has quickly become a standard in terms of B2B communities.
🚀 Takeaway: listening to customer needs is paramount, to creating an engaged community.
Tip 2: Segment and locate your community
To grow from 0 to 6000 members in 3 years, the CFO Connect BtoB community had to develop a specific strategy. For Faustine, the idea was the following: to create a unique community that brings value to each member.
To achieve this objective, various actions have been put in place:
- 💡 Define a clear and precise positioning: CFO Connect has quickly established itself as the reference, for financial decision-makers looking to exchange on their issues.
- 💡 Segment the community around different animations: within the CFO Connect community are Spendesk customers and prospects. Among the latter, various profiles of expertise are present. And the Heads of Finance do not have the same daily problems as the junior positions. So, in order to deliver maximum value to all the members of the community, CFO Connect offers a variety of animations and events, segmented by themes and expertise.
- 💡 Proposing a localized strategy: beyond the segmentation by themes and expertise, CFO Connect also proposes a segmentation by location. Members in London do not necessarily have the same issues as those in Paris or San Francisco: CFO Connect, therefore, proposes specific events and Slacks groups, by geographical location.
🚀 Takeaway: to meet the expectations of all members, consider defining a community strategy that incorporates clear positioning, and potentially different types of segmentation.
Tip 3: Use events to animate your community
Since its inception, events have been at the heart of CFO Connect's strategy. Prior to the Covid-19 health crisis, the various members met almost exclusively at physical events. On average, a face-to-face event was held every 2 months in each city to bring community members together.
Then, starting in March 2020, Faustine Rohr-Lacoste contributed to the emergence of virtual events, to adapt to the changing market realities.
According to the ex-Head of Community of CFO Connect, "virtual events have allowed us to embrace our status as an international community, breaking down boundaries." Thanks to the digital initiatives, the community was, therefore, able to be animated continuously.
🚀 Takeaway: whether it's physical or virtual events, events are essential for developing and animating a community.
Tip 4: Rely on Ambassador members
A business community is made up of different member profiles. According to Gartner, the main ones are:
💡 The Contributors (3-10%): they are active and do not hesitate to answer different questions in the community.
💡 The Lurkers (80%): these members are passive and merely observe the news, without really interacting.
💡 The Opportunists (10-20%): only participate in events or animations when they are extremely interested.
💡 The Creators (0% to 3%): they are the real actors of your community. They create content, exchange and often volunteer.
The Contributors and the Creators are the most devoted members but unfortunately the least numerous. These devoted members are also regarded by Faustine Rohr-Lacoste as "Ambassadors, and generally historical members, who play a key role."
In order to carry out successful Community-Led Growth and Community-Based Marketing strategies, it's important to get to know and cherish these types of Ambassadors. They are quick to spread word of mouth, frequently come up with good ideas for animations and are a constant source of support.
🚀 Takeaway: develop proximity with committed members (known as "Ambassadors"), to foster collective intelligence and co-create new animations.
Tip 5: Have resources available for successful animations
Building and leading a successful community cannot be done without resources. In MeltingSpot's mind, it is important to have two types of resources:
💡 Human resources
💡 Technical resources
During the first months of CFO Connect, Faustine Rohr-Lacoste was alone. Soon, the ex-Head Of Community surrounded herself with a team, to help her animate the community. Behind the scenes of CFO Connect was a team of 3 people at Spendesk.
Indeed, it is important to know how to surround yourself with the right human resources, throughout your Community-Led Growth strategy. Beyond the creation of the community, it can be interesting to be supported by a Community Manager and a Community Builder, to facilitate continuous animation.
The second essential resource is technical. When a business community is growing, it is important to succeed in structuring its strategy, its actions and its exchanges with the members. On the side of Spendesk and CFO Connect, the two tools that have quickly become fundamental are Hubspot CRM and Slack.
🚀 Takeaway: a close-knit team and powerful tools are often at the heart of successful business communities.
CFO Connect: the results of a Community-Led Growth Strategy
Today, CFO Connect has succeeded in its challenge: to develop a successful community, recognized internationally. At its launch, the main goal was to gain notoriety, thanks to an entity dissociated from the Spendesk company. Now, this community is a lever for growth, credibility and loyalty.
Thanks to its Community-Led Growth strategy, Faustine has notably contributed to the following results:
💡 The closing rate is 3 times higher for community customers (vs. non-member customers)
💡 Retention is 18% higher for community members
💡 The number of closed deals is 35% higher than that of prospects attracted through other channels.
Ready to create, animate and engage your community?
Thanks to the advice and feedback of Faustine Rohr-Lacoste (ex-Head of Community at Spendesk), you now have all the best practices to create your own community. And to ensure that it runs smoothly, our final best practice is to rely on an event-community platform throughout your strategy!
At MeltingSpot, our community platform allows you to create, animate and engage a business community over time. Our various features help you lay the foundations for an effective Community-Led Growth strategy: organization of virtual events, a news feed to encourage exchanges, various chats for live networking, etc.
To discover the MeltingSpot platform and define a community strategy with us, go here 👇