A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch my niece’s cheerleading championship.
First, these are frightening to watch when someone you love is ‘in the game’. The tosses, flips, and catches keep you at the edge of your seat with ‘91’ punched into your cell phone.
Second, you realize very quickly the power of having someone on your side, shouting out your name, and proudly sporting your colors. It made me think about how cheerleaders have been critical in the success of every effort in my career.
As you can imagine, when I was launching a private unified B2B customer community in late 2020, I knew I needed cheerleaders. As a community professional with over 4 years of experience (and 28 years in business), I’ve found the best way to grow your squad is by following the ABC approach.
Our organization, Datto, has approximately 2000 people. This is just big enough for there to be people who have no idea we have an online Community.
Internal PR tour
My tour included the Sales, Success, Product Management, Business Development (Biz Dev) teams - anyone who would listen. I could give anywhere from a 2 minute to a 20 minute presentation on Community.
Two minutes is clearly the biggest challenge. As Mark Twain once wrote “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.”
First, create the perfect version at the perfect length to present your background, your “why should I care,” and then your call to action.
Next, shorten that presentation before you are forced to in a meeting. Be ready to adapt and still get the essential points conveyed to your audience.
Finally, create a video to spread your message even when you can’t be present. Make multiple versions to provide each key role the answer to the question “How do I benefit from promoting the Community?”
That brings me to the B in the ABC formula.
Benefits Cheerleaders need to be given a reason to shout and something worth shouting. This is where benefits come into play. When building your squad, you need to clearly define the benefits to them.
The reason to shout depends on your Community. For our company, it positions the employee as an individual our customers can reach out to for great resources.
What you shout depends on the team to which you’re speaking:
Sales - Shouting Community shows our customers we continue the conversation after the sale.
Success - Shouting Community shows our customers they have a place to influence our product and connect with their peers.
Product Management - Shouting Community shows our customers that they are engaged to listen to their suggested improvements.
Biz Dev - Shouting Community shows we are not just about the occasional in person connection. We want them connecting and learning long after the drinks have stopped flowing.
Your reasons will vary - however, you must identify them and shout them yourself before others will shout along with you. Give your cheerleaders the reason and the chant, and they will make it shake the Community rafters.
To be honest, the formula is ABC 2 where if my algebra serves me correctly, only C would be squared (C x C). But I digress.
Continuous Connection is our final component. That means staying in touch with your cheerleaders.
Meet often with your biggest cheerleaders 1 on 1 or in a small group.
Slack or message to inquire how the chant is being received.
Ask what content or events could make them yell louder.
Ask if there are new groups that need to join the squad.
The ABC method has created cheerleaders that help me brainstorm Ask the Expert events, create consistently great product release posts, and approach me when they need assistance with reaching more customers.
This process is always a work in progress. We are humans dealing with busy humans to speak with other busy humans. Do you see the theme, and thus the triple challenge, in this effort?
This year, we are creating a Community Planning Committee to formalize a portion of the cheerleading squad and we are adding in a technological cheerleader (Walkme).
If you're ever interested in brainstorming ideas, feel free to private message me. I am always up for a brainstorm.
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