Brands like Peloton, Harley Davidson, Apple, and Nike all have one thing in common: their undivided focus on communities. Peloton and Nike are focused on making their customers the best they can possibly be, building their health and encouraging them to better themselves. Harley Davidson is focused on bringing people together, forming a kinship between each other. Apple is focused on building their community members’ aspirations. So, with this in mind, how do you want to build your brand community?
Join us in this episode of Building Brand Advocacy, where Paul speaks with Lloyed Lobo, Co-Founder and Board Member at Boast, a fintech platform that provides R&D funding to help innovative companies fuel their growth! He is also the Co-Founder of Traction; the Host of his own show, the Traction Podcast; and a member of the Board of Directors at Wishpond.
Together, they discuss the importance of building a community, and how successful brands like Apple and Nike have managed to master the process. They also delve into the current state of marketing in 2023 and how brands can do their best to thrive in the space.
Lloyed: What's happening is marketing is taking a bloodbath. It costs twice as much to generate the same ROI from the same marketing. Consumers are tired. Spam, clickbait, even now with generative AI, all the messaging is starting to look very similar. You can actually tell that people are just copy pasting from ChatGPT in their messaging, right? People are tired of like sharing personal data to access crappy white papers. And businesses are spending less and less on marketing, but some of the best brands know this.
Paul: Have you ever wondered why some brands grow exponentially, building legions of passionate fans that live and die by their logos? And some, well, don't. I do, all the time. And that's probably because I'm a massive brand nerd. I believe that there's a secret source at the core of every remarkable brand, a formula that sparks the growth of passionate communities of fans. And in this podcast, we're on a mission to uncover the first principles that any brand can apply to unlock that potential. This includes principles of brand building in a hyper-connected world, maintaining authenticity and coordinating communities of advocates and fans to drive passion, awareness, community, and commerce. My name is Paul Archer, and I'm a specialist in brand advocacy, having consulted for hundreds of brands on the topic. And in this podcast, I interview the greatest brand building minds and share my own learnings along with those of the incredible team of experts that I work with. We'll be translating the tactics, strategies, and actionable insights for brand builders to exacerbate their brand success. It's time to build brand advocacy. Hello, welcome back to Building Brand Advocacy. You're here with Paul Archer and Lloyed Lobo. Lloyed, welcome.
Lloyed: Awesome, excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
Paul: Now, Lloyed, you are Co-Founder of Boast working in the FinTech space, as well as Co-Founder of Traction, a global entrepreneur community with over 100,000 members in it. Like, that is insane, building something of that size. And what I love is this guiding principle that you have. If you build a community, you won't become a commodity. Like, tell me, how did that start?
Lloyed: That started a long time ago. And I say a long time ago, meaning I was like eight or nine and one day wake up in the summer and my mom says, I don't think we can go to school anymore and we got to leave the country. My first reaction was excitement because what had happened a few months ago was I had a serial procrastinator. I studied for a math exam, it ended up being geography and I knew I was going to fail and no fifth grader wants to fail, right? And I wake up and she's like, the war has hit, you're not going to have to go to school, you're going to have to leave this country and I'm like, yes, you're never going to find out I failed and then when it sank in, we realized there's no internet, there's no resources, the security has lapsed and now we got to figure ourselves out of this country and that was my first experience with communities. Every building became a sub-community and coordinated with the next building and the next building and this grassroots movement came together to evacuate people to safety and they organized these buses that were going from Kauai to Baghdad to Jordan and we stayed in refugee camps. On that bus, everyone should have been miserable. We were going on this highway of death, you could see cars and buses bombed, people dead but everyone should have been miserable but they weren't, right, as I looked around, adults were like singing and laughing and playing the guitar and I realized like life is not about the destination or the journey, it's the people, it's the companions that matter the most. You could be on a crappy journey on the way to hell but great companions make it memorable and fast forward a few years later, moved to Canada, finished engineering, moved to the US, we ended up bootstrapping both to 10 million revenue by building a community. After I exited Boast, we sold a majority stake in the company, 52% to a Growth Equity Fund. And me and my co-founder stepped out of the day-to-day operations. I ended up depressed. You know, like founders are very attached to their companies. And there's this saying by Osho, all of our worries are nothing but attachment. But I was very attached to the company. And no matter how good the financial outcome as a founder, when you leave a company that you build your company, you're going to just be... And so I ended up depressed and overweight and all these things. And the Peloton community is what I relied on to get back to good health. I did a very popular post on this and there's a before and after picture of me being overweight and depressed. And I ended up leaving San Francisco, moved to Dubai, and I had a lot of free time. And I said, what do I do in this free time? And I said, every time in my life were some big calamity hit. I relied on a community to rescue me, to save me, unknowingly, unknowingly, right? The Gulf War, bootstrapping boast, when I was depressed and had mental health issues, we were expecting twins, we lost a twin and our surviving twin came five months early. And my wife and I relied on this community called Physicians WOM. So there were a lot of common threads around community. And so I started researching and looking into community. And that's when it clicked, right? If you look at it, in 2023, what's happening is marketing is taking a bloodbath, right? It costs twice as much to generate the same ROI from the same marketing, right? Consumers are tired. Spam, clickbait, even now with generative AI, all the messaging is starting to look very similar. You can actually tell that people are just copy pasting from ChatGPT in their messaging, right? People are tired of like sharing personal data to access crappy white papers. And businesses are spending less and less on marketing, but some of the best brands know this. Consumers are saying no to the old marketing, but the best brands know this. The best brands actually are in love with their customers and help them become successful beyond their product or service. If you look at Harley-Davidson, when Japanese manufacturers stepped in, they almost went bankrupt in the 80s. They deliberately rebuilt the company on the ethos of community. Riders became community members or rather writers became employees. Employees became writers. They went out there and started bringing people together or Nike, right? You can ride, you can become a Nike fan and join their Nike Running Club anywhere in the world, whether you wear Nike shoes or not. Nike wants people to become better athletes or become stronger, become fit. And so I realized brands of yesterday were built on what they told the world about themselves. Brands of the future are built on what the community says about them. And if you think deeper, yesterday's innovation is always today's option and tomorrow's commodity. Best example is the GPS. You can get a hold of it. Then you had to buy external devices. Then it became an option in the vehicle. And now you have CarPlay. It's a commodity. Every piece of technology that's an innovation eventually becomes a commodity. But if you build a community of raving fans, you will not become a commodity. And examples are Harley-Davidson, Iconic Brand. You can recognize a Harley fan no matter where they are, just by what they're wearing. Or Apple, Apple is the best example. Their features are not up to par with the competitors. But if you see what Apple does, is they target the aspiration, right? They target the outcome. You can become a better version of yourself by using this product. They don't talk about the product and the features. And what are all their competitors doing? Because they don't have a community. The competitors are bashing as Apple's features. But the community doesn't care. They're buying Apple.
Paul: I love that. And you know, it's that whole thing, like when Harley riders pass another Harley rider on the road, they point at the road because it's about the lifestyle. So you actually started a community yourself. So tell us about the community, who's in it, and where I'm really interested in, where did you start?
Lloyed: So when we bootstrapped Boast, when we started the Company, my co-founder and I were automating this very boring industry. Like globally, hundreds of billions of dollars are given in government funding and innovation tax credits to fund businesses, fund product development. But it's a cumbersome application process. It's prone to frustrating audits and it takes a long time to get the money. Big four accounting firms do this manually. And so we started picking up the phone and saying, hey, we can do it better, cheaper, faster for you. And nobody wanted to talk to us. Nobody realized, man, this is going to be harder than one can imagine. But there's one thing common. A lot of people we're selling to are just like us. They're entrepreneurs, they're founders of tech companies. And they all want to learn how to grow their business. Like if you figure out your ICP and hone in on the pain point, and you ask why, why, why, why, why, you'll get what the outcome is that they're looking for. And so why do people want? Tax credits and innovation funding, any funding in general, to invest in growth, to accelerate their business, to accelerate innovation. But what do they do with that? They grow their companies, they hire teams, they build long lasting cultures, those kinds of things. So we said, hey, why don't we, as a function of us learning how to build a company, why don't we give people the knowledge they require to build and scale their companies? Because even if they get the funding, they won't know how to spend it, they're going to need the knowledge. So we're like, how do we do this? And like, as a function of living in San Francisco. And me having worked at a number of startups before Boast that all failed, I had a network. So it's like, hey, at least we can invite speakers. And rather than asking somebody to just give us advice, we'll open it up. And people will listen and that might give us some brand rub. I like the word brand rub. When you associate with somebody with a bigger brand influence, you get that rub, you get some of their social credit. So we did that. We started hosting meetups. Actually the first meetup we did 10 people showed up and then we started doing that on a cadence and more and more people, more and more people would show up and one day 200 people showed up at a coworking space and the GM of the coworking spaces, this is not a meetup anymore. It's not a pizza night. This is a conference and that evolved into the traction conference and we've had CEO, C-Suite from Uber to Shopify to Atlassian to HubSpot to Marketo, to all the big brands, right? And then as you think about it, like what is a community? It's a group of people that have a common goal, a set of aspirations, and you just bring them together and you help fuel that common goal and help them become better versions of themselves. But as a function of that, you know, when we got to 10 million, we had a slide on the deck as we got to 10 million in revenue, they're like, what is this inflection you hit this inflection and why is that? What caused it? Because it doesn't look like you have any marketing spend. We hosted a lot of these events and there's, I think one year between webinars and meetups and conferences and mini conferences, we did like a hundred events. And you could see that inflection. The more events we did, the brand rub and the social proof would go and our revenue was going up. And so I truly believe that people can choose to buy, especially in a market where there is competition and everything eventually, as soon as it's hot, especially in B2B, competition creeps in. The B2C brands have done a better job, I feel, of marketing. And B2B always thinks like they're an isolated island and I think B2B would do a better service to itself if it looked at principles of marketing from some of the iconic B2C brands. And a lot of that is like what Red Bull and Harley and some of these companies have done in terms of building brand advocacy, building customer communities and things like that. And so as we invited more and more people, as we did more and more events, that social proof spread, and we got more and more customers and we were able to bootstrap to 10 million. And at 10 million, we had no marketing resource. We literally had none. We had a marketing department of zero. In fact, our marketing activity was making money. I think I should make a LinkedIn post about this because we host a big conference, the Traction Conference, and Traction Conference was a revenue generator. We're getting sponsorships and we were getting ticket sales and it was generating leads.
Paul: That's incredible. So you sort of scale that up. There's now tens of thousands of people who are part of this community and you're bringing them together. You're saying sort of helping them to sort of learn what the next stage is worth when it comes to building a business. A lot of the people who listen to this podcast, they're running marketing or they are running consumer retail brands and they're really thinking about how do I do that community piece of scale? And it's often hard. Do they kind of sell a thing? Do they start off with events in a similar way? So if you were to start a consumer brand today, knowing what you know, what would be those first few steps that you would take?
Lloyed: Definitely. So I think it all starts with understanding your ideal customer profile. So figure out first who they are, where do they eat, breathe, drink, sleep? What are the aspirations and goals? Hone in on their problems so you can really help them become the best version of themselves. Once you know who your ideal customer profile is, then the second step is figuring out what type of community you want to build. Now, if you don't have product market fit, meaning you're a New Product, right? You can't build a community of product. So there's three kinds of communities, a community of practice, a community of product, and a community of play. So community of product usually is turning consumers or customers into brand evangelists. But you can't do that if you're day one or day 100. If nobody's using your product and you're just trying to get it to the market and you start building a community on this product, people are going to think like, hey, this person is just trying to sell us stuff, right? They're going to be turned off. So you want to either build a community of practice or a community of play. Community of practice is learning together. Like HubSpot did in the early days. I'm an engineer. When I graduated engineering, I joined a startup and ended up doing everything at a startup. I was forced to learn marketing. Everything I learned in 2004, five, six about digital marketing came from HubSpot because nobody else was teaching digital marketing knowledge. They had a community called Inbound. So it was a community of practice, helping people become better digital marketers. And so years later, when I had money, obviously I bought HubSpot because I had brand affinity with HubSpot. So what is that thing, that problem, your ICP is trying to solve and either build a community of practice or become better versions of themselves or a community of play. If you're a Consumer Brand, usually it's a community of play. Like what Red Bull did in the early days, energy events, those kinds of things. Then, so you have two things that you figure out, okay, what community I'm going to build, who the ICP is. Then you dive into breaking that ICP a little more. Like who do they fund? Who do they follow? Who do they frequent? Meaning who are the influencers in the space? Who do they listen to? Who do they frequent? Meaning what events, magazines, blogs, podcasts, stations they listen to? Who do they fund? Meaning what are their products and services? they pay for. So then you have lists of people that you can partner with. You're like, okay, this is my ICP. Who do the fund frequent follow? So lists of people that you can partner with. So imagine it's like that. So if you had to throw an event. and you go to this event, let's say. And you show up and nobody's there to greet you at the door. You walk in, you don't recognize anybody. you're maybe swimming through some trash, you have a couple of like periphery conversation, like, ah, this is not for me, I'm going to leave. But you walk into a party and the host greets you, pours your drink, introduces you to two, three people, and they're like, oh. I know this guy. I follow this person on Twitter. I listen to this person's podcast. Oh, I'm wearing the same watch as you. Wow, we're drinking the same flavor of this energy drink. Wow. Right? So now you feel like it's my tribe and you meet other business people or other people who are like just like you and now you're going to stay. You're more likely to stay. So you want to understand the ICP and hone in and understand the whole circle of influence and write that down. And second thing is figure out what kind of community you want to build. From there, you have a few options. If you have no budget, the first way to start is to build an audience. So you can either be a curator, meaning summarize content from experts or provide educational content or be the expert yourself or do a combination of things. For that, I think you start by writing down at least a hundred burning questions that impact your audience. So you have a repository of ideas. I think about if I had to write the ultimate guide to something, what would that be? What are those hundred questions? And those burning questions also come from just talking to your ICP, right? You'll do a lot of validation for your new product or new community. So you talk to them and you understand like what's the day in your life. You have those down. So once you have that, then you can start creating content. Now, some people are like, where do I start? What kind of content you can create? Do I go TikTok? Do I go LinkedIn? Do I go Instagram? It all depends on your ICP, right? You've figured out the pains, the aspirations, their goals. Where do they eat, breathe, drink, sleep? Who do they fund? Who do they frequent? Who do they follow? So now start creating content on the channels that they're most active in. And, you know, some people are like, I don't even know what kind of content, but you have those problem sets and it's all about then creating content with a very interesting hook that defines the problem and reels them in so they listen all the way through. And there's some very easy ways to do that on no budget. For example, like what you're doing, you're interviewing people on your show, right? The video turns into a YouTube video, the audio is for podcast. Then you can slice it into multiple shorts and post it to YouTube, Insta-Reels, TikTok. You can turn the text highlights into LinkedIn posts, Facebook posts, and Tweets. You can turn a series of these videos into an ebook. You can create a certification program. You can do any number of things, but now you've got. your content on multiple platforms, then you take the summary of everything and you send a weekly newsletter with some offers. The thing is a lot of people, they do it once, twice and they stop. Anything worth doing is a long slog and it's a long ramp. You don't see results immediately. A lot of people ask me, it's like, oh, how soon can I monetize my community? If you want to monetize your community or think about when is the outcome, when am I going to get the hour? Don't do community, just don't do it. You need to have the DNA of wanting to bring people together. If you're looking for ROI on day one, don't even do SEO then. Just do paid advertising, do cold calling, do direct response marketing, which will give you the immediate results. But if you want to build a long-term sustainable business, then invest in community, provided it's in your DNA to help people and to give. If you're very transactional, people are going to see it and they're going to just fade away. Because when your values are transactional, your actions become transactional. When your actions become transactional, your community sees it and they wither away. And so, once you start building this audience, then you can bring your audience together. You have now people coming together, they're listening to you, you have influence, you can start hosting events. I love events. I feel anytime you incorporate more than two senses, you start to build stronger bonds. You and I are now sound in sight. There's this psychology of senses, right? If you were in person, it would be taste, touch, smell, and we'll probably stay a few hours. We'd probably have drinks, we'd probably have dinner together. Have you ever seen like you do a Zoom call and it's an hour, but then you go and hang out with that same person, do an in-person meeting and you're there for a few hours? What change? And then you exchange personal stories, you exchange different interests, and then it leads to the next meeting and the next meeting and the next meeting. So in-person is invaluable. And look at it, Harley-Davidson without the Rider Clubs wouldn't be Harley-Davidson. Red Bull without the high energy events they threw. Like Red Bull started by throwing parties around campus and giving their energy cans, right? And then like now the high energy events they host. It wouldn't be Red Bull without that. What is Red Bull? It's like, it's an acquired taste when it was starting out. It was not something like people are used to drinking soda but sugary. And you got this thing that tastes weird and gives you energy and you're trying to engineer people to engineer interests, manufacture interests. So how do you do that? If you just force people to buy it off of an ad, you don't. So the community is really good at building a new category. Because you're bringing people together around an idea. They resonate, then you infuse energy, and then they start coming back for more and more. So I think that is key things, bringing people together. Once you bring these people together, then it's all about consistency, man. Just keep doing it, doing it. If you're posting, make a commitment to post daily, your shorts daily. And so some things she'll post, weekly podcasts, monthly meetups, quarterly retreats, annual conference. That's more or less the pattern we followed, but that's more or less the pattern a lot of these brands follow as well, right? Like the consistency, because consistency is the magic ingredient that leads to big success. Success is not like chasing a hundred things and being mediocre at all. It's doing one or two things consistently well over time. You keep doing it, doing it, doing it, and eventually you'll build a sizable audience. You'll keep posting and people will get energized. Also, what I discovered while doing this is there's a common theme behind all the successful communities. There's this one, this common trait or behind that, the six common traits. I call it CAMPER and it's cheesy, but I say if you institute CAMPER proactively in your company, in your community, you'll build happy CAMPERs. And CAMPER stands for connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, energy, and recognition. So connection being those communities that foster genuine bonds and they build bridges, right? When people feel connected, it empowers them to support one another and grow. Poleton, consumer brand. They engineer connection through immersive experiences. So solo riders feel like they're part of something bigger than just them riding on a bike. And turns out when you sweat and work out together, we talked about like, you know, taste, touch, sound, smell. You sweat and work out together, even virtually, it leads to a sense of camaraderie. A being autonomy, they grant freedom and independence while encouraging responsibility. When people have the space to make their own decisions, they take ownership and drive innovation. Now, I'll give you a B2B example, although it's a prosumer, so I would say it's a B2B2C or B2C2B grant, right? Basecamp, where you can go, anyone can go and sign up for Basecamp for project management. But Basecamp champions a culture of remote work and self-management. So they help people to create their own schedule. You can work remote, but Basecamp does tens of millions in profit with only 80 employees working 40 hours a week. Their competitors have thousands of employees and a hundred million funding. But Basecamp created Ruby on Rails. It's a perfect example of giving your community something that they can create based on. But Canva does the same thing. They highlight member successes and tools and templates people are creating. Now Canva is B2B, but it's also B2C. And so Basecamp created Ruby on Rails and Ruby on Rails led to thousands of startups building their products, leveraging that technology. And so the autonomy is key when people have the space to make their own decisions. They take ownership and they drive innovation. The third is mastery. You enable people to hone their skills and expand their knowledge. When individuals become experts in their field, they not only drive growth, but they inspire others to reach their full potential. So Adobe has a Kickbox program, which provides employees with resources, mentorship and funding to explore new ideas and projects. And Adobe is all the rage these days with generative AI, but that's one of the things that came out of programs like Kickbox. You give people the opportunity to master things. Or like CrossFit. CrossFit is not even a community. It's a cult. Why is CrossFit a cult? There's connection, there's autonomy, there's mastery. The next one is purpose. They are united by a shared purpose that fuels motivation and provides meaning. When people feel they're making a difference, they find fulfillment in what they do. Everyone wants to make a difference. I truly believe that 99% of the people in the world, they're well-intentioned. Whereas the media perpetuates that there's so many bad people in the world. I think the other ones, everyone is well-intentioned and everyone wants to do good in their own way, but life happens and life takes your time away. And the next thing you know, you don't have the time to do good on your own. That's why you're attached to communities and through communities, you can fulfill your desire to do good in the world. And so if your community, your brand has a very strong purpose. then you will enable people who are in there to find fulfillment in their work and they keep coming back, right? Patagonia, perfect example. They provide environmental stewardship by encouraging employees to volunteer for sustainability initiatives. And they lead by example, because they donate a percentage of sales for nature preservation, right? Great example there. After purpose is energy. You create an atmosphere of enthusiasm, passion and positive vibe. And when your culture is lively, you may have connection, autonomy, mastery and purpose. But if you come in day in, day out and it's a draft, you're going to be like, when am I going to leave, I'm falling asleep, right? Energy is key in getting people excited, getting them amped up. And Red Bull, like I gave that example a few times, but it produces these energy boosting events, extreme sports events, music festivals, a high energy lifestyle. People are amped. And they want to keep coming back for more. The last one... That and the caffeine in there. But you see a lot of other CrossFit is another example, right? Like high energy. People are energized. Peloton, I find great energy. So when I was depressed and I got overweight and stopped working out and drinking and my wife comes to me one day and she's like, I understand you left your company and it's hard because you built your identity around it, but it's been months right now. The glass is always half full. You're in a position, fortunate enough to move anywhere and do whatever you want, but you choose to move about what you don't have. If you continue to do this and something happens to you, your family is going to be left holding the bag and you might not get a third chance. I had already got a second chance because after the exit, I had bilateral COVID Pneumonia and I was hospitalized on oxygen. So I was in bad shape already. So she's like, you better do something. So that night I couldn't sleep and as I stared across the room, I saw my peloton that had turned into a makeshift clothing rack. I hopped on it, I switched it on and I picked an instructor and I felt instantly connected because she was coming after a maternity leave and she was talking about postpartum lows that she couldn't ride as strong and then she screams out, self-pity is toxic. One crank, one ride, one shift, one walk around the block, I am, I can. And Rocky, Eye of the Tiger was playing and that one ride turned into two to four turned into a streak and that energy there, man, the music, the instructor pumping you up, people on the side high-fiving you, that energy is very infectious. And that ties to my last point at the camp or being recognition. You proactively appreciate the efforts of others. When you celebrate achievements, big viewers all value the unique strengths that individual brings to the table. People want to keep coming back because you may have connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose and energy, but without recognition, people feel like they're robots. They're like, I can do the same job here, I can do the same job somewhere else. And so Peloton was great in that I was constantly recognized through streaks and rewards and badges and I kept coming back for more. So I think that the key learning for me and analyzing a thousand communities is this common thread of CAMPER, connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, energy recognition. This is this common thread of bringing people together without expecting anything in return, helping people become better versions of themselves without expecting any ROI. And I've talked to some of the biggest brands and I'm like, how do you analyze ROI on this? How do you do attribution on this? They're like, you can't. I talked to Atlassian, for example. Now Atlassian is B2C2B, so it's like a PLG motion. Anyone can sign up. Their community self organizes 5,000 events a year. That's insane. When I talked to their CRO, he's like, I can't do attribution. I don't care. It takes care of itself. Gainsight, you talk to HubSpot or Harley-Davidson, even Red Bull. There's goals, but you can't attribute every community activity to the last penny and cent. You won't build a community if you do that, right?
Paul: I mean, it sounds like. I mean, the CAMPER could just be the values of a really great organization as well, like in terms of keeping your employees engaged and bringing them together. So I love the sound of that. It's about humans about connecting them. Hey, it's me again. This podcast is sponsored by Duel, which is my company actually. Duel is the leading Brand Advocacy Platform used by the top retail consumer brands, including Unilever, Charlotte Tilbury, Elimus, Loop and about 50 more, to manage, measure and scale their advocacy, member, affiliate, creator and brand ambassador operations. The platform offers unparalleled scale for complex brands by automating nine out of 10 of the standard advocacy management activities and allowing them to focus on arming their advocates with the right tools to tell the brand story and drive social commerce. They can grow faster for less. We only work with 15% or so of the brands we speak to, but we try and add value in many other ways, this podcast being one of them. So if you are a brand that's interested in this, maybe a large consumer retail brand, ideally you're doing 20, $30 million as a minimum and you're pretty advanced on social and you need to know what the next stage is, then please get in touch. Email me paul@dueltech. That is paul@dueltech or Google Duel Tech. What I'm fascinated by is the research piece that you did. So like, talk me through how you approached that, how many communities you looked at, and like, what was that process like to go through, and then now how do you feel looking back at it?
Lloyed: Definitely the process was, you know what's funny is I had a lot of time on my hands and I'm like I want to do something with this time. And I said to myself, the best thing to do would be to write and educate people on the value of community. Because every time in my life that I was in trouble, the community saved me from the Gulf War to losing the kid, to bootstrapping the company and then being depressed. And so I started researching and reading and reaching out. Now, the benefit was through the traction community. I had already invited so many guests over the years, like hundreds and so many community members, thousands of them would come to our events. So I already had a great connection point to reach out to people and talk to. And then understand basically, like, how did you start your community? How did you bring people together? How do you make money from it? How do you continue to sustain and grow it? How do you seed it in the beginning? How do you keep interest high? Like, and asking the same questions over and over again is how you find those common threads amongst people. And that was a very satisfying project because everyone looks at community in 2023 and says, I want to do community. And generally, most of those people who say that it's an afterthought, they don't have this giving in their DNA. And so for me, it was like, hey, look at it as a serious, serious business strategy, not a marketing strategy. Community is not a marketing strategy. Community is your best channel for product validation, for customer acquisition, for retention and advocacy. It's all in one. And even figuring out new product innovation, because you can throw it out to the community, interview them and figure out what you want to build, right? They give you insights. And so it's this flywheel for your company. And if it's a flywheel for your company, you can't tuck it under marketing and say it's a marketing strategy. Like when Harley-Davidson built their community, it had direct oversight from the president of the company. Community is a company strategy. It's a business strategy. It's not a marketing strategy. And that's how I would look at it.
Paul: I love that. Particularly, we did some research with Duel about community. We wanted to talk to the best ones. And one of the ones that we thought it was Tough Mudder, quite similar to Peloton, particularly sort of pre that era there and chatting to the CEO of that. And he was the person that he had weekly calls with their top 100 ambassadors that they would engage with because he was like, look, it's a company strategy. It's so important to us. And they're a company that doesn't need to advertise, particularly didn't as they were coming up, you know, like people would just tell other people. And, you know, every time you go to a gym, someone's guaranteed you're going to find someone who's going to be wearing a Tough Mudder finisher, t-shirts or something similar to that regard. Like it is the company is the community and the community is the company. But like, so this is from a selfish perspective. I mean, like this is quite meta, but, you know, you're on this podcast here. This is a part of the activities which are funded by what Duel does. And we're lucky enough to work with some of the most exciting brands in the world and help them grow through the advocacy of the people that love them and by educating the, all of the ideas of social commerce and understanding how the evolution of that space is at the moment. Like, how would you advise someone like us to continue growing this? You know, we've got this podcast, you know, we've got thousands of people who call into it and we've got hundreds of members who are working on with our software and coming to like breakfasts. We do like, where do you think the next level should be for someone like us?
Lloyed: The other common thread, as I looked at communities, both ancient and current, is this very common theme. It started with an audience. When that audience comes together, you have a community. Right? So when people just listen to you, it's one way communication, it's an audience. When you bring that audience together, it's two ways. So it's a community. When that community comes to create impact, like a Patagonia or like Harley-Davidson, when they do the breast cancer campaigns, it becomes a movement. And when the movement has such undying faith in its purpose, it becomes a religion or a cult, like cross-sect. audience, community, movement, religion. That's another framework that I talk about, not in a very deep sense because I didn't want to get flogged for it. But if you look at it, I'm Christian, right? So you look at Jesus, my mom's a very devout Catholic, staunch Catholic home I grew up in. And I followed this, if you look at Jesus Christ, he had an audience, people were listening to him. Then he brought the audience, it became a community. Then that audience came together to create impact and they were spreading the good word and they were healing people. It became a movement. And then when he died, that movement had unwavering faith in the purpose he gave them and it became a religion. But you look at from Catholicism, from Christianity to CrossFit and Bitcoin in between, it's gone from an audience to community to a movement to a cult or religion. And so the way to look at it is people are listening to you. That's great. They're constantly listening to you. Now you have a captive audience. Can you bring this audience together in person? You know, I'm a big believer in in-person. activations, in-person meetups, bringing people together in person. Can you bring people together in person in any sort of cadence? Once they start coming together, can you rally them around a certain impact? Mr. Beast does that. He's created these campaigns where his community has come together to raise funds to take hundreds, millions of pounds of plastic from the ocean. Things like that, you don't have to go to that level of Mr. Beast where he's cured a thousand blind people or he gave a homeless guy $20,000. You don't have to go to the length where you raise 20 million to plaste 20 million trees, but you can do something in a very meaningful way around your purpose and rally your community around that and it starts becoming a movement when it's done on a certain cadence. And then the cult, I think, it just happens. I don't think you can engineer a cult, but if that purpose is very strong and the movement is done, the movement comes together very consistently, it ends up being that. But not every brand can engineer becoming a cult, because your purpose may not be that strong. The ethos, the values may not be something where people want to live and die for. But every once in a while that happens. People can't live without their Harley Bikes and their Harley Jackets, and people can't live without their Red Bull and people can't live without their Bitcoin. And they will argue that CrossFit is the best mode of exercise than anything else. But every once in a while that happens, but you can definitely build a movement. And the key to building a movement is to bring people together, is to bring people together in person. So I think the next step for you is you have this audience, you have to ask yourself, do I truly have a community? Is the community coming together in some shape or form to interact with one another? Easy ways to look at it is, be one of a community is always, can you open up your Zoom recordings to make it AMA style where the audience chimes in. And that's what we did at our Zoom calls in the beginning. We would do two webinars a week, and we'd open up to the audience. So the audience would ask questions. Now the audience is coming together and there's a two-way dialogue. And when you do it at a cadence, we're doing two a week, there's compound interest on that in a couple of years. And we saw our subscribers went from 30,000 to over 90,000 in a year and change. So I think that is really important, bring people together and then exceed it from there. And then you take the next step from there is they're coming together and we're having these bi-directional conversations. I'm now starting to have remnants of a true community. How do I keep them engaged in between these podcasts, these live AMAs, these webinars, or whatever you want to call it? Maybe you do a chat group, WhatsApp group, start creating some groups for small meetups. But I think it's indispensable, man. Bringing people together in person is key. Initially, it starts with you bringing people together in person for a meetup, then doing that at a cadence, then identifying your 1% of super fans and giving them some camp or love, giving them the recognition and the autonomy to go and take charge and host events around that same purpose. And then it starts to explode.
Paul: It's amazing to hear back that stat there, particularly the 1% of superfans, because we see that. I mean, hundreds of thousands, millions of advocates and fans of Brands that we engage with. And almost without fail, it's 1% who are the superfans, 1% that drive the behavior, the content creation, that really drive that brand forward when it comes to word of mouth, social commerce. When it comes to just advocacy as a whole, that 1% will drive that top 10% and that top 10% will drive the top 50% and then that is your engine of growth. And so I think that's a perfect way of viewing it from here. So if anyone's listening and you're keen to meet up, drop me an email, paul@dueltech, and we'll have a chat like anywhere in the world. We'll try and match up some other people who are doing it. I know that we actually have breakfasts and we have dinners in London and we have some in New York. And we're not really promoting out to the people who are listening to this podcast. Actually, why not? You heard it here first. We're going to try and delve into that camp of love and build something which is great. Because from my selfish perspective, I'm getting tons out of this because we feel very passionately about this idea that there is an entire category that needs to be created of brand advocacy, a playbook that brands can use to grow through the people that love them instead of spending all that money on ads. And you said earlier this idea of you can pay your way to get some short-term success, but if you invest in the long run, you have this exponential engine of growth. That was fascinating, Lloyed. I learned so much about it. But there's more to this, isn't there? This isn't just research. You've pulled it together into a book. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?
Lloyed: Definitely. So my book is called From Grassroots to Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community Led Growth, where you will experience the journey of successful communities, both big and small, like Harley-Davidson, Nike, Peloton, CrossFit, HubSpot, and many other smaller communities that you may have haven't even heard of. So you can attract your own army of passionate and devoted fans that will take you from grassroots to greatness. And it will be live in the next couple of weeks on fromgrassrootstogreatness.com or lloyedlobo.com. So check it out.
Paul: That is amazing. Lloyed, thank you so much for your time.
Lloyed: Thank you so much, man. The one thing I'll leave you with is fall in love with your customer and make them successful beyond your product or service. If you do that consistently over time, if you build that community, you won't become a commodity.
Paul: Marvelous. That was fantastic. I love that. That was so cool. All right Lloyed, that's been amazing. Thank you very much.
Lloyed: All right, take care. Bye.
Paul: That was another episode of Building Brand Advocacy, the world's top brand building podcast. To find out more about Building Brand Advocacy and how this podcast is part of a bigger plan for our brand building book, then make sure to search for Building Brand Advocacy in Apple podcasts, Spotify and Google podcasts, or anywhere else the podcasts are fine. And make sure that you click subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Thanks to Duel for sponsoring. To find out more, go to www.duel.tech, that's D-U-E-L dot T-E-C-H. And on behalf of the team here at Building Brand Advocacy, thanks for listening.
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