Community Marketing with Dominique Farrar, Head of Community and Comms at Spendesk

This episode of the FINITE Podcast talks in-depth about community marketing; the benefits, challenges, and focus points of growing and sustaining a community to support long term business goals.

In building a community, you are able to educate, influence and support your target market.

Listen to the episode to hear from community marketing expert Dominique Farrar, who is currently Head of Community and Communications at Spendesk. Dominique leads their community for financial leaders CFO Connect.

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Full Transcript

Alex (00:07):

Hello, and welcome back to the FINITE Podcast. On today’s episode of the show, I’m chatting with Dominique Farrar. Dominique is based in Paris and is Head of Community at Spendesk, a FinTech in the company cards and spend management solution space. 

But Dominique also runs CFO Connect, a separate standalone community run by Spendesk for finance leaders of fast-growing companies. Community building in a B2B environment can be hugely powerful and Dominique explains how they approach this at Spendesk. 

As I’m busy building our FINITE community, it was great to talk all things community with a fellow community builder. So I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.

FINITE (00:48):

The FINITE community and podcast are kindly supported by 93x, the digital marketing agency working exclusively with ambitious fast growth B2B technology companies. Visit 93x.agency to find out how they partner with marketing teams and B2B technology companies to drive growth.

Alex (01:08):

Hey Dominique, thanks for joining me today.

Dominique (01:10):

Hey Alex. It’s a pleasure, thanks for having me.

Alex (01:12):

I’m looking forward to this discussion as someone that’s, when I’m recording the FINITE Podcast, I’ve definitely got my community building hat on, so I’m hoping we can pick up some tips and hopefully share some back and forth in the world of B2B community building. 

But before we dive into the detail, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in the role that you’re doing at the moment, and a little bit about your day-to-day focus at the moment.

About Dominique and her background in community marketing 

Dominique (01:35):

Sure, I’ll try and give you the short version. So I am a community marketer 100%, pretty much my whole career has been in community marketing. Which at the beginning, I didn’t think would become its own sector of marketing, but thankfully it has become quite a niche, so that’s worked out well. 

I’m from the Bay Area in California, but I’m now living in Paris because I married a Frenchman and we just decided to come and enjoy European life for a while. And upon arriving in Paris, I was thinking I’ll just do freelance work, it’s going to be difficult to find a job here in France when I’m new to the market, my French isn’t up to business level. 

But I actually ended up finding a great opportunity with this company called Spendesk, which is a French startup, but is an English first company. So we have a real diverse group of people from 20 different countries at the company. And they are one of the few companies that I’ve seen in Europe that has a really strong community programme. 

So I was able to pretty much do a job that I was doing back home, in France, and something that I love and I’m working with really smart, awesome people. So it’s worked out great.

Alex (02:53):

Cool, and tell us a little bit about Spendesk before we get onto the community side of things. Tell us a little bit about the company behind it.

Dominique (03:00):

So Spendesk is an all-in-one spend management solution for finance teams. So it’s a B2B FinTech product and it essentially replaces the need to use multiple different tools to manage your financial processes. So, we have physical and virtual cards, we can manage invoice payments, expense reimbursements, all sorts of accounting automation. So it’s really just a way to make life easier and more efficient for finance teams, but also for employees and managers as well. So it’s really a new category of finance tools.

Alex (03:40):

And so before we dive into how you’re approaching community building now, you mentioned that you’ve kind of been a community marketer maybe since even before it was really a thing as we know it now. And I feel like it’s had a bit of an upsurge in popularity and focus in recent years. But how did you first get into the community building side of things and what were you doing previously on that front?

Dominique (04:02):

That’s a great question. It kind of happened by accident. I was a very passionate user of Yelp back in the day. So I kind of just wrote reviews as my creative outlet. I was an English major, and wasn’t really using that in my career. So Yelp was kind of like my blog at the time. And so I became one of their super users, and was invited to the Yelp Elite Squad, which is the famous or infamous Yelp community. 

And after being involved with that community, just as a super user, they invited me to lead one of their largest communities in the Bay Area of Yelp Elites. So at the time it really felt like a dream. This hobby of mine that someone suddenly wanted to pay me for, and of course it turned out to be a lot more work than I imagined from the user perspective. But that’s really how I fell into community. 

And Yelp was a great training ground for all things community cause they really created, and still run one of the most vibrant global user communities. So that was a really fun experience and that’s where it all started.

Alex (05:08):

Cool. And so before we dive into the detail, let’s set the scene a little bit for anyone listening and thinking, when we talk about community building what are we really talking about here from your perspective? And particularly in the B2B environment, when we talk about building a community, what is that in practice?

What is community marketing? 

Dominique (05:26):

Yeah, that’s a good thing to cover because I feel like community has certainly become a big buzzword, especially in the marketing world lately. And the definition of it, I think has become pretty murky. At least when we’re talking about like brand communities. 

Because you see some companies calling their customers their community, even if there’s not an actual program to support that label. Some people just call their social media following a community. But I guess I’m a little bit old school. I don’t think you can really this audience a community, unless those people actually realise they’re in a community and would identify as part of your community. 

So I feel like if you feel the need to put a label on your audience, you could go for something like an ecosystem. But for me, community means something more intentional than just getting more eyeballs on your brand, or more contacts in your database. I think it implies a real effort to connect people who share a similar passion or interest. So that to me is the essence of community. 

Alex (06:32):

I think that’s a really good differentiation to make because as you say, I think we see community being used as just basically to subscribe to your Twitter followers or your ecosystem is maybe a better word for that kind of thing. 

But for you, this is very much as you say, an intentional thing, something that people can say they are a part of actively. They can wear a badge of pride to some extent and say that they’re part of something that’s clear and defined rather than just being a customer, right?

Dominique (07:00):

Exactly. It kind of becomes marketing speak for any audience, people are just like, that’s our community. But if those people don’t realise they’re part of a community, then you’re probably not a real community.

Alex (07:12):

So tell us a little bit about the community that you run as part of Spendesk, how it’s positioned and a little bit about what it is and what you offer.

About Dominique’s community CFO Connect 

Dominique (07:21):

Yeah. So CFO Connect is a community by Spendesk. So that’s the community that me and my team are managing and it’s basically an adjacent brand to Spendesk. So Spendesk is a product for finance teams, CFO Connect is a community for finance leaders. 

So the two really go hand in hand, and it’s all about helping finance leaders connect with their peers, learn from each other, share knowledge, share resources. And it started out in Europe just as a meetup group essentially, and really just blossomed from there into this global community where we were originally doing in-person meetups. 

And now they’re all virtual, which has actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we’ve just been able to reach so many more people than we could have with our previous model, which was based around these in-person meetups. So that’s kind of the essence of the community. We’re at about 5,000 members right now from 20+ different countries.

Alex (08:24):

Cool. And you mentioned, and I was going to ask a bit about how the idea came about, you mentioned a meet up group. Was that literally a group on meetup.com whereby people were just meeting and was it something that was just part of Spendesk rather than a standalone brand to begin with? And just tell us maybe a little bit about how it’s kind of evolved with time.

Dominique (08:42):

So the early days of CFO Connect were based on these in-person meet ups in Paris. Finance leaders who wanted to get together and share ideas, discuss their challenges. So we saw that that was really something that was essential to this finance community. 

I think for Spendesk, the community came about because we sort of had this hunch that in order to participate in building the future of finance, which we’re trying to do through our product, we would really need to learn from and be relevant to this community of finance leaders. So CFO Connect was really a way for us to be part of the conversation.

Alex (09:23):

Interesting. So it’s as much about understanding needs and driving products and how you progress Spendesk as there’s commercial benefits that we can talk a little bit about hopefully down the line too, in terms of almost having all of your potential target customers in a community. But I think that a nice point to make is that it’s not just about the commercial upside is actually about helping you evolve as a product.

Dominique (09:49):

Absolutely, and I think that you can say that about most communities, as they are a conversation. You’re gathering people based on similar passions and interests, but everyone is learning, including the person who’s organising or the group that’s organising the community. So it really needs to be a two way conversation where you are facilitating learning and connections, but you are also continuing to learn from the community about what’s important to them and how things are evolving.

Alex (10:20):

And it’s great to hear that sadly with everything that’s been going on in the world, it’s been a difficult year for lots of people in lots of sectors, but I think much like ourselves, we’ve seen a huge uplift in global expansion of FINITE for us. And similarly for you in terms of reaching new audiences in different countries, which is great. 

Before you actually joined Spendesk, who was managing the community as such, was it just an informal meet up? Was it something that the business had recognised the need for before you joined? And it was happening, but just not in an as organised and structured way as it is now with you leading it?

Dominique (10:56):

I definitely joined in phase 2 of CFO Connect at Spendesk. So the first year there was one person who was managing everything and really kind of building the foundations of the community, which are so important during the first year. 

It was things like building the website, and getting the Slack group organised and planning events and getting feedback from members and doing surveys and things like that. So a lot of brand building. It was a one person team at the time and she’s still on the team and she’s amazing. 

And we expanded the team in year two to be three people to help divide and conquer all the various tasks that come with a growing community and also to help us expand to new markets. And so in the early days we divided and conquered based on geography, but now there really is no location-specific community, everything’s virtual. We’ve gone back to all being involved in all aspects of the community role.

Alex (11:58):

Cool, and I guess just to make it tangible, you mentioned the kind of benefits of joining CFO Connect for people to connect and share and learn. And I guess probably similar to ourselves, what do you actually offer to members in terms of the proposition when they sign up?

The proposition of a community 

Dominique (12:13):

Yeah, so the main value proposition is networking, being part of a global finance network and thought leadership. So really staying on the cutting edge of new technology and new trends in their industry. So everything that we offer through the community really aims to deliver on that promise. 

So the three key pillars for us are events, which are now all virtual, which allows us to do a lot more and reach a lot more people. The second pillar is content. So we have a blog, we are launching a podcast soon and we have a newsletter. So those are our key content channels, as well as social media. 

And then the third pillar really is connections. So helping people connect to each other with other people in the community who are going to be helpful to them in just succeeding in their role. So we have a private Slack group where people can exchange, ask questions, meet new folks and also a member matching program, which aims to connect people based on complementary areas of expertise.

Alex (13:17):

Cool. And how does the role fit into the wider marketing team at Spendesk? And is the community building side of things relatively siloed and you’re all focused on CFO Connect? Or do you regularly interface and overlap with other colleagues marketing Spendesk more generally as a product?

How does community marketing fit within a wider marketing department? 

Dominique (13:35):

Yeah, so we’re a sub team of the marketing team. So Community does sit under Marketing. So our five sub teams, you could call them, are Product Marketing and Performance Marketing, Content, Communications, Design and Community. Actually, I think that’s six. 

So we’re all kind of little pods that are tackling different marketing KPIs. So some of the teams are more focused on very concrete KPIs, like product adoption or lead generation. For community, we have the sort of nebulous KPI of brand awareness, which we all know as marketers is difficult to measure. But we tend to tie that to the growth of the community and numbers. 

So as the community grows, Spendesk’s brand awareness is also growing with the more people that we reach. But I think another less tangible goal and something that all the leadership at Spendesk believes is important for CFO Connect to do is really educating the market on this new category that we’re building with our product. 

And again, just opening up these conversations for finance leaders to stay in tune with the evolution of the industry, new tech and trends. So we’re helping to facilitate that.

Alex (14:54):

The measurement KPI side of things I think is really interesting with any kind of community building activity, because I guess particularly anything to do with brand can be pretty hard to measure at the best of times, particularly in a B2B environment. Where attribution can be difficult at the best of times too. 

How do you do that from a brand awareness perspective? And it feels like the wider marketing team and leadership must be pretty open to the investment, recognising the investment needed into building a community and recognising too that you don’t get overnight results and you can’t show these are the number of leads we generated or whatever it might be within a few months.

Attributing ROI from community to larger business goals 

Dominique (15:31):

Yeah, I mean we are lucky that we have a lot of internal stakeholder buy-in for community and the leadership really understands the long-term vision and purpose of building a community, which is not about quick wins, quick conversions. We’re not tracking these KPIs on a monthly basis necessarily, but we’re really looking at how the long term effects of community can have a positive impact on the business. 

So we just started to look at some metrics that correlate community to our other business metrics. But it’s really more about correlation obviously than causation. We are not accountable for generating a certain amount of leads or new business or new revenue, but it’s certainly helpful to show that, for example, our customers who are also community members are more engaged, have higher product adoption, things like that, better retention. 

So we are starting to look at those correlations and we have the data to keep track of that. And so it’s probably the first time in my community career that I’ve had such concrete data to show that correlation. And it’s really helpful obviously for many reasons, job security being one of them.

Alex (16:48):

Yeah, I guess building the community can take a long time. I know that myself with everything we’re doing at FINITE, it sounds like you’ve got pretty good stakeholder buy-in and everyone recognises that this is a longer term vision. Is there still some kind of expectation management to do though? Is it difficult to take some people on the journey or has that been relatively easy in this case?

Getting buy-in for community building

Dominique (17:08):

I think there’s always going to be some folks that see community as this pot of gold that we want to dip into, but I think it’s the job of a community leader to protect that community and to push back when there’s that temptation to just like go for the quick win. So I think that’s something that most community managers, community leaders have innately in them, is this sort of sense of protection and wanting to guard the trust that’s been built in the community. 

But I think what’s most important is that the folks at the top who are the decision makers, they are the ones that are bought in to the long term vision of community, because certainly there’s going to be people on other teams. A lot of times sales for example is like, why can’t we just, you know, market to the community? But we know, you know, in our guts as community leaders, that that’s not the best long-term decision. And thankfully our leaders at Spendesk have that same belief

Alex (18:15):

That resonates a lot with me, I think in particular that word trust, which I think is so fundamental to building a community. I think every community probably has an opportunity to potentially get some quick wins and make some money in some form. I know that we’ve got all kinds of sponsorship opportunities and people are reaching out and trying to reach our members too.

And it would be so easy to undermine that, but all it takes is one poorly positioned decision and you can undermine all of that trust pretty quick. You’ve got to be careful, right? Let’s talk about the positioning side of things. I think that ties in nicely to this in terms of CFO connect as its own brand’s website. 

I’ve heard you mention in this conversation, CFO Connect at Spendesk, so there’s kind of a link in certain places, but tell us about the decision to position CFO Connect independently somewhat, from Spendesk and the advantages and thinking behind that.

Linking the community to the business 

Dominique (19:08):

Yeah, there are definite advantages and disadvantages. I think that we do operate fairly separately in terms of having our own brand, our own website, our own audience list and things like that, our own content. So it allows us to essentially really serve the purpose of our community, which is to add value and deliver on the promise of our value proposition, which is like really top notch networking and thought leadership. 

So that is what we are able to stay focused on without any sort of like ulterior motive or hidden agenda. I like the way it’s positioned, CFO Connect, a community by Spendesk. So we’re not hiding anything, Spendesk is very much present and involved, but the purpose of the community is not to talk about Spendesk, it’s to talk about the broader topics around finance leadership. So that’s how we position it essentially. Spendesk is the sponsor of the community.

Alex (20:12):

Makes sense. And I guess the thinking there is that, although it’s more subtle, it’s almost more powerful in having that independence in terms of, I guess there’s sometimes a sense of intrigue, which I observe too, in terms of people going, okay so CFO connect looks great, but what’s that Spendesk logo, what is Spendesk? 

And suddenly these connections are made and actually they’d start to see Spendesk’s positioning as something very much at the heart of their world and as a brand that they can connect with because of how it’s supporting this community. And it’s harder to connect the dots. And I guess you have to think a little bit tangentially outside of the box to make that link, but is that kind of a fair summary of how you make the link?

Dominique (20:50):

Yeah, essentially we do want the brands to be connected. And I think one of the advantages of having them separate is that you get to build trust. So, people oftentimes don’t want to be sold to, I think in general most people don’t enjoy being sold to, but they do want to learn and they do want to grow their network. 

So that’s a much easier conversation to have and a much easier pitch. Be part of a community versus buy a product. So really that’s all that we’re going for is to get people to be part of this community. If they end up buying Spendesk down the line, great, that’s icing on the cake, but it’s really not what we’re focused on. But it’s certainly there, it’s not hidden.

Alex (21:38):

And what did that look like in practice? When people receive CFO Connect emails and they log into your website and wherever they interact with you, is there the occasional little Spendesk logo or reference? Just to give people a sense of what that actually looks like day to day.

Dominique (21:52):

Yeah, so on the website it’s pretty evident. But in terms of the different touch points, it’s not mentioned really apart from our newsletter. For example, at the very bottom there’s like a small ad CFO Connect is brought to you by Spendesk, here’s what Spendesk is. Our webinars, we do a quick, I would say less than 30 second pitch about Spendesk on all of our virtual events, but it’s really more of an FYI, not a full sales pitch. 

And then other than that, in our Slack group, for example, there’s a lot of conversations that happen around tools. We can’t control all of those and we don’t want to, but certainly it’s nice when we have members of the community who are Spendesk users and customers who mention us without being asked, it just kind of happens organically. 

But you know, there’s certainly conversations about our competitors going on too, but we obviously just let that happen because that’s how you maintain the trust is like, we’re not here to push a certain agenda. We just want you to find what you’re looking for.

Alex (22:57):

Cool. And I guess the content side of things, and this maybe feeds into a bigger question around like resource and really what it takes to build a community like this. Because I guess a lot of people may be listening to this and thinking, this sounds great, you’re building a community that kind of sits at the top of everything that you do and your interaction with your whole ecosystem. 

But I’m one marketer or we’re a team of two or three marketers in a 30, 40 person business. Is this even realistic? Like the amount of content we need to produce, I assume some of your content is kind of user generated in terms of people sharing blog content and webinars and stuff. 

But even I know just planning one webinar can take a fair amount of time, right? Do you think it’s possible for a small or even solo marketer to do community as such alongside everything else they’ve got to manage or is it really only practical at a certain size and scale with a certain level of resource?

Can you manage a community in a small marketing team? 

Dominique (23:47):

Honestly, in my experience, I would say community is not something you can just add on to your regular marketing tasks. I do believe that it needs to be a dedicated role if you’re serious about building community. I mean, if you need someone to just like moderate your social channels or like a chat forum, that’s doable. 

But I think if you actually want to invest in community and build a community, you need at least one person that’s dedicated to all things community. So I really pushed for that whenever I’ve chatted with people about like, we’re thinking about starting community. You have to go all in, that’s really I think the only way you’re going to be successful.

Alex (24:28):

Yeah, I think I can relate to that. It definitely feels like it’s an investment. I think the challenge for most people would just be trying to build that business case internally, as we’ve touched on already, it sounds like you’ve got a great environment at Spendesk where the value is recognized and the longer term investment is understood. 

But a lot of marketers struggle just to get sign off to buy HubSpot or something, let alone spend years potentially building out a community that they can’t directly connect revenue, pipeline, whatever it is back to, at least not to begin with. 

So that’s tough and I wish there was an easy way around it, but I think nearly everyone I speak to on things like this, the answer is basically we have a great team and a leadership that understands the value of these things. And I guess maybe that’s the motor, the story is to pick where you work carefully and make sure you work for the right people.

Dominique (25:18):

Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, it is an investment and that’s why so many companies wait until they hit a certain critical mass of whatever it is, fundraising or revenue, or they feel safe and secure enough to invest in something auxiliary like community. 

So it’s pretty rare to find a startup or scale up in the early stages that says we’re going to need a community to have that long-term vision because it really is. It’s a long play. So yeah, I feel really fortunate to have ended up at Spendesk, which is one of these rare companies that knew from day one, we’re going to need a community to compliment our approach.

Alex (26:00):

Let’s talk a little bit about the foundations of growing a community more tactically and particularly the growth side is quite interesting in terms of you’ve got this concept, you’ve got the vision mapped out for what you offer to CFO Connect. You’ve got the proposition, you’ve built the website. 

I imagine at this point word of mouth and referral is probably a big driver of more people joining, but in the earlier days, gaining that initial traction and maybe even now in terms of reaching new members, what does that look like? Day-to-day at the moment and what kind of things have you run and experimented with as programs to drive growth?

How to drive the growth of a community 

Dominique (26:33):

Well as you can probably guess from the name CFO Connect, we’re pretty narrowly focused on a niche group of folks.

Alex (26:41):

I think that’s an important point to mention with any of this community stuff, is that being niche is a big benefit.

Dominique (26:47):

It helps you just focus your efforts. So for us, because we’re not trying to get anyone and everyone to join our community, but we’re really focused on this group of modern finance leaders. It helps us be really focused on quality of membership and engagement of our members versus just sheer growth numbers. 

So we are more focused. We’d like to grow at a steady pace and we are, but we’re much more concerned with the types of people who are joining and the ways that they’re engaging versus just how many people we can get in.

Alex (27:24):

Cool. And so I guess LinkedIn email, all those kinds of usual channels are good places for finding the right kind of persona for the group. Do you run ads? Just give us a sense of some of the things you’ve done to drive growth.

Dominique (27:38):

Yeah, sure. So in the early days, the events were really one of our key membership drivers. So every event would in theory, attract a new group of people who would like to join. So that kind of helped us identify and get on their radar. Now, I mean, that still certainly happens, but we’ve been a little bit more, I guess, like putting more of an effort into our outreach. 

So we’ve done some LinkedIn outreach. We work pretty closely with the growth team at spend us that helps us identify the right audience that we think would be a good fit for the community. So we’ve done some email outreach campaigns, I mean really cold email, which is always a little bit scary, but because we feel pretty confident in the value proposition and the fact that we’re not actually selling anything, but we’re really just trying to add value. It’s been pretty successful. 

So we have pretty good conversion rates from our email outreach campaigns. And then aside from that, we’ve done a little bit of social marketing just as like an experiment. But we’re kind of just trying to have a multi-channel strategy for membership growth to ensure that it kind of creates that nice organic growth.

Alex (28:54):

Let’s talk about the tools and tech side of things. So I know that this is a bit of a minefield in most of the marketing world, there’s just a lot of things out there. I know from recently looking at stuff for FINITE, that there’s all these kinds of community platforms and forums, and there’s just so many different subcategories of broadly community software that you could use. 

We use Slack at the moment. We’re building a website ourselves, but there’s all kinds of different options. I’ve always been a big believer in going where people already are to some extent and not having to give them this actual work of having to monitor or check or download another app alongside everything else they’ve got. But tell us a little bit about some of the tools and technology that you use and are using existing platforms. Have you built things yourself? It’d be great to hear.

Tools and platforms for community marketing 

Dominique (29:36):

Yeah, well I’m of the same mind. I think that having one more thing you need to log into is not super appealing to most people. So that’s why we went with Slack as kind of our key community forum. A lot of folks are already on there for work. So it’s just a higher chance of engagement. 

I guess the downside of that is the free Slack is pretty limiting for communities just because you don’t have like a true archive of those conversations. And you don’t have as many options to customise and manage, but the paid version of Slack is quite expensive. So there’s really not a happy medium. Although I have heard that they’re working on a community pricing plan, which would be really cool. 

So yes, we currently use Slack. We have looked at some other tools. I think the main thing that we’re looking for a solution for right now is just replacing those in-person connections we used to do through events, the in-person networking. And I don’t think there will ever be an adequate replacement in the virtual world, but we’re certainly trying to find a temporary solution that can help people at least feel they’re making more personal connections versus just chatting on Slack.

Alex (31:00):

Yeah, it makes sense. And that’s interesting to hear that Slack are planning something on that front. I think that they probably realised that a lot of people are running communities through their solutions, so that’s cool to hear. In terms of the website itself have you got an area where people can actually log in and sign up and access things or is everything pretty much happening through Slack?

Dominique (31:17):

No, we don’t. We’ve certainly entertained the idea cause it would be useful as we have sort of two tiers of membership. So we have like a pro level membership, which gets you access to the Slack group and our finance team membership, which gets you invites to our events and member matching. 

So differentiating those two offerings can be difficult without a place to navigate. We’ve set up a Notion space for members, which is pretty cool in terms of just housing all of your content and community resources. I know some other communities that use Notion for that too, but again, the access capabilities are not super straightforward. So it’s either like fully public or with a login or membership. So yeah, there are so many tools. 

I think last I checked, there’s like 200 community tools out there right now. Most of them that have popped up, I’d say within the last year. So I have been wanting to, on a rainy day, have a look and dig into some of them and see if they’d be good options, but for now we’re happy with Slack. We use Livestorm for our virtual events, but I’ve also heard of some new tools for events that include VR worlds, where you actually feel you’re in the same room as people. So there’s a lot of cool new possibilities.

Alex (32:45):

Yeah. I think we could share some notes with each other because I’ve been going through exactly this recently. And I think probably similar to you, we’re actually at the moment building out a resources section just on a user authenticated WordPress site, just because we happen to have WordPress developers that we can tap into and integrate that with HubSpot CRM where we manage all of our members and stuff. 

But I looked so far and wide for something that could support basically a user authenticated Notion almost whereby you can just store your resources. And there wasn’t really anything. All of the community tools are more focused on discussion and we’re doing that through Slack and we want to keep doing that through Slack. 

So there wasn’t any way that just, we basically just want a library of past webinars and podcasts and documents and all of those kinds of things. And I was surprised there wasn’t really anything that at least led with that as the proposition, they all seem to have a bit of that in the mix, but it wasn’t anything standing out. So I’m sure it will come along one day.

Dominique (33:40):

Yeah, still room to improve for sure.

Alex (33:42):

Definitely. I was gonna wrap up by asking you a bit about challenges that you’ve come across in the community building space and any tips or tricks you’d give people or things to be aware of to watch out for, if they’re beginning the community building process.

Challenges in building a community 

Dominique (33:59):

Well I think overall just be patient. It is an investment, community is a long-term strategy you can say, but the rewards are abundant. And I think you get small doses of those rewards in the early days, but then they just compound over time. So be patient and just know your why. Like, why are you building a community? How does that tie to the overall business mission or goals? 

I think just keeping that in mind helps you stay on track, but I also think that community, we’re one of the luckiest groups of marketers because we get to embrace the human side of things, like community by nature is going to be high touch. Whereas a lot of other marketing is encouraged to go more and more high tech and low touch. 

So I think that we’re lucky we got to still operate in that human world and build relationships and get to focus on kind of more of the qualitative rewards and results of marketing. Which not a lot of other marketing functions have the ability to do so. I think that’s really a cool benefit. So those are some of my lessons learned. 

I think that anytime you build community, you’re working with people. And so there can be challenges in terms of just expectations, people having a certain expectation from the community. I’d say, my time at Yelp was a real eye-opener because you have so many different types of folks using the product for different reasons in different ways. 

And I think having a code of conduct or some kind of rules of engagement for your community are really important from the early days, because you can certainly get people who abuse the rules of the community. And so you need to kind of protect yourself against that early on to make sure that it stays a safe space and stays aligned with your mission.

Alex (36:00):

Yeah. Well there’s some great tips. I think this has been such a great conversation. A lot of my time and thinking, being around community building at the moment, it’s been great to talk to someone else going on on a similar path cause I haven’t really tapped into all of the resources out there, but yeah. 

Thank you so much for sharing all of your insights and thoughts. I think anyone that’s even thought about doing any kind of community building has a lot to take away from the tips you’ve given. So I’m grateful for you sharing your time Dominique and thanks again for joining.

Dominique (36:29):

It’s been such a pleasure. Thank you Alex.

FINITE (36:32):

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