Every Tuesday morning, my wife and I participate in an interval training group at the running track. The group is led by a Hall of Fame track coach who will help you become a faster runner by running fast-paced intervals once or twice a week. But my wife goes to chitchat with her friends in the group.
I started going to track intervals sessions weeks before Kory did. I enjoyed the workouts; it’s fun to train hard. And as my times improved, Kory wanted to increase her speed as well, so she started attending each week with me.
Each week, our coach chooses a different workout to keep it interesting, and he keeps us on task to minimize loafing. It’s a good value that solves a problem: I wouldn’t do this type of workout on my own, but I can get to the track, and he’ll lead me through it and give me a great workout. Perfect.
My wife quickly befriended other members of the group. And now, although she does the running workout, the real reason she goes is to see her friends. She looks forward to Tuesday mornings and seeing her friends despite the workout.
This happens with every group activity. If you’ve attended a mastermind, the primary reason you joined was likely the person who invited you. But when it’s done well, you quickly develop relationships with the other members, and soon enough, you’d attend just to talk to those other members even if the guru didn’t show up.
When you begin to connect members to each other, it has a positive impact on your retention rates because it’s not only you delivering value. If you help your members build relationships with each other, then you become just one of many reasons someone wants to remain connected to your membership.
This is the single best treatment to long-term Retention Deficit Disorder. While your membership must deliver value to your members, by connecting your members with each other you are creating relationships that transcend the value you deliver.
The most obvious way to connect members today is through introductions at in-person gatherings. For years, when I owned the Information Marketing Association and hosted the Info-Marketing Connections Conference, this generated rave reviews. The second and third time I put on the three-hour event, members traveled across the country to attend. Members walked away having new relationships with up to 27 other members. Huge deals and opportunities sprang from those events.
To discover the latest best practices on facilitating online connections, follow Seth Godin, then buy and engage in the next product he offers you. The Marketing Seminar, the altMBA, and the Boostrapper’s Workshop are 20 percent training and 80 percent connecting members together to spur discussion, thought, and growth.
Seth does an excellent job with his New Member On Ramp after you buy the course. He establishes the values for the group and invites you to engage in the discussion. There’s no coercion. In fact, he makes it okay to watch the videos only, if that’s what you want. But he lets you know that you’ll receive a lot more value from the course when you engage.
Seth gives an assignment after each training. The instructions are to engage with the group by posting your completed assignment to the message board. This encourages other members to review what you wrote, comment, and ask you questions. This prompts a lot of thought and discussion. Plus, Seth also has a coach going through to comment and prompt members to dig deeper with provocative questions.
All this creates an engaged community of members who show up and interact with each other long after the videos stop.
If you don’t have meetings, assignments, or message boards, another approach is to publish case stories of members. Every newsletter, email, or training should consist primarily of member stories illustrating your community values.
These stories should use the following structure:
- Before: the problems your member faced and how they felt about the problem
- Solution: how the member used the solutions you provide to solve that problem
- After: what that member’s life is like now that she’s solved her problem using your solution and how she feels about it
When you talk about your members, you create connections between them. These individuals become celebrities within your community. These success stories help all members feel like they are successful because they are part of a community where these great things happen.