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Keeping People With You, By Your Side

When people know what they’re getting, they are more likely to stay with you.

Your strategy doesn’t have to be expensive. 

What often works is comfort with the experience you deliver and being present with your efforts.

This article is about looking back and knowing that people are still with you.

Picture This

February 2020 was our last YATM Lunch Club event, just before the world was engulfed by the pandemic. 

People were aware of what was happening and I can remember the days of whether we could shake hands and people saw novelty in the foot tapping that was happening. 

YATM Lunch Club is an in-person format that started back in May 2016 where the emphasis is on being around others, a theme that carries the occasion and everyone has lunch. It’s simple, there are no long presentations, we do it without the aid of screens and it’s more about being in the room together than it is about learning. 

Since 2022 we have picked these gatherings back up in Bristol and Bath, but they haven’t been in my home county, Dorset, since 2020. 

1,270 days later we are delivering the first YATM Lunch Club event, in Dorset.

The reason I am sharing this for context is that many of the people who were there over three years ago are there for the return of YATM Lunch Club. I want to figure out what it takes for people to come back, no matter how long the wait!

The Power Of Being Comfortable

Our July 2023 event sold out a fortnight before the event. 

In between the 2020 Lunch Club and the 2023 event we had attempted hybrid events, but they didn’t work. By giving people options to watch online or attend, it just confused people. I wanted people to attend, the majority wanted to be online.

Why did the July event sell out, whilst a similar event as hybrid struggled? It comes down to the fact there is something comforting about the familiar. People who had attended Lunch Club events know what to expect. What it does is reassure people before they step in. It allows chatting with others, people know lunch is taken care of and the simplicity of the event has now become its difference. 

This is something that I have learned that it’s the experience you make, that people step into that reinforces the good feeling people get when they are faithful to something they feel a part of.

It’s about delivering what others expect. This way it strengthens the bonds between you and others.

Whether it’s an event or a newsletter, people like repetition. People appreciate as it reaffirms what they want and their connection to you. This is why people are still attending three years later (or for some people since we started the events in 2016). The YATM pulse continues each week with the Thursday newsletter.

Keeping People with You

The Lunch Club events always had an upbeat feel to it. We were all finding our feet and getting to know each other a bit better.

To those who are back in the room again in 2023, it’s the stories that we remember. For instance, Gordon Fong delivered a memorable presentation in December 2019 to a room of over 120 people where we were all affected by an emotional speech. Gordon’s message was on the importance to find a place you can call home. It’s the connections to moments we remember that make us happy.

For you, your audience will always see there are alternatives available that are going to be suited to them, it’s your role to make sure that’s not worth looking at.

For the people who stand with you, treat them with the utmost respect. For instance, for the July 13th event, I have a list of people I want to thank and acknowledge who were there at the last event in February 2020.

When you create work that feels like home to someone else, they will reward you for it. From the hybrid event experience (2021 to 2022), you don’t have to be making drastic changes, that’s not what people are looking for. 

Ideas For Maintaining Loyalty

To keep people on your side, it takes effort and a willingness to give more than you take. Here is what works from my experience:

Get people’s emails.

No one decides to step up on a whim. If someone agrees to give you their email this is your first step to knowing that you could have a loyal friend in the wings. Loyalty comes from being connected, you have to find a way to keep in touch and have direct communication. 

Be present and continuous.

After a long hiatus from the Lunch Club event, the constant has been the weekly newsletter. Whether people click or not on the email, what a subscribed audience means is that someone else knows you show up. If you can find a way, or medium, that becomes your heartbeat, what it does is become your guarantee that you are invested. That matters to people. This means that if your audience are continually there, when it’s time to reach out nothing feels forced, or they’ve forgotten about you.

Let people see you put in the effort.

It’s easy to sporadically show up with social posts or email blasts asking for a commitment, but people need to know you care, beyond taking something from them such as money or time. Share what you believe in, your insights, and the challenges you find through your work. What happens is people see you genuinely believe in the value you provide. For people to commit, people have to see your dedication to your cause and your willingness to improve.

Shifting your thinking from everyone to some.

The audience you need is a lot less than you think. For instance, if you had a glut of people come over to you, you have less chance to get to know people a bit better. A subscribed audience of 10k sounds fantastic, but the chances of getting to know others are limited. When people start to know you, familiarity becomes your hook. What helps make that shift from the recipient to an ally is when you are clear about your overall message and then setting the standard with your work that people can feel a part of. 

Align your promises with the outcomes that can happen.

No one comes into your space, only for you to shift the goalposts the moment they arrive. You need to be transparent from the start. For instance, when will someone receive an email from you? What is going to be different from what they already have? What are the central themes that can help? Over time, you start to evolve your thinking and that means you take yourself and others to the next level. The whole experience becomes enriching and worthwhile. 

Personalise without continuous automation.

The human touch will always outweigh a ‘Dear friend’ start to an email. When others know they are seen, it lifts everything. When you feel a part of something with others, it’s the connections and friendships you build that help elevate your efforts. We can’t live our lives at a distance from others where we create a hierarchy that time with you only comes from paying a premium. Touch points matter. Having strong relationships is essential. When you realise it doesn’t have to be with as many people as you perhaps thought you needed, it becomes empowering. 

Localised events work.

If you can try out and find ways to bring people together that doesn’t need heaps of planning and reliance on tech, then you have the freedom to think about the experience. Take advantage of where you live, it can become the most useful playground you step into. The benefit for you is that taking control and welcoming others allows you to connect with your audience on a more personal level, creating lasting memories and deeper connections.

Let’s Round-Up

The key to keeping people with you is not about continual posting and self-promotion, but the power of familiarity where you create consistent comfort.

By recognising the people who commit and understanding what your audience wants, this helps to maintain strong connections. This helps so much when it comes to the longevity of the relationships you have. It means that when you do have occasions to meet up, it’s something that both sides look forward to.

By reintroducing YATM Lunch Club (in Dorset) alongside a regular newsletter, the repetition has reinforced positive feelings towards the whole YATM effort. It’s a way to bring people together who can say, ‘I’m a part of this too.’

People stay, not just because of the message you share, but because you create a sense of home for them. 

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