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It’s Not Just Customers, Make Everyone Who Comes On Board, Part Of Something

It is important to make others feel like they belong.

When people subscribe to the information you share, you can take everything to a much more inclusive level.

No one wants to be a name on a list or a column on a database. If you create something you care about and believe in, why make the bridge for people to come on board that is full of holes?

This article is about the fact it is not the logo and value that makes something unique, it is the people who are part of something you create.


More Than Form Filling

Making others belong is not built around getting them to fill in forms but being part of something.

In Jay Acunzo’s new book, Break The Wheel, former chief product officer from Hubspot said, “Marketing has lost its way. We’ve lost the importance of connecting with people.”

“We live in this world where it’s all about content, content and more content. And SEO. And ranking for this keyword and that keyword.”

Participating in a faceless world where someone gives you their details for some form of exchange, from a download to a sporadic email newsletter doesn’t make anyone feel attached to a company or a side project.

Gone are the days of thinking you can add a pop-up, or a box that sits at the bottom of the screen with the short sentences that says, ‘subscribe/sign up to our newsletter.’ If you want to go even lower then you can add: get our latest news; receive our updates; get our latest communication or free newsletter. Whenever did newsletter have a monetary value?


You Never Know When You Are Going To Reach Out

Just because many of the people who subscribe, may never become a customer, they can all feed into an ecosystem where everyone feels included. You never know when you need to reach out to them with a new idea, approach, event, product, service, when at first glance they don’t tick the box that flashes ‘lead generation.’

This is all about making others feel part of something, where there is a collective voice.

It feels better for the soul when people commit and feel a part of something, where activity is continual.

I published an article about making customers feel like members, you can read it here. The article looked at making others part of the entire process and they have a sense of affiliation. What you are reading here progresses that idea. It is not just considering customers as members, but those who want to interact and be part of a shared mindset. These are people who all have a role to play and doesn’t just stop at those paying invoices.

This is something that is currently being played out in the world of retail.

September saw a major retail chain, change tact. We now have on the high street, John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners.

The emphasis is that the people who are part of these businesses, the staff, are not just people who have jobs, but are now participants. Perhaps this is to demonstrate how these brands are closely linked by valuing others (their staff and customers) and represents a new mentality on people feeling part of something. Everything comes down to alignment in what a company values and how it operates.



The tagline for the companies is now ‘For us, it’s personal.’

The point I am trying to make is how a retailer is now looking to demonstrate the importance of the people who are part of all this. Only time will tell if it is a thinly veiled marketing campaign to address the profit slump (a 99% slump in half year profits was announced in September). When looking at a company that is now leaning into the approach of ‘partners’ represents a message where a company values everyone in order to bring people together and alignment between brand and delivery.


What About You?

On a B2B level this represents the importance for you to bring people in, rather than thinking of each subscriber as a potential transaction.

A goal has to be to build something so when the time is right to make the ask, people have already bought in.

Something I have taken on board for the You Are The Media project is to treat everyone who subscribes as a member and to create a sense of familiarity. By familiarity I mean different ways to become attached, from attending an event to listening to the You Are The Media podcast. However, I appreciate that this does take time, it just depends on how committed you want to become. For instance, building something takes longer if you are willing to commit a few hours each month, when compared to sharing a message on a regular basis (from a LinkedIn microstory, to keeping the blog frequent and relevant). The more of a commitment you make, the quicker you can build an audience.

First of all, ignore the Facebook/Instagram adverts that tell you how people tripled their email lists in a fortnight and now they are loving life on a boat on a Wednesday and starting sky diving on a Friday.

According to Sumo the average opt-in rate is 1.95%. This means that out of 100 people who visit your site, two people are willing to join your email list. What you create has to be compelling enough. Make someone feel like they are part of something much bigger.

Imagine a big family dinner, when someone passes over the ketchup that you may not know too well, there is a sense of connection and being in the same room together. You are there because you are connected in some way.


Your New Mindset From Subscriber To Member

Here is what you need to think about to move from thinking you need to attract new subscribers to make members feel like they are worth their weight in gold. It’s still the same exchange ie. an email, you just approach differently.

Change from growing a list to make others feel they are welcome. You don’t need to immediately put up barriers and wall your content in exchange for someone to give you money every month. If people are going to be committed, be open and make them valued that coming to your party was a great thing to do. This means that when there is a time to ask them, it becomes easier.

Here are nine ways to think beyond fishing for subscribers and embracing members who are part of a community:


Call it something. If you set out to become committed to an email, don’t create a header where you call it your company name and then add the word ‘news’ or ‘insight’ at the end. The recipient is going to think the sales grenade is going to go off on the next line they read.


Show the immediate value in joining. When someone comes on board, put the welcome mat our straight away. Have a template that covers the basics such as the thanks and what it is they will be receiving, but ask them to tell them a bit more about themselves and where they discovered you.


Make members feel like members. When people join they want to be privy to the things that not everyone gets. For instance, the You Are The Media Podcast is available to listen to on the You Are The Media Weekly email before it is published on iTunes or Spotify.


Encourage sharing. When you create something that people feel a part of, they need to be encouraged to utilise the new space/platform that they have. For instance, the You Are The Media Facebook Group is a place for people to share, get help and be assured that there are others who want to help.


Put the spotlight on others. It can’t be all about you and what you have achieved and the projects you are working on. Other people in completely different industries can have a role to play in what you are doing and an input that compliments what you are setting out to do. To build people around a mindset and an approach and not on your own self focused efforts. Promoting the work of other members is vital.


Find ways to tie this all together. One project can’t just sit in isolation as it builds momentum. As the bank of work builds, you can start to grow your family by introducing new initiatives. For instance, what started as the You Are The Media weekly email became a conference (there was never any intention to create a conference back in 2013, it just felt like the right thing to do).


You need a reason to exist. Whatever is produced and distributed has to be able to stand on its own two feet and sit apart from other alternatives. It is not about being better, but to approach things in a slightly different way. If you are going to have a shelf life, you have to be relevant and resonate.


Work side by side. I now realise that I spent far too much time thinking that I had to find the answers. It is better to leave that to everyone else on LinkedIn who have the answer to everything. The only way you can get better is to find those people who can make your work stronger. We can’t stand in isolation and preach to everyone that we know best.


Generosity definitely brings people together, not taking someone’s money. It is better to give than just concentrate on the take.

Let’s Round Up

When you form a basis for membership, you nurture community, a sense of place and a clear identity is created.

Whilst creating content provides you an opportunity to get someone else to commit, nurturing a community can build a marketplace around association.

Content demonstrates how you contribute, the people who feel like they belong ensure the longevity of your message.

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