I feel like the word I heard most in 2016 was brand. Everything was brand-centric and every brand was focused on branding their brand just right. I even got in on the branding fun, covering it on more than one occasion. The reason everyone was so focused on designing their brand was, and still is, because we've realized that in order for people to buy, they have to first connect. The brand is the story that garners that initial connection which is necessary for the buy. Once this realization hit the market in such a clear-cut way, everyone took notice and followed suit. That is, until a man by the name of Arthur Tubman introduced quite an opposite approach.

What Is The Process Of Building A Community?

Arthur's job in the real estate industry is actually what led him to delve into the online world of community building. The thought of going to just one more weekly local chamber networking event was more than he could handle. He knew there had to be a better way to connect with people without all the dreaded awkward small-talk and cringe worthy introductions, and he was right. But even Arthur didn't realize, when he first jumped into blogging and hosting, just how much traction could be gained through creating a gathering place of like-minded individuals and allowing that place to grow organically (e.g.: without dumping a ton of money into each new member, like, fan, etc.).

The Actual Process Broken Down:

1. Launch a niche site/fan page/place for a community to grow.

2. Create consistent and constant original, relevant content for that place.

3. Drive traffic/audience from that niche site to your company.

4. Brand is established throughout this process.

Let's talk about a real-life example. When Country Rebel approached Arthur about creating and growing a huge brand, he asked them to take a gamble on a different marketing approach and they agreed. So Arthur first set up a Facebook fan page all about country music. Because of this, he was able to build a highly engaged audience, already passionate about the subject/cause/niche, at a lower cost to acquire while yielding more value. We're talking about a reach of 2,000-3,000% vs. 8-10% which is the norm.

Can You Buy Loyalty and Engagement?

If you could buy loyalty, this is what it would look like because once those members felt a part of something, they were committed to it. What's even more amazing about Arthur's story is that he has done this hundreds of times now, successfully, and even on a very large scale. Take the site mentioned above, Country Rebel. They actually generate more traffic and engagement than CMT. We consistently see similar levels of engagement with our own podcast, which is a true testament to how important it is to connect with your audience (the right audience) and to speak their language in more ways than "here is what I am selling, and here is why."

Deciding Which Direction to Build

By building a community and really focusing on getting that community engaged, the brand is discovered and developed as well, almost totally organically. Which means the old adage that says "if you build it, they will come" is true. And to take that one step further, if you build it right, they will stay. And just remember, no matter which direction you decide to take your business in 2017, one thing is for certain... hard work is definitely required.