How B2B Brands Can Build Thriving Communities

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In this episode, Dan Sanchez chats with James Carbary about a super effective alternative to events for your ABM campaign (it’s what we use).


The best things come in small packages. Take this kitten for instance.

white-and-gray-kitten

What if one of your most rewarding ABM tactics was this tiny and cute? Ours is.

And to be honest, the ABM tactic we’re discussing today looks more like this. πŸ‘‡

basket-of-kittens

Each kitten in this basket represents a micro-community.

What’s a micro-community? A micro-community for ABM purposes is an intimate group of around five professional peers dedicated to learning more about their field together. Facilitating micro-communities allows you to build long-lasting relationships with your ideal buyers as they build relationships with each other.

There’s the pithy answer. Keep reading to get a better idea of…

Micro-Communities: What are they?

There are droves of people in B2B talking about community right now. They’re just talking about the wrong kind of community.

Community > Audience

Micro-communities are the antidote to audience growth disguised as “community” building. You know when a company starts a Slack channel or Facebook group, adding as many of their target accounts as possible? Then, excessive amounts of content start flooding in from the facilitator?

Soon, the “community” feels inundated with content that they don’t necessarily find value in. The group’s engagement starts to fizzle out.

The problem is that the facilitator of the group maybe has intentions to build a community, but is forgetting to foster connections between the members. As it is, there’s only a relationship between the company and the members (aka, audience).

community-equals-intimacy-not-audience-building-graphic

An Extension of ABM

All of this isn’t to say that audience-building is a bad thing. It’s not. We’re all about growing audiences!

There’s just a better way to build meaningful relationships with your ideal account-based buyers. Enter, micro-communities.

As the facilitator of micro-communities, you should view this tactic as an extension of your ABM campaign. It can actually take the place of events your company used to host in order to connect with target accounts (thanks, COVID).

Groups of Your Ideal Customers

The main premise of a micro-community is to bring together around five of your #1 target accounts. The people in those accounts should match your ICP pretty perfectly.

Your ideal customers will want to be in the micro-community because they get to connect and learn from their peers on an intimate basis. As the facilitator, you’ll schedule the meeting times and make sure there’s always something to talk about. (We’ll cover facilitation more in a second.)

group-of-professional-people-meeting

As your micro-community meets more, insights are shared, solutions are found, careers are advanced, and relationships are made.

“Relationships are the lifeblood of everything whether you’re trying to win new business or advance in your career.”

James Carbary

The Benefits of Micro-Communities

There are benefits of micro-communities that we haven’t even realized yet. Still, here are a few that we’ve found so far.

  • More intimacy: With fewer people offering their two cents, it’s easier for members to feel connected. An intimate group allows each person to feel more comfortable voicing their opinions, which is a very powerful thing.
  • More humanity: It seems like everyone in B2B is pushing for more human interactions. In a micro-community, you get to know each other as humans, not just professionals.
  • More diversity: Instead of one entity feeding content to an audience, micro-communities encourage each member to share their unique perspectives. This way, you’re not consuming just one person’s experiences and insights.
  • Less expensive: Events used to be the best way for marketers to connect with their target accounts. Micro-communities permit way more connection opportunities at less cost because they can be hosted online.
  • A web of connections: Relationships are fostered between the members, as well as between the members and the facilitator. And if your micro-communities rotate like ours do, the facilitator and members connect with even more of their peers.

Lastly, if you’re in it for the long-game, micro-communities make it more likely that your target accounts become customers. Of course, not everyone is going to end up buying from you. The other benefits, however, outweigh the chance that someone doesn’t become your customer.

At least, we think so.

How to Facilitate Micro-Communities

Now for the how-to. At Sweet Fish, we’ve been facilitating micro-communities long enough to share a solid structure with you. So, here’s how we do it.

Mastermind Groups

Sweet Fish’s main buyer persona is the VP of Marketing at a B2B SaaS company with 50-100 employees. Those are the exact individuals we want in what we call mastermind groups.

Why mastermind? Because the members are at the top of their fields. But they also know that they can learn a lot from others in the industry.

So far, we have four mastermind groups of five people each. Our goal is to have 50 groups by the end of 2021. (Hit us up if you match our buyer persona and want in on this.)

james-carbary-linkedin-post-about-mastermind-groups

How it Works

Each month, the mastermind groups meet for one hour.

In the first meeting, we’re getting to know each other as humans. The facilitator asks some thought-provoking questions, like…

  • What does your perfect day outside of work look like?
  • What did you dream of being as a Senior in high school?
  • What are you celebrating or mourning in life right now?

The next five meet-ups consist of three 20-minute segments. They include…

  1. Lessons learned: Someone shares a lesson they’ve learned over the course of their career.
  2. An experiment: Someone shares an experiment they’ve tried relating to their job and what the results were if it’s completed.
  3. Deep dive: Someone shares a challenge they’re going through and the group brainstorms possible solutions.

Each member knows when they’re scheduled to share something so no one’s caught off-guard.

After six months of meeting, the mastermind groups rotate. This way, people can glean value from other perspectives and experiences.

Why it Works

Why would anyone join a mastermind group and remain active in it? I’ll tell ya.

People join because…

  • They feel more comfortable sharing ideas with a small group.
  • They get to network with industry experts.
  • They want to build genuine relationships.
  • They enjoy learning from other perspectives.

People stay because…

  • They’ve built lasting relationships with their peers.
  • There are no product pitches from the facilitator. πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯ (It’s about them, dummy.)
  • It’s advanced their career.
  • It’s expanded their network in a meaningful way.
  • They’re responsible for sharing a lesson, experiment, or challenge.

We’re not just blowin’ smoke. These are actual reasons why marketing leaders have joined a mastermind and remained active in it.

“Micro-communities allow you to add value completely independent from the product that you offer.”

James Carbary

Micro-communities for the win!

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Micro-Communities are the Future of B2B

Don’t @ me. Wait… actually do.

Micro-communities are the way B2B companies will have to build communities (or, what they call “communities”). People are catching on to what happens in audience growth groups disguised as communities.

audience-growth-is-disguised-as-community

Again, audience growth is πŸ‘ not πŸ‘ bad. πŸ‘

It’s just different from community.

We’re so certain that micro-communities pay off in the long-run that we hired a full-time person to facilitate them. This is gonna be BIG, people.

The Takeaways

If your mind hasn’t already been blown by this revolutionary ABM tactic yet, let me help:

  • Community means intimacy — not audience growth.
  • Facilitating micro-communities can replace events in your ABM campaign.
  • Micro-communities are meant for the members, not your product pitches!
  • It’s early — start your micro-communities now.

If you’d like to join one of our mastermind groups to see what it’s like, hit me up on LinkedIn (Dan Sanchez) or email James at [email protected]. We’d love to chat!