strategies for revenue-driven community building

Dive into the intricate world of community building with our latest episode of ‘People-First Playbook’ as we explore strategies that harness the power of community to engage, entertain, and drive revenue. Whether you’re a seasoned brand or just stepping into the buzz that is community, this episode is for you. Partnering with ZoomInfo, our featured brand, we’ll discuss the art of turning community engagement into measurable business growth, providing actionable strategies and real-world examples that transcend brand boundaries. In a landscape marked by budget constraints, consensus-driven decision-making, and time challenges, we’ll unravel effective approaches for building and sustaining communities that contribute to the bottom line. So be sure to tune in live or check out the replay for strategies, tips, and a people-first perspective that resonates across industries.

Podcast Transcript

What’s up everyone? Happy Tuesday. We are at episode five of the People First Playbook. For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, happy Thanksgiving week. Um, we’re excited to have a few days off at the end of this week. And, um, for those that don’t know me, my name is Nick Bennett. I am one of the co-founders over at Tech, and we are talking about

Strategies for revenue driven community building today. And so, honestly, for those that don’t know the show or maybe are listening for the first time, shout out. I’m streaming on all of my social channels right now. Um, this whole People First playbook is all about strategies that are submitted by other people willing to wanting to build a campaign.

We build an a live integrated revenue campaign or ideas for growth within 30 minutes. We did 30 minutes last week. Hopefully we could do 30 minutes this week, . Um, and honestly, it, it’s great. Uh, the goal is to do it on a shoestring budget because, let’s be honest, the economy sucks. Who knows when it’s gonna get better.

Um, and we’re all, all of us are marketers. We’re all in the same situation where we need to do more with less. So if you have any questions, submit ’em in the chat. If we have time at the end, we’ll get to them. If not, we’ll send you a message after. But Andy, let’s get into the campaign intro and background.

Well, hang on. I have a question that I don’t wanna submit via chat. What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish? You know, it’s funny ’cause I was actually . I was, I was, I was, I was at dinner with Mark last night and we had a few others that we were, we, it was just, we were doing like 2024 planning. We had an offsite and we had a dinner at this really nice place.

And, um, he also asked that question, and. I ordered a steak, I ordered filet last night, and they, they put it on some like, just like mountains of mashed potatoes. And I love mashed potatoes. That’s probably honestly my favorite thing to eat. But I also love apple pie, and I had the debate last night of apple pie versus pumpkin pie.

I. I hate pumpkin pie. I will not eat it. Yeah, same. I, I love a warm apple pie with some vanilla bean ice cream on top. Like, nothing better. How about yourself? So my mother-in-Law and my wife make these homemade potato rolls that we just basically chuck across the table at each other. They are. They’re amazing.

So those are absolutely my favorite sides. No doubt. Love that. All right, so back to the today’s episode, right? So we are talking about ZoomInfo as our feature brand today. Stephanie Pinnell reached out, she’s the director of event marketing over there, and the concept for today’s episode is about community because the campaign, an initiative that Stephanie’s got going on out there over there is how does ZoomInfo build out their community efforts?

While increasing the market’s knowledge on what ZoomInfo fully has to offer across its entire suite. And I think all of us know the brand name ZoomInfo, but I personally don’t think I have a great grasp about everything it does. And the reason why I say that is I. Historically, I’ve worked with clients where, you know, the SDRs, the sales team, they latch onto ZoomInfo because they need to create account list, they need to create a database that they’re gonna use in outbound efforts, or maybe there’s an ABM component where they are creating something that they’re gonna go to market for.

And on my side, I have explored ZoomInfo for, you know, intent data and maybe some, some use cases there. And. I feel like it’s very sales heavy as far as what the market knows and understands around what this offering and suite ultimately entails. I mean, what about you, Nick? What’s your perception there?

So, I, I also, that’s always what I, what I thought of it as, you know, I. I, I didn’t know this actually till this morning, but I’ve been trying to, um, use, uh, NeverBounce for ABM emails, and I didn’t know ZoomInfo actually owned them because when I went to their website today, it was like never bounce by ZoomInfo again.

I don’t know. I didn’t know that. But like, as a marketer that has done ABM and like, honestly, you should be running your contacts through NeverBounce, just especially with all the, the email and crap that’s coming out in February or whatever. Um, I. I mean, there’s so much, I mean, again, I’ve always thought of it as like an in intent tool to be able to, to get emails and addresses and all that stuff.

But I mean, I’ve never really kind of looked beyond like, Hey, like I need to use ZoomInfo for this. For me, I’m, I, was I not, not in sales per se. So like for me it doesn’t really matter, but like after talking, and I know Steph pretty well now, and . I mean, I was amazed at how much is actually part of that suite.

So, and I think that kind of segues then into kind of the challenge that this campaign revolves around, right? It’s that perception and assumption that it is a sales focused platform and suite of tools and it’s so much more than that. And when you think about community . Right? Yes. ZoomInfo is a, is a brand, it’s a product that can appeal to so many different facets of things.

But how do you carve out those niches based off of those use cases that rally around the centralized theme and brand, but create a relevant experience that somebody’s able to latch onto and build from? Um. Absolutely. So let’s, I mean, let’s talk about, let’s talk about the challenge for today of like, you know, ideally launching something from scratch when it comes to the community and making sure it’s success both with the true forum as like a home base and through social advocacy, because I think that’s like, I.

Very, very challenging in today’s world, especially when there’s lots of competition out there. And the ask specifically from staff was how do we build our community efforts in a way that allows us to have some wins in Q four? Again, I respect that, but all while building the longer play, which is community first, community led, um.

So, you know, uh, Andy, obviously people first means we start with the people. So let’s dive into like the audience here. Yeah. And when Steph reached out, you know, she mentioned that it’s a wide range of an audience here, right? Customers and non-customers that are predominantly members of revenue generating teams, sales, marketing, you know, rev ops, enablement, et cetera.

And typically those that. Work directly with Direct, with ZoomInfo, I should say, our directors and above. There’s some senior managers wrapped into there, and obviously you have SDRs and those that live underneath those decision makers. But this goes back to the point that I was mentioning before. When we think about audience and we think about community, you know, we can’t go to market with a community and expect everybody to latch onto it.

If we approach it in a very generic manner, we need to think about, okay, we have this audience and we know that this community can, community can . Engage and entertain them, but how do we carve out aspects of a community experience that appeals to each of those? Because each of those different revenue generating team and team members are gonna have different passion points.

There’s different reasons for them to want to belong to something, especially when we also kind of layer on top of that customers who know and hopefully love ZoomInfo and those that have the perceptions that you and I have out there in the market that are skewed. Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, it’s, and it’s interesting ’cause I did just see this like take over my, like LinkedIn last week or Yeah, it was last week where they, uh, had all like their like customers or a lot of their customers on like, uh, times Square Billboards in, in New York.

And I thought that was like super interesting ’cause I was like, . Hey, I, I recognize these people from like LinkedIn. Um, plus I saw that they just did at, at the F one race in Las Vegas. They had a really cool like billboard and like, think about, I mean, obviously all the celebrities, the amount of people that were there.

Super cool. So again, you know, I agree. I think that. You know, there’s, there’s ways to, to think about this that go way beyond, you know, sales. There’s the enablement side, there’s the marketing. Like you just have to think about like how this is going to be for revenue teams, revenue driving teams, go to market teams.

Um, and so I think, like when I think about the, the problem that we’re solving for this audience. It’s more so that we want to be able to achieve these things and think about it as an ecosystem play. And so like, you know, there’s a ZoomInfo kind of community right now, but there’s a way to build an activate existing members.

There’s an education component of it. There’s a strategy that supports implementation that drives not only . The online component, which is really, really big. But let’s be honest, there’s a huge in-person component of it too. So ecosystem, which again, people first like, that’s Mark and I like, that’s our whole mindset.

It’s like you have all the go to market pieces within this people first mindset, but the overarching theme ties back to going to market with people like the ecosystem, the partnerships. Yeah, and I think as we start to think about, you know, well, when we, when we historically on this show have talked about triggering events, we’ve approached triggering events through the capacity of, okay, what’s gonna trigger me as a customer or consumer to look for the end product or service or offering that our featured brand is, is bringing to the table.

This one’s a little bit unique in the fact that what’s my triggering event, not so much for ZoomInfo, but what’s my triggering event for ? Finding a community that ZoomInfo is hopefully building to supports my problems, my pains, my needs, my wants and di my desires. Because in my mind, when we think about the different team members of those revenue generating, you know, business units, I’m gonna have a very different passion and pain point, most likely in sales than I will in marketing.

So what are the things that are gonna make me latch onto, Hey, I want to be the best sales person out there. Maybe I, I want to . Nail my quotas. Maybe I want to, you know, rack up the commissions, right? My own personal ambitions that are out there and my trigger events is, okay, well what is the, what are the areas of opportunity that are gonna allow me to do that?

And on the marketing side of things, well, we are hit with different targets. We’re hit with different quotas. We have our own different ambitions here that are tied to revenue, and where am I gonna go to find those? And that’s kind of . The opportunity that exists here then too for ZoomInfo, is how do you create a community that appeals to each of those different, uh, you know, interests, needs, wants, and desires?

But that’s a triggering event for me is like, where am I going to go find this information? Because there’s so much noise out there. I mean, you and I scroll through at LinkedIn feeds every day and it’s like, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s the Charlie Brown teacher just all echoing off the walls every single time.

A hundred percent. Well, and that’s like another thing. It’s like, for me again, like I think the, the sales driven triggering events obviously makes a ton of sense, but like, I think there’s a huge, like, undervalued piece here and it’s like the ABM component of it. Um, and I think like that could be obviously every, I mean, if you talk to every

Marketing leaders, CEO founder out there, everyone thinks they should be going all in on ABM and like, we gotta go do direct mail, we gotta go email these people with useless unpersonalized things. But like, there’s better ways to do it using intent and there’s, you know, ways to be able to take databases for outbound purposes specifically.

So I think, um, I think, you know, why don’t we dive into some of the strategies for revenue generating community building. So you as the community guy, the first point of discussion I wanna bring up here is, it’s one thing to build a community, it’s another thing to sustain it. So I would love to kind of get your input and opinion here over your tenure of years, right?

Yeah. You know, maybe lean on club pf as an example here, but how do you approach those two different things? You know, in a strategic way. You know, it’s funny ’cause what Mark and I, we were doing our 2024 offsite planning yesterday and a big piece of it was like club pf because we saw a ton of success with it early on.

And you know, it’s plateaued a little bit. It’s like, how do you sustain it? How do you 10 x you know. Engagement. How do you 10 x membership growth, how do you 10 x revenue revenue from like a Monet monetization standpoint, how do you 10 x like the advocacy behind it. Um, and so those are like all questions that we’re trying to figure out right now that it goes into sustaining it.

And I mean, we’ve, we’re fortunate where we brought, uh, someone on board to help us get to that point because again, it, it’s a bandwidth thing if you don’t have the resources and if you don’t have the capabilities to be able to, uh, grow it is one thing, like yeah, like Mark and I . Grow it, but like it’s at a point now where it’s a lot of like one-to-one combat.

Um, to be able to continue to get these people to evangelize on your behalf, which is again, what I think like ZoomInfo really needs to do is like lean on that one-to-one side of it. Um. I think that will get us to kind of like that next, next pillar point there. But it’s like, hey, you have to use your resources in a smart way.

And, and again, if your strengths or weaknesses are a certain area, sometimes you need to kind of get off of that and like realize, hey, who can help you get to that point. And sustaining is very different than originally building. Um. Because you can sustain something. I mean, some people just get lucky.

They catch a wave. Think about like all these like communities from like, you know, the pandemic. They caught a huge wave, but are they sustaining it, you know, three years later or so? Um, I’d argue that some of them are struggling hard. Obviously there’s some that are still, you know, going out there, but it goes into membership tier and what’s, you know, what’s the value for the members?

Is there a strategic narrative and positioning that you can use? Um, so those are kind of just some of the things I think of when I think of like building versus sustaining. So for that initial build phase for ZoomInfo, do you feel like it’s more important to go after customers? Before non-customers. I mean, that’s kind of a leading question there, but Go ahead,

Yeah, I mean, I, I, I definitely, yeah, I, I definitely think so. For sure. It’s like you have to, you have to kind of analyze their current, like the current ZoomInfo customer. Mm-Hmm. . What’s the target persona behaviors, the needs, the preferences, because that’s gonna guide the community building efforts. It’s gonna establish a unique POV for them.

And the only way to do this. Is to conduct research and produce an analysis of those results. And when you think about it, it’s like, uh, I know we’re gonna get into kind of like a measurement because I think that’s another big piece of it. But I mean, I’ve built, I built, uh, the initial community at Cleary years ago, and it was very much like, I was like, oh, let’s just go after prospects and customers, but

After doing a lot of research, a lot of conversations, it made way more sense to go down the customer path first, establish that best practices, map it all out before even going down the, the, the prospect side, because that can get super messy. Um, and if you don’t have the right people that are ambassadors on your behalf.

It can get, it can get really tough and things can get outta control quick. Well, I also feel like the customer first mindset here also, it allows you to not stray too far away from talking about ZoomInfo. I. Right. You still wanna focus on them as people and their pains and needs and things like that.

Don’t get me wrong, but like when you’re developing content then, and the unique POV and unique value that you’re creating within the community, it’s probably a little bit easier because only one degree separation versus a non-customer where you don’t want it to be feeling like a, a pitch or a cell in anything that you put out there.

Like club pf is a good example here in your masterclasses because you’re delivering value, because you’re allowing the members to be better . Marketers and demand gen people and everything else. And I think the same mindset can be applied here, where customers are gonna give you the insight as to what they’re dealing with as people, which then you can then extrapolate into the perspective ICPs the niches that you have to be playing in with the different ZoomInfo, you know, marketing versus sales oss, right?

And it allows you to create not just a flywheel of . Referrals and word of mouth membership growth, hopefully, but it creates a flywheel of content development and content strategy that is the value add that’s going to ultimately scale the community. A hundred percent. And I mean, I think of like, again, like the whole concept of this show is like integrated revenue campaigns.

It’s like how can you create an integrated revenue campaign that’s focused on community? I think it’s really three things. If you think about it, it’s you need to build the integrated revenue campaigns that align to events and community programs, because that’s gonna drive both new and expansion pipeline.

I know we’re getting into metrics and all that stuff, but just some high level stuff here. Second piece is you have to identify the themes. And again, if you’re not, if you’re a marketer that’s not using themes or your company’s not using themes, like whether you do it on a quarterly basis, first half, second half, whatever, like there’s gotta be big rocks.

There’s gotta be themes that you have. So identify those themes for the campaigns that brings Zoom info’s, POV, in their core positioning. Into the minds of the right buyers and customers. Hugely important. The third piece is how do you create a plan for targeted programs for each campaign that really focus on the community building and the engagement for specific audiences?

Because if I’m a salesperson versus a marketer, we’re gonna care about different things. If I’m a founder versus an ic. Again, very different things. So all of that engagement, all of that, like . It has to be tailored. And again, going back to like the overall theme, there has to be sub themes that fall, fall below it, but tie into the end goal, which is really like everything needs to be focused around community led.

Do you ever, have you ever, would you consider putting paid media behind membership growth for a community? It’s funny. I actually , I, I talked about that yesterday. . Um, we, we haven’t, so we haven’t done that yet. Um, I don’t know. . Well, I mean, if your focus is customers, I don’t think I would. I would . Say that’s even worth it.

I mean, as you, I guess I’m talking about scaling when you start, when you wanted to start scaling outside of customers. Yeah. I mean, I could see that, but it’s like, again, if you don’t have a clear delineation of like what the outcome of like the value perception that you’re trying to drive, you’re gonna be wasting money.

At least in my mind, in, in, again, lots of people build communities without any strategy in place. Um, so I think. It could be a channel to explore depending on how much you’re like, again, are they joining this community? Just from an awareness perspective, are you hopefully, obviously gonna grow that into new pipeline?

Um, I think there’s a few things to kind of see, but if your primary KPI is increased engagement and followers, . Like it, it might not be a bad idea, but personally I would probably, instead of using that, use my money to partner with like creators, influencers, um, and have like evangelists contributors, like help them create a wave of engagement on specific days or weeks or whatever to drive that engagement and follower count up.

So I think paid media, and this is just thinking out loud because the next flip of the script here is like, how do you sustain the community? And I think the through line here with paid as a tactic is how do you . Take advantage of FOMO and distribute that feeling through paid media, right? So like events, things that are gonna sustain engagement and entertainment within the community should inherently be used as outward facing Snackables and other distribution content that, Hey, if I’m not part of this community, but I’m seeing this stuff out there and I’m hearing people talk about what the hell, why, why am I not part of this?

And that fear of missing out is like . The through line of not just sustaining the existing membership, but growing it and scaling it at the same time. Right, exactly. Yeah, a hundred percent. Well, and it’s like, how can you even, I, I agree with like those Snackables, because again, like think about like all of the events that you’re doing, both from a virtual, maybe in person component, like you could create like a lot of short clips that drive, like that FOMO component of it.

I mean, we do it for, for club pf as well. It’s like, I mean, we need to do a better job for sure, but it’s like . We see a lot of membership growth. I mean, it’s marginal at best, but like we see membership growth that comes in when we post specific clips of masterclasses. Mm-Hmm. . And I mean, we’ve done, Collin’s done a fantastic job of reaching out to every single member.

Getting a very detailed, kind of like readout of everything. And one of the biggest things that people say they join for is those masterclasses. Now we, we do have ways that we’re gonna make these even better in 2024, um, but. People love to learn from them. And it’s a lot of times things that like, they may know the overall arching theme, but they don’t know the details because it’s, again, the audience is very different.

Um, and some of these kind of topics are things that maybe they haven’t thought about before. See, I think this is, as we start to transition here and we talk about measurement, like you alluded to, I think, you know, the outward facing distribution of Snackables and events and things like that. Also starts to create that through line of integrated revenue campaigns, right?

Where you’re not relying on everybody participating in the community just to be the sole revenue generating source, but all of the . Creation that comes from that community and outward facing conversations, right. I mean, you and I are both part of peak. We’re a couple of other ones where, you know, there’s a camaraderie that’s built and there’s a flywheel of referrals and word of mouth that comes outta that too.

And if you add on top the content and the distribution of that content as well, now you’re creating an integrated revenue campaign that exists outside of community and bleeds throughout all of your operational campaigns as well. Exactly, and I mean, as as big as they are, like that would be fantastic, I’m sure.

But again, I mean, you know, who knows? Maybe there’s silos within the organization that like you just, I mean it, it’s how do you overcome them, which going into the next piece, it’s like, how do you measure success? So like diving into some of these KPIs and like leading indicators, lagging indicators. I mean, I would, Andy, I would love to know your thoughts here, but I feel like one of the big things, and one of the big things that both I’ve looked at for club pf as well as previous communities that I’ve built is growth in overall community engagement.

Yeah. Between ICP prospects, customers, um, but I mean, what, what have you seen or what would you recommend for someone. You have to avoid falling into the trap of measuring communities solely by revenue. Mm-Hmm. . Because to your point, there’s leading indicators, there’s lagging indicators, and any C sweeter that sees you throwing up, you know, oh, well, I’m gonna be asking, well, we’ve started this community six months ago.

What has it done for the business? Well, it’s done this, this, and this. You do have to tie it back to revenue, but you can’t measure yourself solely on revenue. Yeah. Right. You have to look at, okay, I created this thing. What’s our membership like? Not just in raw numbers, but what is the active total participation out of that membership?

If I’m only actively engaging, or only 10% of the membership is actively engaging, I consider that a failure. I’m, I’m sorry, I, I just don’t see it as a successful community at that point, because you’re not creating any motion. Right. So the other thing there is when we think about quality over quantity, well, what is the quality of our membership?

To your point before Nick Mm-Hmm. Like who’s our ICP and are those members? Of the community. Same thing with our customer base. So if we, if our total customer base right, the tam of customers is . You know, 50,000. Well, how many of our customers are members as well, right? How do we slice and keep going to gain a greater market share of our customers minds and hearts?

And then same thing with like our employees. How are we actively engaging our employees and creating advocacy within the community that we’re building and sustaining? Yes, a hundred percent. Yeah. I mean, but I mean, and I, I’m a huge believer of all of those things, which kind of funnels into like that next piece, which is like, how do you improve the ZoomInfo sen sentiment?

Because ultimately, I think like if you can build a solid community that, again, you know, we talked about the, the trap, how, you know, ideas for building and scaling, sustaining. Sentiment should, should go up ideally. I mean, you have like one of the most brilliant minds of, of Henry who’s, who’s the CEO of the company.

You know, Brian, who’s the CMO. Like, it’s, it’s a fantastic team that is really, really smart at what they do. And if you could pull this off successfully, and again, you know. Maybe tie Henry into it and like others, it’s like that sentiment and sentiment and like what people believe and, and see from like ZoomInfo and like how they kind of come across in the market is only gonna go up there.

Is I, I see no way if you do this correctly, that it falls backwards and then that sentiment leads into more opportunities for value ads through events, right? AMAs getting the Zoom info name. And understanding of the full offering out there internally within the community, but externally is more important at that point through that flywheel of word of mouth referrals, external content distribution, because then now you’re starting to connect the dots to this lagging indicator KPIs of how many meetings are you getting booked, right?

Demos, and then ultimately, as you progress down that road, well, what’s the pipeline being created? What are the opportunities? All the sales stages things, and you’re connecting the dots outside of just community metrics, but using the community as a gateway to driving revenue. I. A hundred percent. Yeah, no, I mean, I’m a huge believer of that.

So I think like, I mean, I don’t even know if there’s anything that I would, I would add from like a, like lagging or, or leading indicator standpoint. I think all those are fantastic. And if I had to kind of like wrap this up from kind of like a recap perspective, I think it’s like, listen, it’s, there’s a difference between building and sustaining a community and like having that strategy that ties back to the overall theme is incredibly important.

The other kind of piece there, or takeaway that I would say is like measurement. And again, we talked about like the revenue component, but it’s like how can we increase engagement and followers? How can we increase engagement and improve sentiment? How can we ultimately increase the quality of engagement and improve the sentiment as well?

Um, and so I think, you know, obviously there’s a bunch of things that fall under that, but . ZoomInfo has a success, a big enough team that I think they could support this. And I think that they could see a lot of success to not only continue to build this community, but continue to see revenue across their entire marketing organization that funnels a community led growth approach.

You know, Nick is passionate about something. He starts banging the table as he’s talking , like

Uh, the last takeaway I’m gonna throw in here is like . Give a compelling reason for somebody to join Create value. Mm-Hmm. . If there’s no value, there’s no reason for me to join as a potential member. There’s certainly no reason for me to pay as a membership if it’s a paid premium subscription and then without value constantly being given and generated for me, there’s no reason for me to to remain a member.

And those three kind of things always comes back to value. And then with that value that’s being generated, the outward facing of it is just gonna inherently drive revenue for you. A hundred percent. Love that. Let’s wrap things up. Look at that. This two weeks in a row. We’ve actually made it on time. I feel like we’re getting better at this.

Um, somewhat, somewhat. I guess you can’t get any worse , the next. So again, thank you everyone for spending your time with us. We’re very, very appreciative of that. If you have a campaign that you want to be shown on the show, reach out to Andy and I visit Dragon three First playbook. Our next episode is set for next Tuesday, the 28th at 12:00 PM Eastern.

And listen, we wanna get better at this. We’re, you know, we’re, we’re no pros. We’re, we’re trying to figure it out as we go. I feel like we’re getting better every week. We’re five episodes in now. If you have questions, comments, feedback, reach out to . Myself, Andy, on LinkedIn. We’re nice people. We won’t hurt you.

Um, but until next time, Andy, have a fantastic Thanksgiving. I’ll miss you and we’ll catch you all next week. You guys too. See ya.

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