I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site. Robert is also the author of “Retention Point“, which I highly recommend. He previously shared the topic of “The New Customers Experience” on my blog. Today, he is sharing the topic of “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.
Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company
What if you had 45 percent of the available customers within your market?
The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund.
You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. Since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success.
The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead, we were known as “Vanguard Diehards.”
While I pursued my master’s degree in accountancy from Florida State University, I wrote a paper about index fund investing. Mind you, this was during the big recession of 1990-1992. Through my research, I discovered that fewer than 30 percent of the professionally managed mutual fund companies beat the S&P 500 index in any one year. And a much smaller percentage could beat the index over a period of five or 10 years.
I figured if full-time professionals couldn’t consistently beat the S&P 500 index, why should I believe I could pick stocks any better working part-time? I became a believer in index fund investing and have stuck with it ever since. Of the index funds, The Vanguard Group is consistently the least expensive, so I’ve been squirreling away my savings there ever since.
Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, passed away in January 2019 at the age of 89 years old.
As the founder and while CEO of Vanguard, Jack was an avid promoter of index fund investing. He was an outspoken critic of high-fee mutual funds and “financial buccaneers offering a panoply of silly investment strategies that people may not understand.”
Jack Bogle created thousands of fans. One of them started a membership site called Bogleheads.org. It’s grown to have an annual meeting with appearances by The Vanguard Group executives, a field trip to Vanguard headquarters, and featured speakers from the world of personal finance.
You may have different opinions with regard to investing. You may be a financial advisor who offers investment vehicles that directly conflict with what’s published on Bogleheads.org. However, see Bogleheads.org is an excellent case study on how you can create a vibrant community around your company, no matter what you offer.
Within the “Start here” menu, Bogleheads.org outlines the investment philosophy first promoted by Jack Bogle during the 1980s. This gets new members caught up on the values of the Boglehead community. In a word, it indoctrinates them. This is a critical piece that’s missing from most information marketing businesses.
Bogleheads.org gives its members valuable information (ROI), a connection to a community of like-minded people, an opportunity to contribute by posting content, recognition for being helpful to other members, and an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.
Even though the site has a dated design and the founder of the philosophy has passed away there are still thousands of active users every day.
Plus, for Vanguard, it insulates its members against all the conflicting investment offers within the marketplace. The community helps customers believe the single best investment option is low expense mutual funds. The same low-cost mutual funds Vanguard happens to specialize in delivering.
What if you had a community indoctrinating new customers into believing the products and services you offer are indeed the best solutions to your customers’ problems? Perhaps like Vanguard, you could own 45% or more of your market?
It all starts with your core values. BNI’s core values are Givers Gain®, Building Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Traditions + Innovation, Positive Attitude, Accountability, and Recognition. When BNI members experience the power these values have within their business life they become excited members for life.
What are the core values of your company?
For The Vanguard Group, Jack Bogle had to convince investors that index funds were the smarter way to invest. What must your customers believe and how should they behave to get the most value from what you deliver?
This may be an “advanced” marketing skill. But when it’s complete, it can give you a fast-growing world-wide business that leaves competitors scrambling for second place.
Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.