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Keeping promises is critical to community-led growth

"A brand promise is the foundation of any community relationship. It's the foundation of trust and loyalty." Scott Cook, Co-Founder of Intuit, originally said this, he used customer instead of community.  For me, the value of brand promises is just as important in a community as it is with customers.

Brand promises are critical to community-led growth.  They are the foundation of relationships that are formed.  The more people relate to them, the more likely they are to participate in the community. 

“No vendor pitches” was one of our first brand promises to our All Day DevOps (ADDO) community. This meant “no vendor pitches” leading up to, during, and after the community conference. The promise was critical to convincing the community to buy into our offer. 

The promise quickly explained: “we’re in this for you, not for us.”

The CMO Coffee Talk community made a similar promise: “no vendor pitches in the First Sip Club.” The organizers, 6sense and Heinz Marketing, were making me and other CMOs a brand promise that they were investing time to make us better, not for the opportunity to build a lead funnel and attempt to sell us their products or services inside the community forum.

Community-led promises help attract people to your cause. We made three core promises for ADDO: free, online, and no vendor pitches. Each of the promises attracted people to engage. When they experienced what the community offered, they stayed. Many invited others to participate, recognizing it as a safe and trusted community brand.

Over six years, we evolved the community and its conference in many ways - always catering to community members' wants. Over that same period, our commitment to the three core promises never changed, and our community rewarded us. Annual surveys revealed the overwhelming majority of our community participants were satisfied with their experience, and nearly all of them were highly likely to continue or deepen their participation.

One simple way to think about keeping your promises is to put yourself in the shoes of one of your community members. Ask yourself if that community member would send the email, promote the roadshow, or share news about a new product feature. If the answer is no, stick to your community promise. Shift the email back into the product-led orbit where it is expected. Second chances in a community are hard to come by.