As you could previously read, the best thing a business system or a marketer can have these days is a niche community dedicated to the idea, product or a service that you’re selling. The reason being that if you have a product that works with that audience, anywhere you “throw it” inside the community, it’s gonna pick up traction. The Internet has made it possible to make very narrowly specialized communities that have members in tens and hundreds of thousands. All it takes is a little time and a lot of knowledge.
Of course, one of the most important goals of any project like that is to monetize it and make money, and doing so can be difficult if your initial reason for making it wasn’t money. That was exactly the case with us building the biggest Model United Nations community in the world. But starting from a clear zero has given us an intimate insight into every single step you need to take in order to build, sustain and grow a community, and that experience has taught us a lot about a business model we’re using for making it profitable now.
So what has building a niche community taught us about conference marketing?
The community will tell you what it wants: members of the community know exactly what they want, and they are telling it to you each day, one way or another. Follow what they are searching for, what they are writing about, asking and commenting, and you will have the best possible insight in what they want. For us it took time to differentiate and realize that our members are looking for fully-funded and funded opportunities for conferences, learning programs and internships, but once we realized this, we were ready for the next phase.
Building the strategy: Once we interpreted what our community was telling us, and realized what it actually is that they want from you, you have to find a way to sell it to them. Building a strategy of what, how and who are you going to sell to is an essential part of achieving a successful business model.
Creating the process: The business process is the materialization of your Strategy. The moment in which we realized what and how are we going to sell we had to map out the entire process. We had to decide who are our clients, to whom do we communicate our offer, what our offer consists of, how are we going to execute it, what results they can expect, and of course what differentiates us from other guys out there offering them the same thing. We needed to have everything mapped out and covered - from the first email we send to our clients (the conference organizers) to the second and third and the ninth email, every pitch for every call all the way to our final goal that we wanted to achieve.
You can’t fool the community: Never try to accommodate your clients at the expense of your community. People often make mistakes by giving the community, or worse - imposing upon it, the stuff it is not interested in. You can not fool people into liking and wanting something they do not like and want. It’s much easier to find new clients than to regain the trust and repair the broken relations inside the community. The community, not the clients, are your biggest asset. Never forget that. Thus you always need to find an equilibrium between making clients happy and at the same time keeping your members satisfied. But if you ever have to choose - choose the latter.
It’s not just the “what” you give it’s the “how” - our community is used to certain standards when it comes to what they can see or read on our platform. And even if you are giving them something they want and need, it should be arranged in a way that they are used to and that they appreciate. When promoting events and learning programs we try to maintain the academic level, the form and the wording we use for all other activities on the platform. That means that every one of our clients gets the same professional representation on our platform, regardless of the product he’s promoting or the package he’s purchased. Our standardization of content means that our community always knows what it’s getting, and in return we get a steady positive feedback and recommendations from them.
Create a brand: If there is one important thing my CEO at MUNPlanet has taught me it’s that consistency in being good will always bring results eventually. Basically it all comes down to this: If you have a good product or service, all you need to do is maintain the high standard of operations and eventually it will show results. That kind of business logic has gotten us to having a 70k strong community with members from every country in the world. By constantly producing and encouraging members to produce high-quality content relevant to the community interests, we’ve created a brand so strong that all of the relevant people around the world in the MUN world know who we are, even those who aren’t members of our community. To our clients, conference and learning program organizers, that means that their name is connected with a brand that their target audience trusts, which brings themselves more credibility and brand exposure.