📖 You Can Now Preorder the Business of Belonging!

Be the first to get the book when it's released on March 23rd.

It’s with boatloads of excitement that I get to finally announce that The Business of Belonging is now officially available for preorder!

You can learn more about the book, and place your orders here!

I can’t tell you all how much your support has meant to me and helped me push through to get this book to the finish line. Thank you to everyone who showed up along the way, for the edits and feedback, and for all the nice messages you’ve sent.

The team is working to make this prelaunch as successful as possible and spread the word, but the success of this book will really come down to all of you and whether or not this book gets into the right hands. I don’t care about getting on a WSJ or NYT list. My goal is simple: get more businesses to successfully invest in and build communities.

Anyone who’s thinking about investing in community at their business, or anyone who needs help getting their community strategy in order… I hope they’ll have this book on their desk.

So I have two asks for those who want to help out:

  1. Order a few copies of the book (if you’re in the position to), one for yourself and a couple to give away to someone who’s interested in learning about community strategy (I’m offering a few limited-time bulk order deals which can find on the website)

  2. Join in the celebration on Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook and tag someone you know who would like this book (maybe with some compliments and emojis around it 📖 ❤️ 🥰 )

That’s all for now. When the book launched on March 23rd, getting lots of good reviews on The Zon is what will move the needle in the biggest way, and it’ll help if you’re already a “verified purchaser”.

The energy around the community industry just keeps building.

…and has felt like it’s hit a fever pitch in the last couple months alone. I never thought I’d see a headline on Techcrunch about the Chief Community Officer being the new CMO. I never thought I’d see multiple VC funds focused on community launch in a year. I never thought I’d see community be one of the most common topics on the hot new social audio platform.

I always believed that community would be the future of business…but to see it come to fruition in such a huge way has been surreal.

I’m feeling lucky. I’ve been working on this book for five years and I think it’s coming out at the perfect time. Published a couple years ago, it would have been too early. Published in a year, it would have missed the wave. I’m hoping that this book will help thousands of businesses do more than just talk about community and have an actual strategy in place for designing their programs, measuring their value, and building massively successful communities.

That will be the biggest challenge for the community industry in the next couple years: avoiding becoming a flash in the pan. Before the world of business looks to the next hot thing, we need to build the systems and tools required to build communities that are indispensable to members AND businesses. I wrote this book to be the guide to help businesses get there. It’s a collection of all the frameworks I’ve developed with the CMX team and all the key insights from the leaders in the CMX community. I really hope you all love it.

Thank you again for all of your support and energy toward the book and the community industry as a whole.

Oh… and you’re all invited to celebrate with us at the official Business of Belonging virtual launch party on March 30th. We’ll be doing book readings, interviews with experts from the book, giveaways, and have some other fun surprises. You can RSVP here.

Here we go!!!

-David

Showing the Receipts

Chief Community Officers, "Community-Driven" Companies, and a Book Jacket Sneak Peek

Hey community builders,

It’s been a couple months since my last newsletter. As a reminder, you’re getting this email because you signed up to be kept in the loop about the presale launch of my upcoming book, The Business of Belonging.

I’m going to be writing here a bit more consistently as we roll up to the release, sharing what I’m seeing and learning in the community space. Thanks for coming along for the ride! If you just want book updates (and a sneak peek at the jacket), scroll to the bottom.

I’ve been having a lot of interesting discussions over the past couple weeks about what it means for a business to be truly “community-driven”, and what community teams need to be successful in the world of business.

The conversation kicked off in part by the release of the 2021 Community Industry Report.

There’s a lot of interesting data this year, which all points to an industry that’s growing really quickly, but also still struggling to get buy-in.

One of the most common questions I get asked is what department community should live in. I believe that community has to be its own department for it to truly be successful. And for it to truly be its own department, it needs to have a C-Level position that it rolls up to. Ideally, a Chief Community Officer.

But right now, only 15% of businesses have a dedicated community department. The rest mostly roll up to marketing and CS.

This explains why community teams still have a big disconnect with leadership expectations, even when leadership “believes” in community.

Yes, community teams are growing and getting more investment. This year 67% of organizations had at least 2 full-time employees on their community team, up from 57% in 2019. 9% have 11 or more full-time employees on their community team, up from 7% in 2019. 88% of organizations have at least one dedicated community manager, up from 71% in 2017.

But quantifying value is still the #1 challenge that community teams face.

There’s a disconnect in the metrics that are being tracked that further explains this challenge.

The top three metrics that community teams are tracking?

  1. Active users

  2. New user/member signups

  3. Conversation engagement

The top three metrics that leadership cares about?

  1. New customers

  2. Customer retention

  3. Active users

So there’s this really interesting dynamic happening in the business world right now where community has become a great word to use in marketing, but in practice, most companies claiming to be “community-driven” are still viewing community through the same exact lens they’ve always looked at their business and customers.

The reality is that yes, community needs to drive growth and retention, and as I talk about in the book, community can do this at a scale never before seen.

But there has to be a new set of expectations around how those results are achieved. For one, timelines need to shift. If you’re investing in community today, I’d recommend giving it 6-12 months before you start to see actual business results. Before that, the community team needs to be razor-focused on building relationships, creating the foundation of community, and serving members’ needs. They need to fill the reservoir before they start pulling from it. Otherwise, it’ll run dry.

This is why a Chief Community Officer position is really important, and until then community teams should roll up into the CEO. Otherwise, community teams will be biased and limited by the department they’re living within, and leadership won’t be aligned with what it takes to truly build a community.

An interesting angle that I haven’t heard before came up for me this week when meeting with our Director of Finance at Bevy. We’re trying to figure out where community sits in the P&L statement for the company. Investors expect everything to fit neatly under marketing, product, CS, operations and a couple other standard buckets. There isn’t a standard bucket for community right now, so investors don’t know how to analyze it.

They need to know what the customer acquisition costs are to determine if the company is on the right track. Community impacts marketing, product, and CS, but as I mentioned, it doesn’t fit entirely under any one of them. So community as a dedicated department isn’t just a strategic challenge, it’s also an accounting challenge.

I’m interviewing Lolita Taub and Jesse Middleton from The Community Fund this week on Masters of Community. I’m planning to ask them how they, as investors, fit community into their financial formula. I’ll report back in the next newsletter.

Let’s keep talking:

This is a conversation I expect to keep having in the coming months as the book rolls out. Can’t wait to get it out into the world and give community teams and business leaders the language and systems they need to truly understand community.

As we get closer to the book release, I’ll be hosting different spaces to join in the conversation. A couple coming up this week:

I’m hosting a Clubhouse discussion about the Chief Community Officer position on Thursday at 12pm. pacific withErik Martin (CCO at Teal), community execs Holly Firestone and Angie Coleman, investor Sarah Drinkwater, and a few other guests TBA. RSVP here if you’d like to join in the discussion.

We’ll also be doing a live webinar of the key findings from the 2021 Community Industry Report and a community AMA on Thursday at 9am pacific. RSVP here to join in and dive into the data together.

Book updates and jacket sneak peek:

We’re in the home stretch! We’ve been finalizing designs, doing final edits on the content, and getting a marketing plan in place. Here’s a sneak peek at the book jacket (still a couple small edits to be made).

Let me know what you think!

The book will be fully released on March 23rd.

Look for an announcement about the presale opening up in the next two weeks. I’ll be sending out a newsletter to all of you with the details.

How you can help:

  • Book website feedback: I have a mockup of my book landing page up but not public yet. If you’d like to take an early look at it and give me feedback, just respond to this email.

  • Podcasts, events and clubhouses: I’m opening up my calendar to do a lot of podcasts, events, and clubhouse chats in the next few months. If there’s something that’s a really great fit for the book, I’d love to add it to my list.

As always, I love to hear from you. Hit reply and let me know what you thought of this email, and what challenges you’re thinking about in the world of community building right now.

Thanks for reading!

A Book by its Cover

I just got the final cover design back from my publisher!

Hey everyone,

You’re getting this email because you signed up to be kept in the loop about my upcoming book, The Business of Belonging.

The list got too long for me to keep in gmail, so I’m switching over to Substack (as one does these days). I’ll use this to keep you all updated on the book publishing process and any thoughts and observations that are top of mind for me in the world of community and business.

So, the first bit of news is that the publisher sent me the final version of the book cover!

We went through a lot of different designs and versions to arrive at this cover. At first I didn’t love it. Then, my wife and I had a baby and the publisher needed an answer so in between poops and naps, I just said “ship it.” It was nice to see such a positive response to the cover on Twitter, I guess we made the right choice.

The publisher also sent me the proofs of the actual content which was really cool to see it looking like a *real* book. I have to go through and edit those proofs now. So… much… editing…

A lot of you have been asking about how you can help. You’ve already helped by showing up and expressing interest in the book. Your energy and support has been incredible and keeps me going on the hard days of the process. And I’ll keep you all updated as we get closer to the release date (preorder in Jan, launch in March).

It’s interesting how things tend to work out when they’re meant to. I’ve wanted to write a book for many years. I wrote two drafts of a book over the past three years and just didn’t do anything with them. I was finally able to write this book because an editor read my article with First Round and reached out to me.

Now I think there couldn’t have been a better time to publish this book. The world of community-driven business has turned a big corner this year. Now, it’s hard to find a brand or startup that *isn’t* investing in community in some way; a stark contrast to the last 10 years where getting a company to put real resources behind their community programs was like pulling teeth.

As we move into 2021, I’m more bullish than ever that community is the future of business. Being “community first”, a value I’m starting to see more companies news, results in a business that’s more scalable and more meaningful. And as brutal as 2020 was, I think it showed companies the true value of community, and what they lose out on when they *can’t* bring their people together.

I’m really excited for what’s ahead. And I can’t wait to share this book with the world, as it’s truly a collection of everything I’ve learned in 10 years of learning from incredible community leaders and building community.

I’d love to hear from all of you. As we move into the new year, what are your predictions about the future of community-driven business? Hit reply and let me know.

Wishing you all a very warm holiday season for those of you celebrating, and a happy new year.

2021 baby, let’s do this!

-David

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