Decoding Community Part 2: Scaling a Community with Max Altschuler
The GTM Newsletter
This week we’re continuing our Decoding Community series with Max Altschuler.
This is Part 2 of 4.
If you missed last week, it makes sense to go back and read ‘starting a community’ as each edition will build off of the last.
Completely unrelated: I’m heading to Bali next month and could use all the insider tips/tricks and recommendations - send em’ my way ☀️
And now that I’m in the Bali state-of-mind, here’s a beachy tune to enjoy on this *hopefully* sunny weekend.
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Anyway, let’s get into it.
We’re officially running a GTMfund Giveaway: Share your favourite piece of our content (Newsletter or Podcast) and you’ll be entered to win a pair of exclusive GTMfund Airpod Pro’s.
Growing / Scaling a Community (Part 2 of 4)
As you scale, it’s important to crystallize and relay your mission to the audience you’ve built. Get them to internalize it. Make them champions of the role they play, and in turn, the community powering it.
Category creation really helped niche SaaS communities, as it created new titles. New titles make people tribal. They rally around being in the group together. HR functions were broken out into niche categories like Total Rewards. Now there are people with the title, VP of Total Rewards. Those people create a tribe around that title and identity!
Same for all the areas of sales like Sales Development, Sales Enablement, Sales Operations, Account Executives, Customer Success, Solutions Consulting, etc, etc, etc. Each individual operation becoming a category of technological innovation and adoption.
Growing communities ultimately can get a bit complicated when you want to optimize for revenue but also keep everything authentic. It’s important to balance and align growth with quality control. Incentives are tricky when you want to make more money but don’t want to destroy the value of what you’ve built.
The key is to get really disciplined about what moves the needle versus what’s a flash in the pan. Focus on needle-moving, scalable growth, and ditch the rest. Often times communities want to spin up new products or courses to sell to their members to drive growth. However, the simplest and easiest way to scale may be just to grow the base. Forget about new programs. Just scale what you currently have and keep making it better over time.
More programs may equal more money but also more headaches and more overhead. Keeping it simple and scaling the number of users or paid customers, not the number of programs, provides a great bootstrap-able business and allows you opportunities further down the road.
Define what’s free versus what’s paid for your audience as clearly as you possibly can. As you stay disciplined about your programs, do the same for your pricing. What is free and what is premium? Are there company bundles or licenses you can sell similar to an enterprise sales motion? That’s the easier way to scale.
For growth, invest in content and SEO early. These are sustainable, cheap, and compound over time. Unlike PR, paid posts, etc that may provide a one-time pop but fizzle out immediately after. Repackage and repurpose content from in-person and online events across all platforms. A/B test to see what works best - especially in titles and ads. This helps to tell you which platforms work best too. Some communities may have members on TikTok. Others may be on LinkedIn. It’s up to you to figure out what works for your audience as there are no silver bullets here.
When it comes to hiring for these bootstrapped communities, I like to hire stretch folks. Folks who are hungry, want their first win, and will figure it out on the fly. Folks who did a sliver of the job in another company, but have the potential to take on more. I think you get more bang for your buck here. Likely, you end up competing too much with venture-backed SaaS companies if you try to hire folks that have an elite pedigree. You won’t win that battle.
One game-changer for us is that we hired a team overseas. Talent is much cheaper for marketing and admin roles. Some things I looked for when hiring overseas were in India there was a program called, IEEE. It’s a volunteer program and a lot of the people in it are college students that are fluent in English. In the Philippines, many admins we found through services like TaskUs and Upwork were nurses in previous careers.
These days, you can probably use GPT to do marketing and admin tasks.
Do more with less.
👀 More for your eyeballs:
Great article. “There is an unusually active cluster in the network of your customers. Find it, focus on it, and it will be a growth bomb for your startup.”
👂 More for your eardrums:
We sat down with the CRO of Vanta this week, Stevie Case👏. Stevie brings over 20 years of sales and business development experience to the role, most recently serving as Vice President of Mid-Market Sales at Twilio, running a $425 million business for the market-leading cloud communications platform.
🚀 Start-ups to watch:
Rishi Singh and SapientAI recently raised $5M in seed funding and just announced their new launch: the industry's first generative AI-powered Test Coder with contextual insights and code intelligence 🤖 Check em out👇
🔥Hottest GTM job of the week:
West Coast Strategic AE with Atlan, more details here.
Check out more of our top GTM jobs here 👊
I’ll leave you with some recent words from Bill Gates:
"There is more to life than work. When I was your age, I didn't believe in vacations. I didn't believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours. I’ve learned now that you are not a slacker if you cut yourself some slack."
"Don't wait as long as I did to learn this lesson," Gates said. "Take time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses. Take a break when you need to. Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too."
Go all in, get obsessed, push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of but I think his words are a good reminder of what’s actually important.
With that, go enjoy your weekend.