October 31, 2023

The Power of Community-First Models in Business

At the SVRN and Forward Female Social Tea Party this past weekend, the spotlight wasn't on tea but on a topic more intoxicating: the transformational power of community-centric business models.

The Power of Community-First Models in Business

Business paradigms are shifting dramatically, and there's a leading strategy that will dominate as we move into 2024: the Community-First model. It's not just another tactic; it's the cornerstone of modern business success.

Forget about traditional sales funnels that prioritize profit over people. Community-First models are redefining business growth by placing trust and human connections at the forefront. Monetization follows naturally, as genuine relationships pave the way for diverse revenue streams.

This past weekend, SVRN joined forces with Forward Female at a Social Tea Party. The primary agenda? Illuminating the undeniable power of community-centric business models and their role in transformative growth.

The Community-First Approach

It's time to face the undeniable truth: community isn’t an addition—it's the core. As we strategize for 2024, if community isn't at the heart of your business, you're setting up for mediocrity.

Community is the most important thing that all businesses should be thinking about as they're going into their 2024 strategies, according to Priscilla Presley, the CEO and visionary leader behind Forward Female. 

Priscilla underscores that community is no longer a peripheral element but a central pillar of successful business strategies, regardless whether those businesses are service based or product based. 

She defines community as an audience base that enjoys a deeper and more authentic relationship with the brand and with each other, with alignment around values and shared goals.

Most businesses prioritize products, services, and revenues as the focal points, often at the expense of more meaningful and lasting relationships with customers. But when businesses are able to build real trust, it opens up lots of possibilities and allows businesses to lean into a greater variety of revenue streams by serving different aspects of their community. 

In the post-COVID era, where virtual interactions and AI proliferate, fostering in-person community is even more critical. While many businesses still concentrate on growing their Instagram following or expanding their client base, Priscilla believes we are entering an era where people deeply appreciate and value in-person connection more than ever.

Cross-Community Collaboration for Business Marketing and Growth

Community is also a powerful marketing mechanism, allowing businesses to grow faster. Cross collaboration with other communities, as evidenced by SVRN’s recent co-hosted experience with the Forward Female community, is a great way to expand your own community and develop opportunities.

At SVRN, we believe in win-win opportunities and like to collaborate with other communities to cross-pollinate networks, mutually generate business, and bring new ideas to the table. This creates value for our members, our business, and our partner’s business. When everyone maintains a positive-sum mindset within the ecosystem, everyone succeeds.

The Shift Towards Trust-Driven Marketing and Relationship-Based Sales

We’re entering an era of trust-driven marketing and relationship-based sales. These approaches are based on human connection, rather than just content, inbound, and funnel strategies. The real relationship with the audience is key in today’s market.

If your business isn’t evolving towards trust-driven marketing and relationship-based sales, you will not be able to compete in the new market landscape. This is an imperative. Trust isn’t a nice-to-have—it's the very currency of modern business.

Recommendations and referrals from trusted sources and intimate in-person experiences for  audiences is the new dominant strategy in marketing. When people proactively build trust within a network and connect on a human level, business flows much more smoothly.

When we first started SVRN, "The Fourth Turning" book was a major source of inspiration. It explored cyclical patterns in society and predicted social behaviors in relation to economic factors. It showed us  that we are moving into a period with increased demand for intimate, tribe-like communities and experiences. 

As a response, we have embraced the community-first model with a focus on building genuine human connections. By building immersive, close-knit communities, we can offer our members a more profound and valuable experience than what is currently on the market.

A Blueprint for Building Communities and Overcoming Challenges

Once we recognized the importance of this community-first model, the mission became building a community with deep intention and attention to detail. Anyone can put people in a room and offer an open bar, but we wanted to explore the science behind connection and emotion, and build an ecosystem that is simultaneously socially fulfilling and professionally productive.

“The Art of Community” gave us a very clear blueprint on how to build community in respect to brand, experience, emotional impact, and energy. The book outlined every detail about how to build a truly immersive experience.

One key takeaway is to consider how every decision and action is intended to make someone feel. How can we  impact our members on a fundamental level in terms of physical health, mental health, intellect, and happiness? These are the core values that we strive to deliver to the community.

By focusing on genuine connections and nurturing a sense of belonging, you're not just building a community—you're laying the groundwork for sustained success and growth. This is the future, and those who recognize and adapt to it will lead the way.

Using Communities to Identify Problems and Gaps in Target Demographics 

For Forward Female, a community-first model is not just an option; it's the bedrock of their approach to empowering female entrepreneurs.

According to Lauren Cheek, co-founder of Female Forward, the community-first approach has been helpful as it has allowed them to hear about problems and gaps that their target audience is experiencing. Forward Female's journey in community building has been a response to the challenges faced by women in business, particularly overwhelm and loneliness. Their agency addresses the former and their community solves the latter. 

Utilizing the community-first model has allowed Forward Female to capitalize on trends and heighten discussions that are particularly pertinent to their demographic. They recognized that their demographic needs more than just a single rally or conference; they need consistency. 

Forward Female has evolved over time, recognizing that successful communities are dynamic entities that adapt to the changing needs of their members. Their approach prioritizes personalization and the creation of collective gatherings. This adaptive approach ensures that their community remains relevant and continues to address the evolving challenges faced by female entrepreneurs.

Lessons Learned from SVRN and Forward Female

Business growth isn't about passive strategies. It demands proactive cross-community collaborations. SVRN’s partnership with Forward Female epitomizes this: merging communities to foster new opportunities, ideas, and growth.

As we step into 2024, the lessons from these community-first models are clear. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy; it involves understanding societal shifts, recognizing unique audience needs, and crafting a community experience that resonates with those needs. Success in the future hinges on community, trust, and connection, serving as the pillars of thriving businesses in a community-first world.

When leveraging the community-based business model, there are two potential orders of operations. One route is to start with an offer and build a community as a marketing strategy to sell that offer. The other is to build a community first, and then figure out how to monetize the audience with various products and services. SVRN and Forward Female have taken the latter approach of building community first, knowing that by organizing a powerful network and strengthening trust within it, we will find ways to create win-win outcomes for us and our members.

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