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Strategy | Community Building with Greg Isenberg

3 Jun 2024
Strategy | Community Building with Greg Isenberg

Show Notes

Dave is joined by Greg Isenberg. Greg is the CEO & Co-Founder of Late Checkout. Greg has started and sold 3 companies in the community space and has now invested in 50+ community-based businesses.

They discuss

  • Why you need to build an engaged community before a paid membership
  • The importance of niching down 
  • The difference between audience and community
  • The tribe framework
  • Personal brand and community performance


  • () - - Intro
  • () - - Building a Community on Patreon
  • () - - The Power of Niche Communities
  • () - - From Facebook Group to Profitable Membership
  • () - - The Impact of Exclusive Communities on Social Media
  • () - - The Illusion of Social Media Engagement
  • () - - Building a Personal Brand for Business
  • () - - Nurturing a Successful Community Within a Company
  • () - - Community Monetization: Pricing and Value in B2B Memberships
  • () - - The Dangers of Free Services
  • () - - Transformation of Twitter
  • () - - Navigating Social Media Engagement
  • () - - Exploring New Frameworks and Community Engagement

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Dave Gerhardt [00:00:00]:
1234. Exit.

Greg Isenberg [00:00:08]:

Greg Isenberg [00:00:12]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:15]:
All right, Greg is here. Greg is the founder and CEO of an interesting company called Late Checkout. They start and incubate a bunch of communities all across the world. I know that now because we just spent twelve minutes talking and this damn thing didn't record, which we've all been there before. But I'll just give people the quick summary. So you run your company's called late Checkout.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:37]:
Eight figures in revenue, 100 team members.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:40]:
Across all those businesses in your career, you've started well. You've now invested in 50 plus community based businesses. You've started and sold three companies, and you define yourself as a one trick.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:53]:
Pony in the community space, which I love.

Dave Gerhardt [00:00:56]:
And I'm excited to talk to you about community today. So before we got kicked out of our other thing, now that we're live for everybody that's going to be listening to this, you were giving me a definition of community. And is your definition of community, does that mean, like, it has to be like, behind a paywall, logged, like, logged into some site, or can I think of community? Do you see community building as. I could have an Instagram account with a lot of followers or an email list.

Greg Isenberg [00:01:23]:
Yeah. So I think the mistake a lot of people make is they think of.

Greg Isenberg [00:01:28]:
An Instagram page as a community and it's just not necessarily the case. Because if you stop posting on that Instagram page 2345 months down the road, there's just going to be no engagement. That, to me, is not a community, that's an audience.

Greg Isenberg [00:01:43]:
And I build my businesses with the.

Greg Isenberg [00:01:47]:
Same funnel in mind. I call it the ACP funnel. Audience. A for audience, c for community, and then p for product. So for me, an audience is very different than a community. And I define a community using this framework that I came up with just so I can stay sane during the days. It's called the tribe framework.

Greg Isenberg [00:02:11]:
And, you know, t, you can tell.

Greg Isenberg [00:02:14]:
I'm a framework guy. ACP framework leads to tribe framework. So, you know, t stands for togetherness, r stands for rituals, I stands for member identity. You need to have a member, you know, an identity, b stands for belonging, and e stands for engagement. So all those ingredients really need to.

Greg Isenberg [00:02:37]:
Exist in order for it to be a true community.

Greg Isenberg [00:02:41]:
So to your point, it's like, does it have to be under our paywall or, you know, not necessarily. It could be free as long as it has those things. But that, to me, helps me when I'm creating anything new, or I'm looking at buying a new business, or I'm looking at investing the way I know it's a community is via that framework.

Greg Isenberg [00:03:00]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:00]:
So I love this audience. So basically, just distinguishing audience versus community is really important here because I think a lot of people might have an audience, but they haven't built a community. However, having an audience can give you an advantage in building a community. Right? Somebody like Justin Welsh. You know Justin Welsh, right? Like, he built a big following on social media and then decided to, with his latest product, launch a community. Much easier for him to do that. Or when I started exit five as an example, I get emails from people all the time, hey, I'm starting, I'm thinking about starting a community. Like, how did you grow this thing? And I hate answering this question because.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:37]:
I wish I had, like a, an.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:38]:
Answer, but the answer was, Greg was like, I had a bunch of followers on another platform and I had already basically tested all of my ideas and content on that platform based on the response. This was on LinkedIn, specifically based on the response to the LinkedIn content. I was like, huh, there's something here. I don't want to just build an email list. I actually want to try to build a community. And so the first thing I did was on Patreon. And so the, how I got initial, initially, how I got members was I posted about it, I told people that it existed, and that got me the first 100, 200, 300 members. And then from there we just kept feeding it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:13]:
So can you set out to build a community without the audience? Or would you want someone to, like, should you not go and focus on building a community until you have an audience? Do you have any advice for the cold start, like zero community place?

Greg Isenberg [00:04:27]:
So first of all, this ACP funnel.

Greg Isenberg [00:04:31]:
Like, if you're listening to this, like, drill this in your brain, because once you see it, you will see it everywhere and it will change the way you actually think about how you launch social, how you launch community, and how you launch products.

Greg Isenberg [00:04:46]:
So if I'm creating something new, to.

Greg Isenberg [00:04:49]:
Me, I always start with the audience. I always start with, okay, let me go on a rented platform. Let me go and create content that's niche, that is going to get shared with that group of people.

Greg Isenberg [00:05:03]:
And let me get to a place.

Greg Isenberg [00:05:05]:
Where I'm very credible that if, you know, I always have the number in the head, 10,000 followers, I need 10,000 followers. And once I have 10,000 followers, then what my next goal is, what I usually do is I say, okay, how do I get the most hardcore of those 10,000 followers? Maybe that's 100 people, 50 people into a community. And generally the tactic I use to get them into the community is I make it waitlist only and private could be free, by the way. And I do that because it creates scarcity. So I basically say, like, let's say I created a AI community, let's say.

Greg Isenberg [00:05:48]:
AI for marketers or something.

Greg Isenberg [00:05:51]:
I would create that Twitter account, let's say, or Instagram page, wait till it gets 10,000 followers, and then say, hey, I would have to figure out what their pain point is, because the key of success of a great community is a transition and growth period. You can't just create a community for the sake of community. They have to come in and get from point a to point b. So I have to be very clear on what that is. And then I make it invite only, and I make it wait list because scarcity drives human behavior. And my favorite quote on this is an Andy Warhol quote, which he says.

Greg Isenberg [00:06:28]:
Studio 54 is a dictatorship at the.

Greg Isenberg [00:06:32]:
Door, but a democracy on the dance floor. So.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:38]:
I love that.

Greg Isenberg [00:06:39]:
Yeah, that's basically, like, how I design all my communities to start.

Greg Isenberg [00:06:43]:
Like, I make it picture, like, velvet row bouncer.

Greg Isenberg [00:06:48]:
And I hate that. I hate being exclusionary, but it just so happens to work. And then once you get in, it's absolutely a democracy.

Greg Isenberg [00:06:56]:
Well, I think, like, but why you're.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:57]:
Making that exclusionary is not just, it's not like a fake marketing tactic. It does create scarcity. It does create fomo. But I also think there's something to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:06]:
What you said, which is to really nailing it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:09]:
I think it's important to have people be in there and be active before you really want to drive more people in there. And so to start with, some small group of people, even if you have 10,000 followers, you niche down and you create some community. We're only going to let in 50 people right now. I think there is value to being like, I'm just going to go three months with 50 people in here to really figure that out. Because, man, I've learned so much about what to create through the community. I mean, you've spent your whole career in this space, but it is such an incredible playbook. And I want to say, like, almost cheat code, because it's like, hey, what should we do? Like, I'll give you an example. We're doing our first in person event for exit five in the fall.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:50]:
We're sourcing everything from the community. Like, who do you want to speak? What do you want them to talk about? What would the ideal day look like we're not just going to blindly go do everything. I think we have to have some intuition of our own, but they help tell you what to go and do. And so if you want to get to from 50 to 500, you're going to need to really lean on those 1st 50 members or 50 people in your community to get there.

Greg Isenberg [00:08:13]:

Greg Isenberg [00:08:13]:
And I think that for anyone building a business, forget the fact that you.

Greg Isenberg [00:08:18]:
Can build a community and slap on millions of dollars of ARR a year.

Greg Isenberg [00:08:23]:
Forget the fact that you can do that. The level of clarity that you get from having 50 people in an active community telling you what they want, even.

Greg Isenberg [00:08:34]:
In b two b, is you can't.

Greg Isenberg [00:08:38]:
Put a price on that. It's priceless.

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:40]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:40]:
I think in b two b it's especially interesting because you don't have to be. I think it was you that said this to me or you were quoting somebody else, but you said basically, if.

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:52]:
You have 100,000 followers in B two.

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:55]:
B, you're basically Mister Beast.

Greg Isenberg [00:08:57]:
That was me. I was quoting myself.

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:00]:
No, no, no, you weren't quoting yourself. You're telling me you're giving an example to me, right?

Greg Isenberg [00:09:05]:

Greg Isenberg [00:09:06]:
Yeah. I mean, that's why I think in.

Greg Isenberg [00:09:09]:
Consumer, the idea of community is pretty well understood and the power of it is pretty well understood. But I still think that in the B two B world, it's just a word that people throw around. And there are companies like HubSpot, I know, thinks about community a lot. And so there's companies that think about it a lot. But I think that there's people like you who are basically creating this new.

Greg Isenberg [00:09:31]:
Wave of niche B two B communities.

Greg Isenberg [00:09:36]:
And I think that a lot of people are taking notice and being like, wow. Like, I didn't realize that this could actually drive my business.

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:45]:
Well, for me, in my case, I didn't even realize that this could be a business.

Greg Isenberg [00:09:49]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:50]:
Like, I've had a little bit of an entrepreneurial itch as a marketer, but I always thought I would have to build a product or build software to then apply all these tactics. And I kind of stumbled my way in. The way I got into exit five.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:05]:
Was I just started a private thing.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:06]:
On Patreon where I shared my hot marketing takes.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:10]:
And after a couple hundred members, an.

Dave Gerhardt [00:10:12]:
Early member of mine, this guy Henry Johnson, messaged me. He's like, hey, how about like, you let us talk to each other, moron? And I was like, oh, yeah, okay, this would be great. And so I just added a Facebook group and basically the only way you could get into that Facebook group was you became a member on Patreon in that email you got back, we gave you the link to our Facebook group. I had a VA or in the early days myself, you would have to request access. We would check the email, make sure they were paying, and Patreon then let you in. And then over time, Facebook just became not the right place. And so I eventually moved on, but that's how I fell into that. And really quickly it was 1000 members paying $10 a month and there was a $10,000 a month, $10,000 MRR and a 99% margin business.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:04]:
And I'm on Twitter looking at these startups and others that build in public and they're like, we got to six k, six k ar and just sharing these silly numbers and I'm like, wait, does anybody. This is crazy. And then it wasn't. I talked to you months ago and was like, oh, there's a small number of people that are doing this thing here. And I've seen communities in the past, I think there's b, two b examples, but few people have done the paid community route and that's become its own business. Now the question is where to go from here. That we think about a lot with exit five. And I think you have an interesting funnel and this is something that I'm thinking a lot about lately.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:41]:
I'm not sure that I want to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:43]:
Build a big community. I'm not sure that the way is 5000 members, 10,000 members. I think there's multiple, I'm more thinking now about like, oh, actually there's, there could be multiple products and there's multiple plays based off of this audience and that kind of seems like something that you've thought through, right? You even talk about in ACP, it's audience, community, product.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:03]:
What's your reaction to me saying that?

Greg Isenberg [00:12:05]:
I mean, the truth is it's funny because you heard me just basically say.

Greg Isenberg [00:12:11]:
Like community is the bee's knees. And I'm about to tell you that community is not the bee's knees in a second. The real opportunity is actually to build a membership.

Greg Isenberg [00:12:19]:
And there's a difference between a community and a membership. A membership is when you have a.

Greg Isenberg [00:12:27]:
Niche and you've bundled a ton of value, which could be a community, but it could be a directory, it could.

Greg Isenberg [00:12:37]:
Be events, it could be software, and.

Greg Isenberg [00:12:42]:
People pay for access to that membership, some fee. And I think this is where you're going with exit five. You're moving towards more of a membership. And so I think the real play is creating memberships.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:56]:
Well, let me use this as therapy for myself.

Dave Gerhardt [00:12:59]:
And I'm just going to be honest. And I think that's the best podcast content anyway. But there was actually somebody commented today, and they're like, this community is not. There's not as much engagement in here now as there was when it was on Facebook.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:11]:
And I said, you're right, there's not.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:14]:
And that was intentional. Like, the way that a Facebook group is set up, there is people are on their phones, they're much more. It's much more of, like, the cheap dopamine. Like, okay, I'm waiting in line at Starbucks. I quickly check my phone. I go and exit five. I comment on somebody's thing, right? And I think that's great. But there was a couple reasons why I wanted to move it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:13:34]:
Number one was for everybody that is now like, oh, I wish this was still on Facebook. I got dozens, hundreds, probably, of people who messaged me and said they didn't join ever because it was on Facebook. Number two was, I don't want community to mean discussion forum. And when you start talking about this membership model, like, what I see exit five as being is not just a discussion forum. Like, I think engagement is important. People have to be there. There has to be stuff going on, right? But I want it to be something that, like, you know what? Maybe you haven't logged in in 60 days, but your boss just asked you to go think about, like, hey, we need to really get smart about ABM this quarter.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:14]:
Go do some research on ABM. I want somebody to go into exit.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:17]:
Five, search for ABM, find a bunch of videos and templates and posts and comments, and, like, make an informed opinion, and then go back and tell their boss and be like, wow, that really helped me. Or somebody needs a contract designer and a pinch, and they go into exit five and they find that the part that I struggle with, with the community.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:35]:
Piece is playing that game where it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:38]:
Has to be about every post has hundreds of comments and hundreds of likes that eventually dies. I've seen it in so many other examples, like HubSpot had for the longest time. There was other community called growth hackers. They all grow and grow and grow, and then eventually just the community becomes a place that's just for people to promote their own stuff and post links. And then the spam thing happens. And so this idea of a membership is more like, okay, we have a. We have a group of people that have a shared job function. A discussion form can be a part of that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:08]:
But how can we become the go to resource for them to help do their job? That's how ultimately, I think we're gonna win. Not that every post, ha, you know, go. Every post goes viral. Like, if I'm. You're gonna get more engagement on your post if you post it on LinkedIn, because there's hundreds of millions of users there. But I want to win on the types of resources that we create. And so we're thinking much more about, like, creating dedicated content for the membership.

Dave Gerhardt [00:15:35]:
Not just being a discussion forum.

Greg Isenberg [00:15:37]:

Greg Isenberg [00:15:38]:
So when people think of communities, they think about engagement.

Greg Isenberg [00:15:43]:
They think about, how do I create the most engaged community?

Greg Isenberg [00:15:47]:
And if you're playing that game, as.

Greg Isenberg [00:15:51]:
You add members to that community, you eventually lose. It's just, it's not a game like, optimizing around engagement over time is not a great game to play. The membership, KPI is about access. So you're moving from engagement to access.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:10]:
The whole goal of a membership is.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:15]:
It'S not about daily engagement, it's about yearly, you know, access, basically.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:21]:
So, for example, I am a part.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:24]:
Of a, like, I'm part of this one club in Miami and it gives me access to the beach.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:30]:
And I don't go often, but sometimes.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:34]:
When I want to remind myself that I live in Miami and I live.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:39]:
Five minutes from the beach, it's worth it. So I don't need to be there.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:43]:
Every single day and, like, being a part of all the different events and doing all the different engagements.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:51]:

Greg Isenberg [00:16:52]:
So I think that's why membership is.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:54]:
The future of community, because it's a.

Greg Isenberg [00:16:58]:
Lot more sustainable than an Internet community.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:02]:
There's something that we see all the time. Like somebody might say, like, oh, there's not that. I posted something and there was not a lot of engagement on my posts. I got three likes and one comment. But then, Greg, at the same time, I'll get a DM from someone who's like, I just got a huge new job thanks to somebody that I met inside of exit five. And I'm like, that. That's the thing. Like, how do we bottle that and make that the value prop? That person who got that job and made that connection isn't like, oh, there's no.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:31]:
Nobody liked my post. And that's just not the game that I want to play. And so I'm trying to shift more.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:37]:
Focus into that area. The beach.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:39]:
The access to the beach is a great example. Right? You pay for it. You pay for it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:44]:
You know, annually.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:45]:
And when you want to go to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:45]:
The beach, you can go, how much.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:48]:
Does the niche matter in this world? Like, I think about a lot. I'm like, oh man, I should have just started like the AI for b two b marketing community because that is such a clearly defined niche. Like right now we're focused on b two b marketing as a whole. Maybe using some of your prior examples or companies in your portfolio, is it better to go broad to niche down? Is there a happy medium?

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:13]:
What's your perspective?

Greg Isenberg [00:18:15]:
I mean, going back to the beach example, it's like if I'm club, I'm.

Greg Isenberg [00:18:19]:
Trying to market to people who live within 5 miles of this beach. Those are the people that are going to want access to this beach as much as possible. Now, as soon as I go to 10 miles, the people between five and 10 miles want access to that beach a lot less. If I go ten to 20 miles, they want it even less. And there's a really good. David Spinks actually has a book.

Greg Isenberg [00:18:42]:
It's called the business of belonging.

Greg Isenberg [00:18:44]:
And it's a great read for anyone interested in like, what do I need to know about community and community management? And he has this concentric circle which he uses to define what a community is.

Greg Isenberg [00:18:56]:
So think about his point that he's.

Greg Isenberg [00:18:59]:
Trying to make is that a community has different shades. So for example, like the middle of the concentric circle would be, I'm a.

Greg Isenberg [00:19:08]:
Co founder of Fortnite and that's a community.

Greg Isenberg [00:19:12]:
And then around that would be like, I'm the top 100 employees, or I'm the first hundred employees of Fortnite. And around that is like, I'm a top esports Fortnite player. Around that is like, I watch streaming on Fortnite all the time. And around that, so you just.

Greg Isenberg [00:19:27]:
And the complete outside is, I've played.

Greg Isenberg [00:19:29]:
Fortnite once, or I've never even heard of Fortnite. So the niche matters because it's the level of attraction that you have, right? Like there's an obvious need for what you're doing in b two B marketing.

Greg Isenberg [00:19:43]:
And it just makes your life easier that it exists.

Greg Isenberg [00:19:47]:
That being said, if you went nicher like AI B two B marketing, your job would probably be three x as easy. But that being said, with AI as an example, there's cycles in a space like that. So if you're going to pick a.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:02]:
Niche, you have to look at in.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:05]:
Miami beach, for example, the beach might sink. I don't know what's going on here. So it's a very similar thing where it's like, if you're going to pick.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:13]:
A niche, you want to know where's.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:16]:
It going to be in 12, 18, 24 months? Because I've seen that before, where people pick a niche and realize, like, there's a lot of people coming to us and trying to sell, they're trying to sell their AI communities and AI newsletters.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:27]:
Cause they're just like, let me get out now.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:29]:
Get out now.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:31]:
Yeah, like one of the biggest AI creators. We had a conversation the other day.

Greg Isenberg [00:20:37]:
And he was like, I was on stage and at this AI conference, and I just had like a come to Jesus moment. Like, I don't care at all about AI, and I'm running this community. It's like, don't be that guy.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:51]:
Yeah, that's just the ultimate.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:53]:
I mean, or be that guy and.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:55]:
Realize that you should get out totally. The other thing that I'm trying to.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:01]:
Do with the community pieces, it was built largely off of my personal brand.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:08]:
And then two years ago, I decided.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:10]:
To rename it for this reason.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:13]:
Have you seen this before?

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:14]:
Where people try to pivot away?

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:16]:
Like, I don't want to be Gary Vee. I don't want it to be like the Dave, the Dave Gerhardt marketing community. Like, stay for my hot takes in marketing. And so that's why I hired a team. It's why I rebranded. Somebody messaged me today, and they're like, hey, how come you don't post as much as you used to? And I'm like, honestly, it's intentional. I want this thing to survive without me. What's the right way to play that game? Given that, a lot of times when you go back to the ACP funnel, if my handwriting was as good as yours, I would turn this into one of your nice little LinkedIn graphics, which I'm going to ask you about later.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:52]:
But it's not. How do you play that game then? A lot of times the audience is going to be built with a personal brand. We know that people are more likely to buy from people than businesses. It's much easier to build an audience online as a person versus a company. The person starts the community, but then you want to pivot into something bigger. I think that this idea for a business and community could last well beyond me. And I don't have to be the, doesn't have to be my hot take, but there are some of those people who are like, well, I signed up specifically to hear what you have to say. And I'm like, well, no, that's not what we're doing anymore.

Greg Isenberg [00:22:23]:
One of the most important piece of any membership or community is onboarding.

Greg Isenberg [00:22:29]:
So for example, when you sign up.

Greg Isenberg [00:22:33]:
To, you know, we have a paid community called Community Empire Co. When you sign up to it, like, you have a call with the community manager and we like understand your goals and what you're trying to get to. When you were mentioning about how you have people who are complaining about engagement on exit five, my thinking is now that you've sort of rebranded as a.

Greg Isenberg [00:22:55]:
Membership, if you let people know what.

Greg Isenberg [00:22:58]:
The expectations is, this is access, not engagement, then my prediction is that the exit five members that sign up in 2024 and 2025 are actually going to behave a lot differently than the no doubt because they're coming into it knowing what this is. Therefore their expectations is completely different.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:22]:
So with that onboarding call or with.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:25]:
That onboarding process that you are going.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:27]:
To do, I just think, hey, I'm Dave.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:30]:
People buy from people. Like, you're here because of ACP, right? Audience. You came in through the audience. Maybe it was a LinkedIn post.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:37]:
Who knows? You're here now.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:41]:
This is the experience you should expect.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:44]:
And that's what's going to happen. I just see that happening for you. But yeah, you're right.

Greg Isenberg [00:23:50]:
I think you were smart by disconnecting yourself from the community because otherwise the truth is you would have been burnt out like every community leader, you know, responding to every single reply and it would be unsustainable at a certain point.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:05]:
Yeah, yeah.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:06]:
I think you said something wise there, which is like, it's like any business, right? You got to make a hard decision to, we're going to lose people for this reason. But this is also like, I really believe in this. And so like, as an example, just about a year ago is when I.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:20]:
Moved off of Facebook, I lost like.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:23]:
18K in MRR by doing that. But did it on purpose, intentionally was like, okay, got to take, we got to take this hit because we want to move off of this platform. We want to go to this new place. And yeah, there's hundreds of members that left or churned, but I think we want to build for the future and to be in a better place and I think building much more towards this membership piece. Now.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:44]:
Do you think community has a tough.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:46]:
Time at a company? Like you've sold your communities to companies? So maybe it was like a haha, your problem now. I'm just kidding. But you know, I've been at companies where what happens is if you build a community inside of the company, all of a sudden it's like, oh, how.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:02]:
Do we, well, now, how do we.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:03]:
Sell to this community? And wait a second, you got 500 people in there, the head of sales ones. I want those. I want those as leads. But it's oftentimes like, the things that make the community great is because you didn't sell to them and it wasn't about the product. What makes a community great inside of a company is it's like tangential to the product. How do you keep a community going inside of a company? What makes it successful? How do you make sure it's successful as part of a broader company that has an interest in selling product?

Greg Isenberg [00:25:31]:
I mean, you keep the community, people as far away as salespeople, as you can, as long as you can. I've seen it so many times where you have this community, it's doing really well. The enterprise, like the value of this community is millions of dollars a year.

Greg Isenberg [00:25:48]:
But as soon as you start promoting.

Greg Isenberg [00:25:51]:
Heavily, like the je ne sais quoi is gone from the community. Right? Like, the magic is gone. And then the thing with community is that you can have a few of those events happen in a short amount of time and it completely destroys the like, you will lose the community and these sales types of people. And sometimes it's actually CEO's as well. They'll come in and they'll be like, to your point, we've got thousands of leads. What are we doing with them? We want to hit next quarter's revenue targets. Happens a lot in publicly traded companies too. But I think the trick here is you need to set the expectations for what this is why this exists and what does success look like?

Greg Isenberg [00:26:39]:
But I do believe one of the.

Greg Isenberg [00:26:42]:
Ways to fight this encroachment of sales and executives into communities is charging for it, creating a paid MRR piece to it. Because then that way they're like, okay, at least this is driving revenue and the margins are high. And the way they think about it.

Greg Isenberg [00:27:00]:
Quote unquote, from I was talking to a CEO of a Fortune 500 business.

Greg Isenberg [00:27:07]:
And he's like, it's like SaaS.

Greg Isenberg [00:27:09]:
Like Mrrs without building the SaaS.

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:12]:
Yeah, well, and I think having it be paid just gives a certain level of commitment. And especially this is why, like b two B as a broader niche is interesting because you can charge money, and a lot of times in b two B, the math makes sense, or you're selling it to somebody who can most likely expense it. Like, I see this more and more as people who are not paying for this on their personal account. What's $500 a year to the learning and development budget or whatever at their company?

Greg Isenberg [00:27:41]:
Absolutely. And I think another tailwind of this has just been people working more and more remote.

Greg Isenberg [00:27:48]:
And it's like if you're working remote and you're not going into the office.

Greg Isenberg [00:27:53]:
As much or even at all, of.

Greg Isenberg [00:27:57]:
Course I want you to have access to resources to do your job the best possible way. And that's why I think that there's going to be exit five for x.

Greg Isenberg [00:28:08]:
Because remote isn't going anywhere, and then.

Greg Isenberg [00:28:12]:
People are going to be able to say, like, oh, I hired this designer from exit five, or, you know, whatever. And that that value is.

Greg Isenberg [00:28:20]:
I mean, that's a question for you.

Greg Isenberg [00:28:22]:
Also, is like, how do you think about pricing, I guess, for exit five? And are you charging too much or are you charging too little?

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:29]:
Yeah, both.

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:32]:
There's a segment of, I think right now it's in the middle, and there's a segment of people that we. There's a segment of people that say it's too expensive, and then there's a segment of people who say that I would be paying you much more. And so actually, we're working on launching. It's very clear that there's like 20% of people who would be paying us much more for more access.

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:50]:
And to your point about membership and.

Dave Gerhardt [00:28:51]:
Being access, and so, you know, there's 3000 paying members today. I think there's 200 or 300 of those people that would be paying, let's call it $100 a month or something like that. And I think one of our strategic objectives is thinking about what could we create for them. Classic business. Oh, yeah. Sell more to your best customers. There's something there. I think if I'm being completely candid, I think that I messed up by raising the price a little bit because I think there should have been a lower.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:22]:
It's like a little bit in between at $30 a month where if it was like, if there was like a.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:27]:
Lower, when it was $10 a month, it was flying.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:31]:
But there's also a lot of, like, crud that you get with that price tier. Also, ideally, it would have been and be like $10 a month or a month. I'm just making up extremes, right? There's no rewinding that now because I just would create too much confusion in chaos. So we're not going to do that. But I just, there's so much. Even just having, like, a low end paid tier is very smart, free. Scares me to death. Like, I've just seen so many free community.

Dave Gerhardt [00:29:57]:
I know somebody who's like, dude, I managed a 20,000 person like, marketing community that was free. It was just complete insanity. Like, yeah, you don't want that.

Greg Isenberg [00:30:07]:
My general recommendation for any membership is to have low ticket, high ticket. So low ticket is the smallest amount.

Greg Isenberg [00:30:17]:
That is like a legitimate no brainer. And it sounds like that ten ish dollars was that for you? And high ticket. You know, we see communities that charge a couple thousand dollars a month. So I'm just saying it can go all the way up there. And the way I always think about.

Greg Isenberg [00:30:35]:
It is like first class and coach.

Greg Isenberg [00:30:39]:
Like, your coach experience is your low ticket. Of course it gets you to the destination. You're still going from New York to, let's say, maui to your stoked to be in Hawaii, but it's pretty nice to be in a flat bed drinking champagne 40,000ft in the air. So I think, yeah, it's a good exercise in prompt for you and your.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:01]:
Team to be like, okay, start with the price.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:05]:
It's like, how much do we want to charge?

Greg Isenberg [00:31:07]:
And then based on that, what are.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:09]:
The things, okay, we want to charge $200 a month. If you want to charge $200 a month, what are the things that we need in terms of access for that.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:18]:
To be a stupid no brainer.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:20]:
Okay, I want to shift off a.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:21]:
Community and ask you some other things. Just because people generally are interested in content. Social, you have 376,000 followers on Twitter, aka x.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:34]:
Where did they all come from?

Greg Isenberg [00:31:35]:
I had been tweeting about all this sort of stuff that we have been talking about for the last half hour, community and memberships and stuff like that.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:46]:
And I had like 10,000 hardcore fans.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:50]:
I started on Twitter in 2008, but I had been tweeting.

Greg Isenberg [00:31:54]:
I got like, I had the same 10,000 fans from 2009 to 2020. Yep, March 2020 hits.

Greg Isenberg [00:32:02]:
And all of a sudden something changed in the sense that this whole idea of Internet communities and this idea around building audiences, products for these communities, like, just really struck a chord. People really understood it and it wasn't.

Greg Isenberg [00:32:19]:
Like the type of content I created was very different. It just, the way it was perceived was different. That's where they came from, from 2020 to now.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:33]:
So did you focus more on talking.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:36]:
About community or just like the wins? This thing that you had always kind of been in the mix of just became very relevant. Like, companies who were talking about webinars and virtual events all of a sudden exploded a lot of interest around community.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:49]:
And not just community, but there's a.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:51]:
Lot of overlapping circles with, like, the creator economy, probably, right? Okay.

Greg Isenberg [00:32:56]:

Greg Isenberg [00:32:56]:
And also just, like, distilling things from community and building products for those communities was, was of interest. So I didn't really change anything, but I went from being 100 miles from Miami beach to being on Miami beach just because of how the world changed.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:15]:
And then for your process of how you write on Twitter. Okay. So you. I think the lesson, though, isn't just, like, get lucky and have a world shift happen. I think you have intentionally been talking about community. Right. And I think channels like Twitter and LinkedIn work when you focus on a specific topic.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:32]:

Greg Isenberg [00:33:32]:
Pick a lane.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:34]:
Yeah, you got to pick a lane.

Dave Gerhardt [00:33:35]:
No doubt.

Greg Isenberg [00:33:35]:
You got to pick a lane. You know, pick a lane. And even if it's an unpopular lane, that feels. I felt like garbage for many years, writing content and getting one like, or two likes or three likes. But I wrote content for years and years and years and years and years. And I knew in my heart of.

Greg Isenberg [00:33:53]:
Hearts that this was valuable.

Greg Isenberg [00:33:56]:
This is a valuable niche to be.

Greg Isenberg [00:33:58]:
In, and you don't need to be right.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:00]:
That many times in a career to live a good life is another sort of lesson.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:05]:
But do you use Twitter? I guess. And LinkedIn, basically, you were more active on Twitter, and now I see you're going harder on LinkedIn, taking what you've learned from Twitter and replicating it there, which is smart. Two follow up questions. Number one, let me ask this one first.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:22]:
Are you still seeing growth?

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:23]:
I've heard from people. Some people say, oh, it's so much easier to grow on Twitter. Pre Elon buying Twitter. Is that true? Any truth to that? Have you seen anything related to that? Has your growth slowed at all?

Greg Isenberg [00:34:35]:
My growth hasn't slowed, but it has.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:38]:
It's not as consistent.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:40]:
So, you know, in the last three.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:43]:
Months, I've had a tweet, for example.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:45]:
That got 30 million impressions. I think, like, 50,000 likes or something. Last week or the week before, I.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:51]:
Had, like, I don't know, 15,000 likes.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:54]:
Or something on a tweet.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:55]:
So there's tons of.

Greg Isenberg [00:34:57]:
But then I'll tweet and I'll get like, 150 likes. You know what I mean? So what has Elon done? Elon has made Twitter x to be more like TikTok. It's more like the for you page. So when you go viral on Twitter, it blasts into the stratosphere, and you have to be really smart about how to get followers from those posts. So, for example, you might have a post that goes viral, goes mega viral, stratosphere. And then what a lot of people do is in the second tweet, they'll be like, if you like this tweet, go and follow me. Like, yeah, that's not going to work anymore.

Dave Gerhardt [00:35:35]:
Does that work? Everybody does that. I'm like, there's no way. I've tried it a couple times. I don't write very, I'm not very good at Twitter, but, like, I'm like, that can't be the hack. Like, if you. Oh, yeah, just write a viral tweet and then tell people to follow you. Cause they. They're not gonna know how to do.

Greg Isenberg [00:35:49]:
That unless you tell them, no, not even close.

Greg Isenberg [00:35:52]:
And by the way, just to add to that, like, if you like this tweet, subscribe to my weekly newsletter on XYZ. No one is subscribing.

Greg Isenberg [00:35:59]:
Just, no, not happening.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:01]:
People are too. They're focused on themselves. They don't care about you.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:04]:
So what you gotta do is, I'm.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:07]:
A big believer in Twitter.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:09]:
Long posts, which are the posts that.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:12]:
Are more than 240 characters, and then.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:15]:
You click show more. And the approach I like to take.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:19]:
If I'm trying to get followers, because sometimes I don't want to get followers.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:23]:
I'm just there to get buzz or.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:25]:
Get feedback on an idea.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:27]:
Well, I think you do both.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:28]:
You definitely know how to play the game. But I do think I see you using. I've thought more about using Twitter this way. Instead of having a blog, you could write 3000 words as a tweet. Right. And format it and use it that way. And I think that is a smart.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:44]:
Way to use it.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:45]:
So in my long post, sometimes what.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:47]:
I'll do is not at the end of the post, but mid post, I'll.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:52]:
Be like, you know, let's say I'm telling a story about how I sold.

Greg Isenberg [00:36:56]:
My company to weWork, and I was talking about the m and a process. You know, midway through, I might be.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:02]:
Like, you know, next week I'm going.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:04]:
To tell the story of how Adam Newman was like, didn't show up to the first meeting, and then I went on his private jet.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:12]:
And it'll be on my Twitter feed, Regisenberg.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:16]:
From that, you get followers. You don't get it for at the end of the thing being like, follow me, or as a secondary tweet.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:24]:
So the lesson there is, don't swim against the algorithm. Swim with the algorithm. And if you see everyone is doing.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:34]:
The same thing, aka follow me or sign up to my newsletter, think about.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:39]:
How do you do it differently so.

Greg Isenberg [00:37:42]:
That it's scroll stopping?

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:44]:
I love the tease.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:45]:
Like, hey, yeah, next week I'm going.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:47]:
To write about X. I think you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:48]:
Do a good job. And then now that you have a big audience, are you being more intentional about trying to move people to your email list? Is that how you're using your newsletter?

Greg Isenberg [00:37:55]:
Yeah, I actually, I posted on LinkedIn the other day and on Twitter.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:00]:
I was like, how the hell do.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:01]:
I get people onto my newsletter?

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:03]:
You just got to ask them. I bet you got hundreds of sign ups from those posts.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:06]:
I saw them.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:07]:
Yeah, I posted.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:08]:
I'm just pulling up exactly what I said.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:11]:

Greg Isenberg [00:38:11]:
I'm always sharing this because I think it'll get people thinking around. How do I do things differently?

Greg Isenberg [00:38:17]:
I could have been like, sign up to my newsletter.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:20]:
It's amazing. And you're going to get insights.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:23]:
No one cares. No one.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:25]:
No one cares. So what I did is, this is a kind of uncomfortable ask, but I'll do it anyways.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:31]:

Greg Isenberg [00:38:32]:
People's ears perk just from that. And that's your goal.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:35]:
I know, I saw that headline. I was like, oh, this should be good. And it's like, join my newsletter. I was like, oh, come on, man.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:40]:
Damn it, Greg.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:42]:
Damn it.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:43]:
You can see yourself moving from the.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:45]:
A to the c to the b.

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:47]:
If this tweet, I just got funneled. Damn it.

Greg Isenberg [00:38:49]:
Yeah, exactly. If this tweet gets lots of love, I'll know to keep creating content for you. So I'm just like, this is for you, right? I'm not doing it for you. Have you ever liked one of my tweets? I tweet about Internet communities, cash flowing, Internet companies, holding companies. Join my weekly And then in brackets, because I always love doing a bonus thing.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:09]:
And come see my new website because it's like, oh, and I get to.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:13]:
See his new website.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:14]:
It's like, do things differently.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:16]:
It seems like you're just open to trying. You're interested in doing it your way. You seem to be a note taker, a drawer. Like, I like how you're incorporating these little graphics that you make in a world where everybody's using kind of like these terrible. And I do them, too, sometimes, like, AI generated images.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:31]:
I love how your stuff cuts through.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:33]:
The noise with, like, the handwritten stuff. So go check out Greg on Twitter.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:36]:
And this is more of a LinkedIn crowd, Greg.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:39]:
So we'll go follow you on LinkedIn.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:41]:
I just got an email today saying.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:44]:
That, congratulating me that I'm going to.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:47]:
Be a top voice on LinkedIn.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:49]:
Oh, that's huge. They come to your house, you got to do like, a cribs, walk through. They see what's in your fridge. You show them the doctor browns.

Greg Isenberg [00:39:55]:
Totally. They're not going to believe how many doctor browns I have.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:00]:
All right, Greg, it's good hanging out with you. We got to wrap. I learned a bunch. Say I got the ACP funnel, I.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:04]:
Got the tribe funnel.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:06]:
I got so many new frameworks and everything interesting to kind of just hear how you think about community. And selfishly, I got to pick your brain a little bit, but I wanted to do it to give people a lens. Most of the people that listen are going to be working at companies and b two b marketing is just give you. How do you think about community when it's not part of a company? And I think there's a clear set of guardrails that you have. So if you want to hear more from Greg, go find him on LinkedIn. Greg Eisenberg will link to all his stuff. Go follow him on Twitter. Go do the best thing you can do, which is send him a message.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:35]:
Be like, hey, I heard you on the exit five podcast. That was awesome. That's my favorite type of feedback. That's what the call to action is. This episode will be out in a couple weeks, but I'm hanging out in your community tomorrow, and I'm excited to do that. Greg, good to see you. Thanks for hanging out. Thanks for dealing with our technical difficulties here in the beginning, and I'll talk to you later.

Greg Isenberg [00:40:52]:
It was an honor. Thank you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:54]:
Thank you.

Greg Isenberg [00:40:55]:
Exit. Exit.
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