I took my first ever yoga class the other day, thanks in part to having a yoga instructor girlfriend. It was at a really nice studio in northern Massachusetts called Roots to Wings. My instructor, Beth, was very aware that I was new. She was very aware that this was my first ever yoga class, and that how I received every bit of this class would likely shape my perception of yoga. Think about that, the burden on that instructor’s shoulders. Beth is watching me try to figure out her instructions worrying (at least a bit) that if I don’t get it, if I don’t enjoy the class, and thinking that she’s got to deliver a great experience to me so that I’ll consider going forward with the practice she holds so dear.
How often do we think about our own business that way? How often do we build experiences such that we’re welcoming of new people? Do we work enough on that? Do we help people get connected and involved? Do we make them feel like we realize it’s their first time and we’re here to guide them?
Designing a First Day Experience
If you think about the online experience, one way to design a first day experience is to build a “getting started” or “new here” page. Think about what could go onto that page. Maybe you can explain the story you’re working on telling with your business. Maybe you can use video and share introductory information in a personal way. And another way you can do this is to connect people to others in your community. There are many ways to start. Can you see it?
I’m certain that neither my site, [chrisbrogan.com] nor my business site, Human Business Works, have done a great job with a first day experience. I’ll be redesigning to take care of that in the coming weeks. Why? Because I think it’s that important to the way we will do business. Why? Because I believe that all of us accidentally lose people by telling the story from where we are now instead of inviting people into the flow.
First Steps For You
Pull back from what you’re doing right now. Think not about the grind of stuff you have due, the pressure to produce, and all that. Instead, ask yourself, with a blank piece of paper in front of you, “What story am I telling? Who is my reader? How do I introduce this new person to the story in such a way that they feel invited, welcome, comfortable to learn at their own pace, and an instant part of this community you intend to build?”
Look at your website. Look at your navigation. Look at what stands out and what might be a bit too hidden. Where does your site tell the new person to start? What’s the brightest, most obvious button to click? What happens when they go there?
Look at your online presence. How often do you tell a “first day” story in your stream of content? When you post to your Facebook page and your Google+ page or Twitter or wherever you’re fishing for new business, consider posting first day information every few days. Maybe daily. Know who does this well? Christopher S Penn.
First Day People Become Long Term Community Members
Think about those times in your life when you felt warmly invited into a new experience. Sometimes, it’s product packaging and marketing that stands in for that. Did you ever wonder why Apple users are practically a cult? It starts all the way down to the cardboard and paper that wraps the product. Beyond that, let me pause your thoughts to say you shouldn’t compare yourself to Apple in any other way. They seem to be the odd man out when it comes to building strong social community. Apple users find each other without any help from the company itself. There’s a lesson there in and of itself, but for most people, we have to do it the hard way.
The difference between feeling warmly invited into a community versus feeling like someone was happy to get your money and send you on your way is day and night. I can name several experiences that have left me feeling warmly invited in. Shopping at Men’s Wearhouse makes me feel warmly invited in, for instance. If you look at how Brian Clark and team have rebuilt Copyblogger, note that they’ve configured the site to have several first day experiences built into it. There are many ways to look at first day experiences. When people feel brought into the fold, they want to stick around. They enjoy the feeling of loyalty.
Instead of Influence, Loyalty
In building business, it seems the new flavor of passion is influence. There are companies working constantly to determine the digital fingerprints of influence. People frequently confuse the fact that I have a lot of followers on this or that social network with thinking that I’m influential for their product or service. The reality is that I’m influential when both me and my community have a pre-existing affinity for a product or a service. But let’s not get this too far into influence. Instead, let’s consider looking at loyalty a bit more than we look at influence.
What I believe I could improve in my own business practices is building in more gratitude and loyalty to the people who have supported my efforts. What I believe I can do better in the future is to build a stronger first day experience, and then do more to keep that feeling going. It’s one of the bigger focuses I’m making in developing the Human Business Way over at Human Business Works. I believe that loyalty is a much better tool to improve business than influence. More on that shortly.
What do you think about all this?