Today on the show we welcome your very own host, Derek Anderson. Derek is the CEO and Cofounder of Startup Grind, which is one of the largest communities for entrepreneurs in the world, with over 400 chapters in 100 countries.
Derek Andersen: Welcome to the C2C Podcast. I am your host, Derek Andersen. After holding my first event in 2010, I went on to create Startup Grind, a 400-chapter community based in over 100 countries. Along the way, I discovered the greatest marketing tool of all time, your customers, yet I couldn't find anyone sharing how to build a community where people could experience your brand in person or at scale. On this show, we talk with the brightest minds and companies on the planet about how to build customer to customer marketing strategies and create in-person experiences for your brand and customers before your competitor does.
On this episode, we're going to hear from, drum roll, me, Derek Anderson, your host. I'm talking, I'm taking the mic. I'm the CEO and co-founder of Startup Grind, one of the largest communities for entrepreneurs in the world with over 400 chapters in 100 countries. Can you tell I've said that before? I'm also the co-founder of Bevy, a product that runs user groups and event communities for some of the biggest and best technology companies and consumer brands. I'm going to talk to you about customer to customer marketing. I'm going to try to bang it into your head that you've got to go to your VP of marketing and your chief marketing officer, and your company has got to start one of these programs if you haven't already. If you have started it, good on you. You've got to scale it quick before your competitors do and get the advantage. Take a listen.
I'm excited to be here today to talk a little bit about harnessing the power of your customers. When we started Startup Grind in 2010, it was just a few people getting together with similar values, educating each other, helping each other, inspiring each other. As we started hosting these events like the one you see here, more and more people started to attend. When they would attend, they would say, 'We love what you're doing. We love what this is about. Can we do this in our city?'Originally we said, 'Well, no, that's not what this is. When you come back, come back.' Eventually we said, 'People need this. They want this. How do we create a way for them to win and take what we have with them wherever they need to go?' Over the last eight years since Startup Grind began, we have grown to have about 400 chapters acrossthe world and growing significantly every single month. The reason this is is, again, we empowered people to take what we had and to use it for themselves to better their lives.
A few years ago, we started to have all these huge scaling problems. When we were doing that, we started developing a tool. We couldn't find anything that worked, so we started developing a tool called Bevy. Bevy means to bring a large group of something, similar people or similar things together. We developed this tool called Bevy to manage and run Startup Grind's community, and our growth started to take off again. Today Bevy manages and works with amazing brands to run their events and run their communities, people like Atlassian, and Duolingo, and Evernote, and Docker, and Fiver, and others. In doing this, I've learned a number of things. The first is that the way people buy products has changed. It used to be that a salesperson would come in and sell you something. They would fly in, they'd take you to a nice dinner. You'd lock into this huge deal that you could never get out of and spend tons of money. People would call you on the phone. Nobody answers their phone anymore. People would reach out through ads, maybe through traditional marketing and now digital marketing.
But today the most innovative companies are actually marketing to their customers in a different way. They're thinking about it completely differently. We call this customer to customer marketing. Customer to customer marketing enables conversations amongst your customers. The best brands in the world do this. Let me show you some examples. Really the newest, most innovative brands in the world do this. Traditional companies position their brands in the minds of their customers. They say, 'I want you to feel some aspirational values to this. I want you to come in and purchase. I want you to make a decision, and get in, and buy the product.' This could be getting a hotel room. This could be buying a BMW. Customer to customer companies, these new kinds of companies focus on positioning in the lives of their customers. How do I make this person's life easier when they use my product?
Think about Atlassian's product, Jira. I use the product. I can track bugs. I can track projects. I can work with other members of the team as I bring more people in to use the product. Then my life will be better. How about Airbnb? You sign up for an Airbnb. You go into the house. You see some eclectic thing about that house. You see a note from the host. You have a good experience. You meet some interesting people there. You leave. The host leaves you a review. You leave them a review. Even after I've used the product, I continue to get value out of that experience. Tesla, how many people that own a Tesla do you know that haven't told you about their Tesla? That's all they constantly talk about is the cool car that they have, and we're so happy for them. It's because it's now part of who they are.
Traditional brands try to influence how people think along the path of purchase, but customer to customer brands try to influence how people experience the brand at every single touchpoint. We see this in reviews. You see this in the App Store. You see this on Yelp. You see this on Rotten Tomatoes. We don't have to guess if a product is going to help us anymore. All we have to do is go to Google, go to the App Store, look at what hundreds, thousands of customers have said, and the best products rise to the top. Those reviews, not only do they drive success, but it makes me feel like I'm part of something bigger. I then give back and put in my own review and be part of it for the next person. Customer to customer brands create opportunities for customers to win, not just professionally. It's a big part of it, but also personally. These digital products can become and these new age products can become part of somebody's personal identity.
The best example of this is Guillaume De Smedt, who is the head of community at Startup Grind. He's based in Cape Town. This guy knows everything about every product, I swear. He wouldn't say that, but I say that. I know if he starts telling us we need to use a product, it's important. A few years ago he came to us and he said, 'There's this great product for video conferencing called Zoom. I refuse to use anything else except for Zoom.' We said, 'Well, we already use something else.' He said, 'I don't care. We're using Zoom.' We started using it, and lo and behold, it was an incredible product. It improved our professional lives. It improved our communication. Now our entire company uses Zoom, and I've probably talked to dozens of people about it myself and gotten dozens of other companies using Zoom because of their good experience with me. It makes me look good internally, or makes G look good internally when he brings these products in, and it makes him better as a person because he can get his job done more effectively and do what he likes to do with the more time that he has. Zoom is a company based in Silicon Valley right down the street from me in Palo Alto. I had heard of them, but I'd never tried them. Yet it was this person inside of our company that influenced us that we trusted in South Africa who was able to get all of us to adopt this product.
Traditional brands focus on what to say to customers, but C2B brands worry about what customers are going to say to each other. The best example of this is a company that we work with called Duolingo. It's a mobile app to help you learn to speak a new language. It's incredible. More than 100 million users. They said it themselves last year, they said, 'We want to get our customers talking to each other, helping each other learn a language. We want to take our digital product and extend that into the real world.' Last year they had never done a single event. They'd never hosted a single event. In this last month Duolingo hosted more than 400 in-person events run by 1,000 different volunteers and community members. Bevy, our platform, helps to facilitate this. If you think of that kind of scale, would you rather send out 200,000 emails, or would you rather have 200,000 conversations about what you're doing, what you're working on, and customers talking to each other, helping educate each other about your product? It's sort of a no-brainer, right? 200,000 emails, half of which don't even get looked at, small percentage of which ever get opened, and a fraction that ever get clicked on versus real life 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20-minute conversations talking about the common interests that your customers have or your potential customers have with your existing customers.
What can you do to drive a better experience? It's simple. You can build or influence the building of the experience maybe inside the product. But if you are further down the chain in marketing, or product marketing, or community marketing, you can build an experience in the post part of the product cycle. What is the ultimate success of a customer? Traditional brands think that success is the sale. C2C brands understand that there's never an end. There really is never success. Success is ongoing, and we have to continue to live that again and again. The great news is, much to the surprise of a lot of people that I talk to, customers want to help. They want to help you. They want you to build a better product. They want to tell their friends because it's cool if they know about the new technology that's helping them improve their life. It'll probably help their friends improve their life.
Sharing cannot be a Facebook or Twitter link. Sharing has to be core to the product. That could be giving people an easy way to write reviews. That could be an easy way to make people reference this for your products, to have a testimonial, to have them participate in a case study, or any other number of things. Leverage ... Not even leverage. Engage your customers to be a part of the amazing thing that you're building because that's what customer to customer brands are doing. They're enabling their customers to succeed through their product. Thanks so much. Thank you so much for listening. If you liked the show, please leave a review wherever you listen to this. If you'd like to see more about how to create your own event community, go to bevylabs.com/pod. Again, that's B-E-V-Y-L-A-B-S .com/pod.