Rebecca Marshburn – Head of Community at Common Room – Building a Community Product 101

Quote of the Show

Don't build a community for someone, build a community with someone.

Key Takeaways

  • Community and GTM should not be kept separate; they should intersect and work together.
  • Community can contribute to GTM goals by providing support, generating awareness, and increasing engagement.
  • Key metrics for measuring the success of a community include community responsiveness, time to responsiveness, and the quality of answers provided.
  • The dark funnel refers to unattributable community interactions and conversations that can influence GTM strategies.
  • Building a community requires understanding the purpose of the community, identifying the target audience, and creating a value exchange for community members.


In this episode of Revenue Today, Rebecca debunks the myth that community and go-to-market (GTM) strategies should be kept separate. She believes that community and GTM should intersect and work together to achieve better outcomes for both community members and business goals. By bringing community and GTM closer together, companies can build stronger partnerships and improve user experiences.

[00:00:40] Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Revenue Today. Today’s guest is somebody really special. She’s awesome. She formerly worked at both Airbnb and AWS in content and community. She was even directly on the CEO’s content team at AWS. And right now she’s currently the head of community at Common Room.

[00:01:03] Welcome Rebecca Marshburn. 

[00:01:06] Rebecca Marshburn: Hey, Jared. Thank you so much for having me. It’s such a delight to be here. And, um, yeah, me too. Even in those couple of seconds of the, I’m like, oh my gosh, stop talking about me. Wow. 

[00:01:17] Jared Robin: Well, there’s so much more incredible stuff about you and really excited to dive in so that we could learn, um, from you.

[00:01:26] So as, as a subject there, or the, of this podcast is revenue today, we’d love to hear from your point of view, debunking a myth about generating revenue today. 

[00:01:38] Rebecca Marshburn: I’m, well, I’m happy to suggest a myth for us to debunk. And I’m also happy for feedback about whether or not it’s truly a myth. We need to debunk, but from my seat at the table where I sit today as the head of community at common room, and I meant to bring a community lens to the table, right?

[00:01:53] Bring a community lens. To our teams and how we’re thinking about building our software and our platform with our community members who are also customers, prospects, leads, um, champions, fans, hype, people, all of those things. Um, it’s that community is so communities have been around since the dawn of time.

[00:02:11] Right? But. What we an online digital communities have been around a little less than the dawn of time, but for the last couple of decades, but it’s now, right? It’s now that we’re actually our technology is catching up where we’re starting to look at. Okay, what is happening across community channels? All these different touch points where people are interacting and then how does that actually influence or effect or shape?

[00:02:34] And how should that influence effect and shape? GTM motion. So that go to market motion, those sales, those marketing and like really what it is, right. Is usually on like the, on the marketing side where like, we want awareness, we want distribution and we want leads. Right. And on the sales side, it’s like, we want closed one deals.

[00:02:53] We want to be able to qualify people out if we need to, but really we want those closed one deals and then we want to accelerate the time to close. And then we want to upsell and renewal when possible. And obviously that might be a sales slash like success motion. Um, but we’re still in this in this in this space, right?

[00:03:10] Where for a while, when people were hiring community teams, I was hiring community for the sake of, you know, showing up for your users. Which makes a ton of sense, of course, like always show up for your users, but for a long time, it was very separate. It was like communities over here and, you know, marketing and sales and gtm motions overall are over here and these two should not meet like community should not take on any go to market goals and go to market should not like influence or, or breathe on the neck of, if you will, the community teams.

[00:03:42] And I really believe that Especially now, like that is, that is a myth and maybe that wasn’t a myth then, but there are a lot of folks who, or maybe not a lot, it might be changing. And that’s what these discussions are for. And that’s what this discourse is for, but I fully believe that community and GTM should intersect and should come together more.

[00:04:03] And really, I believe that it’s. Inevitable from what’s happening in the market and what’s happening with tooling and for how much data we can see that these two things are going to come together. And so it’s not our job to fight it and try to keep community and GTM separate. Instead. Now it’s our job as both community and GTM teams.

[00:04:23] To build healthy and strong partnerships between these two sides to ensure better outcomes for community members, for customers, for internal teams to, like, build a win, win, win trajectory and that unless we say, yeah, these two things do complement each other. And unless we bring them closer together, it’s actually going to be more detrimental in the long run for both user experiences and business outcomes.

[00:04:49] Jared Robin: So if they’re not aligned and it’s not part of GTM, why have community? 

[00:04:58] Rebecca Marshburn: Your question is in the, like in the, in the myth that I’m debunking, right? Like if they’re, if the two are separate, why would you have community? 

[00:05:08] Jared Robin: Yeah. Why have it in general? 

[00:05:10] Rebecca Marshburn: Well, I think, and like, maybe this is going back to my, I mean, I know many organizations believe this, but at AWS, right.

[00:05:17] It’s like customer centricity is leadership principle number one, and you earn trust. And so to use that language from AWS, but I think many organizations share and we certainly do at common room. I think why have community is that idea of earning trust and like you have to repeatedly show up to earn trust and you want to make sure that, um, let’s say you are tasked on even if you’re not measuring it.

[00:05:41] Well, I believe you should be. It’s like, okay, how are people like, how do you support people connecting with each other or helping each other out? Right. Basically, I think for a long time, it’s like there were communities that had nothing to do with products or organizations. There were, you know, communities on Reddit and there are communities on, you know, a, I am instant messenger.

[00:06:02] And like, there are communities like that were, there are communities that had thrived on Facebook years ago. And so those communities were coming together over a shared Interest. It could be a shared hobby. It could be a shared like there are plenty of communities, let’s say for for for mothers, right?

[00:06:18] And it’s like, just like this shared, like, we’re trying to find solutions together. And so I think organizations originally adopted that point of view, like, how do you just bring communities together that have a shared interest are looking for a shared solution? And, and it wasn’t, and it just seemed far too far away from how that would actually affect GTM goals.

[00:06:37] But I think organizations first embraced it in the sense of. Okay. How do we just bring these people together? Because that’s a good way to show up for users, or that’s a good way to show up for people who are already interested in this space. And it’s not until now, um, or recently, I should say, um, where it’s also like.

[00:06:58] I mean, these two things, if especially if it’s around a solution that a product can solve, like these two things should be brought a little closer together, like they, they do compliment each other and for a reason. And I think that’s, that’s where the disconnect is, right? Like you had community in the beginning.

[00:07:13] So it’s like, truly a nice to have an interest. 

[00:07:19] Jared Robin: Yeah. And my question is to support, um, you’re debunking because I get. If trust is important enough to, to have a community to support it, and I do think it is, why not have it aligned fully with GTM? Like, like what, what are the KPIs for, for trust in this case?

[00:07:45] Rebecca Marshburn: I see, I think, and like, we’re like still talking about like the, what I would say old world. Yeah. But I think what you’re saying, why not have it be fully aligned? And honestly, I think it’s because.

[00:08:02] And maybe this is an American point of view or corporate point of view, like there’s a lot of philosophies behind this that like, we could also like dive into, which we won’t hear. But for the purpose of this conversation and where I sit at the table, I think it was, it wasn’t aligned with GTM motions because once you combine selling.

[00:08:19] With this like altruistic, let’s say, or this more benevolent, we just want people to be able to come together because that’s what you were doing before. But now, listen, if you’re coming into a community and and there’s like transactions involved, that becomes transactional. And so you lose that flavor of what it means to build a community.

[00:08:38] And I think a lot of people are still there. And honestly, there are people who run amazing communities for amazing products that are still there. But what I’m saying is, at least for me, my like. Uh, you know, my strong, I would say strong opinion, quite strongly held, but open to other beliefs, right, is that is that we should be bringing these things together and that it is time now that we have enough of the right tools that give you enough of the right context to actually use community data well, so it doesn’t feel like it just becomes here’s a community member that I turned into a transaction.

[00:09:12] It’s here’s a community member whom I understand you. What they’re looking for, and I understand how what I’m selling actually matches like has value alignment and actually would improve their quality of life or whatever it is that they’re seeking. And so I think with the right data and treating that the right way, you have to bring these things together and it makes sense to bring them together.

[00:09:36] Jared Robin: Right. And I’m just thinking logically, like even if you take pipeline away from the community conversation, right? Like, or, or directly away. And I’m, and I’m open to, and I love community being so far away. I love the concept, but I’m just thinking, how do you measure success of the community? And I’m not saying you just need pipeline to have success.

[00:09:58] So like what KPIs around community, like, um, Okay. I don’t want to lead you on examples here. And then as a follow up though, success, like even if it’s not aligned, like what KPIs away from pipeline show a successful community and how does that lead to validation that the community is a positive for the brand?

[00:10:30] Rebecca Marshburn: Yeah. So, I mean, one, this depends on. Usually you need to have a prioritized list of what your community, what is purpose is right? And so, uh, and from a product point of view, a lot of communities started out as support communities, right? And so it’s like, how do people help each other? Like if we have 10 people on our support team, but there’s 10, 000 users, we’re not going to be able to get to that queue in any logical amount of time.

[00:10:57] And so a lot of, a lot of, let’s say this, Support community idea, right? It was like, how do we bring together people together all in one place? Or I mean, that’s what stack overflow is, right? It’s basically like, how do people help each other? But then people started like, kind of owning those like community channels.

[00:11:13] So maybe they had their own forum or, you know, a white labeled form or whatever. A lot of people now use slack to be like, okay, how do we, so let’s say, for example, once you’ve decided the purpose of your community, and then I would say a more, you know, the, the, that middle ground between communities are totally separate because we just want to bring people together to, okay, what do we, what is the purpose of our community from a product business organization point of view and that support.

[00:11:38] Then the KPIs would be something like, you know, community responsiveness. How many people, how many tickets did we deflect, right? That our team didn’t have to answer because someone else answered them. Someone, another member, another user. Um, time to responsiveness, right? Like how fast. Did someone get the answer that they needed?

[00:11:57] How many times did someone get an answer from a community member rather than one of our teams? Um, what was the quality of that answer? So it might be like, then it’s a quick like, you know, thumbs up or thumbs down. Did you get the answer you were looking for? Um, you could even then go as deep as like how many people churned once we had a community versus didn’t churn.

[00:12:14] So you could be like. Do those numbers at least, um, correlatively affect each other, right? Like when we opened a community and we saw responsiveness go up and we saw more members answering each other, um, did the turn rate go down and did the quality or like, you know, um, what’s the satisfaction with the product go up?

[00:12:34] Um, so that’s one way to look at it. If you have like a success community or an education community, right? It’s like how many new features were adopted and were they adopted faster? When people had access to what community members were talking about. Um, so I think it depends on the purpose of your community and what that stack ranking is of what you want your community to serve.

[00:12:55] Um, but there are different KPIs that you might be looking at outside of, um, funnel numbers, right? Or lead numbers. Um, that also that I think a lot of communities that that’s, that’s what they would look at right in terms of what those KPIs are to give your like question a little bit more structure in my answer.

[00:13:15] Jared Robin: Yeah, I, I, I love your myth debunked, um, in the sense that. Everything you discussed there is directly aligned with GTM, even though it’s not necessarily demand gen part of GTM. Um, now let’s, let’s, um, like, let’s, let’s look at the KPIs that are most important to you. In your current role. 

[00:13:45] Rebecca Marshburn: Yeah. So I mean, I roll up to the head of demand gen, the head of marketing.

[00:13:52] Basically. Um, Kevin’s going to be like, please get my title. Right. Um, but you know, startups like titles are anyway, he’s like our, he’s our, he’s our marketing leader. I’ll say that. Um, just an umbrella term, Kevin, you’re amazing. Um, and so I roll up to him, right. And then rolling up to him, we were all directly into the COO.

[00:14:08] Yeah. And so we have very specific, like we have like, you know, North star metric basically. And that’s like right now as a startup, what we need to be doing it when we’re rolling up into marketing is delivering very qualified, like we have a very narrow ICP and we’re like these people get the most value out of what we sell.

[00:14:32] We know this, right? And like, it takes time, obviously to refine your ICP and really understand. Um, who does get the most value and what their industry looks like and what their title looks like and who they roll up into and what they’re trying to solve and what their, you know, revenue stream is like all these different things that go into an ICP that I, I am probably preaching to the choir here.

[00:14:53] Um, and so with that, right, then, then we’re like, okay, we need 2 things and we need awareness. We’re still a startup that we still need to make sure our name is out there and not just in the community software space. That’s a bit of a narrower space. But in that larger GTM space, like, how does community affect GTM?

[00:15:16] So, like, thank you so much for having me on this podcast. I’m super excited. Um, and then ultimately, like, that’s step 1, but our North Star metric is delivering the right quality of leads. Because right now we need to be making sure that like, if we’re not nailing it for our ICP, then like we have some work to do.

[00:15:36] Um, and so are we generating the right amount of leads and are we generating the right quality of leads? And then when we know it’s the right quality of leads, are we making sure that we have the right ways? For our SDRs and our AEs to actually say, Hey, I know we’re new. I know you haven’t heard of us yet ’cause we’re still growing our awareness.

[00:15:56] But I see that you asked this question, I see that you’re interested in these topics. I see that you commented on in on this, on LinkedIn. I see that you retweeted this on Twitter. I understand that you like gave product appreciation for, you know, this type of feature set in our slack. Um, we’d love to talk to you and people are like, Oh, well, I thank you for knowing all of this.

[00:16:19] Thank you for knowing that I got a reply two days, like, you know, after two days. And then it was specifically addressing this question that I had, I see you smiling, so I’m going to stop. 

[00:16:31] Jared Robin: You should always continue when, when, when, when I smile, cause you’re saying a lot of cool things. Um. Now, you, you talked a lot, uh, there about some attributive, attributable, um, platforms in the social media platforms that you just mentioned, but we all know community or at least parts of community.

[00:16:54] Even with your amazing product are unattributable. So I’m curious, like this dark social dark funnel phenomenon. Talk, talk to me about it. 

[00:17:04] Rebecca Marshburn: Ah, so I think that it’s possible to make the dark funnel a little lighter. I like, you know, where does the funnel actually start? And where does it, I think, okay. So my first answer is like way before we think the funnel starts way before the traditional funnel, which is only traditional of like 10 years, you know.

[00:17:19] I would say that it’s like the new, new, as you like to say, Jared, it’s the new, new, um, the new, new funnel, the modern, modern, the ModBot is, um, I mean, it’s not even, it’s not like a surprise, right? But it’s starting in, it’s, it’s, it’s starting in channels where people seem to be very having very casual conversations with their peers, right?

[00:17:38] It’s like, it is those. Social media channels or just media channels, YouTube is always a funny one to me because I’m kind of like, it’s social media, but it’s really just media and it’s happening across forums, right? It’s happening across chat up. So, like, your slacks in your discourse, your twitters and your linked in your discourse forums, your stack overflows and your.

[00:18:03] Um, Reddit and then your repositories. If you’re a OSS or COSS or you’re like you’re selling software to the open source community, right? Um, or commercial open source software community, like that’s going to be GitHub, right? Your repository is there and there’s discussions there, which is sort of like a mix between a repository and a forum.

[00:18:20] It’s happening in your learning management systems, right? Like who’s actually trying to take your certifications and then who’s talking about them when they move over to LinkedIn? And so it’s not like this is like a dark social, like a, like a, like a, like a phantom that we have no idea. I think what we mean by dark social, right?

[00:18:36] We didn’t know what was happening. We had no way to track what was happening there, or we had, we had a way to track it. We had no way to bring all that data together and unify it. Like, for an example, what I used to do at AWS when I was in my original role, and part of that role was leading the AWS Serverless Heroes Program, which is, you know, a community of like ambassadors and advocates and educators who are top of the class.

[00:19:01] Um, yeah. We, they would ask us to report on community to our like, you know, weekly, like all the way up to the SVP and I was like, I can’t believe that I’m like taking a screenshot of Twitter analytics and being like, look, we had 10 percent more shares this last month. We must be doing good in community.

[00:19:21] And then it would be like, here’s the top 5, you know, tweet retweets from influencer accounts. And it was just like, Okay. Painful, right? That’s painful to report to your S. V. P. And so I think that’s why we’re calling it. The dark funnel is because. We weren’t, we did not have software that we were truly using to shed light across unifying all of that, like this person who is on LinkedIn, who is also on Twitter, who is also in your repo, who is also on YouTube, um, who then is also has product data usage in your data warehouse, who is also in your CRM and is an audience of your newsletter.

[00:19:56] Like, that is all the same person. How do we unify this? And we show that this person has had all this activity before they ever actually really hit, you know, like a sales call. And so I think that’s what we call the dark funnel. It’s really like, it’s a funnel where we’re just not putting on the flashlight.

[00:20:13] Like it’s not dark. We just don’t have eyes to see it. And now we do. 

[00:20:18] Jared Robin: When are you going to collect, connect with Alexa to hear what you said in your room about the product? 

[00:20:28] Rebecca Marshburn: Uh, it’s like, um, that 

[00:20:30] Jared Robin: that’s the next level, 

[00:20:31] Rebecca Marshburn: right? You know, I’m not going to say never, but I kind of hope never. Um, but that’s because like, I’m, I’m not even going to say your name.

[00:20:39] The one that starts with an S on Apple. Cause like you accidentally say a word that sounds like that. And it’s like, hello. And you’re like, Oh my gosh, no turn off, 

[00:20:47] Jared Robin: please. You’re like, did, did you say community signal? No, I said, I said, I, I would like a cucumber on my sandwich. 

[00:20:59] Rebecca Marshburn: And they’re like, I detect some purchase intent.

[00:21:02] And you’re like, Oh my gosh, you hit the IOT button. A cucumber arrives at your door like 20 minutes later. And you’re like, Oh 

[00:21:09] Jared Robin: my gosh, out of control. Um, I’m curious. You know, going into how you built out the common room community, a lot of the listeners have a SAS product and they’re thinking through community first through demand.

[00:21:26] You know, it depends on the maturity of your product. If you’ve already got product market fit your, your later stage, whatever, and then you’re thinking community, it’s probably. More CS. But if you’re earlier, I think it’s safe to say it’s like a demand function. So, uh, you know, you’re, you’re on the earlier side of things.

[00:21:45] Although you’re, you’re maturing quite a bit when you built out the community, you’re probably even a little earlier. I’m curious. To understand how, well, like for you to walk me through it and like, was, was this for demand generation or customer success? Like what were you trying to accomplish with it?

[00:22:06] Rebecca Marshburn: Yeah. Um, I’m going to repeat your question cause our internet cut out just a tiny bit, but so to make sure you’re wondering what was the purpose behind us creating our own community Okay. Um, I mean, so it was multi pronged, right? Like, we are a platform that brings community data together that one of our core user personas is the community and DevRel leader, community manager, head of community director.

[00:22:33] I am the core ICP, right, as one of our personas. Um, and, and to not experience, to not But I’ll say drink our own champagne, right? Um, or actually, honestly, in the beginning, or, you know, when you’re testing out new features, it is eating your own dog food. Really? You’re like, okay, see how this feels. Um, we knew that we had to experience that, like to really deserve credibility in this space, building software for community managers and ultimately like, you know, GTM leaders and go to market teams and sales teams and marketing teams.

[00:23:08] For that core persona of community leader and dev rel leader, um, developer advocate, like, what credibility could we possibly have if we were like, yeah, we don’t actually have a community of our own, or we’re not actually using this with our own community. We’re not using it to grow our own community. Um, there’s, There is such a need for us to make sure that we were building a community from zero to even 10 from zero from 10 1000 right to really to really say like, yeah, we’re also doing this and like this feature actually didn’t work for us.

[00:23:43] Or I mean, I have open community and product office hours every week. And it’s like, you know, when someone Yeah, Tries on clothing and you’re like, because I love you, I’m going to say that that does not accentuate you in the way that it should. I get to say, like, hey, if you only have 2 channels or 2 community channels that you would hook up right now, um, yes, do it.

[00:24:04] Like, try it on the free tier. Understand who’s in your community. But I think you will get way more value when you have additional channels, you can really bring that context together. And so it was like that, right? We had to start from 1 channel, 2 channels are just social media channels and then build that into.

[00:24:21] Okay, who is receiving our newsletter? Right? How do we make sure that we open this slack and that this slack is like, That we’re already in contact with some of the people who are most interested, you know, our biggest fans from the beginning. And so, honestly, the way we started it because we needed credibility, um, and that’s what our customers and community members deserve is that we’ve done this with them.

[00:24:42] We started because we needed to make sure that what our product was doing was serving our core ICP, meaning us, me, the community team. Um, and then we also started in the way that we started it. Was how many people would likely start it where we actually started from a newsletter from an audience really just to be like, Hey, if you’re interested in community space, if you’re interested in community software, if you’re interested in this industry, you know, like sign up for a newsletter.

[00:25:07] We’re going to hit your inbox once a month. Like, we’re not really going to like overwhelm me or whatever. And then. We started saying, like, Hey, we’re going to open this Slack channel and, you know, would you like to join? And so that way we were able to form a bit of a relationship with people. They could get an idea of what we are about, what we were serving, how we would speak to them.

[00:25:27] Um, just expectations about both like the content and the vibe, honestly, and then they got to opt in to what is now our Slack community. And so we built it incrementally in terms of starting from an audience or what people might say, you’re like outer community and then asking if they wanted to come into the middle community, like, do they want to come in a little closer?

[00:25:47] Right? Do they want to interact with us on LinkedIn? Do they want to come to this event that we had? And then from those people really saying, like, do you want to be part of our inner community? Do you want to come into our slack? Do you want to opt in and have daily conversations about community and GTM about best learning resources about how to talk to your head of marketing about why community tooling is actually useful, right?

[00:26:09] And then how community tooling actually feeds into that GTM motion. Um, so that’s a long way of probably of answering like why we had to do it, which is like, okay. We had to use our own product. We had to build credibility, and then we had to get bring people closer into, um, into our daily community conversations to really truly understand, like, for this core ICP, this core persona, like, what is it that they need?

[00:26:32] What’s on their minds? What would actually solve their problems? And then how do they help us? Like, they’re not always going to be the economic buyer, right? They’re often not the economic buyer. They often roll up to their own Kevin or Hey. Or Kristen, you know, and so if that’s true, then like, how do they have those conversations to say, like, this is why this tool is, is, is, you know, it’s like, it’s worth it.

[00:26:55] This is why. 

[00:26:57] Jared Robin: So you just told me everything that you wanted and you needed. Why did the community you were forming need your content or your. Community. 

[00:27:12] Rebecca Marshburn: I mean, honestly, it’s hard to speak for a couple thousand people. Um, and I, I sort of don’t want to fail. What do you think that they were missing? Uh, yeah, I think, you know, I think it’s a few different things and every market is going to be different, right?

[00:27:26] Like, we have different messaging for in general, right? The messaging is. Community. Once you unify your community product and CRM data together, it’s better for the customer experience. It’s better for the community member experience, and it’s better for the product experience, ultimately, then better for the organization’s bottom line, right?

[00:27:45] Better for the organization in terms of like what they’re trying to do, which is like actually value align with their products and then sell them to the people that can use them and find value in them. That being said, for our, like, specifically, right, we do have GTM leaders who are interested in how they might better interact with, like, community teams, and we have dev rel leaders, which is there a lot of what they’re doing.

[00:28:09] I think we just ran a dev rel survey. And I think it’s number 4, um, on the list is like their, of their main priorities or primary responsibilities in the role is building and managing community programs. So I’m also going to put them in this bucket of like, you know, Deborah leaders are in our community as well.

[00:28:27] And a lot of it is that core community manager, perhaps, like, not I put as an air quotes, non technical persona of community community leader. Um, And so there’s a, there’s a couple of things to know about them, right? In general. I mean, they can be introverts. They can be experts, like all that, but in general, they’re extremely.

[00:28:48] Eager to collaborate and to help and to share expertise, and I don’t know if every persona is like that. Right. Um, and that might be a bit because the community function as an overall function is like, we need to band together if we’re actually going to start to tell, like, a unified narrative about why our function matters in the organization.

[00:29:10] Right. So there’s a bit of a, perhaps, like, Okay. We’re still emerging and we’re still like, we still need to really collaborate and share expertise because overall we need to elevate the function at the organizational level. So I think, I think I am quite fortunate that like our community is for a community of people who want to lead communities and our community leaders because there’s already something intrinsic in general about that persona.

[00:29:35] That is like, wants to be helpful, wants to share expertise, wants to elevate the function in a collaborative way. Um, so why they joined, I think they were like, hey, cool. Like, I’m interested in like, you know, sharing expertise and meeting and connecting with other community leaders. I think the second part of that was like, there’s very, very little, there is a paucity of Community software platforms and I am interested in any tool that can actually empower me to do my job better into the get real data and truly report on my impact on the business because ultimately I think and I think a lot of our most of our members think that if we can prove the impact with data on the business, you know how many people were You Um, we’re engaged in the community before they were ever seen in your CRM.

[00:30:30] Our community engaged members deals closing faster. Yes, we see that at least from the customers that we’ve done reports with. Right. Do they close for larger deal amounts? Yes. Like, there’s so many incredible. Do they use more features? Yes. Like, there’s so many incredible things that come out of people who are engaged in communities.

[00:30:48] Um, that once you can prove that impact, then that other byproduct of that is in turn elevating the community function overall.

[00:30:59] Jared Robin: I think you have a very cool, like, and then I want to look at it this other way. You have a very unique situation where you rolled out a product and that solves a big need. Right. Like that wasn’t really taken care of. So like community 1. 0 people, um, didn’t have the analytics to really drive and tell the story of what they were driving, right?

[00:31:34] Like, yes, they absolutely drove it, but they weren’t able to necessarily tell the story as much and like double down on certain things. So like. To an outsider community, 1. 0 is like rah, rah, people like, yeah, like go this product and that product. And you’re helping people evolve to let’s call it 2. 0, um, being more growth heads, right?

[00:31:58] Like, uh, and, and community is their product. And when I say growth, like, um, using a third party platform, you’re able to knock out, um, 11. Uh, I mean, you could understand acquisition with or without your product, but then activation, engagement, retention, et cetera. And then, um, so that was super unique, right?

[00:32:20] Like helping like, like build a community that could, that could help community folks

[00:32:29] be more, um, be more growth minded or, or, you know, have that now a lot of people in, in, in like Bravo, like with, with all of that, I think that’s like the evolution that we’re seeing with community because Folks were really good at their jobs, but they weren’t able to tell the story fully and, and impact that.

[00:32:50] Um, and that’s why I think your community works because you were like helping them become a more sophisticated community leader, so to speak, uh, or have, have the tooling to, to, to, to have that right. And KPIs around your tooling, a lot of companies, let’s talk about, let’s just say like average company, SAS USA.

[00:33:13] Right. That, that, that’s in a space where they might not be as revolutionary. They have a great product, but it’s a crowded space and they want to create a community, maybe a little for demand gen, right? Like, and, and, and sure for product support as well. How could that person build a community? Um, That’s slaps, so to speak, 

[00:33:40] Rebecca Marshburn: I mean, okay, so I’m going to start how I always start.

[00:33:43] I feel like, uh, 

[00:33:45] Jared Robin: build a community, right? 

[00:33:47] Rebecca Marshburn: Yeah. You know what? If they have the resources and the desire to show up and support it. Then like, yeah, build the community. Um, but I say that with the caveat of build the community after you’ve talked to the members who you want in your community and whether or not they are interested in showing up as well as members and whether or not they feel valued from what you would offer them.

[00:34:08] Um, so like if you’re only building it in a one way direction, that is an audience, right? That is, you know, you’re talking to someone. So like if. If you are willing to show up and in dialogue with the members who you want in your community, and both people are getting a reciprocal value exchange, then yeah, then build a community, right?

[00:34:28] Don’t build a community for someone, build a community with someone. Um, but I do also want to say, like, I hope that our members are getting that. I believe they are, right? Like they, people keep coming back and there’s responsiveness and there’s engagement and there’s multi layered threads and that’s wonderful.

[00:34:43] Um, But I just, yeah, I, uh, I’m proud of the community and our community members and I, I just, I’m always like, give me feedback. We need to make it better always. Um, so I want to like, say that first, but in terms of like, you know, increasing their sophistication and in turn, they increase our sophistication.

[00:35:00] Like, I’m a better community leader. I know more things because I get this umbrella point of view and we get to bring that back to the product teams. I mean, obviously our product teams are also in our community, but. Yeah. We also, I also get to bring that back as like the voice of the community, um, along with our community advocacy, advocacy board members.

[00:35:17] So, um, that being said, how should someone start their community? Let’s say they’re in dialogue with their members. They’re like, yes. Uh, and they maybe want, they maybe want to do it for demand gen. Let’s say, 

[00:35:32] Jared Robin: Who would be their first members as well? Like you’re saying they’re in dialogue with their who, who is that?

[00:35:40] Rebecca Marshburn: So I think. Like, you really, we would, I think there’s no blanket answer to this, right? I think the way to look at it is like, even if you don’t have, well, at this point you have access to a tool. Common room is one, um, for sure, where you can get, you can connect whatever community channels you have, or really even social channels at the very highest level to understand what people are seeing and sharing across those platforms.

[00:36:05] Um, so I think there is at least now no excuse because there is a free tier, right? Uh, of these tools, right? To actually say, like, okay, I want to at least understand what people are seeing and sharing rather than having to click into individual things or try to look at, you know, semi analytics dashboard, you really get to see, like, a unified view of what people are doing across these across these platforms.

[00:36:25] Then from there, let’s say that’s all you have. And you’re like, I think I want to build a community. You know, I have this many number of email subscribers. I put them into a CSV. I all like with their emails. I also add that into this tool. I combine that with what’s happening across my social channels.

[00:36:41] And then I start to look at, okay, these different people are the most active. They’ve asked the most questions. They’ve given the most replies. They have shared my content the most. They have created content that has my name in it. They have, you know, mentioned me on different forums, whatever that is. Then you really start to look at it in common room.

[00:37:00] We do this by impact points, right? So we give different weights to different types of activities. So like sharing a piece of content is going to be more than liking a piece of content. For example, um, making originating a thread, let’s say on a slack is going to be more than a reaction than an emoji. Um, so anyway, you look at, you can look at impact points and you can be like, Okay.

[00:37:21] These like my advice is start small, like don’t try to stretch and be like, well, this person has one impact point over a year. Be like, if it’s only 5 people that have over, let’s say, 20 impact points over the last, you know, 3 months start there and like, reach out to them and be like, what is interesting about my content?

[00:37:41] You know, why did you choose to share it? What else are you looking for? Would you be interested in being a founding member of this community? What types of, um, Of content creation. Are you interested in what might we offer you? Would you like to be a community moderator? Would you like to be the person that runs a monthly events like a how to event?

[00:38:02] Would you like to be our founding member and as a founding member be the person that you know? Is our go to person we say, as I welcome you into the community, you know, who is an amazing here is this person and they are like, if you can’t access me, you can go ahead and access them and you can like, you know, hype them up.

[00:38:17] Like, whatever it is, I would make that person feel valued. That’s how you discover, like discover who is actually already your fan or champion than have a real conversation with them about what they, about whether or not they’d like to, you know, change or transform or uplevel that type of work and what would be value for them in exchange and then build your community alongside what actually gives them value.

[00:38:41] So I think that’s how you start it. And I think let’s say it is for a demand gen purpose, right? Or, um, which I, I don’t even want to say in a negative way, like, cool, it’s for a demand gen purpose, whatever it is, be honest about what your community is there for you are on mute, but I see you saying something.


[00:38:57] Jared Robin: think, I think, I think we say it, uh, because like, it, it feels. Dirty to like, like community is like, so like wholesome and pure, right? Like it’s supposed to be separate from everything. And I think this goes back to your original point, why some companies separate it when they shouldn’t. Um, it’s 

[00:39:21] Rebecca Marshburn: for the same thing.

[00:39:21] I’m all about it. I’m all about like, GTM is not a dirty word. Sales is not a dirty word. If you’re in a business, I think it’s wrong. 

[00:39:29] Jared Robin: Right. 

[00:39:31] Rebecca Marshburn: But anyway, honestly, as long as we’re both like nodding our heads, no one can see us nodding our heads. Um, as long as you’re honest about it, right? Like don’t our community members are people and our people are smart.

[00:39:43] And so don’t be like, Hey, I’m hoping that you can, you know, I wonder if you’d get value out of a community that is, you know, fully based off support when what it’s like really trying to do is generate awareness. Be like, Hey, okay. We’re trying to build a community to really increase our awareness through other people’s networks, and you’re an incredible supporter of our work.

[00:40:05] And so we’re curious, what would make you feel valued? And would you be interested in being a part of our, our next community space or platform or workspace or whatever it is? Um, in order to help us increase that awareness and how do we make sure that you feel valued within that? As long as you’re like, clear about it, right?

[00:40:24] I think in as long as that person is like. Clear about the value they’re getting from it. It doesn’t really, they get the, they have the agency to say yes or no.

[00:40:36] Jared Robin: Well said, I mean, building community now, like I’m curious, what, what keeps you up at night?

[00:40:44] Rebecca Marshburn: Um, okay. So I guess two things, right. Is, um, the first would be. Probably something I sort of alluded to earlier is, am I, am I getting the right amount of feedback? Am I activating act like, you know, actively, um, incorporating that feedback? Am I doing it fast enough? You know, like, what is the community member experience?

[00:41:13] Like, number 1, I just think about that constantly. And I think as, as any, as anybody who loves their job and, you know, And, you know, appreciates the people within it externally and internally and appreciates the organization they work for you’re constantly like, am I doing this well enough? And the answer is like, you’re doing it the best you can.

[00:41:30] So, like, that’s one. Number two is more from this community and GTM point of view, right? It’s only, it’s not recently that we’ve been wading into this. Um, we’ve, we believe, right, that these two things need to be more closely aligned. But it is more recently where we’re like, basically mid Q2, I was like, Hey, here is our Q3 plan for community and sales motion.

[00:41:55] Not just GTM, but specifically sales. Here’s how community can support sales. And I created a public loom about it. Happy to share if you want to put in the show notes or whatever people can see what that strategy is. Um, but essentially. We are wading into this territory in a new way in a way that it also needs to serve as an example for other community leaders.

[00:42:15] And so we know that we’re going to get it right a lot. We know that we’re also going to get it wrong sometimes. And we also know that while we’re honest with our community members about like, hey, I just wrote this 14 minute blog post right about community plus sales. Like, people know where we’re at, and they know what we believe and like, we’re very upfront about it.

[00:42:33] But I also that doesn’t mean that I want them to have a. A less experience because we’re like working through what it means to have community and sales together. And so, um, I think what keeps me up at night and honestly, like our sales team and SDR team too is like, um, for example, right? Someone is the timing of things and that that quality of member experience as we integrate these things more closely.

[00:42:56] So. As a concrete example, you know, we have a, a, basically a set list or a, a, what would you call that? A show flow. Um, day one, someone enters the community, they get a welcome message from me, the community leader. They should know that I’m their point of contact. They can come to me with anything, um, you know, good, bad, otherwise.

[00:43:15] Day two, they get a survey from me automated survey, right? You can set up these automated welcome messages and surveys, um, through common room and it’s like, Hey, you know, what value are you looking to get from the community? That’s day two. And then it’s like day three, a salesperson is allowed, like, you know, they get to look at, you know, what did this person say?

[00:43:34] What value are they looking for? And then from that, the salesperson on day three. Can can dm them and say they don’t get asked for a call. They don’t get to say like, hey, do you want to chat? They just want to they just say they get to say like, hey, I’m so and so. I saw that you joined the community for this.

[00:43:50] Want you to have another touch point. Oftentimes they leave a little voice memo. So it’s like a little bit more human. Um, but they just open that door through dms. Right. And and honestly, and then it’s like day seven. We have a education. Um. Liaison or like our head of education, product education. So if someone is using the product and they get a message on day seven, are you finding the resources that you need to be successful?

[00:44:13] So there are different like in this show flow, if you will, like different time period touch points, they get another check in message from me at a month. Um, and there’s going to be messiness in that, right? There’s going to be things that we learn in terms of like. You know, like, do we, should we open a channel first where it’s not a direct DM because that person is like, no, don’t ever direct DM me.

[00:44:36] Um, and that’s fair. Like, that’s valid. Or should the timing be different? Or should the messaging be different? Or in my welcome message, should I say, I have a few other teammates who you’ll probably be hearing from? There are just some opportunities for messiness here as we begin to bring these things actually closer together that truly I think keep me up at night in terms of like the quality of member experience and leading this as a community leader in a thoughtful way so that other community leaders at other organizations can either like, you know, do what I did or truly not do what I did.

[00:45:13] Jared Robin: Oh, my gosh. Can we, can we get your onboarding sequence, like your collaboration with the new member sequence to release with this, uh, with an asterisk that this is where it is today. This may not work for everybody. Um, but it sounds like it would be a really great starting point for many because, um, if anybody, um, is figuring out the finesse, It’s a community leader at a community product.

[00:45:45] That’s as thoughtful as you. 

[00:45:48] Rebecca Marshburn: Um, yes, I, uh, we can figure out what format to deliver that in right now. It’s a very non pretty Google sheet. 

[00:45:57] Jared Robin: Um, we’ll take screenshots and put it in a, in a blog or email or, uh, or something on our site. Cool. 

[00:46:04] Rebecca Marshburn: Cool. Yeah, absolutely. I want, if any, if your listeners are interested, you know, like We are literally here to help people understand how to build better communities.

[00:46:12] And honestly, like, I want to be like, I actually don’t, I never want to pretend like it is all only benevolence. The benevolence comes from, yes, I want to, I want people to feel like empowered in their role to do their roles well. Um, but ultimately we believe at common room, if community leaders and GTM teams are succeeding.

[00:46:34] Then they’ll, they’ll actually need to, they’ll want to move from the free tier to the paid tier, right? Like the more their communities grow and the more successful their communities are, the more successful our business gets to be. And so I do also want to, you know, like it’s, it’s. It’s the goal of every ship, every boat rising with the tide.

[00:46:55] Jared Robin: It feels so good to like earn somebody’s business because like you’ve, you’ve overwhelmed them in a positive way with the amount of value and insights you’ve given that like the natural progression is that they use more of your product. That’s pretty cool. Yeah. 

[00:47:16] Rebecca Marshburn: That is, that is our, that’s, you know, if I could have any little piece, uh, any little hand in that mission, then I’m excited.

[00:47:26] Jared Robin: What, what excites you the most about the future though? Like, is it, is it AI running community for you or something better? 

[00:47:35] Rebecca Marshburn: Um, I mean, as a person who loves content and I truly do like respect, uh, AI and, um, actually, I don’t know enough about it to say I respect, I believe I respect AI. Like it is a, it is a realm, as we all know.

[00:47:47] Um, I, I think what’s cooler about, for example, AI is that it gives us as humans more of a reason to be creative. Like, like if you’re running a race and you’re the only person in that race, you’re going to have your slowest time if you’re running a race and there’s someone else in that race and they’re chasing you and you’re trying to win, then like, you’re like, you find a new level.

[00:48:13] Right? And I feel like that’s what I can do with human creativity. Like, we can’t rest on laurels laurels. Like, there are other ways. There are other capabilities we have. That go beyond AI, right? So it’s like, how do we stretch ourselves to be creative in a different way because I can do like at an 80 percent like, you know, quality, um, what what we originally were doing.

[00:48:35] And so I think it’s great that I like challenges us to be like, oh, we have kept capacities that we might also now need to flex a little bit more. Um, but that being said, in terms of what I’m excited about for community, um, in the future, yeah. I honestly and like I’m going to, I’m going to, uh, reference a few things that I saw in the Rev Genius community, which is really great, or I should say the Rev Genius community is many places, but specifically in your Slack, and it’s a pleasure being your Slack and you have a channel for community GTM or, you know, GTM discussions, you have a channel for sales discussions, SDR discussions, like I’m hyping up Rev Genius Slack.

[00:49:13] If you’re interested in those things, check it out. Um, and you know, just in the last week I was like, okay, what’s going on here? You know, what are people talking about? And in each of the, in each of the posts of across maybe the last 3 days, or just Monday, Tuesday, what are we today? Tuesday, um, people were bringing things up in their posts.

[00:49:35] That I was like, oh, the answer that they’re looking for or the dimension that they’re missing here is community. So, for example, there was a post about which is really cool. This person built a revenue for forecast calculator for product led growth funnels and their goal, right, was to calculate more accurate error.

[00:49:54] And like, should you hire another account executive? Right? And it included dimensions like the entire funnel from daily signups and product qualified accounts to be like, Hey, would you be ready to support another account executive? And it’s a really thoughtful tool, like really cool. And I think they’re asking for feedback on it and stuff.

[00:50:11] And the feedback I’m going to write back is like, yes. And the dimension that this is missing is the community dimension. Like, what are people saying across those different channels? What are people asking? What are they sharing? What are they commenting on? What are they clapping for? What are they replying to?

[00:50:27] What are they going deep on? What has like 15 different replies? What’s a trending thread here? Um, all of that data, right? That AE is, it’s not just like how many people are using the product, but it’s like, how deep are these people in their product? How are they trying to use the product? What are they trying to solve?

[00:50:43] What is your, what is your uncaptured market space, right? Or like, that’s what you’re trying to get to, right? It’s like, okay, do you need another AE because people are signing up and their product qualified account? It’s like, what is that community dimension that is just not even in this calculator at all?

[00:50:59] And like, that’s, that’s an incredible input. Right. To whether or not an AE has, you know, enough piety. That’s just one example from your community. And that’s what I’m excited for, right? Like my excitement for the future is that community actually belongs in each of these different posts. And like, you know, I saw one in sales and SDR channel and I could dive into them, but I know we only have so much time.

[00:51:20] So really what I’m excited about is community actually belongs in each of these. And we still have to get there. Like it’s still not naturally incorporated into these types of posts. Into these sales posts or these SDR questions or these GTM questions and really it belongs like in the beginning, how does community feed into this?

[00:51:41] And then how does this, the rest feed into the rest? 

[00:51:45] Jared Robin: I couldn’t agree more. And we’re going to have to have another conversation to dive into that because we can just open that up. Um, the young people, what advice. Would you give them, um, that are looking to, to open up community 

[00:52:01] Rebecca Marshburn: or start, man, the youth, honestly, it’s more like I am looking for advice from the youth.

[00:52:09] Um, I think 

[00:52:12] Jared Robin: that’s powerful. 

[00:52:14] Rebecca Marshburn: Yeah. I mean, they. There’s a flexibility and adaptability, a resiliency, a creativity, a, um, a, you, uh, a, a deftness with like, you know, new, newer and newer and newer technologies, um, where you’re like. Ah, how do I, how do I, how do I emulate that? Right? Like, how do I, they’re, they’re very good at being iterative.

[00:52:40] I think they’re like, ah, that didn’t work. I’m going to try it again. That didn’t work. I’m going to try it again. This didn’t seem to work. I’m going to try it again. And so it’s really like, how can I, uh, adapt some of their qualities? And like, I mean, this is like, this is a joke, but not a joke, uh, in terms of like, Huge community, uh, potential on TikTok, right?

[00:53:01] And like, um, I think the more new channels, the older we get, the more new channels there are. We’re like, whoo, seems like a lot. And so, I mean, our goal, right, as Comment Room, is that we start to, like, we are able to access all these channels so that we unify it so that you don’t have to feel like that level of overwhelm.

[00:53:18] Um, but it’s really like, what can we learn from the youth? Um, in terms of what I would tell the youth, I’d be like, keep doing what you’re doing and maybe tell me about it. 

[00:53:30] Jared Robin: I frigging love that answer. I think that’s so potent and so powerful and so humble and honest and, and, and great, um, having you today.

[00:53:42] Was incredible. Um, I I’ve learned a lot. I know the audience has as well. How can people get in touch with you and commoner? 

[00:53:51] Rebecca Marshburn: Ah, well, you can learn more about common room at www. commonroom. io. Sure. It’s in the show notes. Um, you can join us in our uncommon community slack. So it’s going to be common room to IO slash join dash slack.

[00:54:05] Um, you can also go to common rooms website, click on community and then find our slack that way. Um, you can always interact with us at common room HQ on both slack and LinkedIn. Um, on Twitter, I am sorry, not slack and LinkedIn, Twitter and LinkedIn X and LinkedIn rather, um, on X dash Twitter. I am at Becca Odele, B E C C A O D E L A Y, um, and I’m on LinkedIn at Rebecca Marshburn, and you can always find me in the Uncommon Community Slack for sure.

[00:54:37] And, um, if you know what musical reference my handle is, Please go ahead and give me a, give me a party hat, a little Tada emoji. 

[00:54:48] Jared Robin: I hope I didn’t ruin it, but we’ll talk more about that. This has been so incredible. Thank you so much for coming on today. 

[00:54:59] Rebecca Marshburn: Thank you for having me. What a true joy. And, um, I look forward to more whenever we get to collaborate again.

[00:55:08] Jared Robin: I do as well. And for all you listening. This has been another awesome episode of Revenue Today. If you learned something, liked something, share it with others. Have other people listen in. That’s what community is about. We’ll be back next week. Thank you so much.

[00:55:28] Thank you friends for joining me. That was another great episode of Revenue Today. If you’re looking to listen to more episodes or for the show notes, go to RevGenius. com. For all my friends in the RevGenius community, it was awesome to spend this time with you. Please DM me any feedback or ideas for future podcasts in our Slack channel or on LinkedIn.

[00:55:46] If you’re not in RevGenius, Join us. It’s RevGenius. com. It’s free and it’s fast to join and really for all levels of revenue professionals. For senior leaders, we just launched a private community just for you called RevRoom. We know it gets lonely out there and we’ve built a tight knit group of senior leaders collaborating on the future B2B go to market.

[00:56:07] Looking forward to seeing you all there.

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