Welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by https://gtex.org.uk/,
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Today I have the pleasure to Interview Desislava Dobreva
Referred to as “The Branding Queen”, Desislava Dobreva is an award-winning Brand Strategist, TEDx speaker and a social media influencer with an audience of over 100,000 people. She is a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, Thrive Global and The Good Man Project. Desislava helps businesses build and scale brands that are powerful, profitable and popular with her unique methodologies and techniques. She’s recognized for her unconventional approach to branding because she dives deep into the psychology and neuroscience behind building a successful business and holds monthly trainings on the topic.
In this episode, we talk about
- How to create a kickass onboarding process for your online community to WOW your new members.
- How to grow your online community and attract new members
- How to retain members in your community so they don’t leave you
Connect with Desislava Dobreva
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– Ladies and gentleman, I thank you for watching this exclusive interview with Desislava Dobreva, the branding queen. Today we are talking about how to start, grow, and maintain an online community. So you will absolutely love this interview so let me… …she can connect and then, if you’re watching the replay, please make sure you put hashtag replay as well, and also you will absolutely can ask also your questions that way. If you’re watching, if you’re listening on the podcast, welcome, welcome, welcome as well. So the reason why we are doing this interview, while we are waiting for Des to join, the reason why we are doing this interview is because not only is it really important to create a community around your business. First I want to say hi to John Vanick, Mia as well, so let’s get Des in. So as I said, it’s absolutely crucial to start a community. It’s one of the biggest business lessons I got, to start your community first, and the community will build your business and that’s why we are joined today by the one and only Des Dobreva. She is live with us. Hey, Des, how you doing?
– Hola, people, I’m doing great. How are you?
– Incredibly well, incredibly well. It’s great to see you here. Just finished a good workout in the gym so I’m still, like, super pumped and ready for this incredible interview. It’s been awhile, actually, that we’ve done an interview together.
– I don’t even remember the last time.
– I think it was before the talent retreat that was about generative…
– Yeah, oh my god, that is too long.
– That’s too long, that’s too long. I thought it was well overdue. Um, so Des, let’s, today we’re going to talk about how to start, grow, and maintain an online community, in particular, you do something with your online community, BBS Squad, which is completely different to what a lot of other people do, and your processes are absolutely incredible. Actually, let’s start from the beginning. How did you end up having the idea of launching a community? Let’s start from there, and then we’re going to look at different strategies.
– Um, that’s actually a great question. Nobody asks me that; I don’t know why. I think that’s the best part because when, remember you were coaching me when I started BBS, and I remember just thinking even though I’m barely making any money at the time ’cause it was just the beginning, I remember just thinking I really I want to have this safe place where people can just be themselves ’cause everybody was so fake in the online world, and you’re the first and only person I found that was actually helping me with legit, authentic strategies without compromising my integrity. I just didn’t see that, so I thought, well, I just really want to have a place where, of course, it brings me recurring revenue, but it’s not just about the money. I want people to feel safe. I want them to feel like there are no stupid questions inside of BBS, on the outside, and I want them to just feel fully supported, so I created it when I was still living in my one-bedroom apartment in Copenhagen, Denmark. That was a great experience. Um, and it’s actually picked up really, really fast. We had, like, 20 founding members within the first week.
– Yeah, and I remember saying, Oh Dez, don’t do that, that’s a very stupid idea right now. so you definitely proved me wrong, and this is a lesson as well. Like, a lot of time you will work with people and they will tell you what they think is the best solution for you, but sometimes you gotta just trust your gut instinct, and you, you said no, this is what I want to do, and you were so stubborn that I said okay, fuck it, you go ahead, I’ll support you in doing it then. So let’s look at, at, this is the start, you had a great launch, and now you’ve been running this community for a few years, and your processes have evolved massively. You’re now, you’ve created one of the best onboarding processes that I’ve seen in terms of onboarding and retention as well. So what I want to talk about, first of all, is, um, what is the focus of your community, ’cause there are other online communities, so what did you decide to focus on, and, uh, also, then we take the journey from starting, growing, and maintaining, so we are going to look at the strategies. So let’s start from your focus. What is your community focused on?
– Um, before I say that, somebody wants to say hi.
– Hey, Lucifer! Lucifer in the house!
– He’s a big part of BBS. He actually works customer support, so if you go on our website, you see Lucifer as customer support, for real.
– So, the BBS…
– Does he run some courses as well?
– Not yet, but he really wants to. I told him he needs to learn how to be better on camera ’cause he usually yawns. He’s pretty quiet.
– Only on camera, but-
– Alright, let’s get started. So, actually the interesting thing about BBS is, you know how I always say, and it’s a fact, that every single business owner comes to a point in their journey where they needs to rebrand, like that’s – get off my lamp! Oh my god, sorry, he’s on my lamp. Every business comes to a point where you need to execute a rebranding process, whether because your audience has evolved or your offerings have evolved or just your brand identity has evolved because you were a completely different person in the beginning, right? So, the same thing happened with BBS pretty much, and uh, in the beginning we were a branding community, that’s it, and uh, I quickly realised that that was not the way to go because, for two reasons. The first one was the perception of people because branding is not everything, right, and I am so much more than just a brand specialist, um, and uh, the second thing is that I felt like I could give people a really unique place that is kind of like a one-stop shop for growing your business, that was my goal. So we came to a point where BBS had to be rebranded, and that was actually only a few months ago. We just really executed, so now BBS is the place where you come to bridge the gap between business and branding, so it’s somewhere in the middle between a business and a branding community, but it’s focused on every single aspect of, um, growing, launching, and skilling a brand.
– Wow, I absolutely love that. I’m a big fan of the, like, one-stop solution, uh, that’s how I built GTex because I believe that when someone is part of a journey, um, it’s very difficult to follow too many people. Uh, it’s very difficult. It’s better to follow a few people and just stick with them up until when you get the results you want, and then you move on. While I think there is a tendency, because there are so many like, micro niche specialised communities where people are now just creating these Frankenstein businesses and that’s why I love BBS because someone goes in and is like, okay, I have enough here to keep going in all the different aspects, and I run a lot of courses for BBS like the sales training, selling from the stage, and so on, um, which is part of the mission of things that, that they’ll know they’re part of the community. So that’s your focus. In terms of, ehh, I want to talk about the onboarding side. The onboarding is one of the most important parts of the process; it’s what sets the tone, and
– You know, a lot of people, eh, they would just, you know put in like a Facebook message in the Facebook group. Hey, welcome! and that’s as far as the onboarding goes, but you go beyond that, so tell us a bit more about some of the things that you do to make your onboarding process stand out.
– So, well, when we started BBS, it was pretty much that. It was pretty much a message in the Facebook group, and again, something that we knew this whole time we really wanted to change, but you know, when you want to rebrand something and change the user experience, it’s really, it takes a lot of time to figure out what is the right place to be when it comes to especially onboarding because the onboarding doesn’t just set the tone, it’s the first piece of your retention strategy. ‘Cause if you think about it, how do you make sure your members stay for a long, long time? Well, first impression matters. So what we did was we moved our onboarding process entirely on the website, the membership site itself, so what most other people do is, they have a Facebook group and most of it happens there. They just have a training on the membership site, but we made sure now that the membership site is like front and centre, so the onboarding process is made out of four or five steps, it walks them through everything, and one key thing that we added is um, a whole page of it asking people to ask to share that they’ve joined us, providing them with a little template and asking them to share. And at first, let’s try to do this without an incentive, and they still shared. People love bragging about what they’ve invested in because they’re excited, right? So we added that as a part of the onboarding process, and I haven’t really seen that before as part of a community’s process, so it’s working very well.
– And then we just lead them to the main communication channel to make sure they know exactly where it is, and we support that with, um, and email sequence that is not one of those every single day you receive an email. That’s what we went through last time. It’s one of these onboarding sequences that continues in time, so it actually becomes a retention sequence. So for example, there’s an email reminder that they can be affiliates. There’s an email with a survey link so that we can see um, their opinion on the membership so far and keep improving.
– Mhm, wow, that’s, that’s brilliant, I like it. So what, uh, well, I’m curious because also now on Facebook groups you can create modules. So what was your decision to create the onboarding process in the membership site and not using the modules in the Facebook group? That’s out of curiosity.
– That’s actually a great question because at first, I also created some units in the Facebook group, and my first idea was should I do the onboarding process here? And then I realised two things: number one, I have a team of designers and web developers in house, and number two was one of the problems we had up until now was that people get so much volume from our calls and all the other stuff that we do like the chat in the Facebook group that they forget to actually login to the membership site, so they don’t see the new content that we put on there, and that’s a huge problem because there is so much volume and we add new content biweekly. So that was the main reason why we moved everything because now I can see it in the system that they’re logging in like 10, 15 times a day, going through different trainings, which is huge, that’s probably a 200% increase than they used to.
– So now also we told that, that’s brilliant, that’s something definitely to take onboard, um, because if you go around, you find that all the people, everyone is doing the same old things, and there has been very little innovation on the how the people feel welcome as part of the community, and, uh, I really want to do this interview on this topic because that was attending, I just came from speaking at an event in Lithuania, in fact I’m still at Lithuania at the moment, and there was one of the speakers that, he was the main designer of packaging at Bubury, and he was one of the main keynote speakers, and what he was saying is that right now in the digital world where people are onboarding, where people are buying online products or online services, sometimes there is not even any more than humans touch, that to make someone feel welcome or to make them feel loyal to the brand, while if you go in store, you know, there are so many different touch points that makes you feel that you want to invest in the brand. And it’s important for us even in particular online work that what can we do, how can we go the extra mile to create a sense of community? And if we’re not giving something physical, what else can we give, what else can we create with them? So thank you, thank you for answering the question. I want now to move on in the process in between in terms of content creation. What are some of the things that you are doing in terms of content of the membership site that are different than what a lot of other membership sites are doing?
– So obviously the typical thing that all of us do is add content to the membership site, that’s a given, like, that shouldn’t even be discussed, and I hear people saying things like “we update our membership site monthly!” I’m like no shit Sherlock of course you should update it, not monthly, but at least biweekly. But something brand new that I came up with that everybody loves is once a week, every single week, I go live in our Facebook group and I do a live branding and social media audit for one member. So we made a list and we told people put down your name if you want to be next. The list filled up immediately because everybody wants that and it turned out to be a great success. So I would go live for between 15 and 20 minutes, um, and I would go to their main social media accounts, websites and give them feedback on the content, so I would literally tell them okay, let’s take this latest post. Here is what’s wrong with it, here’s how to make it better, here’s what to talk about next time, and that 20 minutes gives them so much to work on, it’s crazy, and I haven’t really seen that done in a membership, but it honestly doesn’t even take much of your time, but it’s so valuable.
– Yeah, that’s brilliant, so that’s one of things, what is something else that you do, something different?
– Well we wanted to, it kind of plays into content, I think, yeah, because we had the Facebook group, right, but every membership has Facebook group, and what I don’t like about it is that a Facebook is not like a chat channel, the conversation can not exactly flow 24/7, and I wanted to create an environment where they can literally get help from someone, even if it’s not me, 24/7 in a more well-structured environment, and a Facebook group is not that structured, so I introduced a new platform that became our main communication platform, and that’s an app called Discord which is basically, you can create different chat channels inside, and members say that the most valuable thing in the membership now after the polls is Discord because once you login, it’s not just one channel. What we did is we have a business channel, personal channel, health, and spiritual, so literally
– If you want to talk to us about the last invocation you did, you come to the spiritual. In the health channel I put all of the health experts in BBS because we have so many, so many different niches, so now they provide help for anybody who asks something related to their health.
– Love it, oh that’s slick, absolutely love it in particular because that’s one of the challenges when you’re in a Facebook group or some people use Messenger group or WhatsApp group. It gets overwhelming very fast and very quick, and in fact I’m gonna try, I’m gonna give it a go about Discord because I didn’t even know about this app, so I’m definitely going to check this out and invite everyone else to listen and say okay what can I do to make it better because if you’re not doing something, if you’re not thinking about the experience that your clients will have, they will leave you, and they will go to someone else that will provide them a better experience, so that’s in your interest to try out some of this stuff.
– Yeah, and you know how I know that that’s true? We recently made a statistic that between 40 and 50% of all of our members come to BBS because they’ve been burned by another place that basically didn’t think about innovation at all, didn’t think about the user experience, so they just wasted their money and then they found BBS and they were like oh, finally! So it’s crazy, I mean, there’s so many communities that make these wild promises like oh you’re gonna get rich in 90 days, um, some people were just sued for millions of dollars I just heard the news today, because they made that promise and you uh, I think it was a programmer, so my advice to everybody listening to this is not only always try to do better but just never promise anything that you’re not 100% sure you can deliver.
– Yeah, absolutely, that’s really important in particular whenever you make financial promises, you gotta back them because then they can sue your ass if you don’t deliver and then that’s a problem, that’s a big problem. I wanna say hi to everyone that joined. Chrissy, thank you very much for joining, great to see you, Sonia, oh do we have Ron. Do you have any questions as well on how to create great communities online the ask away because we have the last, the next few minutes of this interview. Now I want to go and move into the last part, last question that I have, which is now about retention because, uh, to build a membership site and a community is a lot of work – that’s what people don’t realise. It’s like oh yeah, I’m gonna put a video a month and then I’m going to have massive income for the rest of my life! Yeah, good luck with that. People leave, and you spend so much time, resources, money to get people to join, but actually you make money as a business if they stick, and if they stick for two months, three months, you’re actually losing money and you make money when they stay for a longer period of time. So what are you doing for retention? What are some of the things you put in place for retention?
– That’s my- can you still see me by the way? Yes you can.
– Yeah, I can see you.
– My favourite- okay, because something happened with my wifi I think. So retention is the biggest thing for sure and as a I said it definitely begins with your onboarding process, so always, like, think of your onboarding process as the first step towards retention, and then what I personally do is I have a system where we track, ’cause I have a team, when you join BBS it’s not just a one-woman show. We actually have a team that supports you 24/7 so, uh, what we do is we notice if somebody has not engaged for over 20 days. I feel like two weeks is too little, 30 days is too much, so for me I think 20 is a good amount of time, well bad amount of time, really, for somebody to not engage, and so we kinda flag those people and enter them into a preset automation, so basically an email sequence, that kind of tackles that lack of engagement, so it stats with a slight nudge, you know, then it goes into reminding them of what’s coming, then it goes into asking them to send me a personal email. That’s where that personal touch plays a part. For me, it’s always about the personal touch, so I always ask them to send me an email with any suggestions, questions, like, yes, or even doubts you know, so the email sequence is a huge part of that and obviously it goes without saying that you constantly need to be doing things that earn followers like we invite guest experts all the time like you who deliver trainings that I personally cannot deliver because I am not an expert in, let’s say, webinars, so we hate them, so that goes without saying. So apart from the email sequence, um, we sometimes, if the person has not engaged for over a month then I actually reach out personally um, because you have no idea how many times it has happened that somebody just felt a little bit shy or somebody just felt a little bit outnumbered because, you know, some people have anxiety, so when they join a place that is so engaging, where people just never shut up, that’s BBS, they feel a little bit out of place. So I literally have at least a dozen times where I have personally reached out and after 24 hours they immediately started engaging and I retained them and they’re still there years later. Um, so that together with the email sequence is very, very big, works amazing.
– That’s, that’s brilliant. So we gotta, I gotta go and shoot up for another interview right now, uh, I wanna do a very great, great call to action because BBS is opening for applications right now, um, there is something if you want to learn about branding, business, BBS is an incredible community. I’ve seen it built from the ground up, from literally moment zero to now the incredible community that it is, so there is the link here in the comments. If you’re listening to the podcast, the link is in the show notes. Make sure you join BBS because it is an absolutely incredible community. Uh, Des, I need to shoot off. Thanks very much for, uh, being here, and, uh, sharing these value nuggets with us and for everyone else that is watching or listening, thank you very much for joining us. See you in the next one. Alright.
– Thank you.
– Thank you.
– Bye, everyone.
– Bye, everyone. Bye, Des, thanks.