Community management has a crucial role to play in our road to success. Check out some of our thoughts in regards to the strategy behind it!
Rather than spending resources on advertising, as well as mass surveys on product performance, we build communities among our target audience of end-users. To this end, we create a value-creation and feedback cycle together with our desired users, in order to drive product development as it is suited for their individual needs and problems.
As part of our community-building approach, we have decided to strategically build communities within our target audience of consumers for product development. As MAMA and other ARYZE products are developed, we will assure regular feedback sessions and encourage these community members to propose modular features that can be implemented in MAMA. Subsequently, these community members can think of “jobs” or problems they need solving, which can influence the development of MAMA and thus find absolute use for the product, which they inevitably help create.
We draw inspiration from the innovation process called the Base of the Pyramid Protocol as we build our community strategies, in order to target markets that are not necessarily visible in the sphere of information that the Internet provides. This protocol brings company and community together to conceive, launch and co-create new businesses, new narratives, and new products.
The protocol, originally designed by a cooperation of corporations – S.C. Johnson, DuPont, TetraPak and Hewlett-Packard – and intended for developing markets, is adaptable to industrialized markets, in that the strength lies in co-creation and feedback cycles with the target audience. The “base of the pyramid” refers to low-income audiences, typically classified as individuals earning $8 per day or less, but this classification is flexible. Arguably, we can extend this audience to include students, migrant workers, and individuals typically excluded from the modern financial system.
The protocol features three phases, each of which take varying amounts of time to complete. Ideally, the phases should be executed over three years, though with modern technology at our disposal, it can be substantially compressed. We see great value in establishing ourselves among communities as we will receive constant feedback from the ultimate intended users of our consumer application, MAMA – the financially excluded individuals, seeking to send and receive remittances abroad at near-zero cost.
Phase one – Immersion
The company establishes contact with the communities and immerses a community manager or team to build a relationship. Over the course of a few months, the manager works with the local community to co-create a business concept based on the core services of the company. This creates awareness, interest and a local “buzz” of excitement over the business concept the community helped create.
Phase two – Building an Ecosystem
This relationship with the local community is formalized in a new organization with partners and focuses on inspiring learning activities surrounding the brand and product/service offering, in order to involve a wider community. The products (MAMA Modules) that are designed or educated upon are specifically offered to solve a “job” of the local community. The end result of this phase is a community-tested prototype and local “winners”.
Phase three – Enterprise Creation
In the final phase, members of the local community are equipped with the knowledge on how to capitalize and design new business models using the technology that is provided. Essentially, we create entrepreneurs and drive self-sustained innovation in the wider community, through workshops and tutorials that are simple to follow. This also involves small-scale testing and management education, through core partners in the area. The results are a committed and grateful target market, where the company’s products are embedded in the local culture.
An example of an ideal community is a Kenyan community in North Carolina. This is a community where Kenyan ex-patriots meet regularly to discuss challenges in their lives, new technologies that might help them, relationships with home, and more. This is an ideal gathering of people where the pains of sending/receiving money internationally are felt, and where ARYZE can draw inspiration from in terms of co-creation and coevolution. In our roadmap, we have decided to integrate locally in foreign markets, with Financial Technology Innovation Hubs (FinTech Labs) as our local base of operations, where we will have employees and community managers become mainstays, in order to build trust among the intended communities. Not only is this a low cost and flexible method of integration with local culture, but it also allows us to drive business intelligence by keeping our fingers on the pulse in local markets.
Ultimately, this process is primarily designed for consumer products but can be adapted to a certain degree to established businesses as well. Through this community strategy, we can offer partners and clients the ability to do limited testing in new markets via our ecosystem. We have also drawn inspiration from the LEGO Ambassadors Network, which has proven a high degree of value to LEGO’s business, as it offers exposure to new ideas, new technologies and partnerships. This is a method of expanding into new market areas without having to endure high fixed costs in the long run.
“We think innovation will come from a dialogue with the community.”– Former LEGO CEO, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp (2005)
The first step of this strategy is already implemented with the ARYZE Ambassadors Program, which focuses exclusively on university students, where we actively promote them in their careers and personal development, as well as help them develop their skillsets and learn about ARYZE. The ambassador’s program is a key element of our Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, as well as a useful marketing method – these ambassadors ultimately become promoters of our brand and bring our presence along with them when they travel and live abroad.
Measuring the impact
Being able to use the BoP Protocol to embed our products and collaborate with our community requires that we can measure our impact, in order to consider it a success. Therefore, we must align community metrics with the goals of our business, as well as benchmark impact and track progress over time. This way, we can justify dedicating resources to the initiative.
Our framework for community impact uses the following metrics:
- Community Vibrancy
- Membership Growth
- Content Consumption
- Participation in workshops
- Newsletter opt-outs/opt-ins
- New and returning contributors
- Marketing and Sales
- New clients/customers
- Increase in ambassadors
- Application downloads
- Business Integration
- New clients/customers
- New partnerships
- New idea generation
- New module creation
In this age of open-source technology, collaboration and co-creation are imperative to long-term success. Involving end-users and being in touch with their payment needs will allow ARYZE to become embedded in culture and behavior in the road ahead. Finally, connecting our partners and their areas of expertise with end-users as “boots on the ground” will bring much value to the arena of future innovation.