• Sarah Robinson

Are You Wooing Them or Just Gathering Data?

One of the Accelerators I talk about in Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities is something I call “Creating a Barrier to Entry”. A barrier to enter the community is an extra hurdle someone has to jump in order to get into the community. It could be an application (awesome example is Grey Poupon’s Society of Good Taste Campaign), it could be a membership fee (most any professional society you can think of does this) or some other extra effort a potential community member must make.

Why does this barrier accelerate Fierce Loyalty? Because once we’ve cleared the hurdle, we know we are in a community of people where every single person cleared the same hurdle. We share the same commitment and enthusiasm for being being there. We know we are among comrades.

So often when I talk about creating a barrier to entry, my clients will proudly say – oh we have one of those. “Really?” I say. “Show me.”

Eight out ten times, they point to something like this:


In an attempt to hide my horror, I ask “When do they have to fill all of this out?”

“Oh before they can access any of the reports, whitepapers, interviews, etc. on our site.”

“So before they even know if you’re offering anything of real value to them?”

“Ummmm. Well. We need the data.”

“So this form is about what you need and not what your potential community members want?”

At this point, they usually cross their arms and scowl at me.

I get it. I really really do. You need the data. You need to know the demographics and contact information. You’ve got to have this stuff so can close the sale. And I want you to have it.

But asking for this much information at the beginning of a relationship is like asking someone to move in with you after meeting them at a party. And it does nothing to strengthen anyone’s feeling of loyalty to you, your brand or your community. Even if your content is really really rich and I’m sure it will change my life, I will hesitate to fill it out and only do so because you’re making me. Not an auspicious beginning to a relationship, is it?

What if, instead, you only asked for two pieces of information to get the relationship started? A first name and primary email address should be plenty of information for that. Then through the course of delivering your insanely valuable content, you woo them. You exceed their expectations. You get to know them and value them. THEN you ask for this information which will put them into a special club or community of people who want more of what you have to offer.

Take a look at how people begin a relationship with you. Are you data-gathering (which means it’s about you) or are you starting the wooing process (which means it’s about them)?