Going from CMO to Building Exit Five - Is There A Playbook?
"Hey Dave how did you build a successful community? Any tips?"
Once you reach a certain level of success with a product you will get messages from people who want to do something similar, and they want the five minute playbook on how you did it.
There's nothing wrong with those messages. I appreciate the question and I've reached out to people in my earlier years asking the same.
But the problem is I can't give a simple answer. I don't have a link to an article with the seven steps to success or a video breaking down exactly how I did it. It would be impossible to create that piece of content.
Behind any "success" is years of hard work, bad ideas, mistakes, lucky bounces, good timing, hundreds of hours of learning through videos, events, podcasts, books and a decade of time doing my "apprenticeship" as Robert Greene calls it, building up experience in a niche and then stumbling my way into launching what today looks like a successful community business.
Like most products, V1 of Exit Five was not what it is today:
- V1 was a Patreon podcast talking about marketing, which was only possible because of three years of sharing my thoughts about my work in marketing here on LinkedIn/Twitter and my podcast which gave me an audience to launch to.
- This does not include 10 years I spent learning from bosses, mentors, co-workers, and going from PR intern to Product Marketer to Marketing Manager to Director to VP to CMO, hiring, firing, wasting budget, making mistakes, having some hits, and doing the work. This fueled what I wrote online.
- 500 members on Patreon led to V2 and adding a "community." Members on Patreon told me they want to talk to each other and connect with peers, so we added a Facebook Group. Why? No idea. It was the easiest one to pick and my wife and I were active in some parenting Facebook Groups and they seemed to work great. So we added a Facebook Group. I never evaluated multiple tools.
- First it was called the A List, then DGMG, then Exit Five, and we went from Patreon to Supercast to Kajabi to HubSpot to Circle. I've spent thousands (closer to hundreds of thousands at this point) of dollars of my own capital on tech, contractors, designers, agencies, and more.
- I've written thousands of posts in the community over 3 years. Posting daily. Responding to members daily. Listening to feedback daily. When you have a community though you have this incredible advantage: the community. They quite literally will help you figure out what to do, what to build, what content is working/not, and they will "vote" by engagement.
- I've done ~150 podcast interviews with top marketing leaders and subject matter experts. That is about 1 hour / week talking to an expert in B2B marketing that I've soaked up somehow. It's like a cheat code. But it's also work. I've put out an episode now every week for the last 78 weeks.
So there's the playbook.
See how easy it is to quit your job and start an online business? :)
PS. Please join us in the new home for Exit Five (and our dedicated iOS + Android app)
We have officially moved our community off of Facebook and over to Circle which gives us our own private community on the web and a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android. It's bumping over there already and I've been loving the feedback from members so far.