The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Building Community Through Challenges

Episode Summary

“Our community experience tripled our customer lifetime value”

Episode Notes

Alicia Reynoso began selling online 7 years ago and has since built and exited an 8-figure brand on Amazon and Shopify.

It wasn't until she launched her free 60 Day Challenge that she was able to grow a hyper engaged community around her brand. With this challenge and community of super fans, Alicia was able to scale their business, increase their customer lifetime value, generate an endless amount of UGC and differentiate themselves from the competition.

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Episode Transcription

The Unofficial Shopify Podcast

Kurt Elster: Welcome back to The Unofficial Shopify Podcast. I was thinking, in the last several months there’s been a theme on this show where we tell you you need to build a community. And part of it’s because it’s not that you should not have built a community in the past. It’s that now community is more important and more attractive in the wake of iOS 14.5 update and what it did to the cost of paid advertising and your return on ad spend. Certainly, people have seen it become more difficult and take a dip, and so it is helpful to be able to offset that to juice those ROAS numbers when you are building an engaged audience.

And having a community is the way to do that and it is also… It can be a rewarding and satisfying thing to do. But there’s a catch. It is super easy for me to say, “You should build a community.” And then the follow up is, “How? How do I build a community?” And then that’s when I go, “I don’t know,” right? It’s not an easy or obvious thing to most people, and certainly not to me. We have a Facebook group for this podcast with 4,000 members, a lucky accident. Just I started a Facebook group several years ago and then that was I feel like a lot of my successes, I just kind of tried something and got lucky.

But fortunately, we have someone who has come up with a standard operating procedure, it sounds like, for developing a community. A systematized approach based on a very successful business that used this approach. Alicia Reynoso is joining us, and she has a business, She has recently exited another very successful business and so I would love to have her talk to us about it.

But first, Alicia, thank you for joining us.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. Hey, Kurt. I’m super excited to be here.

Kurt Elster: When did you start selling online?

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah, so I got started selling online back in 2014. I started on Amazon FBA, just private labeling. That was my model for a little bit. But when I started my brand, my goal from the very beginning was to create a brand, not just products that I was selling. And since starting on Amazon, 2014, we were growing, and growing, and then around 2018, that’s when I actually spoke with Ezra Firestone and he was like, “Hey, you can sell your business one day.”

Ezra Firestone Sound Board Clip: Tech Nasty!

Alicia Reynoso: I was like, that’s the thing-

Kurt Elster: That’s Ezra.

Alicia Reynoso: You have that? You have Ezra? That’s cool.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. The Tech Nasty sound drop. That’s Ezra.

Ezra Firestone Sound Board Clip: Tech Nasty!

Kurt Elster: That’s him.

Alicia Reynoso: That’s so cool. Yeah. He’s the one that actually said like, “Hey, you know, you could sell this one day,” and I was like, “That’s really cool.” I didn’t know that was a thing that people were doing, so from 2018 onward, that’s when I got serious and we focused really hard on Shopify, and diversifying our revenue, and yeah, that was kind of the start. Amazon FBA in 2014, but got really serious on Shopify and eventually we were able to split our revenue 50-50 between Amazon and Shopify in that time period.

Kurt Elster: And where did it go from there?

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah, so 2018, that’s when we got serious about Shopify. So, when we learned Facebook ads, a huge part of that was through the help of Ezra Firestone. We were able to learn our Facebook ads. We got that nailed down. But then that’s when we really realized that we were kind of at this plateau. It was around like 2019, like we felt like we had just plateaued with our growth of Amazon and Shopify. At that point, we hadn’t diversified our revenue 50-50. We were still very heavy, 80% Amazon, 20% with Shopify.

And so, that’s when I realized that in order to keep growing, we really needed to change something. So, it was like at the end of 2019 that I realized that this whole time I wanted to create this brand that would remind people to live their life with infinite possibilities, to go chase after their dreams. We were like health and wellness focused. And then end of 2019, that’s when I realized we really had no idea who our customers were. We weren’t conveying our message whatsoever. You know, we were just kind of selling products and getting people in our door, and then that was kind of that.

So, at the end of 2019, I realized we could totally change this up and I launched our challenge, a 60-day challenge, in January of 2020. And that was the start of our community and that’s when… 2020 was the very first year that we hit eight figures.

Kurt Elster: Whoa. So, how did this… What do we think the impact of this community effort was?

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah, so before that, before our community, the biggest things, just real quick, like a bird’s eye view of the total impact that this challenge had and our community had, it was able to triple our revenue. We were able to increase our customer lifetime value by 45%. So, from 2020 to 2021, they were spending 45% more with us because of this community and this experience that we had created with them. So, tripled our revenue, increased customer lifetime value. We were able to generate a bunch of user-generated content, which like before we ever had our community, we had no real strategic method of getting user-generated content. We would just kind of email our customers and beg them, and be like, “Hey, can you send us a video with our product?” We had no way of getting that kind of content.

It also gave us a really cool roadmap, so before this, like I said, we didn’t actually know who our customers were. We thought we did, but we weren’t quite sure. And so, by getting to know them at this deep or more intimate level throughout our community, we were able to build a roadmap of what products they wanted, what they liked, what they didn’t like, and that was a huge asset that we were able to present to our buyers when we eventually sold, like, “Hey, here’s your five-year gameplan.”

So, that’s kind of like a bird’s eye view of what the total impact that this challenge had, and our community had for our business.

Kurt Elster: So, I knew community’s important and powerful. The way you painted it, it sounds like significantly more value to the business than I realized, because you said it exploded customer lifetime value hugely. And you were able to connect with customers on a deeper level that enabled you to better understand them, and in doing so, better serve them where you’re like, “These are the products that are missing.” This is what they want from us. And you were able to deliver that.

And of course, then everyone wins, right? You’re delivering value both ways, for the business, for the customer, and then ultimately that led to you were able to sell this business for a handsome, enviable sum, it sounds like.

I’ve always been saying, “Build a community. Build a community.” And here, I hear you saying like challenge and community almost interchangeably. So, walk me through that idea.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. No, exactly. So, it was back in 2019, like I said, when I realized that we were really missing something. That’s when I thought all these eCommerce people just had the secret sauce that we were missing and that’s when I just completely changed my mindset of just like, “How can I help? What can I do? What can I create that’s going to take our customers from point A to point B without them even having to pay us?” What is an experience that I could create for them? Because all of our customers come to us for something. They have problems that they’re looking to solve.

So, we had an obvious problem that they were looking to solve, but deep down, they had all these internal struggles and bigger things that they were going through that’s going to help, that’s in their way of getting to point B. So, I spent… I don’t know. A whole week. I bought this big whiteboard, put it on my wall, and I just wrote our customer. I’m like, “Okay, here’s our customer. These are their pain points. This is where they are. This is where they want to be. Here are their objections. And what am I gonna do to get them to point B? What can I create?”

And so, I was in charge of all of our marketing, design, photography, all that kind of stuff, so I was like, “I could create recipes, I could create videos, I could create guides, I could create all of these things,” and I got super excited. I was gonna put it in our email flows, our ads. I was gonna do all of these things, all these assets that would be free for our customers to do, to experience, to get to that point B. Then I realized that I was just a team of one. We were a very small team of three. It was my boyfriend, me, and our best friend that ran customer service, so being able to create assets like this or to dive into this big project was just unrealistic, so then I kind of got discouraged and I was like, “Well, what else could I do that’s going to take our customer from point A to point B and how can I do that as a one-woman team in my creative department?”

And that’s when I thought of bundling it all into a challenge, and so that’s how like the 60-day challenge concept was developed, and the whole idea behind it and why I associate challenge and community is I launched a Facebook group January 5th, 2020. I’ll never forget. I was so scared. I made a video of myself being like-

Kurt Elster: January 5th, 2020?

Alicia Reynoso: 2020.

Kurt Elster: Oh, boy. Oh, you did not know what was about to come at that point.

Alicia Reynoso: Oh, no. No, not at all. And that’s actually what’s crazy is it was creepy scary good timing in that sense, because that’s when the whole world in March was looking for community, and I just had one ready for you, you know? I had built it since January. So, it was scary good timing in that sense, but I firmly believe that communities are still the way of the future.

But yeah, no, backing up a little bit, I launched it January 2020. I was super nervous. I was like, “Was anyone gonna like this or they were gonna understand the concept?” And with the first challenge, I had several hundred people register for the challenge, so the whole concept of it was a 60-day, they pledged to do something for 60 days, but then alongside that and why our engagement… Because eventually, by the time I sold, we ended up having about 16,000 members in our group, but to keep that engagement high is I would have a core challenge that they would be pledging to but supplemented with weekly focuses.

So, after I went through that whole process of writing on the whiteboard, “Here’s our customers. Here’s their problems. Here’s where they need to go. And here’s the objections.” I was able to come up with all of the things that our customer needed to learn and to experience to be successful in life, and those problems, but also with our products. And so, that was like the biggest thing. We were a health and wellness brand, so I had weekly focuses on self-love, on confidence building, on gratitude week, on fitness, all these types of things that that’s really what our customer was looking to achieve when they came to us in the first place.

You know, our product, and that was like… Sorry, I got so excited talking about this, it’s just really cool, but that’s just when I realized our product really wasn’t the solution. It’s just one of the tools that’s gonna help them. And all of these things that we’re gonna teach them and walk them through throughout the 60 days, that’s what’s going to make them successful, and when somebody’s successful with you as a brand and with you with your products, then they come back. They turn into loyal raving fans because you actually changed their life. So, that’s the cool part.

Kurt Elster: There’s a lot of gold to unpack there. I think one of the things I often ask people when trying to help them, when doing business therapy with their store, is what do you wish all your customers knew. And what do you wish all your customers knew that would make them successful with your product, make them have great experiences with it? And depending on what the product is, this can have wide-ranging answers, but it sounds like you found a way through a challenge, is really like… Okay, you’re aligning goals where you know the problem that your customer wants to solve and that your product solves, and they overlap.

Okay, but then how do you get them there? There is more to whatever the problem is in your life, there’s more to it than just, “I threw money at it,” right? I bought a product, it showed up, now what? And so, you knew… You figured out, “All right, here is all those other things and here’s the objections that people have, and here’s how we help them, teach them to overcome those objections.” And then you presented it all to them as it is free education, it is community, which gives you support, and your approach, very clearly holistic. You said, “Hey, they have to learn compassion, self-love or self-care,” and that’s that whole broader holistic view is I think what creates the success for the customer, and then that becomes shared success, and they end up grateful to you.

Alicia Reynoso: Right. Exactly. And that was like… I don’t know. It kind of blew my mind, because I didn’t expect it to be as successful as it was, but because of it, everything else gets easier. Our ads got easier. Our email marketing got easier. Our social media… We never had organic engagement. I don’t know why. We tried so hard on Facebook and Instagram to get people to engage, and that got easier, and better, and people were… It was like this halo effect that had happened where every marketing avenue in our ecosystem was just easier.

I had all this, I had an endless amount of content from our Facebook group that I honestly… We probably only tapped into about a tenth of the user-generated content that was produced because people constantly were posting videos of them with our products and how their lives had truly been changed because they went through a whole experience, and those videos just were like the best performing Facebook ads. We put them in emails, and blog posts, and stuff like that, so everything just got easier because you didn’t have to think, and plan, and come up with things. Your community created all of your marketing.

Kurt Elster: They showed you what they want.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. Exactly.

Kurt Elster: So, you mentioned UGC, user-generated content, and so it is one thing… We talked about this on the podcast recently, is video has become the default medium, communication medium of the internet, and making video, not the easiest thing. People are resistant to it. Making video for yourself, for your own brand, especially when you’re new to it, easy to be self-conscious. It’s hard to do. It’s easy to procrastinate and then just not do it. And it’s probably never going to be as impactful, especially for a new customer, a new prospective customer, as user-generated content, where a customer who’s not trying to sell anything to anybody says, “I bought this product. Here’s what it did for me. Here’s why I love it.” I mean, just tremendous word of mouth marketing there. And that is worth so much more than you, the owner of the brand, telling me how great your product is and why I should buy it.

And certainly, there’s value there too, but the UGC, man. That stuff is really… That converts well. But getting it can be tough, right? It can be like pulling teeth. And so-

Alicia Reynoso: That’s like what I was saying. I used to just email people like, “Please. Here, I’ll send you some. Just make a video.” And it was so hard to get content like that.

Kurt Elster: It is tough. What do you think is different here in the Facebook group, that you’ve aligned the goals and they’re proud to share it?

Alicia Reynoso: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That’s the biggest thing. And like I had told you when I launched in January, I was so nervous, and I had never done live videos. I had done product demo videos and stuff like that, and certainly my face had been in the brand or whatever, but I was just openly vulnerable with the community, like, “Hey guys, this is me stepping outside of my comfort zone to be with you guys. We’re gonna go on this shared experience together.” And then from me stepping outside of my comfort zone, it made other people step outside of theirs, and it was kind of like a snowball effect where then they would see each other be posted and you just create this kind of context within the group that they feel safe and excited, and also how I would reward people, because we had weekly meetings where I’d give out prizes and stuff like that.

And I was very generous about the awards when it came to user-generated content and they kind of knew that, and so then it would encourage more and more people to want to share. And then just exactly that. When somebody goes through an experience and you can help them solve a problem that they’ve been trying to solve for so long, they’re way more inclined to make a video and they’re comfortable making a video because they know what to say, you know? They just talk about their experience. Whereas if you were just to ask your customers to make a video about your product, it's like, “Well, yeah, your product’s cool,” but then maybe they just don’t feel as inclined because they don’t have this experience to talk about.

So, when you can change the script from just an experience instead of product description, it’s a more effective ad, anyways, or more effective video, because it’s an experience, and it’s easier for them to film than just trying to talk about it.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. It sounds like the difference is one is a book report, the other is a testimonial, right? I don’t want the book report.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. No, that’s a great way to put it. And just we cultivated that community where people felt comfortable, seen, heard. I met with them weekly and I talked to them one on one, and would read their comments, and remember their names, and remember their husbands’ names, and their dogs’ names, and like I actually genuinely spent the time to really care for them and then they could tell, and so they felt more inclined to return the favor in that sense, if that makes sense.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. Well, there’s authenticity there. There’s real relationships. These are things that are and should be difficult to fake. If you can fake authentic relationships, I’m sure there’s people that could do it… I don’t know that I want to be their friend, right? But it makes it easier when it’s real, and authentic, and from the heart, and I think most people can pick up on it when it is and know the difference. And early, you said the value in this is it helped you know the customers, and so you were able to make… Everything about what you did became so much more relevant and then thusly impactful and profitable for the business because it was exactly what they wanted.

When you said, “Oh, we got to know our customers,” I pictured something more removed. You literally are like, “I knew them as people,” like we had relationships. So, there isn’t a shortcut here. You had to put in the effort.

Alicia Reynoso: No, it’s real. It’s real relationships that you’re building with people. But just to reiterate, we were a small team of three running an eight-figure brand. We packaged our own orders, too, because we were crazy. We had so much on our plate that I didn’t have the time to do a lot more than just an hour of my weekly live video. That was the cool part of it is that we were able to build very strong, intimate relationships with these people with really not anything more than an hour… It was 30 to 45 minutes a week that I’d go live with them and then I would do one post a week. There wasn’t… I didn’t have to post every day. I wasn’t showing up. We would comment and offer encouragement, of course, like, “Great job. You did so good today.” But I couldn’t have something that was too time consuming, and so with this method and how I was able to structure it, I was able to build those real relationships and actually get to know them, but still have all the million other things that I had to do for our brand, as well.

Kurt Elster: If you had to do it over again, do you think you would have outsourced some of those other responsibilities to free you up to focus more? Or do you think everything worked out the way that it should have?

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. Well, the thing is we knew we wanted to sell. That was the goal. That’s been the goal since 2018. So, we were like, “Let’s just…” It wasn’t sustainable if it was gonna be like everything we did. The group’s super easy, but everything that we did, and packaging our own orders, I ran our Facebook ads, I did our email marketing, all that kind of stuff. Definitely not sustainable for the long haul and I would have-

Kurt Elster: So, you were in a sprint. Yeah. You were sprinting. You knew it wasn’t sustainable. But you were gonna go to like 100% of your capacity temporarily knowing that that would max out profitability and make the business look lean and attractive.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Kurt Elster: Okay. That makes sense.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. And I loved it. I was happy doing it and like I said, those last two years being the most fulfilling, it was fun. It was fun to just hustle like that. But yeah, if I could, and when we potentially launch a future brand, we’ll definitely outsource a lot more of… Maybe get more agencies and get more people on board to help. But the community aspect of it, I wouldn’t outsource that. The person, the face doing the community, as far as… Just because I thoroughly enjoyed actually really getting to know my customers and talking to them on that intimate level.

However, I did have our customer service, my friend, she was in there helping comment and offer encouragement and support to the group. You can definitely outsource that and then just go live once a week with your group. And I just always firmly encourage those, the brands are doing it, to do the live videos if you want, because it’s just fun. For me, at least, I get to know the customers and stuff, so I wouldn’t outsource that part.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. I agree with that. I think that’s a smart sentiment, a wise move. Talk to me about live video, right? I’ve not done… I have not messed with live video I think since 2020, and it was always… It was like I was a guest on other people’s live videos, right? So, walk me through the concept and the advantage there with live video versus like you record yourself, and edit it, and post that. There’s quite a difference there.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. No, for sure. I think the biggest thing is when your customers feel seen, heard, and connected, the loyalty that you can build is just incredible. So, that was like my thought process on live videos, was I was able to get instant feedback from them. How they were doing, how they felt about that week’s focus, that week’s little mini challenge that we did, what they’re looking forward to, any struggles that they have, as well as they were able to ask me live time questions about our products, the sales that were going on, or when the next set would be, so it’s not only just like relationship building, community building, but it’s also like they were very profitable, too. Because then people would ask and I’d leave notes and be like, “Hey, we have this sale going on.” And I was able to talk about those kind of things.

But yeah, I just think when your customers feel seen and feel heard, especially by a face of the brand, they’re like, “Man, this brand is so cool.” They really care. So, when they ask you those questions, and of course, our group did get really big, like one live video we had 11,000 comments.

Kurt Elster: Whoa.

Alicia Reynoso: And you just can’t respond to every comment, you know? As much as you’d like to try. But you still stay engaged and you look back and forth and say like, “Hey, Ken. How are you doing? So good to see you here.” But then you have to still go about your topics and stuff, but the live videos just brought a lot of loyalty to the whole experience. For sure.

Kurt Elster: Is it a skill? Was it something you think you practiced and got better at?

Alicia Reynoso: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, like I said, I was so nervous at first. For the first, I don’t know, three months. I had never done anything like that. But it was all just learning experience and the coolest part, and this is what I tell my new clients I’m working with on building their challenges, is like if they’ve never done a live video, your first challenge that you do, if you let your community know that they are the pioneers, that they are like building this incredible thing with you… So, that’s what I did on accident. I didn’t realize I was doing this. For my very first challenge, I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing, guys. I have no idea what I’m doing. Just let’s meet weekly. Let’s do these things. And what do you guys think?”

And I would ask them, like, “You guys are designing this. This is your community.” And just very much make it all about them and ask them for real-time feedback of what they’re thinking. There are members, we’ve done 10 60-day challenges, and there’s a huge amount of the members from the very first challenge that have done every single one. They just keep coming back because they built it and they feel that sense of ownership. So, even though going live was, at least for me, I had to learn how to do it, learning how to do it vulnerably and letting that first round of the community know like, “We’re doing this together,” that just solidified my first batch of troops for my little army that I had built.

So, then when new members joined this little army would be like, “Hey, this is how this group works. Alicia goes live once a week. We have little challenges.” And so, I didn’t have to go in there and do a whole lot of work because I had my little troops that you help recruit and build in your first challenge.

Kurt Elster: So, when you started this in January, two years ago, you hadn’t done anything like this before. And so, how… Was there a moment where you knew like, “Okay, this is working. This is gonna work and I need to keep going.”

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. The first week.

Kurt Elster: Oh, wow.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. It was like it was instantly. I posted my little welcome video and I emailed our email list and said, “Hey, come join,” and then I went out to the warehouse and was packaging orders to distract myself, like I didn’t want to be disappointed that people weren’t interested.

Kurt Elster: You don’t want to be sitting there just hitting refresh?

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah, like, “Come on, join my challenge.” Yeah. I was so nervous, but then like 30 minutes in or so of packaging orders, I was like, “I can’t do this,” and I had to look, and like already several dozen people had joined, and they were pledging, and they were excited. And then within the first week when I did my first live video and people were asking about our products and how they’ve always loved our products, but how now they’re so excited to be able to bond, and communicate, and connect with us in this way, I was like, “Whoa. This is really cool.” Because now I can actually talk to them and get their feedback. Yeah. That first week I knew. I didn’t know exactly that we would just keep repeating it. I was like, “Should we do a different kind of challenge? What should we do with this Facebook group,” now that we had built up a few hundred people.

And then I just realized you can just keep repeating it. But that’s the cool part, is that every… The mini weekly challenges make every round different, because you can swap those out. But yeah, it was after the first week that I was like, “This is something cool and fun and I better stop getting nervous on these live videos because I feel like I’ll be doing these for a while.”

Kurt Elster: Did you ever run into issues with content moderation? You have a Facebook group with thousands of people in it, eventually over 10,000 people. The thing that always concerns me about growing a Facebook group is like spam, or just crappy comments and negativity, and that’s really… It’s not been an issue for us. Certainly, like yeah, it happens, but you just delete it and move on. I’m wondering on a larger scale, and a very engaged, active group, did you ever have moderation issues you had to deal with?

Alicia Reynoso: I wouldn’t call them issues. Of course, spam will get in any Facebook group and stuff, but it was a private group and they had to answer questions to get in. And they had to do a pledge. They had to do their pledge in the questions to join to enter, because I only wanted people that actually wanted to be there. And a lot of people would invite their entire friends list, and if their friends didn’t answer the questions, we didn’t let everybody in, because I just wanted people that knew what was going on in that group to be there and no one else. So, I kept it very filtered. All you had to do was answer questions. You didn’t even have to be a customer. You just had to answer the questions and show, yes, here’s my micro commitment.

But then you’ll still get people that do your questions and join your group that post spam and stuff, but every single round before we start, at our kickoff event, we talk about the rules, and how we’ll delete posts, and everything like that, and I would say we probably only delete like one post every other week. It’s not a problem or it’s not overwhelming, and I’ve set up alerts and stuff to make sure we never miss anything like that.

Kurt Elster: And I noticed… I don’t know if you have messed with these tools. Facebook added the admin assistant where they’ve got automation rules now, where it’ll be like, “All right, if this post gets 100-something comments in one hour, lock the comments.” Or if it gets reported twice, lock the comments. If it gets reported four times, delete it.

Alicia Reynoso: Yep. Yeah. You can set that kind of stuff up.

Kurt Elster: Yeah. That’s a new thing. At least it showed up in my account in the last several weeks. That certainly mitigates I think some of the fear about like, “Oh, no. What happens if my group’s…” Really, on my side, it’s a silly question because it’s like, “All right, what do you do if your group’s too big and too successful?” Right? And then that’s the flip side of the like, “What if I can’t manage, what if I can’t moderate it?” It’s like, “Oh, well, that’s a good problem to have, buddy.”

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah. Well, the other thing is that like how I talk about the little troops that you’re building, like the community, the members of your group become very… They take a huge amount of ownership of your community. They love it. And they care about it. And so, if anything gets by us or the moderation filters or anything like that, they’re gonna report it and make sure things get taken out. And so, yeah, that’s the biggest thing is that when you start building it up and the bigger it gets, just your army of troops are getting bigger that are watching for you too and making sure that it stays relevant. Because we also keep our customer service out of the group, as well.

That’s one thing, just because we always cared about customer service and actually really want to make sure your problems get solved, and if it became a standard for them to think they could ask their customer service questions in the group, we’re not gonna see it all. There’s so many posts every single day, so we just said, “Hey guys, not that we don’t want to take care of you, of course we do, but just please email us and we’ll get that taken care of.” So, that’s a standard, people know it. You just creating these standards within your community that your loyal customers know, and they help uphold, you know?

Kurt Elster: I don’t think it can be… I don’t think the value of the questions up front can be understated. The moment you ask any questions at all of people joining the group, you separate the wheat from the chaff. You find the engaged people. Because someone who’s not engaged and just like, “Join,” just clicking join on Facebook groups, they’re not gonna bother to answer the questions. And so, you know right away like, “Okay, that person was not here to add any value and probably wasn’t gonna get any value out of it,” so you just decline them.

Alicia Reynoso: Exactly. And I would much rather have a smaller group than a large group with people that don’t want to be there or don’t know why they’re there.

Kurt Elster: For sure with Facebook groups, definitely quality over quantity helps a lot. And so, in your case, your niche is health and wellness. And I think one of the tough parts about community is a lot of brands go, “Well, I don’t know that that would work for me.” Like yeah, that’s great for Alicia. I’m a special snowflake. My brand… It won’t work for my brand. Does this work? Can this be made to work with any niche?

Alicia Reynoso: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. And I think that’s the thing I’ve been really excited about lately, is I’ve been working with several different clients and building theirs, and they’re all different, from consumables, to apparel, to drop shipping. There’s so many different niches that I’ve been able to assist on and just seeing how we’re able to get this to duplicate as well for them. But the biggest thing that I remind everyone, or I talk about, is there is a problem that somebody’s trying to solve when they come to you. You know, there’s something that they’re trying to solve in their life, and I don’t remember who said it, but Russell Brunson quoted it. Every product or service solves something in health, wealth, relationship. Those are like the core problems people have, and every product and service serves one of those. Something in their health, something having to do with their wealth, or something having to do with their relationships, and so that’s like the first step that I have people do is that whiteboard that I talked about earlier.

You don’t have to go buy yourself a large whiteboard, that was just fun for me, but like to brainstorm, like to put it down and say, “Here’s my customer. They’re coming to me to solve this problem.” I think the example Russell Brunson gave was for razors, you wouldn’t think that that’s solving relationship problems, but like a challenge… If you were just to sell a physical product like a razor, you’re like, “What direct point A to point B is the customer trying to solve when they’re buying a razor?”

And he talks a lot about relationship with themselves as a professional in their career, with women. All those kinds of things you can create frameworks for or a challenge around, because there is something that your customers are trying to solve, regardless of your problem. People only buy things because there’s something to do with their health, wealth, or relationship that they’re trying to solve, so that’s the first step I have people do is let’s brainstorm. Let’s write down all your customer’s problems, where they are, where they would like to be, and their objections, and how can we help get them to that point?

Kurt Elster: In hearing you explain it, you make it sound easy and obvious, and the reality is it isn’t, right? It is something you have to sit down and think about, and you have to… The chances are the early version of your answers to those questions are going to be based on your own experience. Which is fine, but as you develop that relationship with your customers, ah, they’ll change, and they’ll evolve, and it’ll firm up, and sometimes it’s like, “Okay, I had it almost right, but we’ve added a lot of detail here.” And sometimes you get brands where it’s like they were successful in spite of themselves and had no idea. Like you don’t know what you don’t know until you really start to know people.

Alicia Reynoso: No, exactly. And you’re exactly right. It took me over a week to really figure out what the heck to do with my customers and what exactly they were looking to achieve, but then as soon as I did this exercise and actually spent the time, it just seems so obvious now. But it’s not. It takes the work of really sitting down and trying to understand like what problems your customers are trying to solve when they come to you and… Yeah, it’s a little bit of an exercise, but every single product or service solves something.

Kurt Elster: Go ahead.

Alicia Reynoso: Yeah, sorry, last thing, and then when they join your challenge and you start doing your weekly focuses, that was that roadmap that we talked about. I would ask my customers all the time, like what was your favorite weekly challenge? What would you like us to do next? And so, a lot of the future challenges had been completely designed by their needs. So, you get your first one out, you get your first challenge built, and literally, like I was saying, let them know that they’re the pioneers. They’re building this with you. Figure out what their problems are together, hand in hand, and then your future challenges, you’ll know exactly because now you know your customers and you’ve talked with them like that.

Kurt Elster: I agree with and love and am energized by everything you’ve told us. And I am so grateful to finally have someone who can explain better than I could, all right, here’s what goes into building a community. Because it has become… It was always important. It has become more valuable and more important than ever. It sounds like you have a course, you have something to offer us based on your experience. Tell me about it. Pitch me on it. Sell me. Please, give me the excuse to give you money.

Alicia Reynoso: For sure. Yeah, so after we sold our business, I wasn’t even sure what the heck I wanted to do, but I just got so passionate about challenges and my community in a sense, so that’s when I realized that a lot more people could benefit and I created Challenge Makers, so it’s, and if you go there right now I have an hour-long class where I just talk about… It’s a free class where I go through this a lot more in depth, especially like the avatar, like understanding your customer’s problems, and desires, and trying to figure out exactly what you could do as a brand to help them get from point A to point B. So, that is just available on, and it’s just a free class right now, and then after that, I have some courses and trainings where I can help you go through this and some one-on-one coaching if you wanted to brainstorm ideas and make sure we get the perfect challenge objective nailed down for your business and everything.

Kurt Elster: Alicia, thank you so much. This has been inspiring and insightful and informative, and certainly, please, check out Thank you again.

Alicia Reynoso: Awesome. Thank you.

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