Who: Chris brings the unique perspective of success from both sides of an event. He understands the challenges of the organizer that needs to move an audience, having himself facilitated over 2,000 events that have brought together business owners, toward economic growth, under the umbrella of Tampa Bay Business Owners, which he founded in 2008. That success regionally was the springboard to launching a national event, Podfest Multimedia Expo, which he grew to over 975 attendees in just five years, with an expectation of 1,500-plus in year six, thanks to his ability to communicate key messaging to that community. Channeling that energy into creating a documentary, now he is making an impact globally. Under the CK Productions banner, as a filmmaker and producer, Chris successfully birthed The Messengers: A Podcast Documentary, which obtained worldwide distribution and theatrical screenings. This after having hosted and produced two TV shows earlier in his career. Of note was one of those projects being archived in the Library of Congress. Now, Chris has ventured into the next phase of his life, becoming an author, having recently written Start Ugly, a timeless tale of getting started.
Traction: Chris is a master builder of communities, which is what we will be reverse engineering today. When Chris started his first community, the Tampa Bay Business Owners association, Chris began with a small email list and an idea of bringing highly qualified business owners together to learn and grow together. His father was a business owner and it stood out to Chris that his father never attended business meetings, but he knew the power of learning as a group and surrounding yourself with people that can help elevate your play. In order to achieve traction, Chris made it a point to seek out groups and meetings where he would find people that he would prefer to associate with. At those meetings, he asked for introductions to the top 10% of business owners and contributors – people who he knew that would provide incredible value to meetings that Chris would host in the future and pursued those leads to the best of his ability. When approaching each individual, he framed his association as a group of elite business owners, learning from each other and guest lecturers, where each participant was vetted and interviewed before allowed to attend. The combination of going to where your ideal audience spends their timeand creating an invite-only group that attracted competitive individualswas what made Chris’s first community highly successful.
Growth: In order to build his communities, Chris practices two very effective methods in order to grow each group. He prioritizes values and bringing the right people to the community. Every person that joins his communities must have a positive mental attitude, be willing to learn, and have integrity. This ensures that he attracts the right people, who generally want to be around other people similar to them. Once the right people are in his communities, they become the best referral engine for finding new community members. In order to ensure the internal engine of operations is poised to support growth, Chris finds ambassadors that can execute on the mission of each community – these are individuals that live and breathe the mission, that are biased toward action and finding solutions. For example, when a presenter at PodFest arrives to a speech 5 minutes prior to start, but has technical issues, his brand ambassadors would make sure that the intent of the organization is executed and find a solution in a timely fashion so that the experience and brand are preserved. Like with his other community members, he does his best to find ambassadors with the right values, that can be his field generals to make sure the mission gets accomplished.
Income: In each of the communities that Chris has built, he has a plethora of different income streams. The most effective for him, however, is the VIP pricing strategy. For example, in his Tampa Bay Business Owners association, he has monthly membership fees that give community members access to weekly meetings with subject matter experts in various business functions. A VIP participant gets to meet with each of the guest speakers that the association brings in to speak, giving them a VIP experience when learning about how to improve their business. The price difference is 70% more than the regular membership and helps both sides in multiple ways. For the community member, they benefit from enduring relationships and personal connections with people that can genuinely teach them how to excel in areas they could improve on. For Chris, he knows which of his community members perceive his services to be worth the most, and who to prioritize in the future. By creating a regular and VIP ticket class, he allows the market to determine the 80/20 breakdown of his most valuable customers – something that isn’t always so obvious.
Traction action step: Think about who your target audience member is – down to the questions they ask, the places they spend their time, and who they associate with. Once you have that in mind, go to those places and spend time there, finding the biggest contributors in each of those places, and have those individuals become a part of your community.