In the ever-evolving landscape of B2B marketing, attention has been shifting toward building communities and enhancing brand.

In this episode of the Marketing Smarts Live Show, guest Mark Schaefer delves into the powerful role of communities in shaping the future of marketing strategy.

Community as the Core of Marketing Strategy

Schaefer, the author of Belonging to the Brand: Why Community Is the Last Great Marketing Strategy, shares his insights on the topic, arguing that community will become a pivotal element of marketing strategy in the relatively near future.

Key takeaways and insights:

  1. The emergence of community-centric marketing. Schaefer discusses the ways communities have become central to successful marketing strategies. He emphasizes that fostering a sense of belonging and connection is crucial for brands looking to make a lasting impact.
  2. Strategies for building strong B2B communities. The show explores practical approaches to cultivating robust communities around brands. They include using digital platforms, creating engaging content, and fostering interactive environments for customers and stakeholders.
  3. Impact on brand loyalty and growth. Schaefer sees a direct correlation between thriving communities and enhanced brand loyalty. He provides examples of how brands have successfully harnessed their communities for growth and long-term success.

In short, building and nurturing communities not only enhances brand loyalty but also drives sustainable growth.

Check out the video for more details, and the full podcast (link below the video) for the entire insightful conversation.

Don't miss future episodes: Subscribe to the Marketing Smarts Live Show on YouTube. And to catch up on all previous episodes, check out the full playlist on YouTube.

Episode Details, Guest Information, and Referenced Links

Episode No. 37

Guest's social media profiles:

MarketingProfs resources referenced in the show:

"In B2B News" article referenced in the show:

"From the #mpb2b Community" links referenced in the show:

Transcript: The What, Why, and How of Community- and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing, With Mark Schaefer

Why are communities the future of marketing?

Mark Schaefer, author of Belonging to the Brand: Why Community is the Last Great Marketing Strategy, has a lot of ways to answer that question.

He makes the case that communities and customer enthusiasm last in a way marketing campaigns don't. He emphasizes that community relationships create positive emotion.

These topics and so much more in this amazing interview and today's clips!

Hello to all my Marketing Smarts Live viewers today. I'm super excited to bring you EPISODE 37 of the Marketing Smarts Live show.

This week's topic is all about The What, Why, and How of Community- and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing .

So, if your ready to get your learn on, buckle up and let's get ready to rock a nd roll.

Hey, I'm your boy George B. Thomas speaker, trainer, catalyst, and host of this hear show, the Marketing Smarts Live show as well as the Marketing Smarts podcast found on your favorite podcast app.

Our guest clips today are brought to you by none other than Mark Schaefer.

Mark Schaefer is a globally-recognized author, keynote speaker, futurist, and business consultant who blogs at {grow} — one of the top five marketing blogs of the world.

He teaches graduate marketing classes at Rutgers University and has written 10 best-selling books including KNOWN and Marketing Rebellion.

His many global clients include Pfizer, Cisco, Dell, Adidas, and the US Air Force. He has been a keynote speaker at prestigious events all over the world including SXSW, Marketing Summit Tokyo, and the Institute for International and European Affairs.

Mark has appeared as a guest on media channels such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and CBS News.

Now, remember, the clips of Mark Schaefer today are pulled from the full marketing smarts podcast episode and, if you want to listen to the full interview with Mark and myself, make sure to tune into the Marketing Smarts podcast, link to the full show will be in the description below after the live show ends.

Now, in this episode, again, I'm talking with Mark Schaefer about The What, Why, and How of Community- and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing.

In the original podcast, I started by asking Mark what keeps him up at night, why is building community important and, what should we as B2B marketers keep in mind along the way.

And, we got some great nuggets of community wisdom to say the least.

But, in this live show, lets time travel to when I asked Mark - How do B2B Marketers get started using a community marketing strategy for brand building?

That's right, the conversation that combines community and brand in one perfect marketing ball of awesomness.

Here is what he had to say!


Mark: I love the way you set this up because I think it works beautifully with the thesis of the book. In the beginning of the book, I talk about how businesses got into social media. If you do really good at social media, then you're creating content that has an audience, which is awesome because when you have an audience, you have some reliable reach with your customers. In a virtual way, they're kind of opting-in to to your marketing. But that's where most companies are stuck.

You have to think of it as a continuum, as an evolution. You have an audience with your content. Great job. But you're leaving money on the table. What is the purpose of your marketing, of your brand? To create that emotional connection, that meaning in people. The ultimate way to do that is community. An audience is still a bit of a cult of personality. I have a blog. I have a podcast. If I go away, the audience goes away. But a community for a business is sustainable.

Here's something profound that I've found. In a community, when people start becoming friends with each other, it's not just that they love you, they love each other. That emotion transfers to the brand. Creating these community relationships transfers to you. It creates an emotional switching cost for your brand. Now if I leave, name the company, that means I lose this community. I don't want to lose this community, I'm going to be devoted to this brand. When you get into the psychology of community, how it relates to a brand, it is profound.


Did you hear that?

When you have an audience, you have some type of reliable reach!

Are you reaching for the next evolution? An emotional connection!

Something sustainable! An audience ends with a single human, a community that builds relationship lives on past the individual human.

After listening to this, I don't know about you but, I want to dig into the Psychology of community!

Put the answer to that in the chat pane or, let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #mpb2b and of course, tag me using @georgebthomas.

We'll get back to Mark Schaefer and his thoughts on The What, Why, and How of Community- and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing But first, I have to ask...

Are you part of the MarketingProfs community? If not, become part of the MarketingProfs community by heading over to - That's

Now, it's time for one of my favorite sections...

In The B2B News - Where we talk about breaking B2B news or really important tips we find on the google news tab related to you and your B2B business. This week, the title is...

The multiplier effect: How B2B winners grow

This article is a collaborative effort and can be found on

This article is robust! But it shares how consumers think and what B2B markers need to think about. There are five lessons you can dig into based on the survey mentioned in the article.

One of the things you might think is interesting is the fact that the term B2B Ecommerce is actually becoming a thing! And, I mean a thing!

To read this article, check out the link below when the live show is over.

So let's get back to Mark Schaefer and his Marketing Smarts podcast episode.

So, in the last clip, we talked about getting started! But, once you start to drive down the road of community for brand-building, I wanted to let you know what potholes to watch out for!

So, I asked mark, What are some hurdles you've seen B2B marketers face while trying to build, maintain, or drive sales when leveraging a brand-based community?


Mark: Most communities fail. Those are the hard cold facts. Because companies are trying to sell stuff. That is not a reason for people to gather. You hit it right on the head. The first idea is what is the purpose, what is our purpose as a company, and how does that intersect with our customers in a way that would want to make them gather?

An easy brand to understand, HubSpot, is an amazing brand for that, and MarketingProfs, all the emotion of MarketingProfs. It's almost like there's so much love in MarketingProfs that their annual event is a family reunion. It's that kind of community. That is where the power is. You're always going to be with MarketingProfs, you're always going to be with the brands that you love, because you want to be part of this community.

Another brand that's kind of easy to understand is Patagonia. When I say that word, you instantly know sustainability, the environment, responsible recreation. I have a friend who said, "I will only buy Patagonia, because I'm in their community and I believe in what they stand for." Their purpose isn't hitting a quarterly sales goal. It is this is our purpose and people are going to want to gather around that. That's the important place to start.


Did you hear that little thing!

Most communities fail - Wowza.

But wait, did you listen to the actual end of that statement?

Most communities fail *because* companies are trying to sell something!

If you are building a community, you need to know what your purpose is and why humans would want to gather around that!

How can you make your community get-togethers feel like a family reunion.

Does your community believe in what you stand for? Not: Is what you stand for is always trying to sell them stuff!

We will get back to Mark Schaefer in a few minutes but first it's time for some...

Dope B2B Learnings From The Vault of MarketingProfs Articles

That's right, It's time to dig into the treasure trove of valuable information and pull out two pieces of gold to help you be a better B2B marketer.

Article one this week is: 10 Examples of the Best Brand-Community Landing Pages by Andrea Williams

As digital brand communities dramatically grow in popularity, it makes sense to explore some high-profile examples.

The customer-experience industry is undergoing a shift to mobile and niche platforms, away from conventional social media. But, regardless of the platform you use, a good experience for community members always comes first—and it starts with the landing page.

The community landing page is one of the most important building blocks of an engaged, growing community. It's what draws people in.

In this article, you'll get a chance to look at some of the best communities out there and their landing pages, and discuss how you can draw inspiration from them. As well as get insight into a Formula for Success.

Article two this week is: How Communities Are Changing Marketing (And Four Community-Building Lessons) by Jen Evans

Not all that long ago (think 2002), people would think you were crazy when you talked about the powerful intersection of community and content. Online communities? Those died in the dot com bust. And content? Like, copy?

Today, marketing professionals and their bosses are starting to come around, but they still have a ways to go. Few people fully grasp how the interplay between content and community can change how organizations function internally and externally.

Want to keep learning more? If so, check the links in the description below after the live show to get access to both amazing MarketingProfs articles.

OK, back to Mark Schaefer... Let's dive back into this conversation of The What, Why, and How of Community- and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing

Well, if we are driving down the community road and, we understand what potholes to watch out for, how do we know when we have arrived at community and brand building nirvana? In other work, what does community success look like?

That's exactly what I asked Mark.

Listen to what he had to share.


Mark: Number one, most marketing as we know it is ephemeral. We have an ad or we don't have an ad. We have a budget for a campaign, it gets approved, when the money runs out, the marketing project is over. In a community, there's an implied social contract. Can you ever think of any marketing you've ever done in your life where there is an implied social contract other than community? That's the first thing that's really different.

Number two, the person you hire to work in your community is probably the most important person in your marketing department. Not your CMO. They may not be your most experienced person. They may not be the highest paid person. This is the star of your company. It could be a team of people if you're a really big company. That's the second thing that I think is very different that you need to really pay attention. I talk about in the book there's this thing called a parasocial relationship, where you may not really know a person like you've met them before, but through a community you create this relationship and it's almost like they become part of your family. That is awesome for a company. You have to really pay attention to the people who are doing this and give them the budget and give them what they need to really succeed.

The third thing I would say that's different that would have to be in place is something that you and I have spent our careers struggling a lot with, and that is how do we create something, it could be content or an activity, to make it worthwhile to be there. You have to make it interesting, you need to make it fun in some way. Almost every successful online community I've seen has had an offline component. I don't know for sure, but I think the biggest community in the world might be Twitch with 75,000,000 or 100,000,000 users. They still have conferences, they still have meetups to bring these people together. Almost every online community has some kind of offline component.

Those are just three things off the top of my head that are really important, but there's a lot more. It really takes a different leadership mindset to succeed in community.


You understand: A community equals an implied social contract!

That makes it way different than your historical marketing efforts.

You as an organization understand: Your community manager or your community team are most likely the most important people in your organization!

I love that Mark talks about: make it interesting, make it fun! And the fact that he mentioned the online communities having offline events and meetups #priceless.

Lastly: Did you hear Mark say this?

It takes a completely different leadership mindset to succeed in a community approach!

We're going to get some words of wisdom from Mark Schaefer here in a few minutes but right now it's time to turn the spotlight on you, the MarketingProfs community. Yep, time for...

From The #MPB2B Community

We searched far and wide in the #MPB2B universe to find amazing information and conversation to bring to the masses.

So, first, make sure you are using the hashtag, and second, make sure you have fun and add value to the community.

Then, we'll spotlight you or your crew on the show. This week, it's...

Big Omaha SEO & Web Design Co. Big

They said, They picked a bad audio clip here, but the graphic is dead on.

There's no better sales tactic than connecting to the human being on the other end of the line/meeting/email chain/communication and talking to them like they're a human being, and not just a 'mark' or lead, like you're some kind of smarmy Alec Baldwinesque character from Glengarry Glen Ross, always selling.

Want to know what the headline in the graphic was or why they said it was a bad audio clip?

Check out the description and click that link to check out the post!

Marketing Smarts viewer, I have to ask... are you going to be next to get the spotlight?

Remember community, use the hashtag #mpb2b on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter and get the light shined on your awesomeness in the next episode or a future episode of the Marketing Smarts Live show!

Pro tip, it won't hurt if you tag me into your post as well, I'm @georgebthomas on LinkedIn and Twitter.

OK, let's kick it back to Mark Schaefer and some words of wisdom around this topic of The What, Why, and How of Community- and Brand-Building for B2B Marketing.

Here is what Mark Schaefer wanted to leave us with...


Mark: The words I almost always end things with are some words that you hinted at earlier. The subtitle of Marketing Rebellion is The Most Human Company Wins. Think about the kind of marketing you're doing today. If people hate it, stop it. Just stop it. You know if people hate it because you're a person, too, and you would know if you would hate it.

Just why are we doing that? Twenty years from now, we're going to look back at interruptive ads, spam, robocalls, our mailboxes filling up with direct mail from things we don't even remember we signed up for, and we're going to think, "What the heck was that all about? I'm so glad we found a new way to connect to our customers. I'm so glad we created that community." I really believe that's where we're going to be in twenty years.

Humbly, I would say give the book a chance. Read about these ideas. I never tell people what to do. All of my books, all of my speeches, it provides a new way to look at the world. I think this is a new and very relevant way for people to look at the world.


The most human company wins!


If you are doing marketing that people hate, just stop it!

I love that Mark said that!

And, I can't wait to see where we are as marketers 20 years from now!

Have you enjoyed today's journey? Let us know, use that hashtag #mpb2b on whatever platform you are joining us on.

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image of George B. Thomas

George B. Thomas is a marketer, video Jedi, and HubSpot certified trainer with 25+ years of sales and marketing experience. George is owner and HubSpot Helper at He has a record-breaking 38 HubSpot sales, marketing, service, CRM, and CMS certifications. George harnesses his expertise in graphic design, Web development, video editing, social media marketing, and inbound marketing to partner with, teach, and develop solutions for companies looking to develop their businesses and increase their revenue.

LinkedIn: George B. Thomas

Twitter: @GeorgeBThomas