Reach Teach Sell: Aligning community to the customer journey

Last November I presented at the Community Everywhere virtual summit.

My session covered the Reach Teach Sell framework, which is my way of creating alignment between customer experience and community management programs.

The Led By Community team published a recap of my session a few weeks ago. They did a darn good job capturing the details, so I thought it was worth summarizing the summary here. 😊

The customer lifecycle

This is my simplified take on the stages of a customer lifecycle:

  • Awareness: Customers discover you exist.
  • Consideration: Customers determine if you meet their needs.
  • Decision: Customers make the purchase (or not).
  • Retention: Customers stick around (e.g. membership) or make repeat purchases.
  • Advocacy: Customers endorse you and recommend you to others.

Community programs can align to the customer lifecycle, unlocking:

  • Increased brand trust when customers see the company support their communities.
  • Enhanced customer engagement through community activations and experiences.
  • Brand advocacy as community members endorse the company through peer referrals.
  • Addressed business needs with community as a resource for the whole company.
  • Positive social impact on initiatives that matter to the business and its customers.

When looking at community programs this way, we can see how brand and community complement each other. If brand is ephemeral (“what people say about you when you’re not in the room”), then community programs are a bottoms-up approach for bringing the brand to life.

The Reach Teach Sell framework

The RTS framework aligns community programs to the customer lifecycle (journey). I started working on it during my time at GoDaddy. Our community programs straddled the line between marketing and support, and I wanted a better understanding of how all the parts fit together.

It goes like this:


Reach potential customers where they already are. AKA “living in the ecosystem”. It means having a presence within existing communities; listening, learning, and participating where it makes sense.


Build trust and credibility through original, owned media. People come for the content, but they stay for the connections. Contribute to existing communities by curating or creating resources. Build an audience, and connect audience members to each other to grow a community beyond your customer base. If you already have a community, elevate their voices and expertise in your content.


Give potential customers what they need to make an informed decision. Gather reviews, testimonials, and questions from your community. These will all help potential customers determine whether you’re a fit for what they need.


Create a great onboarding experience for new customers. Provide responsive and on-demand resources to help them succeed with whatever they’ve bought. Show them how to get started, and invite them to join the community for peer guidance and help.


Keep customers coming back with community events and activities. Give them a reason to show up again and again. Create that steady drumbeat of experiences. What are you doing every year? Every quarter? Every month? Every week? Turn those moments into rituals.


Recognize customers for their milestones and achievements. Celebrate their wins through whatever means they care about. Some customers will be motivated by gamification, i.e. collecting points and unlocking perks. Others might prefer surprise n’ delight. Try tying these incentives to community activities, be they one-offs or ongoing contributions.


Make it easy for your customers to become advocates. Referral programs, affiliate programs, gathering testimonials and case studies, amplifying campaigns and comms… there are a bunch of levers you can pull here. Key point is that you’re making it frictionless. Use your community as a starting point to identify those potential advocates.

…and referrals tie back to reach, closing the loop on this whole thing. 👍🏻

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