The Rise of Community-Led Growth and How B2B Companies Can Benefit

Christoph Trappe 3 minute read

Even today – or maybe especially today – people crave authentic human connections more than ever. This is especially true in the B2B world, where buyers increasingly turn to their peers and communities for trusted advice and recommendations. As a result, community-led growth has emerged as a powerful go-to-market strategy for B2B companies looking to build trust, drive emotional connections, and ultimately generate more revenue.

Growgetter’s Jenn Mancusi discussed that topic with Kathleen Booth of Pavillion on an episode of “Marketing, Demystified.” 

What is community-led growth?

Community-led growth leverages the power of relationships and networks to drive company success. Communities can be formal, like Pavilion, where members pay to join, or informal, like peer networks on LinkedIn. This approach allows companies to leverage trust at scale.

“Community today is the new Google,” Kathleen said.

B2B buyers turn to their communities for recommendations and experiences with products or services instead of searching on Google. The answers they receive from their peers are more trustworthy and efficient than what they might find through a search engine.

Communities provide a “cheat code” for B2B buyers. When someone asks for a recommendation in a community, a shortlist of providers quickly emerges based on the experiences and opinions of other members. Buyers then use this shortlist to conduct branded searches on Google, bypassing the traditional organic search process.

The rise of community-led growth

Several trends have fueled the shift towards community-led growth. Technological advances, such as artificial intelligence, have made buyers more skeptical of automated outreach that lacks a human touch. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased people’s desire for authentic human connection.

Pavilion experienced explosive growth during the pandemic because people craved the in-person connection they weren’t getting in their lives. As communities have grown in size and scale, they’ve become an even more powerful resource for B2B buyers. When someone asks a question in Pavilion, they’re asking thousands of people, not just hundreds, said Kathleen.

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Integrating community-led growth into your go-to-market strategy

Companies can approach community-led growth in three ways:

  1. Building their own community
  2. Sponsoring an existing community
  3. Joining and participating in a community

The approach depends on budget, timeline for results, and available resources. Building a community from scratch allows for greater control but can be expensive and time-consuming. Sponsoring an existing community can provide faster results while joining and participating is a low-cost, organic approach.

Regardless of the approach, authentic participation is crucial.

“You have to earn trust before you can earn business,” Kathleen said.

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Measuring the impact of community-led growth

To justify the investment, companies need to measure the impact of community-led growth on their business. Kathleen suggested setting goals around:

  • the number of conversations participated in
  • introductions made
  • members connected with

These metrics can then be tied to revenue generated from the community.

Fostering a safe space for community members

When building their own community, companies should:

  • Be clear on who they’re serving and the community’s purpose
  • Establish rules and boundaries, such as community values or rules of engagement
  • Dedicate resources to community management, such as a full-time community manager
  • Facilitate virtual and in-person connections between members

In-person events are powerful for cementing relationships formed online. Kathleen said, “When else in your life does that happen, like when else are you walking up to someone who you’ve never physically encountered in the real world before and starting with a hug?”

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Getting started

Kathleen recommended joining communities for companies new to community-led growth, observing what makes them valuable, and applying those learnings to their own strategy.

Executive buy-in and patience are important when building a community from scratch, as it can take six months to a year to see results.

By participating authentically in communities where buyers spend time, companies can build trust, drive emotional connections, and generate more revenue.

“Community-led growth represents a major shift in both business strategy and buying behavior,” said Jenn, Growgetter CEO and co-founder and host of “Marketing, Demystified. “It’s a step in the customer journey. And it always was, in some ways, like asking for referrals. But that scale is quite different. Businesses need to be in this community space to understand it and leverage it.”

As artificial intelligence advances and buyers become more skeptical of automated outreach, the human element of community-led growth will only become more important. By embracing this approach and dedicating resources to authentic participation, B2B companies can build the trust and emotional connections necessary to drive long-term growth.

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