This is a guest post from my good friend Shawn Veltman.

Shawn is  one of my secret weapons when it comes to business. I’ve tapped his brain to super-charge pieces of copywriting, to brainstorm tactics for a number of businesses, and to help shape overarching strategic goals. Shawn has agreed to work with me on and for that I’m grateful. He has finally started writing a blog at which I highly suggest you check out  & bookmark now.

Enter Shawn Veltman…

Hi all,

As most of you probably know, Noah is getting ready to launch,  a pretty exciting new product aimed at developing super high-quality membership sites from start to finish.  He’s too modest to say so on here, but this course is going to be incredible – Noah really, really knows his material when it comes to creating membership sites that people just don’t want to leave.

One of the secrets to doing that, as Noah has illustrated so well about in his Mixergy interview (among others), is in creating your site in a way that lets you take advantage of your individual strengths, interests, and idiosyncrasies.  Or, to put it in his terms, really embracing the importance of character and community in addition to content.

One of the things that we really dive into in the Membership Black Box is the idea of identifying your audience (or tribe, or speck).  I want to riff on that idea a bit here and extend it by sharing a tactic that is extremely powerful in helping your audience find you.

Identify the Chaff

We’re all familiar with the idiom that you need to separate the wheat from the chaff, right?  Well, when it comes to setting up your membership site, you need to identify what both look like.  What does your ideal member look like?  What’s their experience with your speck been to this point?  How are they going to benefit from being part of your online community centered around that speck?  What kind of community architecture will they feel most comfortable with?

These are all questions that Noah and I are going to go over in great detail in the Membership Black Box, and it’s easy to see why – identifying these things makes it much easier to determine what kind of content you create for your site, but also how to distribute it, how to market it, and how to build your community.

The flip side of the coin is valuable too, though.  In some cases, it might be even more useful.  And that flip side is identifying who you DON’T want.  Who is antithetical to your site’s values, vision, or community?  Who will disrupt the community that you’ve set up, or bristle against the character that you inject into the site?

This isn’t simply a matter of identifying “good guys” and “bad guys.”  Instead, it’s about figuring out early on who won’t benefit from what you’re building, and helping steer them away from your offerings.

There are obvious advantages to utilizing your separation criteria in your marketing.  First, it helps establish a sense of community before they even get to your registration page – if they see who is NOT suitable as a member, and they know that they don’t fit that description, then they’ve automatically self-selected as good fits.  In other words, they’ve already engaged with you, agreed with you, and will be much more likely to fit in well with the community you’ve built or are trying to build.  They’ve done this by essentially saying to themselves “I don’t fit the description of people who shouldn’t join – in fact, I can’t stand people like that.  If they’re not allowed in, this should be a great fit!”

Now, you have to do this with caution – there are some traps that are easy to fall into when using this strategy, but it is undoubtedly powerful.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the wrong way and the right way to put this to use.