Ultimate Guide: Building & Running a VIP Content Group

Instead of battling for fleeting attention across the red ocean of social media, private groups let the owner focus on amassing a core constituency who must apply and be approved to have the luxury of joining the clan.

The private groups we will look at in this chapter all have unique qualities and cater to a defined audience. As we take a look at each of them, think critically about the nuances of each model, and how you might be able to integrate aspects into your new or existing group.

Examples of Private Groups 

Here are five of my favorite methods and real-world examples of successful invite-only groups. I’ve taken examples spanning from business-to-business (B2B), solopreneur-to-solopreneur (S2S), and business-to-solopreneur (B2S).

Example #1: Group Workshop (B2B)

Group Name: Pros & Content Community

Industry: Enterprise software (content intelligence tool)

Forums: Group calls, exclusive e-newsletter

Target Audience: CMOs, VPs of marketing, heads of marketing, marketing managers

In a busy martech space where the majority of vendors are still sending spammy messages and employing SDRs to pester people via LinkedIn, one company, Knotch, is taking an outside-the-box approach—running a one-of-a-kind private community for the content intelligence practitioners it serves.

The B2B space presents a major opportunity for companies running a value-additive group. (Source: Knotch)

Uniquely, each week, a new member runs the show, sharing something of importance the person thinks everyone else should know. In this model, we see again how the value is actually in the community itself—the “revolving host” strategy keeps things fresh and allows for new topics of discussion to come to light. But it’s all brought to you by the sponsoring brand, Knotch, which serves as the moderator of the value more than the actual purveyor of it, in this instance.

Attendees are incentivized to show up because they never know what they might learn week to week. Almost no software companies are thinking in this way, presenting a massive opportunity for those that can.

Example #2: Facebook Group (S2S)

Group Name: Scaleability.com ⚡Helping High-Ticket Coaches Scale to 100k/m

Industry: Online coaching (coaching product)

Forum: Facebook group

Target Audience: Online coaches

Scaleability.com runs a Facebook group helping members purportedly “scale to $30,000–$50,000 in profit” in their online business. Part of the value here is the strong brand name, clearly prominent in the group title.

The Scaleability.com Facebook Group. (Source: Dan Bolton)

Dan, the man behind the curtain, facilitates discussion in the group and funnels members to a lead magnet landing page to convert. Given the clear messaging around his service, he has a steady stream of prospects salivating to sign up, alleviating the pressure on him to need to sell on social or elsewhere. This is one of the best groups I’ve seen for coaches.

Example #3: Mid-Ticket VIP Experience (B2S)

Group Name: Hay House VIP Lounge 2023

Industry: Publishing

Forums: Zoom, Facebook

Target Audience: Independent authors

Book publisher Hay House is doing two fascinating things: it’s supplementing a permanent Facebook group with a “pop-up” promotional group for an individual campaign, and it’s charging a $99 fee to be a part of that experience. While I don’t like campaign-oriented marketing strategies in general, I do like the idea of using a fresh offer for a hard pump and asking members to put a little skin in the game for what they’re going to get.

The pop-up group is being promoted via email and includes a landing page outlining the broader VIP offer. While the barrier to entry is raised with a fee, this offer clearly comes with vast customer surplus, or excess value up front. The chance to win a book contract, meet directly with the management team, and network with other established authors makes the cost seem like a small price to pay.

Hay House uses both permanent and temporary groups. (Source: Hay House)

With the fee, the company has upped the ante to join, which will guarantee only serious writers matriculate into the group. That’s another reason I like the idea of charging a small fee: you’ll weed out the jokers while gaining more committed members who will be more likely to buy your main product since, one, they’ve already broken their wallet, making it easier to do it a second time, and, two, there is now an incentive to motivate the members to pursue success more seriously.

Savvy group owners who are charging a fee for membership can apply the cost to join toward a higher-ticket investment if a member invests in a certain time frame since any fee to join a pre-purchase membership group should be negligible anyway.

Example #4: Discord Community (S2S)

Group Name: Gary Club

Industry: Creator economy, Web3

Forum: Discord

Target Audience: Creator economy entrepreneurs, Web3 founders

Strategy: Sell NFTs to group members, enroll members in other learning products

I had Web3 entrepreneur Gary Henderson on my podcast awhile back. He shared how he’s merging the creator economy with Web3 to help content entrepreneurs. Gary runs a Discord community focused almost exclusively on announcements and updates related to his products—but that’s exactly what his audience wants. So for him, it makes sense to be a little more self-promotional. That’s why people are there.

As a text-based conversational forum, Discord groups work well, especially for Web3-focused creators. (Source: Gary Henderson)

The community spurs action to Gary’s other offers, which he sells off the heels of the Discord space. For example, he also has a software tool to help creators build communities in Web3, which has over 25,000 users. Additionally, he has a social token ($GARY), which became the #1 social token on Rally.io (now on Solana) and sells other unique NFTs like a giraffe, which has exploded in value. For people to get access to his coaching, or certain sections of his group, they have to buy certain products on his menu.

Gary’s customer journey is to take followers from Twitter, enroll them into his Discord, then usher a percentage into his paid products. Discord, for him, is the perfect forum to execute his group because he owns the space—no censorship, no issues.

“Once they’re in Discord, I can say whatever I want; I can talk about whatever I want,” he told me. “It’s fully secured. If you [a nonpaying member] came into my Discord, you couldn’t see some sections. You could see what I let you see because you’re public, but once you get, like, a giraffe in your wallet, a new section opens up for you. When I run an event, a new door opens up for you. We have a workshop we’re running for four weeks. There’s a private channel for people that are only in that workshop. It lets me go off-platform, not worry about any shadowbans, and it lets me communicate with my audience at my pace. They’re not going to Twitter or email [where things can go to the spam folder] to get an update. Discord’s always on. There’s no weirdness that happens there. It’s your platform.”

Example #5: Weekly Calls and Networking Forum (B2B)

Group Name: Venture Starters

Industry: Start-up entrepreneurship, venture capital

Forums: Zoom call, Mighty Networks forum

Target Audience: Start-up founders and investors

Strategy: Allow new founders to pitch their venture to investors, investors to find new opportunities for investing

I attend Venture Starters every now and then, a weekly get-together for start-up founders and investors looking for companies to fund. What’s incredible about the space is that it’s a two-sided group. Founder Mark November, a venture capitalist himself, found a sweet spot by bringing together two groups of people who need one another to survive. What a beautiful strategy—create a group not for you to promote yourself, but to let others promote themselves and connect with each other underneath your brand.

Venture Starters is a weekly Zoom call bringing together founders and investors. (Source: Mark November)

As you might imagine, like any popular networked product, the group has exploded in membership since I joined a year ago. It’s almost too big—sometimes there are 500 or more attendees, forcing everyone to wait with their hands raised on Zoom in order to speak, most of whom never get a chance. This is one of the downfalls of a popular interactive group. Too many members can make individuals feel like just another number, which will cause them to eventually defect, the exact opposite of our intended result. In such a case, a group manager should look for ways to manage  the growing number of participants while ensuring value is retained. They might start charging a small fee to attend, which would weed out a fraction, or create multiple versions of the call for different groups. Zoom’s pro version lets you create rooms and assign people to those rooms, which may be a better option in a scenario where critical mass has actually been exceeded.

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In each of these examples, the sponsoring creator or company molds the member experience naturally tilted to its goal. No one group is the same. And no group exists in a void, either—all have a defined purpose: to create better prospects more likely to convert and more likely to buy at a higher price point than they otherwise would.

That’s why the best strategy may be to take bits and pieces from what you see other groups doing well, and then mix and match them for your specific situation.

Running the Private Group

There’s no one-size-fits-all for a private group. Making the choice of how you want to execute yours should be based on a combination of your personal proclivities and skills, where and how your audience prefers to engage, and the degree of complexity you want to commit to. In my experience, it’s best to begin small and simple rather than overdoing it at the outset. As your group grows in size, you’ll be able to spin off different layers of value. But to start, keep it straightforward.

With that said, there are four components to running an in-demand private group that we’ll cover in this chapter: positioning and naming, inviting and welcoming new members, livestreaming on a schedule, and sharing actionable content each week. Let’s take a look at each.

Positioning and Naming 

The draw of a private group stems from how it’s framed and positioned. A great group with a less than stellar name or just a few dozen members is not appealing. So the way in which you talk about the community when introducing it to the market is key.

The Positioning Formula 

A private group name should simultaneously achieve three things. One, it should situate the group uniquely. There should be no other group like it. Two, it should contain a tangible benefit statement. It should allude to the result that membership will help participants achieve. And three, it can put the group owner on a pedestal so that it’s clear who is sponsoring—and enabling—the thing being taught.

There are several different naming conventions that work great for nailing that perfect appeal. To start, let’s look at a few handy formulas and fictional examples for each.

#1: The How-to 

This method lays it all out, leveraging the group title as a headline, literally stating what members are learning how to do. The template is:


  • How to Build a Profitable Shopify Store in 10 Steps (by FullCart E-comm Agency)
  • How to Write & Self Publish Your Book in 120 Days—with Angela Erickson
  • How to Sell an Online Business in 90 Days [w/ Bob Pillane]

This method goes a bit longer in length with a thorough benefit statement that includes a time frame or numerical value and a transparent tag of who runs the space.

#2: The Quick Hitter 

This method aims to make the topic and value of the group as immediate and obvious as possible with a short one-liner. In a single statement, allude to a proprietary system (which can be made up) that you’ll disclose in the group; then call out who it’s for:


  • The 7-Figure Scaling Roadmap for Online Coaches
  • E-comm Excellence Blueprint for $1M+ Shopify Store Owners
  • Guitar Mastery in 3 Months for Aspiring Guitarists

This is the naming methodology I used for an old VIP space I executed for one of my defunct coaching programs, calling my Facebook group “Strategies & Systems for Content Entrepreneurs.”

My now defunct Facebook group for content entrepreneurs.

#3: The Proprietary System 

This method puts the owner on a pedestal, which isn’t a bad approach especially for influencers or companies that already have an established evangelist and proven results in the marketplace. This one is probably best if you’re unabashed, bold, and looking to bolster an already-strong personal brand.

Here, put your name front and center to reinforce brand affinity as the authority. The more specific the follow-on promise is, the better for solidifying that bold claim:


  • John McEnroe’s 7-Fig Secrets for Financial Freedom
  • Asana’s Project Management & Efficiency Hacks (for PMs, Mktg Mgrs, Creatives)
  • Isaac Takada’s RealEstateTycoons™—Build a Passive Portfolio to $25k/Mo

I made these up, but they’re strong names because they position the entrepreneur at the front of the system. As long as legitimate value is provided in the group and members want what the promise purports to offer, it’s just a matter of time before the pipeline of requests starts to fill up.

Inviting and Welcoming New Members 

You need two inflow streams feeding your group: people finding you, requesting to join without needing to be invited, and another where you’re reaching out to invite them. Within that, there are four ways prospective members might find your group. One, paid ads or waterfall initiatives. They request directly, no personal invite. Two, referrals via word of mouth of existing members. No invite. Three, organic discovery. They find your profile on their own. Maybe an invite, maybe a request. And four, direct outreach on your end.

Selling the Group

The biggest thing to keep in mind with invites is that they cannot sound like anything the recipient has ever heard before. This is crucial. Avoid:

  • “Hey Name.” Cut right to the chase.
  • Sounding professional. Type like you talk to a friend at the bar.
  • Making any reference to your product or service. This is just a group invite—that’s it.
  • Mentioning the specific VDV where your group congregates. Instead, allude to it vaguely, which will generate curiosity and trigger a response.
I like how Chris at FlowChat invited me to hop into his group with a slightly inconspicuous reference to the actual platform.

The Intake Questionnaire 

We include an intake questionnaire for three reasons. One, to vet applicants and ensure they’re a fit. Two, to collect data to learn about our incoming members. And three, because in the back of their mind, requestors have to believe there’s a small chance, however unlikely, that you might not let them into the group—keeping interest intact and that power dynamic ever so slightly tilted in your favor.

Intake questionnaires must have no more than three questions, and all three serve a discrete purpose:

  • Question one is an easy yes or no Qualifying Question. If you could only ask one question to determine whether this person could become a customer, what would it be? Ask it here.
  • Question two is a multiple-choice Reveal Question. It can be “Choose one answer” or “Check as many as apply.” The goal here is depth—to get respondents to share something telling about their present state.
  • Question three is the Attempt Question. You’re doing one of two things: either asking for their email to receive your newsletter or asking if they’d like you to reach out to them to chat about working together. The frame is everything, here—used right, it keeps you in a high-status position. We’re requesting to add more value, not to take anything. Many applicants will want to chat; value is clear, clout is evident, so “Yes, let’s chat” will be checked more than you might think. Then, you progress the prospecting process forward (as we’ll outline in the next section).
FlowChat’s private group questionnaire uses the three-question intake method. (Source: FlowChat, Facebook)

As long as it’s noninvasive, two Attempt Questions are okay—one asking for an email, one teeing up a direct message conversation. That’s fine. What you don’t want are two Attempts asking if they’d like a DM and a discovery call. That’s redundant (and too forward).

For my previous group, I used two different Attempt Questions, one for email and one for a DM conversation.

Unless someone is obviously not a fit—meaning the person is clearly disqualified as being a potential customer—I always let the person into my group. The questionnaire is simply a little friction point to increase the exchange threshold required to enter, and it can be optional. You can then use this first-party data to gather insights about members and start drawing conclusions about what your customer avatar is struggling with.

Recognizing New Members

Immediately after new members come aboard, it’s time to onboard them. Steps in the group welcome experiences include:

  • Greet new members.
  • Assure members they’re in the right spot to solve their challenges.
  • Outline clear expectations for the group.

In addition, you may:

  • Include client win screenshots (or references to customer results).
  • Offer a free lead magnet if members perform a certain action.
  • Offer a link to a supplemental networking page, microsite, or VSL (video sales letter) to learn more.

The best method to accomplish all of these in one fell swoop is with an evergreen asset that gets shared with or sent to new members as they jump aboard. For Facebook groups, this is usually a long-form pinned post that sits atop the group feed. In this scenario, you’d simply tag new entrants in a fresh comment on the post after they hop in. The best welcome post I’ve seen comes from Dan at Scaleability.com. Here’s his message:

Scaleability’s evergreen welcome post doubles as a lead magnet and intro note with a built-in credibility indicator. (Source: Scaleability.com, Facebook)

I tried to follow suit in my old group with a welcome message that included a text-based post, a few-minute video, and a CTA to schedule time to speak with me.

Facebook welcome posts should include an intro, product reveal, and new member connects.

You can do welcomes in batches, tagging several new members at once. In your comment, ask members to share more about themselves—“Introduce who you are, what you do, and your 12-month goal,” for example—and make sure they’re tagged. If you run a web class or video forum, alter this approach. For instance, you can give new members 60 seconds at the beginning of a call to introduce themselves to the group.

Recurring Live Schedule 

A recurring “go-live” schedule is one of the big value-adds of a group. Here, the teacher or moderator does a livestream for members every week. This might involve breaking down a pertinent topic, summarizing a bonus checklist (which you can supply for free after), or interviewing a customer as a pseudo-testimonial that you can then turn into a video case study to kill two birds with one stone.

Set up a schedule for the recurring live and respect that schedule like gold. Members will come to depend on it as they look forward to tapping in to hear from you. Then, ensure the schedule is communicated and promoted heavily. The live should be the core VDV around which everything else you’ll share revolves.

Other Actionable Content

The content shared in the group should be both distinct and a level up from whatever you’re sharing on social media. If social posts, e-books, and videos are 101-, 201-, and 301-level insights, your group is like a capstone course, teeing up the graduate program, which is your paid product. 

With lives at the core, there are four other types of content to share in a group: one, announcements and updates; two, how-tos and bonuses; three, press coverage and interviews; and four, results and testimonials to drive interest.

#1: Announcements and Updates 

As we saw with Gary Henderson’s Discord, groups are tailor-made for special announcements—to amp up excitement, prompt action, cross-promote, offer special discounts, and make urgency offers every now and then. Depending on your business, this category could constitute 30% or more of posts.

#2: How-tos and Bonuses

Bonus downloadables are good leave-behinds from a live or virtual event. They do not have to be lengthy; sometimes, one-page checklists or succinct roundups work best. These can be created before a live, promoted in the lead-up, then handed out afterward. I also like longer-form how-to assets. I used to repurpose social media posts for groups, going a layer deeper and providing more specifics versus the original post on Instagram where I might’ve focused on a theory. These shares might account for 25% of posts.

#3: Press Coverage and Interviews 

Groups are the perfect place to drop features, interviews, or other kinds of earned media you’ve gained. As a major value-add, you should constantly be looking to bring in outside experts and influencers for interviews, too. Both of these tactics increase social proof and authority, proving that you’re operating on a higher level, making big moves in the world, then sharing that value for the tribe. This will only account for a fraction of content shared, maybe 5%.

#4: Results and Testimonials 

Every single customer success should be summarized, screenshotted, and shared with the group. These might account for 40% of what you share, but are by far the most impactful. Follow the link below for the bonus chapter on the most up-to-date testimonial trends—from presentation to aesthetic to creation and use.

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This chapter provided a high-level wireframe to run your group but your strategy might differ slightly. The best approach is one that resonates with the unique needs of your members and jives with your natural skillset. Find whatever generates the most action and pulls prospects forward so they’re clamoring in herds to learn more about how else you can help.

Groups are becoming a new hotbed for “lower funnel” prospecting work to be done in a way that feels more enjoyable for people you’d like to enroll in your business.


Key Takeaways 

Allow members to join you on livestreams and bring outside experts onto virtual events to add additional value for members.
Pop-up groups can be useful for finite offers. Paid groups can work if you have an established brand and large audience. Charging members a fee to join will weed out those who are not “serious” about leveling up.
Web3 communities are going to be even more valuable than those in a Web2 world, to both the creator and the community. 
Ultimately, groups that are mutually beneficial for everyone involved and that offer a tangible benefit for all parties will grow most quickly.
Pick a strong name for your group that catches attention, communicates the benefit of joining, and alludes to the result members receive.
Use your intake questionnaire to ask Qualifying, Reveal, and Attempt Questions. Use the data you get to understand your audience better, which can inform not just what you share, but what you say when you reach out to each individual . . . at the right time.
Use an evergreen welcome post (for text-based groups) or a weekly welcome (for video calls) to introduce new members to the group. As a bonus, reach out to new members via direct message serving even more value, like a link to a custom e-book only for group members.
In your group, share and publish the following: announcements and news, bonus content created just for members, earned media, and customer wins.
Go live in your group on a consistent basis, providing members greater depth into who you are and what you know. Show them the person behind the curtain.


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