Something occurred to me last Friday night…
My family was settling in for our weekly pizza and movie night, and I realized:
Streaming services like Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime have totally and completely changed the way we consume content.
Think about it: When’s the last time you stayed up late streaming the latest season of Gilmore Girls? Or like my daughters, begged and pleaded to watch The Princess Diaries on Disney+….again?
The membership model seemed borderline controversial when Netflix introduced digital streaming back in 2007. But now it’s the norm. We expect to have access to hours of streaming entertainment. And we’re perfectly content to watch our favorite shows in bulk..and our favorite movies on repeat.
But I think what most entrepreneurs don’t realize is that this same disruption is happening in the online membership world as well. In fact, membership sites and subscription services are on the rise. 23% of C-level execs plan to incorporate subscription and membership models into their future strategies, and 82% of businesses in one survey said that adopting subscription models enables them to become leading disruptors in their industries.The membership model seemed borderline controversial when Netflix introduced digital streaming back in 2007. But now it’s the norm. Most entrepreneurs don’t realize that this same disruption is happening in the online membership world today. Read more: Click To Tweet
What is a membership program?
A membership program is simply any premium course, training, or other content that is both paid and requires an ongoing commitment.
A membership program can contain any number of learning elements like:
- Course modules
- A community portal
Membership sites can come in different formats across all verticals. Educational sites like Lynda are popular for corporate training, and Copyblogger offers subscription-based education tools for marketing professionals.
Similarly, subscription programs provide ongoing value for a regular (typically monthly) investment but are more common in product-based verticals like e-commerce—Blue Apron and FabFitFun are two such examples.
The benefits of a membership program
The membership format allows service providers and coaches to work more closely with clients at scale. It gives recipients access to premium, gated content to help them develop the skills they’re seeking on a deeper level.
One big upside to a membership program for your online business is the opportunity for consistent revenue streams. But they also allow you to scale and reach a wider audience, build loyalty, and expand your online reach.
Because at some point in your business journey, you start to dream of the impact you could have when you share your amazing client experiences with a wider audience.
Better yet, an audience that shows up each month, giving you a consistent revenue stream and the chance to transform more lives using your unique service and process!
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How to start a membership program for your business
If you’re thinking about adding a membership program to your current offerings, here are some things to consider as you’re getting started:
Start with your expertise: You’re an expert in your field, and your audience wants access to what you have to offer. Chances are the amazing value you’re already bringing to one-on-one client work is the same value you can scale and reach to a wider audience. Use what you know and what you’ve learned about your audience to package your expertise into bite-sized and valuable lessons you know your customers will appreciate.
Start by brainstorming membership ideas:
- What topics do you enjoy teaching the most?
- What questions do your clients ask you about constantly?
- What do you know the most about?
- What problems do you know how to solve?
- What topics are people willing to pay to learn about?
- What questions come up frequently in Facebook groups and in your online community?
- What does your existing audience want to learn about?
Create value-packed solutions: A membership program should be part of a larger journey for your members. You’re teaching a fundamental skill or helping your clients achieve a goal, breakthrough a difficulty, or see growth in a particular area. To help them achieve this, structure your program around milestones that build to a tangible outcome. Communicate this solution clearly and consistently so prospects know exactly what the outcome of your program will be and what they can achieve in life or business after taking your course.
Find the right online platform (Searchie is our go-to): Membership platforms, like any learning management system (or LMS), provide secure access to your online course content, training, videos, and more. It’s the easiest and best place to house and organize your course and membership content.
Be strategic with monetization: Do you want your members to pay monthly? Do they need to sign up for a longer period of time to realize the value of your offering? Consider the best monetization approach to fit your program and reward your long-time subscribers with incentives and other perks to remind them of your appreciation.
I’m convinced there’s a way to turn pretty much ANY business into a subscription model, and perhaps in 10 years, the ‘old’ way of providing 1:1 services will feel like a thing of the past.
We’ll all be lining up to binge-watch our favorite course creators and subscribe to our favorite membership programs. And let’s make sure your name is at the top of that list!
About The Author
Rachel Gogos is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for people, the web, and creating strong personal brands. She started her career at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, where she helped create the look and feel for the organization’s first website. Today, in her current role running brandiD, Rachel channels over 15 years of marketing and communications experience into each and every website for brandiD’s clients. Find out more!