Let’s get right to it!
Today’s Monday, and that means it’s time to open up the ol’ mailbox, and see what kind of questions you have for me!
Today’s question is a good one, from Chris, a financial copywriter based in the UK, and a successful coaching client of mine (from when I did that sort of thing)…
It’s all about membership sites — and how to launch one.
Before I get to Chris’s question, remember… You can submit your questions on marketing, copywriting, selling, business, life, whatever to [email protected]… And I’ll add your question to the queue to be answered on an upcoming Monday.
I’m in the process of launching a membership site, where I’ll help people take control of their life and become a ‘Micro-Entrepreneur’.
I’m wondering, how would you market and sell a subscription to the site?
I’ll be opening up the doors with…
– My ‘core’ training (32 separate videos)
– A forum where people can ask me any question they’d like
– An introduction video series to introduce people to the site
I’ll be adding much more content, but the above is what I’ll have when I open up the doors.
Chris, you are on your way to member site riches!
… Maybe. First things first, it’s worth stating that membership sites are NOT the easiest thing in the world to make successful. While the subscription model is popular with marketers and business owners because of the recurring revenue, it’s also one of the hardest things to sell to a customer cold.
That is, if someone doesn’t know you from Adam, why would they commit to spending $99 or $49 or even $9 per month with you? What can you offer that’s so compelling that they’ll make an ongoing commitment to you on a first date?
This is really important!
I’ve heard one famous marketing guru spends as much as $1,200 to get someone to sign up for their FIRST MONTH of their $69 per month newsletter… And that first month isn’t even at full price!
Which leads me to…
The #1 secret to successfully launching a membership site!
And that is…
Figure out how to make paid traffic work at an acceptable cost per acquisition!
There are all sorts of recommendations I could make about launching a membership site. And nearly all of them would be more sexy than talking about math. But if you don’t get the math right, nothing else matters.
If you want to build and scale a membership site at anything other than a snail’s pace (which, you do, especially if there’s interaction between site members), then you have to be willing to buy new members.
That is, you have to be willing to go out, buy Facebook or Google or some other network’s ads, get visitors to click to your site, and get the visitors to convert and become members.
Now, there are a lot of things to consider here, that can be the secret to making this work.
I’ll give you some ideas…
Make sure you have a great message to market fit…
First and foremost, if you get the message and how you present the content wrong, you’re going to be in bad shape on everything else going forward. And even if you have a perfect product, if you’re not presenting it in an incredibly compelling way to the target audience you’re putting it in front of, you will struggle or even fail.
My recommendation here is that you need to read the book Ask by Ryan Levesque. I can’t recommend this book strongly enough. It lays out a specific method for surveying your market to get actionable information you can use to craft your offer and marketing message.
It starts by asking, “What’s your single-most important question or challenge related to ________.” Then it shows you how to use the responses you get to focus your product and your marketing message for maximum success.
And that’s barely scratching the surface.
But if you’re going to be buying paid traffic for a new venture, there’s not much of a better investment you could make than in buying that book from Ryan.
Also, I noticed this in your question but I know you know better in your copy… When you listed everything a member will get when they sign up for the site, you mentioned all the STUFF. The features. Make sure, in developing your messaging to customers, that you focus on the benefit and the outcome or result they want. All the stuff barely matters as a delivery mechanism for the outcome.
Make sure you use what you learn in surveying your market to present a benefit- and outcome-driven presentation of what they’re going to get.
Put a self-liquidating lead generation offer on the front end…
All of that said, it’s generally very difficult to get a first-time customer to sign up for a subscription. Can it be done? Yes. And yet, it’s usually harder and more expensive than having another mechanism to get them to spend their first dollar with you.
For this, I’m increasingly a fan of the free book offer, although there are a ton of different offers that can make sense.
The idea is that you need to get them to spend their first dollar with you on something that doesn’t lead to recurring charges on their credit card. Make them comfortable doing business with you before you ask them to commit to something longer term. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek… Insert appropriate dating metaphor here.)
Done right, you can offset some or all of the cost of lead generation with this initial offer. That is, it might cost you some huge amount of money to buy a first-time customer for a subscription product. But maybe you could spend $20, $15, or even just $5 to get someone to spend $5 shipping to get a book sent to them.
Then, once they’re in your database and have a positive buying experience with you, you can turn that around and start to offer the membership site subscription.
Make the first month a HUGE value…
No matter what you do, it’s smart to give them an inordinate amount of value for signing up with you in the first place. I’ll repeat this for the benefit of all my readers, but Chris, you know how valuable the right bonuses can be in selling a subscription product.
Make a big deal of everything they’re getting right away. Don’t focus on selling them the subscription (even if that’s what they’re ultimately getting). Focus on selling all the stuff they’re going to have the moment they say yes.
Sell the “risk-free trial”…
Another copy trick I use in selling subscriptions, and really anything else backed by a guarantee, for that matter.
Don’t ask them to say “yes” today to a full investment in the product.
Simply ask them to say “yes” to putting their money down, but “maybe” to a full commitment.
They can always pull out, with no fuss, and get a prompt and courteous full refund of every penny (or pound) they paid.
You take on the risk of the transaction, so they don’t have to. You leave it up to them to prove it for themselves that what they’re getting is everything you promised, and more.
Find a way to dramatically increase the average customer value…
Back to the math.
Let’s say you’re selling the subscription at $49 per month. I don’t know. I’m just throwing it out there.
And let’s say the average customer sticks with your site for 6 months. Again, I don’t know. Just plugging in some numbers.
Well, if that’s the case, the average new customer is worth $294.
Well, what if you were to add SOMETHING (and I don’t know what it is) that was a $999 purchase?
And what if you were to integrate the promotion of that into the membership site, in a way that makes sense?
And what if just 1 in 10 took it?
Suddenly your per-customer value is almost $394. And you’re getting a bunch of $999 cash infusions (probably most of them coming within the first 60 days of a new customer’s membership).
And what if you did something on top of that? And on top of that?
Or what if you found some additional product or service that you could do a JV deal on, where you’d get some revenue for sending customers their way?
Anything you can do to dramatically increase the value per customer will go a long way to making the economics work.
Partner with someone who can give you a large amount of members…
One thing that’s almost always smart to do in launching any kind of product or business is to look at who else has your customers, and find a way to partner with them.
Make a standard JV or affiliate deal, where they get a certain amount of the revenue generated by a new customer.
Do this right, and you’ll only be paying for these new customers AFTER you get paid, which helps the financial situation tremendously over paying for advertising.
Also, this can create critical mass and momentum in the early days, which has all sorts of advantages.
I don’t mean to talk you down from this, but…
Launching a membership site — and then, making it successful — is about a whole lot more than installing software. It’s also about a whole lot more than creating valuable content — which I know you’re doing.
It’s about creating a big direct marketing machine that gets the messaging and the math right, such that you compel customers to enter into membership at a scalable cost per new customer.
If you get that right, everything else is easy.
But before you launch, it’s very smart to sit down and make sure you have accurate thinking about all of this… Otherwise you may run into some big preventable trouble spots as you get going…
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,