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Some people shouldn’t be encouraged. There are many ways to fail in any business launch. The info-marketing business is no exception. You can choose a niche that is too large, under research your niche and launch the wrong product, market poorly, market too little or rely too much on joint ventures—and this is just the beginning of the list. Life is too short. I don’t want to be misled by someone who is trying to spare my feelings. If I’m missing something important, I want to be told. I assume the same with the clients I work with. That’s why it irritates me when I see others teaching to “pursue your passion” or “follow your dream.” That’s cruel. Only fools expect success without effort. You want to build the foundation of a business so that the business will continue to grow. It will take work, a lot of learning and … Continued

Radio, Newspapers, Trade Journals, Broadcast Television, and Social Media Will Come and Go: Why Membership Will Outlive Them All


The only sustainable business model for dispensing information is membership. Membership transcends media platforms because it’s built on a relationship rather than on a delivery mechanism. But there’s a lot more to membership than gathering your employees together to announce you’ll now refer to your customers as “members.” There are three basic ways media companies support themselves: Advertising We are living through the demise of the local newspaper. While readers still pay a small “subscription” fee, the bulk of the news’ revenue is generated through advertisers. Media built upon a foundation of advertising is vulnerable to collapse. It only takes a new, more popular media to illustrate the fatal flaw of this formula. This is the same reason Facebook is doomed to the same fate as the local newspaper or national magazine. Facebook’s business model is based upon advertising. Sure, Facebook tries to be better at it by giving you … Continued

How the worst can come without warning


I had a job for six years. I started as a bookkeeper and quickly became the company’s controller. Within two years, I had become the director of business affairs. Then I bought the business, just six years after joining the firm as a bookkeeper. I used employment as an opportunity to learn as much as possible. I set up the network server. I loaded Novell version 1.0, a program that, back then, came on about two dozen 5¼-inch floppy disks. I spent an entire Fourth of July holiday learning how to program Microsoft Access databases, building my own CRM systems to track member contact information, dues payments and conference registrations. While my job was a great learning ground, I soon figured out I’d never get paid what I was worth. My salary took money out of my boss’s pocket by lowering the amount he could take out as dividends from … Continued

Stop Your Members From Quitting With a Transformation

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I had the opportunity to meet with the owners of a terrific direct marketing resource. This resource provides a database that would be a useful shortcut to anyone creating advertising online or through email or direct mail. Yet it’s poorly subscribed to and renewals are low. This resource is being marketed as a library. A repository the marketer can refer to at any time. I asked the client, “How are libraries valued in our culture?” After a moment of silence I told him, “Not highly. That’s where the homeless people go every day, and the library isn’t helping them any.” Your customer doesn’t want a library either. A repository of products, past issues of your publications, and old recordings or video lessons are not compelling. Within seconds, your prospective member can download a lifetime of high-quality materials (audio and video) using the podcasting app on his phone. Your library isn’t … Continued

From debt overwhelm to financial freedom

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My wife and I were having dinner in our dining room while the news played on the television in the adjacent living room. Although we weren’t paying much attention, one of the teases before a commercial break caught our attention. “Police shoot dog on Eddie Road! Story right after this break.” My wife, Kory, and I looked at each other. We lived on Eddie Road. We were accustomed to police stories being about neighborhoods on the other side of town. Now the police were shooting dogs on our street! It got worse. The news showed video of the house where the shooting occurred—and it was right across the street. Yes, directly across the street from the little yellow house where Kory and I lived with our 2-year-old daughter. The police came by to arrest a guy who had failed to appear in court. The guy sent his dog after the … Continued

Are We Witnessing the Death of Free Trial Memberships?

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What if you could make twice as much money for every new member you recruited? And, what if you made more money overall from your membership program? That’s what early indications are showing us when you abandon free trial memberships. The idea behind free trial memberships was you’d end up with more long-term members because some people would join for free who would never have joined for a paid membership. Then, because they’d joined and fallen in love with the membership, they’d want to stay for life. I’ve had my doubts since I first heard the free trial offer taught. After all, I discovered long ago that sampling wasn’t an effective membership marketing approach. We used to send copies of newsletters to prospects, to give them an idea of what they’d receive as a member; it never converted as well as other offers. What worked was highlighting a problem they … Continued

Becoming Known for Speaking What They Don’t Want to Hear

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Imagine walking into a church just before the service begins, striding up to the front, getting everyone’s attention and proclaiming there is no God. Or—this could get you injured—imagine going to a Veteran’s Day ceremony and telling everyone their service to our country was just another job, like spending four years working at a Chrysler plant. How are you going to be received? At the least, you’ll be thrown out, maybe even roughed up in the process. People want to believe. If you challenge their beliefs, they will at least resist you and at worst start a fight. The cable news industry figured this out 15 years ago. Fox News created an audience by giving conservative viewers the news and commentary in a way they already believe. No one is convinced by Sean Hannity. Sean’s commentary reinforces what his audience already believes. In the same way, Rachel Maddow and Al … Continued

What a Former Chicago Drug Dealer Taught Me About Membership Marketing


I was on my way to Chicago to visit a client for two days of planning their new membership offering. I was late to board the plane, so first class was full except for my seat. Sitting in the seat next to mine, I saw a gentlemen who didn’t look like someone you’d ever see on a plane much less within the first class cabin. His appearance was very different than other passengers’. More gold teeth and FUBU clothes than the typical business causal you’d expect on an airplane. It didn’t matter to me; I was glad this flight had power outlets in the first-class section so I could plug in my laptop and get some writing done during the flight. As it turned out, my seatmate was chatty. Within a few minutes, he’d revealed he was on his way home after nine months of in-patient rehab. He was from … Continued

Attracting New Members with a With Delegation Tools

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Before I created and sold information products, I delivered consulting services for many years. Most projects required strategic planning; some entailed creating systems and business process; and others involved marketing. While the projects varied in scope, they had one thing in common: The business owner always thought his or her employees were the problem. I was brought in to train the team, and if necessary, replace one or more team members. Yet, I often found the staff’s problems were a simple reflection of the boss. Every time I’ve come across an entrepreneur with a “dysfunctional” team of employees, I’ve found it is the entrepreneur who is dysfunctional. The team is just trying to hang on. I’ve promoted staff training programs for many industries over the years, and I have a product for the info-marketing industry called Relief for Frustrated Info-Marketing Staff. I especially like programs that are designed for the … Continued