Unleash a Vibrant Community Among Your Customers to Become the No. 1 Player in Your Industry

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What if you owned more than 45 percent of your market? The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund. You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. In fact, since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success. My friend and client Ben Glass of Great Legal Marketing passed along a January 2016 article from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance entitled, “The World According to Bogleheads.” The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead … Continued

If you ran a Harley dealership

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“The swirl” is one of the things we talk about with Harley-Davidson dealers when we are coaching them to improve the profitability of their dealerships. At any given time in a dealership, there are customers considering buying motorcycles, trying on clothes or waiting for their motorcycles to be serviced; service techs working on motorcycles; parts orders arriving via UPS; and a parade of salespeople walking through the showroom. There are a hundred things the dealer would like to pay attention to, and at the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He works hard every day, but he can’t find time for the things that are most important because he is too busy. That’s the swirl. Perhaps you have it in your own business. So many different urgencies crop up that you aren’t able to work on what’s most important. It’s like one of those shooting galleries at the fair. Targets … Continued

Mentally prepared to make a kill

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The mother lion slowly creeps closer to the edge of the prairie where a family of gazelles grazes nearby. The gazelles are always skittish. Ever watchful to protect the herd. Yet as they graze, the lioness creeps closer. The lioness has a pack of cubs in her den. She’s been hunting for hours, ranging from one prairie to the next, looking for something to bring back to feed her cubs. There has been only one opportunity so far today, just after sunrise, and it got away. Now, well past mid-day, here is a second. If she misses this one, her cubs will go hungry another night. The lioness is careful not to spook the gazelles. If they run, she’ll never catch up. As she creeps closer, she stays hidden in the brush at the edge of the prairie. The gazelles are too far away for a full surprise attack. She’ll … Continued

What Makes Your Members Quit (and how to fix it in one afternoon)

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member retention

Just because you say your customers are “members,” that doesn’t create a member relationship.  In fact, throwing around the “member” word when you are otherwise treating them like customers can make your customer retention worse. This program shows you how to transcend a customer relationship to foster a stronger, longer-lasting member relationship. You’ll learn the differences, and how to build systems that’ll enable you to create these relationships at scale. Ken McCarthy, the sponsor of the first conference on the Web’s commercial potential in 1994 interviewed for me for his System Club members.  Ken has been a pioneer of internet marketing for decades, now he’s largely retired.  Ken and I delve into the powers that make members join and renew on the internet. Ken is a great interviewer, he’s been at it for a few decades.  Get out a pen and some paper for notes.  I’ll turn you over to Ken … Continued

Becoming attractive to customers

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“Don’t I know you from somewhere?” he asked me. “No, I don’t think so.” I was shopping for clothes at the mall. I’d recently gotten a new job, I was 22 years old and I knew few people in town. “Where do you work?” He asked. I answered and asked him where he worked. He told me he owned his own business, and we struck up a conversation. We’d never met, but within a minute or two, Steve and I had a good conversation going. About the time I was ready to return to my shopping, Steve told me that he often looks to work with sharp people in his business and asked if I would be open to new opportunities to make money. Flattered as I was, I said, “Sure,” and we set a date and time to get together. At our meeting, about an hour into his presentation, … Continued

A Rarely Considered Member Churn Factor That’s Easily Managed


“Let me get this straight. You spent $45,000.00, and now you’re going to make three trips to Baltimore to spend a week in some training class? You’ve been repairing cars for years. What are people in Baltimore going to teach you, you’ve been in the business for years?” This was the beginning of the conversation I imagined between an excited new auto repair shop member of Auto Training Institute’s Re-engineering Program and his spouse. Likely, this $45,000.00 program would be one of the three largest purchases this family had made. It may even be more than this auto shop owner takes home in a year. Even if your sales aren’t as large, or the stakes as high, it’s critical that you prepare your new member for the conversations they’re going to be having with family and friends after joining. I first learned this secret as an Amway distributor. It was … Continued

What Gets Ignored Dies

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It was so frustrating. It was like everyone else was from a different planet. There wasn’t a single person who “got it.” My first info-marketing business targeted the association industry. I promoted a product teaching associations how they could recruit and retain more members. For 10 years I attended events where association executives got together. I spoke at many events, and I became known within the community. While some of them wanted to understand, few of them had any idea what direct marketing was all about. I started to get frustrated easily. After what seemed to be the thousandth time explaining long copy versus short copy or writing with a conversational tone versus a corporate institutional voice, I got fed up. I made the ultimate mistake. I didn’t make this mistake once. No, I repeated it over and over again for years. The first time was innocent enough. The association … Continued

Identify the Best Member Forum Platform for the Most Member Engagement

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A member forum that empowers its participants to communicate with each other provides a benefit that improves member retention without creating something else you’ve got to fulfill. When done correctly, there will still need to be some oversight and engagement by members of your team. However, you’ll be able to rely on your members to set the agenda and provide the bulk of the content. Here are my observations, based on my own experience and what I see working for my clients. Private Facebook Group If most of your members are already on Facebook, the benefit of a “members only” private Facebook group is that popular member posts will show up in each member’s newsfeed. This is the epitome of showing up where your member is already spending their time. As a member organization, you have unprecedented access to your members’ attention. There’s never been a platform that puts your … Continued

Dependably Unpredictable

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McDonald’s is the leading franchise in the world because of its consistency and predictability. You can be on the other side of the country or around the world and when you see the Golden Arches, you know exactly what the food will taste like. There might be an independent restaurant with better food next door, but most people will never know because they’ll choose McDonald’s. McDonald’s is the safe choice. It became that way through consistency, delivering a similar experience every time. McDonald’s spends millions of dollars a year taste testing individual restaurants to ensure the food tastes the same way in California as it does in New York as it does in England. All new suppliers are put through a rigorous process to ensure the products they produce conform to McDonald’s exacting specifications. That food is going to be consistent, something Burger King has never figured out. How do … Continued

Simplify the Complex to Increase Member Engagement and Long-Term Retention

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How do you customize your marketing message to fit the variety of customers joining your program, all coming in at different skill levels? What should your offer be when some of your prospective members are head of one-person businesses while others run businesses of 20, 50, or more employees? How do you structure a new member welcome, when new members are starting at different places? Attorneys join the Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association (PILMMA) at different stages in their law practice. One might have a solo practice, while another could have associates; still another might have a large practice with dozens of attorneys in offices around their state. Developing a member proposition was a challenge for such a diverse market. That’s when Ken Hardison, together with members of his team, Frankie Fihn and Billy Fansler, developed the Stages of Law Firm Growth chart you see here. This chart … Continued