You Don’t Have to Fight Churn Alone, Instead Create a Community

4 Comments

Community fights churn

How many times have you picked what looked like the fastest line at the grocery store, and it turned out to be the slowest? Argh! Isn’t it frustrating?

Today we are in the “subscription economy” or the “membership economy.” Growing a subscription business is the fastest way to scale a successful business. Or so it may appear at the outset.

Fact is, most approach the subscription business in a transactional mindset. They offer their thing on a monthly basis. This trips up too many. They believe they are getting into the subscription fast lane, only to discover later — perhaps years later — that they’ve been futilely building their business in the wrong way. What was supposed to be the faster line turned out to be the slowest, most frustrating path.

Even with the hundreds of tools available today to create an engaging and vibrant community, too few subscription companies take advantage of this retention opportunity. But doing so is always the fastest lane.

With a vibrant community, your member isn’t only subscribing because of what you deliver; they maintain your subscription because they want access to the community. It’s challenging for someone to switch from riding a Harley-Davidson to a Honda motorcycle, and it has nothing to do with the trade-in process. The last thing a Harley rider is going to do is to roll up to his friends riding a Gold Wing.

How do you create your community retention shortcut? Here are three critical components of a community.

Experience

This is the most often missed concept in building communities. I discovered it when thinking about my own experience with fraternities. Why is it that once someone joins a fraternity or sorority, they are members for life? And, why is hazing so prevalent? If you’ve been through an initiation ritual, you know the two are related.

Once you’ve gone through what’s necessary to join a sorority — from the selection process at rush, the months as a pledge wearing your pledge pin every moment of your life, and then the initiation ceremony — those Greek letters mean everything to you. You don’t want to give them up.

Let’s deconstruct this process to see what’s important about growing communities. First, there’s a shared experience. They went through something together, and this connects them.

For Harley-Davidson, it could be years of people thinking you are insignificant, invisible to the world. Now, on a Harley-Davidson, you are important, you can scare people when you drive up. The years of obscurity were something of an initiation ceremony.

Also, it could be as simple as watching the same television show or reading a book. If you’ve watched David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” you want to talk to someone about it and try to unravel what you’ve experienced.

The entire sports talk industry is built on people wanting to share the experience of last night’s game, listen to what the host has to say about it, and give their own thoughts, either to themselves as they drive on the road or to their buddy when they see him next.

If you try to drop members into a community before there’s a shared experience, you’ll get nothing. No comments, no posts, no energy. To have energy, there must be a shared experience. And, if it’s good enough, that shared experience could be the content you deliver.

Language

If you are a Harry Potter fan, you know what a “muggle” is. If you know what a muggle is, have you ever called someone a muggle? How did it make you feel? I bet you felt better.

If you are a Rush Limbaugh fan, you know what the “Low Information Crowd” is. And making sure you aren’t in the Low Information Crowd is important.

All great communities have their own language. They have terms they use that no one outside of the community understands. And, when a member of the community uses these terms, it makes them feel superior to those unenlightened fools who are not fortunate enough to be in our club.

What terms are you using within your subscription membership program that makes your members feel superior to their peers, who are unfortunately not yet members of your community?

Sharing

The moment you’ve experienced a fun and unique experience, you want to share your experience with others who have done it too.

There’s got to be a platform to share. Whether a Facebook private group, Slack, a proprietary online platform, or in-person meetings, there must be a way for members to interact with each other and share.

Without interaction, there’s no community.

Community is the single most powerful tool for membership retention. When you build a vibrant community in the right way, you are always choosing the fast lane of the subscription business.

About Robert Skrob

The problem with subscription membership programs is that members quit, I fix that problem. For more than 20-years I have specialized in direct response marketing for member recruitment, retention and ascension in diverse subscription members environments including non-profit associations, for-profit publishers/coaching, subscriptions and SAAS companies. For an evaluation of your current churn rate and how I can improve it, contact me here. I discover there are often two or three quick wins you can implement within a week to lower churn immediately, let’s talk about your quick wins.

4 Comments on “You Don’t Have to Fight Churn Alone, Instead Create a Community”

  1. Hi Robert

    Great article, you’ve got me thinking about it, however I have concerns…

    Every time we have tried in the past to create a community it has eventually cascaded into “adult day-care” because the written word and sensitive subjects often don’t mix well. They have also required a dedicated member of the team to ‘police’ the interactions.

    – Can text based communities work for sensitive subjects?
    – Would you let your power users ‘police’ the community or would you only let a member of staff perform that role?
    – What about the tech? I’m guessing you would say “If you can’t beat them join them” (on Facebook) i.e. meet them where they are or would you suggest something integrated is better?

    1. If your members were interested in rebuilding cars, guns or members of some industry, it’d be perfectly fine to have a volunteer or member of the community moderate.

      You work with members who have been through a lot of ugly life experiences. While a community could be very powerful for you it’s imperative that it’s professionally moderated. It can be a source of inspiration and solace for your members, and for you improve retention for your various membership levels.

      The good news is, this doesn’t have to be moderated by either Heidi or you. Consider if there’s a long-time member, or a member who is also a licensed therapist/psychologist who could moderate these forums.

      Is this helpful?

  2. Hi Robert

    Sorry for the delayed reply, I didn’t think to check the page again as I was expecting an email notification.

    Your reply was very considered (as always) and very helpful yes, thank you.

    We have given much thought to your suggestion and Heidi has agreed if I can find a qualified psychiatrist / psychologist who is in our existing group now, we can ask them to lead a community. We’d then find up to 4 additional members to support them.

    So now I need to work out how to find out if we have one as well as to work out what technology to use. I took a look at Mighty Networks however at $2999 a month for their single-sign-on version it is way too expensive, so I’m going to take a look at IP Board instead.

    Lovely to ‘talk’ to you.

    Best wishes

    Laurence

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