“Exactly what should I deliver to my members to make more of them stop quitting my membership?” This a question I hear in various forms from my clients.
“To help you understand the product, we want you to know why we chose that product and how that product is going to enhance your life,” said Leslie Emmons Burthey, vice president of marketing for FabFitFun in episode 21 of the Membership and Subscription Growth podcast I host.
This answer is pivotal for every membership marketer to hear and understand, whether your “product” is a subscription box filled with items, an editorial in a newsletter, a digital product, or a software tool you can use in your life or business. You cannot only deliver the product; you must also communicate how what you deliver will enhance your member’s life.
Allow me to begin by explaining it this way. Membership isn’t about what you deliver. It’s about the experience.
Membership is a luxury purchase. It’s not something anyone needs, even if you think it’s that important. Someone whose children went hungry last night is not buying your subscription program today. That makes what you sell a luxury. It’s better that you figure this out so you can start marketing it as a luxury product.
To understand what that means, let’s look at the greatest luxury brand in the world today, Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson dealers of Florida have been clients of mine since 2003. I’ve put on trainings for their salespeople, general managers, and other departments. I’ve also facilitated cooperative marketing programs that get customers out riding their motorcycles and visiting dealerships.
Harley motorcycles cost quite a bit more than their competitors. And yet, within their category, Harley-Davidson sells more than 50 percent of all motorcycles sold. Why is that? Does a Harley get you to your destination faster? Are there Harley-only lanes on the highway? Can you ride a Harley in places you cannot ride other motorcycles? No. There’s no “value” reason for the price premium and market share domination.
And, to put the market share into perspective, imagine if Neiman Marcus sold more clothing than Target, Walmart, Amazon, JC Penny, Gap, Old Navy, and everyone else combined. Harley’s domination is unprecedented among luxury brands. Why?
Because owning a Harley has nothing to do with the transportation value of the motorcycle. It has everything to do with the feeling that riding a Harley gives its owner.
The same goes for your membership. The value of what you deliver has little to do with the dollar value of the items you deliver. In fact, delivering more value can increase churn.
The simplest example is within publishing. If you are delivering a 24-page newsletter, sending a 48-page newsletter isn’t going to cut your churn rate in half. In fact, it’ll be harder for your members to get through twice as much content. Issues will start to stack up and your member will quit because they already have too much. Value is like water — too much is just as bad as too little.
Rather than delivering more stuff, it’s more important to help your members understand the value of what you are already delivering.
FabFitFun delivers a subscription box featuring clothing, cosmetics, and fitness accessories. And, in an industry that is focused on maximizing the retail value of the items in a box compared to the subscription price, FabFitFun certainly over delivers by that metric. But, where else they over deliver makes all the difference.
In addition to the items in the box (the core value), every FabFitFun box includes a newsletter or brochure that promotes the value of the items included in the box. Each item in the box has a feature story in the newsletter that describes how to use it to improve your life. There are brief interviews with the product designers. And, there are also profiles of other FabFitFun members.
It’s not enough to deliver what you promised to give your members. If you are delivering information, to maximize member engagement you must also explain to your members how to use that information to improve their lives. Whether it’s a software tool or digital download, it’s all the same. What you deliver has no value until you explain how your member can use it in their life.
This makes every member communication a sales letter for the next one. Each email has to be so good that your members are eagerly awaiting your next. And, you do that by building the value of what you are delivering the same way you would if you were asking your members to buy it for the first time.
Member retention is about building the value of what you are delivering, showing your member how to use it to improve their life, and building community. Delivering more of this is the secret to improving your member retention rates.