I had the pleasure of visiting Bonn, Germany, for full week to work with the team at VNR Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG. I conducted a seminar on Monday with more than 50 members of the team. Then, Tuesday through Friday, I conducted workshops with nine different publishing divisions from family magazines, health, financial, and technology publications. While everyone on the team is wonderful, Katrin Frößler, Daniela Birkelbach, and Stanislava Albert-Stoykova, pictured from left to right, are clearly my favorite members of the team. I’m wearing a T-shirt representing the guru for their fitness publication, Thomas Wessinghage, a German celebrity and former Olympic athlete.
Over the last three months, I’ve been from coast to coast in the U.S., Germany, London, and Ireland to stop members from quitting. Wherever there are members quitting, I’m going to respond to stomp out high churn and make running subscription businesses fun again.
During this time, there have been three key lessons that keep cropping up. I thought I’d share what I learned to help you stop your members from quitting.
I started the year writing about transformation, and, six months later, it’s still the most important topic for subscription companies. Too often, subscription companies try to sell customers a magazine, access to a tool, or some sort of monthly delivery. This is transactional marketing.
There are thousands of transactions each day, so it’s not a bad thing. And often there are creative marketing tactics you can use to spur demand for your transactions. Perhaps you can show that everyone else is buying your subscription to demonstrate social proof, inject scarcity by making your offer available only for a limited time, or generate reciprocity by giving them so much for free that they want to buy from you to give back. All smart strategies, but none of them are as powerful as transformational marketing.
How does your subscription transform your customer? What are their problems, challenges, and weaknesses before they buy your program? What solutions, breakthroughs, or great feelings will they have after they are a member of your community? This transformation is what you sell.
Every good subscription has a transformational story. Telling this story gets you more new customers and brings in the types of customers that stay rather than the grab-and-dashers that are there to maximize their side of a transaction.
Most subscription companies tell me they’ve already built a new member onboarding program and it didn’t improve their subscriber churn rate. Yes, almost all of my clients, before they met me, spent a lot of time and energy creating new member orientations, scripting their new member path and getting their customers engaged. And, few have seen their retention improve.
Unfortunately, new subscriber member onboarding isn’t’ as simple as writing a welcome message. Here’s the copywriting formula I’ve used many times to create member welcome campaigns that make big improvements on subscriber churn, sometimes cutting 30-day churn rates in half.
You may deliver these within a letter, new member video, the first module of your training program, first issue of your publication or an email sequence. Or, you can use some combination of all this media communicate this message.
Dream – What is the transformation you used to entice your member to join? Start your orientation by reconnecting to that promise and illustrate what life will be like after your customer has your subscription.
Belief – If your subscription requires your member to do something, use something, or learn something, even if he believes your system works, he may not believe in himself enough to implement. You must help your customer believe in your solution and believe that he has what it takes to implement.
Goal – Help your customer set an incremental goal; what’s the first, easiest thing your customer can do?
Space – Teach your customer how to find the time to use your subscription.
Clarity – Position your subscription as the only way for your member to achieve the desired transformation.
Roadmap – Provide hope by illustrating the path to the desired transformation.
Win – How can your customer experience the fastest possible success?
Recognition – Give your member kudos, either directly or within your community.
Upsell – Increase the value of all your members with an upsell; the members who invest more in the relationship stay longer.
My clients Harley-Davidson Dealers of Florida have discovered that their customers become extremely possessive about the Harley-Davidson community. Possessive and emotional — does anyone tattoo your company logo on their body? Harley-Davidson customers tattoo the bar and shield logo on theirs.
As soon as you create a proper membership community, you’ll discover that it doesn’t really belong to you anymore. That’s okay. Every great community gets taken over by their members.
There were more than 40,000 attendees at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, at the beginning of May. There were thousands of multimillionaires seated in a stadium to the rafters to listen to Warren Buffet give his take on the economy, with thousands more watching the livestream on the internet.
I hear all the time about how people are too busy to attend events anymore. Warren Buffet draws 40,000, and it’s not with his high-energy presentation or exciting laser light show. He’s sitting behind a table with longtime partner Charlie Munger, answering questions. Couldn’t be a simpler production.
It’s not the meeting that’s broken. If you have challenges filling your event, you don’t have a vibrant enough community and you haven’t made your event exciting enough.