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01:56 – Free, low-cost to premium?
04:42 – One umbrella or two?
07:54 – Different ways of selling
08:55 – Sales modes to consider
09:41 – So you’ve got a small list…
10:58 – Bring them in warm
14:58 – When you’re starting from scratch
16:36 – How many members is enough for a forum?
18:06 – Levels of community
20:19 – Coming up
Grow your business on regular, recurring income with James’s help
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 608. This is a new series, the Membership Series, and I’m going to be doing a series of podcasts around the topic of memberships. For this, I’ve brought in my friend John Lint from KLEQ.com. Welcome to the call.
John: Hey, what’s up guys?
James: So we’ve got guys and girls on this show, John. We are going to be talking about memberships. And you’re an expert in this topic because you run a software program called KLEQ.com, which is my current recommendation for people who might have ordinarily been thinking that they would use some of the various solutions out there. And we’ll go into more detail about why that’s the case. But certainly having members in there and seeing what people are doing puts you in the unique position of knowing what works and where the 80/20 is of setting up a membership. And from my side of it, I’ve been coaching people for the last nine years, and many of them have memberships. Some of them have got over 500,000 students that they’re teaching. And then there’s other ones ranging down from 10,000 or less. In fact, smallest groups I’ve seen are five or six people. So you can have different size memberships, different price points.
Free and low-cost to premium?
Today, we’re going to tackle the subject of how to validate your membership idea, because this is a really big question. I got asked recently, should you have free and low-cost mini training courses as a good way to build up a membership community that can eventually elevate people to a premium price membership? And they use my example of SilverCircle, which is my higher membership level. Or should low and high price memberships be set up as a wholly separate branch to be successful, as are SuperFastBusiness and SilverCircle? Now, this is a complex question, wouldn’t you agree, John?
John: Yeah, yeah. I mean, you were talking about multiple layers here, multiple different types of strategies, even business models, right? We’re pretty much talking about two or even three business models. So it really depends on what you want to do. So I think it’s a good topic to get started and to really get clarity on. You know, if someone is starting out, someone has an idea about the membership, they want to build a membership site which is awesome, we highly recommend that because you’re going to get that recurring income, passive income, and you’re basically building a business that is working for you. It’s a great idea. But when you’re going to get started, you want to kind of validate your idea. And I think this is a good topic to talk about that. Yeah, for sure.
James: Yeah, I think we have this sliding scale between getting started versus building a course and assets, and then going to try and find a customer to buy it. So we’re going to look at how we might bridge that. I think it’s worth having looked back and seeing how I ended up with what I’ve got, because I decided not to merge SilverCircle back into SuperFastBusiness when I took over the SuperFastBusiness brand, because I think it does have premium positioning in the same way that AMG sits above Mercedes-Benz. So that’s the first sort of distinction.
If you have a premium version of a product, it might be valid to consider a high price and a low price membership under completely different brand umbrellas. But then the other side of that is if they’re closely related, and they’re just two slightly different versions, it might be the model that has the basics, and then the one that has the extra add-ons. So they’re the same sort of core customer, but two different variations. Maybe you put it under one umbrella, and I believe platforms like KLEQ allow you to have different membership levels within the same brand umbrella. Is that right?
“Organize your business correctly, your strategy and your messaging.”
John: Yeah, yeah. You could create what we call bundles and within those bundles, you can have whatever you want. So if you are a high-end ticket and you want to give them access to specific courses or specific areas of the membership site, you can totally do that. And you can of course, sell those bundles in a different kind of order pages or through different funnels or sales pages. Anything that you want to do, yeah, so it’s not a problem. It’s more about, I guess, you know, really organizing your business correctly, your strategy and your messaging and make sure that there’s no confusion between the different offers. Yeah, but from a technical perspective, that’s not a problem at all.
One umbrella or two?
James: Great. So you have the choice to put it under one umbrella, or put it under two umbrella. That tackles one part of that question. The other one that I think is even more important is we should really be looking at this assumption that we can move people through, especially from free to paid. Very interesting one, to premium price membership. Because I just don’t really believe the ascension model is that useful. And that’s because when I look at my own products, I have tens of thousands of podcast listeners listening to free podcasts. And I get tens of thousands of video views per month. And that all sort of boils down to around 33 members in SilverCircle, of which 23 did not come from SuperFastBusiness, okay? So this idea that people are going to start with the small one, and then go up to the big one is just not the case, in the same way that when someone walks into a clothing store or furniture shop or a car dealership, they know what model they’re after. They’re not necessarily going to start with the low one and work their way up, they might just start at the top. And this sort of leads to a few other interesting distinctions.
“Some people just want to pay for the highest level you’ve got right now.”
Because some people just want to pay for the highest level you’ve got, so don’t force them through that free, low ticket, high ticket model. And that might really work for you, and certainly, all of the members came from some kind of awareness of me. So I think it’s very important to put out some free content. Content marketing has been very rewarding for me. Podcasts (especially, number one), videos, and my book, these have been significant introducers. Now, I would say it’s going to be easier to create some kind of a membership if you have an existing audience and if you have some kind of content marketing machine, or if you run live events, you speak at events, then that is a very good opportunity for you. And if you’re a guest on other people’s shows, quite often they will be interested in your services and jump in at the level that they want.
So let’s just not assume that a low price or free anything is going to be that useful. If you’ve got a strong referral source, you may not need to have the free thing as a starter. You just start working on the end solution.
John: Yeah, and you will also depend on the on the pricing of your high-ticket item, you know. I mean, when we compare SFB to SilverCircle, it’s going to be different people, you know. Some of the people in SilverCircle, well, they are at the stage in their business where they just want, like you said, they’re not going to go through the free model or anything like that. They’re just like ‘Hey. Okay, I’m busy with my business, what you got? Great! Okay, I want it. Here it is.’ There’s no discussion. It’s almost like there is no selling when it comes to SilverCircle. That’s why I think it’s awesome how you’ve done it.
And so I guess it will depend on that. If you have a membership site and you’re trying to ascend from $47 to maybe your next level is like, $97, then maybe, in that case of course, you can have the different campaigns and get from one person from one membership level to another. But if you have something like you, I think that it’s completely different, you know? And even the avatar, the person that you’re attracting for those problems is kind of like, different as well.
“Telephone sales calls can be very powerful.”
Different ways of selling
James: Yeah, which is a good reason why they’re under different umbrellas. And the way you sell them can be different as well. Keep in mind, if you want a low price membership which I would call under $100 per month, you would need hundreds of members for it to be worth the effort. That’s my advice. You’d want a big enough audience. And in that case, if you’ve only got a small audience but you could come up with premium branding, then I would say, give high-value content out the front there and lead people to the high-value proposition and you almost certainly start thinking about things like an application process. And then this is where telephone sales calls can be very powerful, and can actually be a very short pathway for someone to become a member, if you use that technique. And you can make a very decent income from a low volume of high caliber customers, and then you won’t have to be stressed out about trying to find enough members. But it’s very important to get a sense of if your membership’s going to take or not. And that’s really the topic of our discussion today, how can we find out if it’s going to sell or not?
Sales modes to consider
I think for that, it’s worth looking at the different types of sales modes that we have, because there’s business development type sales modes where we’re out getting business, we’re looking for the business. If that’s the kind of way that we’re going to be taking the orders, then we’re going to have to have some very strong traffic funnels, maybe paid traffic as well. If we’ve got very good positioning, if we have a book, if we already speak, if we’re somewhat famous, then we switch more to order-taker mode, where people come to us wanting what we have, and the sales process will be shorter and easier because the prospect is already sold. They already know what they want. And then once you build that membership, you move into the relationship manager sort of mode, where you’re just keeping your current customers happy and banking a recurring profit each month, which is obviously the attraction of a membership.
So you’ve got a small list…
So basically, we move into this topic of: if you’ve got a small list, how do you get started? Should you do a course, or should you promote the membership site? And this is a tricky one, because the short answer is, a membership site can be hard to sell straight up. It’s definitely what we want. It suits us, and it might be a great solution for the customer. But unless you’ve got a bunch of customers and if you’re in the lower price range, it’s actually hard to just sell straight up unless you’ve warmed up those people or you have a very good sales funnel.
“A membership site can be hard to sell straight up.”
Now you’ve done quite a lot of work, John, on different ways that you can warm people up with that sales funnel. I know that’s one of the powerful features of KLEQ. So could you talk about some of the approaches there?
John: Yeah, so it’s all about getting people to know you, you know, the usual thing right? Getting to know you, like you, and trust you, especially when it comes to membership sites, right? When you think about SFB, people who joined, they kind of know what it is. They don’t need convincing or they don’t need a crazy sales letter or sales video that’s going to tell them, ‘Yeah, you should buy it now, because you’re going to get these.’ Of course, we need to do our job right, we need to make sure we highlight the benefits and all that stuff. But what I love about your funnels, and what a lot of our members are using now. Is that it’s a simple funnel.
When it comes to the membership site, you want to be at a point where when they arrive on that sales page, it’s just fact checking. Yeah, okay I knew I was going to get that. Yeah, I’m going to get that benefit, that’s great. Because the truth is, maybe you can motivate someone to buy now, you can try to convince them to buy now, but you’re selling a membership site. It’s a recurring business, right? If I’m going to pay you every single month, are you going to try to do that every single month, you know, convince them to pay? If they don’t see the value in your membership site, chances are they’re not going to get in, right? So yes, we need to do our job and we need to do a great job with the sales letter and make sure that we go through the checklist, good headline, good presentation, good benefits, risk reversal, destroying the price, adding some bonuses, whatever. All of that stuff. Fine. But you need to make sure that they once they come in, they kind of know already who you are. That was answered when you said have a great content factory in front to warm people up. So they’re not cold leads, like when we talk about getting cold leads, you want to warm them up with your content, so that’s great.
And if you’re thinking about, okay, well I want to put people into a membership site, but I’m not sure if it’s going to work, well, you can do some tests, right? So you can create that seed course, that little course, right? That little program, that little product that you can use to sell upfront, right? To see if it’s going to stick, to see if people are going to get it, right? To see if people are interested. And from that, you can cascade people back into a membership site offer, right? There are other strategies. If you want it to go hardcore, you can build that masterclass, which is a premium type of product. And from that, the ones who buy that, maybe you give them X amount of months into the membership as a teaser. And then, sure, after two months or three months free, because they bought that master class – and when I talk about masterclass, I’m talking usually it’s a premium type of product, right? The other one I talked about is kind of like $10, $17, you know, low-ticket item. Masterclass, more higher ticket item, like $97, $197, $297, right?
And maybe you throw in access to the membership site as part of that, like a trial. Like maybe one month free or two months or whatever, just as a bonus to entice people to get that masterclass. And then from that, you can cascade them into, ‘Alright. Well, if you want to continue, if you want to get more awesome content, more coaching, then this is what we do in the membership site.’
So now you have kind of warmed them up, right? Because they they went through that online course, they went through that masterclass, so they got to know you. Or you go with the low-ticket item that I talked about, and in that case, that’s fine. It’s just an exercise to know if they’re going to buy and from that point, if they buy the low ticket item, that’s great. And that can be an upsell. Your membership site could be an upsell. Alright, awesome! If you like this thing, well, guess what, we have ten more of those in the membership site. You can get access to it right now. Here’s a special offer, whatever, or you get a founders’ discount, or a beta access discount, whatever it is, if this is the first time you do it. But that is also a strategy: low-ticket item, next stage, they buy that. And then on the next page is basically, ‘By the way, do you want more of that? Do you want more coaching? Well, this is what we do in a membership site. These are the details. Buy.’ Right? Because now you’re talking to a buyer, you’re not just talking to someone who just stumbled into your page, and you’re trying to convince them, oh, this is why the membership site’s so awesome, right?
So these are two big strategies that people use, you know, low-ticket item and then the offer, or a higher ticket item and then you can put them also back into a membership site.
“A trial period into coaching service is a great offer to make as long as you’ve sold something first.”
James: Yeah, I’m just going to recap that. So I’ve certainly found that those two strategies, one is offering a membership from the back of a high-ticket product, certainly live events have been a successful strategy for me. I used to sell DVDs for $399 and I’d give a 60-day access to my membership. That worked really well, as well. And masterclasses where I sold them for $2,000 or $3,000. They were fixed term masterclasses that when they ended, the student invariably would like to continue coaching. So again, a trial period into coaching service is a great offer to make. So that’s one way you can validate your membership, is by selling a product in front of it, but a higher ticket is going to be easier to sell a membership that costs less.
When you’re starting from scratch
Now, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ve got no idea if there’s even a market for what you are good at and you’re not sure how to approach it, then the exercise I really do like to ask my students to do is to just sell a $10 product to validate the market. Not as the end goal, this is not the strategy, to have a lot of $10 products. It’s just a way that they get to work. Because now they’ve got to work on a title, they’ve got to write the sales offer for that, they have to put together a PDF of 20 or 30 pages, they have to be able to articulate the outcome, they can deliver from this $10 product. And I used to sell lots of $10 and $17 and $39 and $79 products. In fact, TrafficGrab, I think I sold to two and a half thousand copies of that at $79. And that gave me a very strong buyers’ list of people who I could now over time warm up to the idea of a membership. And then I didn’t need the individual products anymore. I just put all my products inside the membership, and that’s called an all-you-can-eat buffet, and the membership is the product. And these days, at the time of recording, this SuperFastBusiness is about $2,000 a year or $200 a month. And in there are all my products and all my live event recordings, and it’s the perfect thing that people should have to compliment a live event.
So there you go. If you’ve got a tiny, tiny list, just think, what could you sell for $10? And if you can, then that might be a good lead into the theme of your membership. And when you’re ready, start working on the high-ticket product. Go as quickly as you can to the high-ticket product, sell something for $1,000 or $2,000, because that’s going to generate you fantastic membership clients.
How many is enough for a forum?
And then we have a sort of a side question there. If you only have 20 or 30 members, should you start a forum, or is it too low a number? I think this is a really interesting one again, because there’s so many subtle differences, and this is where our experience can come into play. I think the answer is that it revolves a lot more around the value proposition. What does the customer need? And is there a benefit here with the peer-to-peer interactions, or is there not? Because 20 to 30 people is not going to be much of a discussion. I think that’s everyone’s worst nightmare, that they open up a membership forum and there’s no discussions. And anyone who’s come off Facebook is used to thinking that busyness equals success but I’m here to say it doesn’t.
There are very different kinds of engagement. So for example, in SilverCircle where there are literally only 30 or so members, there’s not a lot of discussions happening in the forum part of my membership. But the frameworks and checklists and the individual discussions, the private discussions, that’s the engagement I’m looking for and that’s the power of a group like that. And when there are peer-to-peer discussions, they’re super valuable. So the main point here is, don’t value your membership based on how much engagement there is in the peer-to-peer discussions, if that’s not the prime purpose. Now again, in KLEQ, you’ve set it up so that you can have it more as courses if you want, just modules that people can tick off as they’ve achieved. And you can also unlock private discussions or peer-to-peer chats within that group. Is that right?
Levels of community
John: Yeah, yeah. You have multiple levels that you want to add to your membership sites. We have kind of like three levels, right? You have, inside the course, you can have discussions by having the usual commenting and all that, people can like each other’s comments, they can reply and all of that. So you can do that inside a course, inside a training program. You also have the second level, which I call social walls, which basically allows you to just have one page where people can interact there. And they can just, you know, post and like and add, communicate with each other, start private conversations, all of that stuff. And then you have the third level, which is the forum, right? And forum is that massive thing, right? You have threads, and people can create threads and can reply to each other and do all of these things. So you have these three levels of community. So it’s really about you picking the the one that fits for you and fits for not only your members, what do they expect? And also for you, what do you like to do, right? If you don’t like to manage a forum, well, maybe don’t do it straight away. You can start with a social wall, and just a simple page where members can communicate.
But I think what’s really important is setting the expectation with your members. And like you said, in SilverCircle, you know, I have access to it as well to the forum. And yeah, there’s not that many members. And yeah, there’s not many discussions, but the expectation from us from the members, we are not here to go on the forum every single day, you know? At SilverCircle level, most people are really focused on their business and really working and making sure the businesses is cranking. So the forum is awesome and there’s so much value in there, but, you know, if we’re not going to have a conversation every single day, it’s okay. Right? It really depends on your members. So if your members want a place where you can, they can get access to the different content, the checklist like you said, then it’s awesome. You can set it up any way you want. You can have all the training programs and all that. And you can also have that community. And if it’s okay with them to not interact every single day, then that’s fine. You can get started with that. So it’s really about getting to know what do they expect, you know? And then from that, you can decide what you want to build. You want to build that quick social wall or a full-on forum?
James: There you go. So that’s basically how to validate your membership idea, is try offering it off the back of a high ticket item or if you’ve got nothing, start with a little $10 project to see if you got the bones of an offer that people are actually interested in.
John, that’s been tremendously helpful. In our next episode, we’re actually going to talk about how to get engagement and activities from members, what kind of engagement are important, and how to keep people as members and reduce that churn which is the enemy of a membership. And then after that, we’re going to have another episode about traffic, how to drive traffic, and what sort of day-to-day promotion looks like for a business like mine.
John Lint from KLEQ.com, I really appreciate you joining me on this special membership series. And if you want to find out about the software, check out KLEQ.com and you’ve been listening to SuperFastBusiness. Thank you so much and we’ll catch up with you in a future show.
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