As a business owner or entrepreneur, you are probably looking for ways to increase your reach and build your brand. One way that can be done is by creating a membership site. A membership can both increase your revenue and provide value to members of your community.
James Schramko and KLEQ's John Lint have previously shared seven steps for creating a membership site. Now they discuss product development - what you need to create for your membership to take off.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 35:48 — 32.9MB)
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01:50 – Something anyone can do now. How do you sell a membership without lengthy product development?
03:54 – The best way to sell your membership. James shares what he discovered by accident.
05:01 – A word of caution…Remember to do this, and avoid a heap of trouble.
08:23 – Starting is simpler than you might imagine. It doesn’t take months and thousands of dollars to put together a membership.
15:42 – How big of an investment is it? This is the kind of commitment memberships require.
18:28 – What your members can actually tell you. You can get a lot of helpful info from your members if you know how.
21:06 – Be clear what you can and can’t do. Beware of trying to be everything to everyone.
25:35 – Crafting your offer that sells. If you can’t understand your offer, how do you expect anyone else to?
28:14 – Starting out with the minimum. You don’t need things fully fleshed out, at least at the start.
Get your membership business off and running with help from James
In our last membership series episode, James and KLEQ‘s John Lint took us through seven steps of creating a membership site – from the crucial first stage before anything else, all the way to scaling the business.
Today they discuss what you need to create for your membership to attract members, deliver value and retain customers. As James puts it, how can you put attention into your membership to get better results? You’ve got to have something that you actually sell as part of your membership. And this comes up a lot, what do we actually create?
Something anyone can do now
James has had a few iterations, but he was able to start his first membership with about 65 people. This was where he was an affiliate, providing a bonus for people who bought someone else’s product.
It was a somewhat unconventional way to start a membership, but it was great, because these people really needed help with the product, which they weren’t going to get anywhere else. James was prepared to offer that help. He put them all in one place, and looked after them. It was a very simple concept.
A beautiful idea, says John, because actually, it’s something that anybody can do right now. Say you promote someone else’s product. As a bonus, if someone uses your link as an affiliate, you can give them access to your membership site, your coaching, your support offering, for let’s say, three months.
After that, they have the option. They can either stop, or choose to upgrade to the paid plan where they can now pay you for that support.
So without having a product, instantly, you can start building that community, that membership site.
The best way to sell a membership
One thing James discovered by accident is, an easy way to sell a membership is off the back of something else. Yes, you can sell a membership directly. James does that with SuperFastBusiness. However, it depends.
“An easy way to sell a membership is off the back of something else.”
There are a number of ways James sells his current membership. He sells it:
James has lots of front doors to his membership. And still by far, the best way that he get members is via an email sequence, when they purchase something else, or they join his free challenge, or his free book, at SuperFastResults.com.
The best way he sold his membership for many years was off the back of a live workshop, which was a couple of thousand dollars at one stage. As a bonus he would give people 60 days’ access to his membership. They had a coupon that they activated with their billing details. And if they liked the membership and wanted to stay, they could, and started paying from the 60-day mark.
A word of caution…
Now a sensitive area, says James, is continuity. If you sell people a $1 product, get their billing details, and you don’t tell them that they’re going to get billed in the future, that’s called forced continuity, and it is very dangerous. You will be shut down before you can blink. There will be chargebacks, customers will be upset, and you’ll instantly gain a reputation of being a crook.
What James does is optional forced continuity. If someone buys a ticket to his event, he doesn’t automatically enroll them in the membership. He thanks them and sends them to a personal video he’s made. There he tells them what to expect from the event. Then he introduces his community, and what the benefits are of being a member.
He then explains the coupon he’s given, that it gives free access to the membership for 60 days. And the customer needs to activate it to get in.
Now you must, must send a reminder prior to the 60th day, like 55 days in, that the customer will be billed: “Hey, John, just a reminder that in a few days from now, your payment will be processed for membership to the such and such. I’m sure you’re enjoying it. And if you are, then you don’t need to do anything. Just stay and we’ll automatically make that payment. If however, you’re not having the best time ever, and you don’t want to be billed, please reply to this email, get in touch with our support.” Make it very, very easy for people to opt out.
So recap: If you’ve got your own products, information products, live workshops, books, whatever, this is a great way you can invite people into your community. If you don’t, then sell someone else’s product or service as an affiliate, get paid by them, and give people a coupon they can claim from you to join your membership.
Starting is simpler than you might imagine
James has an important message, and that is you do not need to lock yourself in a log cabin for the next 12 months to come up with your course/membership, or do endless business plans, or pay a business coach tens of thousands of dollars.
You can start with the most minimum viable product, just supporting something. James had a product on SuperFastResults called Support Assist. It was $10 a month. And there’s no content involved other than the questions that the members submit, and the answers which James provides.
So if you already have a course, or any kind of program or service, and you just want to support it, you can charge people a recurring support fee, and you can set that up in KLEQ today.
Absolutely, says John. A membership like Support Assist is basically a private group composed of a single page. And to give access to it, you have options. You can give it manual access, or free access when they opt-in or when they buy, if you sell it, of course.
The campaign to sell it can be set up with one click – that gives you a sales page, an order page, a thank you page.
Of course, that sales page can serve as a back end. So maybe people will get to know you through your book or through an event or what have you. And you can refer them to that sales page, where they can then get access to the group. The whole thing can be set up in a day.
Many people will pay to get answers, which is what a support group provides. And you can supply the same service via weekly Q&A, via Zoom, or via YouTube live events. You can use the streaming solution of your choice, and receive questions privately using KLEQ.
Why copying doesn’t pay
Now it’s important, says James, that we don’t just go out, see what’s selling, and put together the exact same thing for ourselves. James had someone just recently ask if they could use the words from his page.
It’s not okay, he says. He paid a copywriter for those words, and people should pay someone themselves to research their customer, understand the pain points, and come up with a positioning message that shows they are different from everyone else.
“What are the logistics of what you’re delivering?”
A really common mistake, says James, is putting out a crappy offer that’s not compelling. There are two things to consider. One is, what are the logistics of what you’re delivering? Are you coaching? Are you running a pod, little groups of customers? Are you doing a forum? Are you doing live calls? Are you doing pre-done information products? These are all logistical combinations.
Positioning wise, what’s missing in your market? You want to understand that. How do you speak to it?
James’s membership was formed off a lack in the market. The things that annoyed him, that were missing, that no one else did, he did. He spent a 30-minute call one morning guiding someone with the very best information, for which she was grateful. And he reflected afterwards, would he have been able to find anyone, when he was starting, to do the same for him?
None of the gurus then would even reply to emails. They were sending out pushy, red-headline sales letters. There was no interaction. James was alone. So he wanted to create a community, and that’s what SuperFastBusiness is. You get James, and he will support you and guide you through your journey.
How big of an investment is it?
A common question James gets is, how much do I have to put in? What’s my commitment into the membership?
“You can get an expert, if you’re not the expert.”
Two things, says James. One is, it doesn’t have to be you. You can get an expert, if you’re not the expert. It’s okay, you can cut a deal. You can do a revenue share deal, which James talks about. He has an information product about it at SuperFastResults.
The other thing is, if you have a membership business model, would you rather spend 30 minutes or an hour a day talking to customers who you’ve dealt with for five, six, seven, 10 years? Or do you want to spend your time on ads and social media chasing the next new customer, because you’re selling one-time things, because all your focus is on the front part of the business?
All of James’s focus is on the back part of his business. He’s there just to serve customers. And effective hourly rate is very high. It works out fantastically well. He can still surf every day and spend plenty of time with his family. He only really schedules calls three days a week now. And he’s been doing that for years. He runs three memberships. If all you did was look after 10 or 20 people at a reasonable fee, wouldn’t that be a happy life?
In terms of product development, if you already have products, services, a list or audience, at least put your feelers out. Pay attention when they ask for things. James has asked John for things in KLEQ, and finds them done for him in the next update. James implements things for his members, like meetups, and, recently, pods, where people help each other in groups of two or three.
What your members can actually tell you
If your members don’t come to you, go to them and ask for advice. What changes can be made? James ran a Cialdini change campaign after his friend Greg Merrilees saw a presentation from Cialdini at Traffic and Conversion. This resulted in several changes about two years ago in SuperFastBusiness that were member-driven.
These are paying customers whose opinions you’re asking, so value their input.
One of the biggest changes James ever made was, he wanted to really help people. So he had an Ask James discussion, and they would ask him questions, and he’d answer. Then he started having private conversations with people via message, and those people got better results. So he made a private message section, and called it personal private coaching. And boy, he says, do people really open up when no one else is looking. You get the truth that wasn’t coming up before.
That was a big innovation, and it led to the present format where people are getting specific, personalized coaching just for them. Nobody else, just them getting James’s personal attention. And he’s built his business around being able to do that.
The technology was already there. James is still using the same platform, still having the same customers in that mix, and he’s still the same person. But by rearranging things, it made a much higher value.
Those people also come to a weekly call with James. And they share ideas. James had someone on the call the other day say she made an extra $80,000 because of a conversation she overheard him have with someone else.
Be clear what you can and can’t do
Filters are also important, says James. When you’re figuring out what to sell, you can’t be everything to everyone. Say, well, this isn’t the place if you want this, this or this. But if you want that, that or that, this is the place. Don’t be afraid to be selective about it. James is straight up about what he doesn’t do, and even refers people to someone who can help them.
Be clear about what you can and can’t do, what’s included and what’s not, and communicate that as clearly as possible and have Frequently Asked Questions available. Have the ability for people to contact you for support prior to purchase, so they don’t buy and discover it’s not what they expected.
You can do demo walkthroughs. You can do screen videos, etc. If someone asks James something specific, he’ll make them a Loom and say, Here is a discussion going on right now inside SuperFastBusiness on the exact topic you just asked me about, so I know for a fact this is exactly the right fit for you.
Similarly, John lets people take KLEQ for a test drive. For just $1, they can try it out and see if they like it. And if they don’t like it, for whatever reason, no big deal. If they do love it, then they stay on. In terms of making sure you can get a result, James thinks this is really the key for a membership.
Let a copywriter go wild, and they’ll promise the moon. You have to be able to deliver, because if you can’t, it’s going to come back on you. So put together an offer you can stand by. If you say you’re going to turn up and give personal attention, then turn up and give personal attention.
If you sell a new training each month, then deliver a new training each month. James does see people fall off the face of the earth and burn everyone. And that’s it. It’s very hard to just reinvent yourself.
Just showing up is basic, says John, and it’s crazy how so many don’t do that, though it’s an advantage for him and James. Just show up, do those extra steps. That still works, and it’s extremely valuable, especially these days. And it’s something that everybody can do in any niche.
Getting the experts when you need them
Just on the topic of being the expert or getting an expert, says James, he realized early on, he’s not an expert at coding or design or the like. And he gets experts to help him with that. If you’re in the quandary of which plugin you need or which software to use, he heartily endorses KLEQ.com.
Let the experts take care of it, he says. They’ll do all the security, they’ll do all the hosting, they’ll do all the gluing together. All you need to do is turn up, get access. If you can type in a Word document, then you can make your pages. It’s very customizable.
The pages and the campaigns are all one-click. You plug in whatever email system you’re using, you tell it where to send the money, PayPal or Stripe, and you’re away. (Though for non-English-speaking markets, he suggests contacting John directly.)
For the most part, the tech should be the least of your concerns. The most important thing is, who is your audience? What’s missing from the market? How can you package that up?
And a hot tip, says James: if what you’re trying to deliver is too hard to be done technically, it’s probably too complicated and you’re wasting your time. Everyone he’s coached at a $5 million plus level has had to hire Chief Technical Officers to rescue them from the drama and stress of making pieced-together systems do that one little extra thing that makes it a pain in the backside.
Crafting your offer that sells
The final thing is just getting your offer right.
“Keep your offer very clear and focused.”
Keep your offer very clear and focused, James says. If you don’t know who you’re offering it to, or you don’t know what you’re offering, then how can you expect anyone else to?
Make it very, very easy to understand, plain English, not tricky words. Get rid of buzzwords like synergistic and the like.
Create your filter. You can’t let everyone buy this thing. The wrong people will be your worst nightmare.
Absolutely, says John. You can’t be everything to everybody. You have to be very specific. You’re solving specific problems, you have a specific solution, and you’re also trying to attract specific people. So one of the easiest things is to be yourself, just be yourself. And maybe some people are not going to like it. That’s okay.
And know how you’re delivering your offer, says James. Are you dripping it, or is it an all-you-can-eat buffet like Netflix? He’s going through a training at the moment that’s dripped to him, and he knows if support were to just unlock the whole thing, he probably wouldn’t finish it. So choose your delivery. The technology can do it all.
Starting out with the minimum
Then just identify the minimum you need to start. In the past, James has registered domains, and started a Q&A box. His first forum in 2009, what is now, today, SuperFastBusiness, started with a Hey, introduce yourself. Tell me about why you’re here.
Then as the training was going through, he’d mirror it with a support thread. That was it. The product created itself.
Once James was contacted at short notice to deliver a 12-week training. In an hour and a half he mapped out the modules and produced an overview, which he presented that night. He then had a week to do the next module, and the week after that to do the next, and so on. He built the course over three months. But he turned up, and delivered. Thousands of people went through that training, called SuperFastStart.
You can start with a small amount and then add to it. And then you may get to the point, like some of James’s memberships, where he has way too much stuff, so much stuff that he has to remove and delete and purge.
Action steps: Map out your minimum viable product for who you want to serve. Create words that explain what you’re delivering, and then figure out how to reflect that in your KLEQ installation (hopefully). If you’re using some other platform, says James, everything we’ve talked about will work, but your nightmare is your own responsibility.
John’s take on the topic
In short, says John, everybody can do this. It’s all about identifying some problems that we’ve talked about before. And really, it’s about, if you want to do it quickly, setting up that support and coaching area where you can help your members. If you want to create some new, quick, ongoing content to let them know about something specific, you can do that. KLEQ will help you set all of that up.
Setting up a membership business is the ultimate goal, because what you’re doing is setting up a business, a business that is working for you. It doesn’t require you to be always there. So it’s something that’s going to allow you to have predictable, consistent income every single month.
You can absolutely have one-time offers as well in your products. But all roads, ideally, should lead to that membership site. Why? Because that’s recurring revenue, it’s peace of mind, it’s freedom.
It’s not difficult. There are a ton of examples from this episode, and you can get started super-fast. Keep it simple. And as you get more members, as you identify more things, you can add on – more content, more support, more ways of support, just like James did.
Get to know your customers. Set up your offer, let them know what it is, what it will do for them, what they need to do next, how they can get access to it, click on the button below. Keep it super simple.
In KLEQ, they help you with that step – they give you templates, and guide you in how to create sales pages and sales offers. And you can copy paste John’s template, he says, because it’s a generic template, and it’s a very simple template, talking like a real human person.
Build your own tribe of people. And then your job is to identify those people, and discover how you can find more like them. That’s how you will grow your business.
Get more people in, help more people. They’re happy, they tell other people. And then organically, it’s going to grow. If you keep on doing everything that James and John talked about, then your base grows, and your revenue grows, and your peace of mind grows, and your freedom grows. It’s a beautiful thing.
If you want to try out the all-in-one membership features of KLEQ, look for John at KLEQ.com.
And expect the next episode of the membership series, where James and John talk about how to price your membership.
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