The Definitive Guide To Growing Your Membership
Memberships are REALLY popular. It's by far the income stream most desired by the typical entrepreneur. There is a lot of information out there about membership sites.
Throw a rock, and you'll get a post about how to build one or what software to use.
Real talk: Your membership site is only as good as your marketing plan to promote it.
You can spend months setting up a membership site and waste your time if nobody ever joins.
Before you waste a lot of valuable time and energy --
Should you even HAVE a membership site?
While recurring income is considered the holy grail of business building, membership sites are notoriously hard to get up and running.
If it were as easy as the blog posts said it was, everyone would do it.
I've had 3 memberships, and I can tell you that it's the HARDEST way to make money. I talk more about the membership question in my podcast episode "The Real Tea On Memberships." You can listen to it here.
Attracting New Customers Vs. Retention
While retention is a HUGE concern with people who run memberships, the more significant concern is attracting new members consistently.
When it comes to your membership site, you need first to develop a system for attracting people consistently and THEN focus on retention.
A lot of people say you should focus on retention first, but your membership model should already address retention and engagement. While you might not keep EVERYONE, in the beginning, you put yourself in a nasty spot if you don't have a system in place for bringing everyone in while you grow and evolve.
How To Attract New Members
There are 3 paths to profit for the regular membership or recurring income business. Keep reading to find out which one will be the best fit for you.
Method #1: How To Attract Members With A PLF Style Launch
This is by far the most common method people use for launching their memberships. A traditional launch model goes like this:
Free Offer or Event > Webinar > Emails > Cart Close
You might have different variations, but that is how the typical launch model will go. It usually takes about 6-8 weeks to execute and can cost anything from 2-10k.
The Pros Of This Model:
There is something to be said to really harnessing and focusing your energy in one place and with one event. You'll most likely have to invest thousands of dollars in ads and put in a lot of manpower.
The result tends to be a lot of enrollments out the gate. This is a great way to jumpstart your membership and get things going right away. It's a good feeling to start with a win.
The Cons Of This Model:
There are no guarantees with this model. While I can venture to guess you'll get 200-300 new members with this model….you might not. Launches are notoriously unpredictable, and depending on your industry, your people might be too used to the model and will ignore.
There's a 50% chance you might NOT get what you want as a result.
Math is NOT your friend with the launch model. Let's say you put 3,000 into ads and help and for your efforts you get 300 members at $27 a month. That's $8100.
You can have the BEST MEMBERSHIP in the world, and your churn will always be around 8-10%. So let's do the math.
$276 after month 1
$254 after month 2
$234 after month 3
You'll be losing members while still needing to spend the same amount of money each month. Your profit margin will go down every single month, and without a plan in place to get new people, your membership will ultimately fail. Even if you plan for a second launch that month halfway through the year, you would have lost 50% or more of your original membership, and you will need to enroll 2x the amount of people.
You might think, "oh, I'll just launch more." Keep in mind -- the big launch requires a lot of time and energy, and while you might think you have the power and resources to sustain, the math doesn't really support it.
This could work for you if…..
You have a lot of money for Facebook ad spend
You already have a membership with people in it
You have successfully launched before
This isn't your primary income source for now
Model #2 -- How To Build A Membership With Evergreen Funnels
This is the model that tends to be used for business owners who have a well-established business in place and a proven track record with ads and paid advertising.
How It Works:
Ads > Free Offer > Webinar > Evergreen Email Funnel > Buy
The Pros Of This Model
Once this model is set up and working, it has the potential to be extremely profitable over time. Who doesn't want to make money while they are off on the beach?
The Cons Of This Model:
The evergreen funnel takes a while to configure and at least 1-2k a month to run effectively. You need a lot of things to work at once.
You need an ad that converts
A webinar the converts
Emails that people will open
This process can take months (or even years) to perfect and while that process is happening -- you are just bleeding money, and your membership isn't actually growing.
It takes most businesses 2-3 months to predictably make sales with this funnel, and there is no guarantee you'll actually profit.
Sales do NOT equal profit.
You might get 20 members but if it costs you 5k to acquire them... that's not good math.
This model could work for you, if….
You have money to invest in your business knowing you might not get it back for a while
You have an existing audience
You have a lot of experience with Facebook ads
You have a webinar that already makes sales for you
Model #3 -- How To Grow Your Memberships Using The Once-A-Month Model
How this model works:
Funnel everyone into your freebie > offer fantastic value throughout the month > do one focused promotion a month by leveraging a new feature or bonus in your membership or subscription model.
Pros of this model:
You make money consistently vs. once in a blue moon
You can do it for 100% free -- you don't need any ad spend for it to work.
Cons of this model:
You won't enroll a HUGE amount of people every month
This is really the best model for making consistent sales and avoiding a lot of the pitfalls of the other two methods.
How this model breaks down:
Step 1: Focus on building a list full of people who want what you have and not just people who want your free content.
There are lots of ways to grow your list, and here are the most common:
Podcast guesting gigs
I believe that everyone should be able to convert around 10% of their list. That sounds high but aiming for that number forces you to treat your audience list more like a customer list. A lot of business owners get caught up giving away too much and then wonder why making sales is such a uphill battle. Start with picking 1-2 methods of lead generation and getting new people that is really targeted.
Focus on adding people on your list every month so that you are not offering the SAME PEOPLE your offer every single month. Make sure you get that new energy in so you don't get frustrated with trying to convert the same people for YEARS.
Step 2: Give lots of value
Once those people are on your list, you'll want to SPOIL THEM. Give them fantastic content that helps them AND qualifies them for your offers. You don't want to give away the kitchen sink. Be strategic. The goal is to have people DYING for more by the time you actually tell them about your services and what you are selling.
How to give value:
Write helpful blog posts
Create social media videos
Step 3: Do a once-a-month push
You've been spoiling your audience a LOT, and it's time to bring it home with a sale. The once-a-month push isn't a typical launch. You are just spending 5 days of the month (that's 5 out of 31 days) talking about your membership and laying out the benefits so they'll want to sign up.
This is a great way to promote because it prevents your business from being SUPER sales-focused or feeling like you have to sell all the time. By the time you make your offer, people will be ready and excited to hear what you have to say.
You've already been giving a lot of strategic value.
This also combats the 8-10% rule. Let's say you have 100 members -- even if you lose 8, you'll most likely be able to easily enroll at least 8 if not more over that week.
This method is also better on your mental state because instead of having a goal of 100 or even 50, you are just focusing on 8 people. Totally doable.
How To Build A Theme-Based Marketing Plan
I'm sure you are thinking --- how do I figure out what to say every month? It starts with figuring out a theme.
A theme is basically a FOCUS for that month. When you have a different focus for each month, you can talk about your offers for months or even years without losing momentum or running out of things to say.
Here are some example themes:
Why what you've tried hasn't worked yet: Spend the month exploring why the things they've done in the past haven't gotten them the results they really want
New year: Take advantage of the new year energy to help your audience figure out why now is the best time to bring new people into your audience
Dream Life: Help your clients see how they can get the dream life they are after with your help
Once you have a theme, you explore it through the month through your posts, blog posts, and emails
The other benefit of this is FOCUS. So many people struggle to figure out what they should be talking about on any given day. This model helps you keep your content focused and on track.
Finally, this is an excellent and non-invasive form of marketing. You spend a lot of time selling AND giving value for one week and then you don't have to sell anymore.
So in review ---
If you want to have a membership that is profitable over time and not just for a few months, the once-a-month push is the best way to add members to your business each and every month.
Just follow this three-step process, and you'll be profiting in NO time.
If you'd like a little reminder so you can implement it yourself, check out the Monthly Membership/Subscription Marketing Plan here.
Inside you'll find a step-by-step guide for figuring out your content for the month and lay it out on a calendar you can use this month to make your next 5 sales.