While selling subscriptions and building communities are relatively new concepts for the internet marketing world, the association industry has been doing these things well for more than 100 years.
Associations are groups of people with a similar interest. Think of the “Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner” ads you see on television. Those commercials are produced by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, an association of cattle ranchers. There are more than a half-million associations, and they represent pool builders (American Pool and Spa Association), doctors (American Medical Association) and every industry you can think of. Associations provide education, newsletters, networking opportunities, members-only sites and in-person conventions. (Very similar to the types of products and services Internet marketers have started providing.)
Throughout my 17-year career in the association world, if ever I had had more than 15% of my members drop out within a year, I’d have been fired! Many Internet marketers and membership sites are lucky to KEEP 15% of their members a year.
So, what’s the difference? What do the people who run associations know about building and running communities that Internet marketers don’t?
The answer is a long one. In fact, Rich Schefren asked me to put it into a Founders Club Letter. Founders Club members are receiving the entire power-packed, 14-page outline of what Internet marketers must do to boost their continuity members’ renewals to 85% (or more) a year.
But I’ll let you in on the biggest secret right here: Get your readers to take action.
I see it all the time when I help my 10-year old son with his math homework. I can try to teach him the lesson all evening, but it’s not until he “takes action” by completing the sample problems that he begins to understand.
It’s the same way with your customers. You have to move them from reading into doing. Into taking action. While this will enable you to keep them as customers longer, it also benefits them. After all, getting them to take action to implement your solutions to their problems is why they became your customers. But simply giving them the solution isn’t good enough. You have to eliminate their fears and give them the motivation to implement your solutions to generate the results you promised.
I cover each of these in a lot more detail within the report, but let me highlight a few ways Rich uses these tools to get readers of his blog to take action. (Yes, I’m going to reveal some inside secrets right here.)
Provide Resources and Examples – I used to believe that I had to give buyers a lot of value by packaging every possible resource and reference into each product. I’ve learned customers get more value when you give them links to go find the information or reports to download. While it’s an easy task, you are getting them to move from being a passive reader to becoming a doer. Take a look at Rich’s blog posts. Most of them include links to check out as examples or reports to download. These are important because they take the blog reader from passively scrolling through the post to someone who is taking action, entering information, clicking and downloading. All activities that get them engaged with you and help them to take action toward their own goals.
Hold Contests – Rich generated a lot of publicity and interest with a contest giving away $100,000.00 worth of products and consulting during the Business Growth Systems (BGS) launch. To enter the contest, readers posted answers to questions such as “What is your greatest constraint?” as well as “What will life be like when you remove it?” This contest generated more than a thousand entries, with the participants describing their constraints as well as what their lives would be like after each one was removed. This strategy moves customers beyond the buying decision to imagining what life will be like after they implement the product you are selling.
Ask for Referrals – Rich and Strategic Profits were one of the first to incorporate their “Tell a Friend” program into all of their marketing strategies. Rich and his team took this idea a step further by stacking incentives for individuals who provided referrals. The stacking incentives provided customers larger incentives for referring more people. If they referred one, they’d get a certain bonus. By referring three, they’d receive that bonus plus another one. And for referring five friends, they received an entire collection of great bonuses. This has been a significant source of new opt-ins and money for Strategic Profits—just by asking.
These are just 3 of the 11 customer engagement devices I included in the Founders Club Letter. But this gives you enough information to understand that the community business is completely different from publishing.
Publishing is all about writers and editors pulling together content and pushing it out to consumers. (Internet marketers do this with monthly calls and newsletters.) However, communities are all about getting members of the community engaged in the conversation and participating by taking action, and about generating real results for your customers.
Let this be a wake-up call.
The whole point of creating membership sites, continuity programs or communities is to grow those subscriber numbers from one year to the next. To do that takes different skills than packaging information and pushing it out. The good news is this: The secrets to success are readily available in the association industry. Association professionals have been building and growing communities for more than 100 years.
And now, for Founders Club members, those secrets are outlined and illustrated with examples in this month’s Founders Club Letter. Plus, you have an advantage because you know how to use the Internet as a tool to foster even more engagement.
I’d love to hear how you apply some of these techniques within your business. Maybe you already use some of them, some may be familiar but you have forgotten to use them lately and others may be completely new to you. Whichever is true for you, let me know how you use these techniques. I’ll read your comments and reply where appropriate.
Information Marketing Association