The Membership Guys

Growing Your Membership with Joint Venture Promotions

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Having an audience to market to is paramount to the success of your membership. But what if you're early in your journey and simply aren't able to wait for the time it takes to build your audience organically?

The answer is simple: borrow your audience from someone else!

There are three main methods of audience growth:

  • Build it – organic growth through methods like content marketing, social media, relationships
  • Borrow it – working with bigger names in your field to put your membership in front of their established audience
  • Buy it – by utilizing paid ads and sponsorships

Today, I want to talk to you about borrowing – specifically, by engaging in joint venture promotions.

Joint venture promotions are one of the most effective tactics you can use if you’re looking to ‘borrow’ an audience.

Partnering up with an expert or influencer in your field is a great way of tapping into other people’s audiences and creating a big influx of new members.

A typical joint venture will work in one of two ways:

1) Partnering to provide value to their audience

Providing value to someone’s audience could take many forms – your imagination is the limit, really.

You could deliver a webinar, appear on their podcast, write a guest post, or anything that works for you and them.

In this kind of joint venture promotion, your partner brings the audience and you bring the value.

Now, this isn’t just about throwing some content their way and crossing your fingers, you’ll usually incorporate some sort of lead generation method in this type of joint venture.

That could be a special offer, a joint webinar hosted on your platform, an email opt-in, or similar.

If you have a robust enough affiliate system in place, you can then tie in any sign-ups and income generated by this collaboration back to your partner.

Joint venture affiliate promotions are perhaps easier to pull off with high ticket items, but you can easily adapt them to your membership – even if it does mean making an adjustment to core features like your payment structure.

As joint venture promotions go, this is a pretty light touch approach.

Your partner utilizes you to better serve their audience and in exchange you receive exposure and potential leads.

It’s cross-promotional, less salesy, and more for audience building than quick revenue generation.

2) Affiliate commission and partner promotion

If you want to step things up a notch, this affiliate commission model is perfect.

In super simple terms, this means having a partner (with a bigger audience than yours) take your membership and sell it to their audience for you.

There’s obviously a lot more nuance to it than that, but that’s the basic model.

If you want to find out more, check out our article that explains how to promote your membership with affiliate programs.

Now this kind of promotion does come at a cost – up to 50% of the sale price, potentially.

Typically, you see this model used for high-ticket product launches, for example if you were selling a $2,000 course with a healthy profit margin built into it.

If you’re subscribed to any online marketers’ email lists, you will have undoubtedly experienced this kind of joint venture promotion.

As a membership site owner, your margins may not be as sizeable as those that come with a product or course.

Don’t be dismayed, though. You can certainly adapt the promotional methods and techniques to your membership.

How to structure commission payments for affiliates

The affiliate commission with memberships is inevitably smaller than with a big product launch, but how small is too small and how can you structure your commission payments?

Will it be a one-off commission or a recurring payment for the life cycle of new members?

This will largely depend on how much you’re charging for your membership and what sort of margin you’re working with.

If you offer a one-time 25% commission for a $20pcm membership… big name partners aren’t going to be bothered.

If you have an annual or lifetime membership with a high price-tag, things might be different, but that isn’t the case for many membership site owners.

If you do have a monthly payment plan, it might be worth choosing a lifetime referral fee on members your joint venture partner brings in.

$5 for a sign-up isn’t especially enticing, but $5 every month for three years is a lot more attractive.

Promote Your Membership with Affiliates and Joint Ventures

Secondary benefits of joint venture promotions

  1. Consider the level of credibility that can come from association with certain partners. Having brand association and recognition with the right person can, on its own, make it worth your while to give up a bit more affiliate commission. The right partnership could explode your membership
  2. Opportunities to create guest content for your membership with those joint venture partners – if you establish a healthy joint venture partnership, you might be able to arrange a workshop, interview, or other perk that you can add to your membership.

Cost vs value of joint venture promotions

Joint venture affiliate promotions are perhaps easier to pull off with high ticket items, but you can easily adapt them to your membership – even if it does mean making an adjustment to core features like your payment structure.

If your $50 monthly membership isn’t going to land the big name affiliates you want, consider a one-off promotion that sells two-year or lifetime access to your membership.

Making a change like that might feel scary and handing over up to 50% of your revenue from new members might feel wrong, but the impact of the right affiliate partnership can’t be underestimated.

The influx of members you can get from a great joint venture promotion makes any concessions you might make it worth it.

However joint ventures aren't a silver bullet – there are definite pros and cons, and partnerships like this are more feasible in some markets than in others; however it's a strategy well worth testing – particularly if you're looking to accelerate your audience building efforts by “borrowing” someone else's.

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