4 Ways You Can Use a Membership to Supplement Your Existing Business
Most of the time, when we discuss the topic of membership within our Academy, with our clients, and in our content, it is within the context that the product is completely stand-alone. It is the one primary focus of the business.
But I am here to share a relatively unknown fact with you… It is not the only way!
A membership website that has protected content among a protected community can work really well in combination with your existing business even if the membership is not your core focus.
Here are 4 ways to use memberships in this way:
1) Create a training area for your one-to-one clients
If you have a service-based business and you work one on one with your clients, then this is an excellent option for you.
Who is this for exactly?
For people who have clients who need training materials, reference materials, and who will benefit from templates, worksheets, quick tips, or checklists.
Coaches, yoga instructors, consultants, website designers, marketing agencies, personal trainers, music teachers – this means you!
All the resources you share with your clients can be amalgamated into one place and it will become a huge value-add to your regular service.
It can be something your clients pay a nominal fee for or, in most cases, will be a free bonus to your existing clients.
Either way, they will have access to their own private membership area in which they can access the materials as part of what they are paying you for.
Let me share an example of what I mean:
Back in my early days as a web designer, I gave out a printed website maintenance manual to my clients to show them how to manage their site, how to add content, how to add pages and so on.
Bear in mind that this was many moons ago, before tools like WordPress became so popular!
99% of the time, the systems and processes I had were identical from project to project and client to client.
But I was wasting so much time and money customizing the documents and getting them printed and put into a fancy ring bound format that I knew I had to find a better way to do things.
So I custom built my very first client-based membership site. And it worked like gangbusters!
My clients could easily access information they needed to maintain their site and they were thrilled with the added value.
It was much more cost effective for me and it freed up my time.
It also helped set myself apart from my competitors especially since this was before membership sites became all the rage.
An added bonus I didn’t predict was that it turned into a great way to stay connected to my clients. It enabled me to maintain relationships even if I wasn’t actively working closely with them on a project.
I remained engaged with them, and that encouraged repeat business.
This model works well for any type of product that requires customer training, like SaaS (software as a service) for example.
I talk about this with Mark Asquith, co-founder of Rebel Base Media, who run a service called Podcast Websites . Their primary business is an SaaS product, but they also run a membership site as a value-add that houses the training on how to use their platform and bonus material.
Through the membership, if they can help their customers become successful podcasters, then they will remain customers of the SaaS product.
And the clients’ success becomes their success as well because it becomes a no brainer to keep using their website platform.
You are not only creating additional value, but you are putting the effort into creating a potential asset that can be reused as a stand-alone product in the future.
In the short term, you will be generating some supplementary income on providing great material that, in the long term, can become a stand-alone revenue stream.
2) Have a free membership level as part of your lead generation strategy
In the mind of most business owners nowadays, lead generation equates to email sign ups.
And most people are following the same process for this:
- Create a lead magnet, an opt-in, or a free guide, e-book, webinar or checklist.
- Create the landing page with an email sign up form.
- A client signs up and they receive the freebie you had on offer.
- Then, they typically receive automated emails geared at selling them something.
Nothing wrong with that approach. In fact, we do this ourselves.
But, there is an alternative.
You just need to reframe this traditional lead generation process in your mind.
What if you stored all these lead magnets and freebies in a free membership website?
And rather than sign up for your mailing list, have them register to your free membership. You are still giving them the same free stuff, just through a different channel.
It could be an entire stand-alone membership that is completely free. Or, if you have an existing membership, you could offer a free introductory level for your main premium content.
A number of people use this strategy very well.
The website Copyblogger has also implemented this strategy with tremendous success.
They have a free membership level with no time restrictions.
And they provide huge value in the resources they provide: courses, templates, guides, etc.
It may seem like there are more barriers to entry with this model.
Signing up to an email list seems simpler than registering for a membership site, right?
But the benefits outweigh these barriers because your customers will get a whole lot more value from your material on the site than from emails.
Sure, a client will need to take a few additional steps to register and login to your membership site but along the way, a relationship with you gets built.
After they create the account, login and begin to consume your content, they will come to see you as an educator, an expert, and a leader.
This hard-earned relationship building sets the stage and opens the door for you to offer your paid membership, or your coaching program, your event, your other products or consulting services, and so on.
Free memberships as part of your lead generation can be a fantastic tool, either as a lead in to an upsell, a bigger membership, or as simply a place to bring together your most engaged and most qualified leads.
If your membership site filled with valuable content, it will contribute positively to your lead generation strategy.
3) Create a home base for a networking or mastermind group
If you host a networking or mastermind group, or perhaps you facilitate a meet-up with people holding the same interests or hobbies, a membership site is the perfect platform to keep the conversation going in between your meetings.
It can be a place to store files, meeting minutes, recordings of mastermind calls etc.
The membership is restricted to just you and your core group of people. And you are taking advantage of the technical set up of the membership platform.
And, if you decide to expand your local networking group and create multiple groups in your surrounding area, then you have an online platform in place already to build the foundation for this larger scope business idea.
This a unique and different way of utilizing the benefits of a membership site.
And it certainly is a valid alternative and can be beneficial if you run these kinds of networking or mastermind groups.
4) Have an alumni membership for course students
Does your primary business entail selling a signature course online?
You can offer a membership exclusively for your students that have completed and graduated from your course.
Many online courses are not ongoing. The student pays once and may have lifetime access to the material through a download.
It is less common to expect the training to be ongoing or to have lifetime access to a community of people who took the course.
Sometimes, course creators offer limited support and community access for a limited time, maybe 6 – 12 months. But usually it’s not offered as an ongoing thing that is included in the cost of the course.
You could offer a nominal fee paid membership after completion of your course where they will get access to you in a more intimate way. You could provide live Q&A’s once or twice a month, for example.
The benefit to the alumni student is the ongoing community support they receive inside your membership area and direct access to you.
The benefit to you is it extends the lifetime value of your customer.
You can stay engaged with them and support them in their journey without the awkward situations of people picking your brain for free business advice or asking additional questions after they have taken your course.
People inside your membership site are paying a recurring fee for your advice and opinions on the challenges they are facing.
You are more willing and able to provide them with the support and attention they need.
It also keeps people contained in your ecosystem.
It’s a way to stay connected to people who have taken your course as part of this alumni membership.
And it allows you to continue to understand their pain points, issues, and challenges they face in their business.
As you develop other services down the road that your alumni members may be interested in, you have already established a high-quality relationship through nurturing and trust building in the site.
This group will be ready and willing to listen to your new offers.