Many of you have been asking me about memberships and whether they are a valuable and profitable option for your business. In this episode, I am breaking down membership funnels and discussing industries where memberships can be effective, the challenges of maintaining profitability, and strategies to make your membership experience valuable and engaging for your audience.

 

I’ll be sharing:

  • The importance of delivering ongoing value in a membership format.
  • How to overcome the objection of a recurring charge.
  • The financial implications of low-cost memberships.

… and so much more.

 

From the outside looking in, memberships can seem like an easy way to get recurring revenue in your business, but the fact of the matter is that memberships don’t make sense for every industry or every business model. In this episode, you’ll find out quickly whether or not memberships are right for you and your audience. 

 

Tune in as I share insights, real-life examples, and honest advice on the pros and cons of creating membership offers. 

 

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READ THE EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Emily Hirsh: 

 

Hello my friends, welcome back to the podcast. I hope you guys are having an amazing week. I am getting super excited for my Alaska retreat which is sold out. We’ve closed the doors. I am super pumped. To be there in less than two weeks with all of these incredible women coming. It’s going to be so much fun and so much adventure I’m like finalizing booking excursions and things we’re doing now that we’ve got the final numbers. So I can’t wait to watch my Instagram stories for behind the scenes but it all happened so fast. It was like February that I was like we’re doing this and then here we are. We’re doing it. It’s booked. It sold out. We’re going, okay, so as a part of working with embodied marketing. You get access to what I call the embodied business circle which includes a whatsapp chat group that I am in basically with all of our clients in it no matter what offer you’re in you get access to this community. They also get a bonus workshop with me every month and an in-person live event and this is like. Separate than all of our offers and everything that’s included in those offers and the other day in the chat like two days ago or yesterday everybody was asking questions around memberships and if they were a good strategy and they were considering adding one or they have one and so I had like.

 

A dozen people interested in that and so I’m like you know what you guys I’m going to do a podcast for you and I actually need to record Thursday’s podcast and so get to record Thursday’s podcast and so I’m going to do it just for you and record it on membership funnels and if having a membership offer is a smart idea for your business. So. That’s what we’re going to talk about today and I have a feeling with everybody who is interested in that in our embodied business circle that it’s going to serve all of you guys not in there yet. Okay so membership funnels as with anything. It’s not a black or white answer. So I’m going to talk through this and. Some people are going to not like my answer. Some people are Goingnna agree. Some people are going to disagree and do what I don’t say anyways. So membership funnels they can be a smart idea. In general, I’m not a huge fan of them. Now that doesn’t mean that for anybody like they’re not a good idea. I think that specific industries like the fitness industry, a lot of more like b to c so I could see like a cooking membership right? like low ticket win. The deliverable makes sense for it to be monthly recurring. I think that’s going to be my kind of bottom line answer if the result and the outcome you’re trying to create for your audience for your ideal customers.

 

Needs to be delivered in a membership format then memberships could be a great strategy. So for example, you are a fitness company, your audience and your ideal customer wants ongoing fitness workout videos. They don’t want an end date so they don’t want just a single program they want ongoing. Calendar of workouts ongoing delivered to their membership portal then a membership is going to make sense if your audience wants tutorial videos or like gardening cooking those types of things I could see the argument that a membership would be a very strategic. Could be a very strategic offer if your audience doesn’t necessarily want or need that and their problem could be solved in a condensed ninety day. I love ninety days because it’s a good time period program. That someone buys with an upfront price I prefer that and here’s why number one your business is going to get more revenue because you’re going to have an upfront like it’s a ninety day program it costs x amount number 2 when you go to sell it. Now you’re selling somebody on buying a specific result right? because now we can say in ninety days you will have this you will be able to do this. You will be this and it’s got a timeframe. It’s got a roadmap. It’s very very clear.

 

When you have a membership you automatically are having to overcome the objection of it’s forever right? I’m signing up for this thing and I have to remember that I signed up for it I have to remember if I want to cancel it and now I have a recurring charge on my credit card right? and people have objections to that. And there’s not like I sign up today and by this date I’m going to have this and or I’m going to be able to do this. That alone is an objection that in some cases that’s okay because people want the ongoing but it’s more rare than not so I’m a big fan of having a one time. Program that has a very clear outcome and a very clear roadmap and a time specific result because otherwise you automatically are going out the gate selling with the objection of there’s no end date like there’s no goal for me to accomplish. Even if you choose to have a membership like let’s say you’re in the industry where a membership makes sense like the fitness gardening cooking those type of industries I still think with a membership you will do better and convert better if you have a goal like you have within this amount of time. You will be able to do this in the membership you will reach this milestone like the first 30 days here’s what we’re going to do it has some sort of structure because I feel that especially today more and more people are opposed to.

 

Signing up for a membership that just has 100 videos inside of it and no real structure like if you are going to go the route of a membership you need to have an experience with very specific milestones and goals and outcomes that people are going to get to. In a certain period of time so they can wrap their head around that when they go to buy, so I feel that a lot of people think memberships are a great idea for these reasons number 1 they’re like it’s low cost. It can be low cost and therefore my audience will buy it because it’s only $47 a month or it’s only $100 a month right? And that’s not very much money and so people will buy it. But the thing you have to realize is think about it. When you go sign up, think about yourself when you go sign up for a membership. Don’t you have that thought in the back of your head of like shoot now I’m gonna have to remember that I signed up for this and if I don’t use it I’m gonna have to go in and cancel it and. So many membership sites make it really annoying to cancel and I have to email in and I have to go through this pain and then I still get charged right? I know I do that even if it’s like a $12 subscription I’m like another subscription that I’m signed up for so you automatically have this objection and so even if it’s low cost. They’re seeing it as another monthly cost.

 

Which I’m not saying nobody will do that I’m just saying it’s not like oh because it’s only $47 a month. It’s going to equal this is easy to sell that’s number 1 number 2 on the business standpoint do the math and think about how many members are you going to have to have. To make the money you want to make right? and if your membership is a core offer of your business. You’re probably going to have to have a lot of members. So now you’re dealing with we have to add a lot more members than we lose every month we’ve got churn so we have to make sure we consistently have more members every month we got to do all this work. Like $47 or $97 what if we just sold a $500 or a $3000 one time or a one thousand dollars program right? Your industry is going to depend on what your price should be. But if you just sold that upfront program now you have more profit as a business. You’ve locked the sale in and so there’s not this objection of this recurring ongoing charge and you’re able to communicate a very clear outcome to your ideal customer. So when i. What I don’t like memberships for is when people are using them because it sounds really nice to have recurring revenue or it sounds really easy like oh if I just get you know a hundred members then it will be an extra $5000 a month for my business for at five fifty dollars a month right

 

First of all, that’s not even a lot of money second of all, that’s not like easy memberships are not easy. I guess that’s what I’m also trying to say is I think there’s this belief out there that has been created by specific influencer marketers who. Have good intentions but they’ve made memberships look very easy like creating recurring passive income in your business. That’s not what it will be like, memberships done well are a lot of work and have to be a great experience to maintain your members and have good retention and. You won’t be profitable for a while. So think about it. You’ll have to figure out the cost of okay if my membership is $47 then at what month will I be profitable, probably not the first few months like you’re probably not going to be profitable until month. 3 in your membership once your members have paid an average of one hundred and fifty dollars so now you have to make play the game of let’s keep the members in there longer than three months right because that’s when we hit profitability which is actually a common timeframe. So. 1 strategy that I like it’s something that I do with my essential program and emerge is it’s an upfront program right? You’re paying a certain amount to join for a 90 day experience. There’s a very targeted experience in that ninety days like a merge is broken down.

 

Week by week to do list by to do list exactly what you need to do to get to the end result of creating, building and selling an offer in ninety days now if you get to the end of that and you still need more time you need more support. You can stay in for a very low monthly fee. But now my business has already made the profit it needs to make and given you the result and the outcome within a specific time period and now we have some recurring revenue in the backend same with essential It’s a ninety day commitment you pay the Upfront $3000 or payment plans is fine but you pay this upfront commitment and if you want to stay in after you can stay in for a lower monthly fee. So I kind of have a membership on the backend. I have recurring revenue but upfront I’m getting enough to be profitable. And I’m a b two b offer business to business so it is going to vary but I just prefer overall like most of the time I say don’t do a membership like honestly, that’s my honest opinion if you already have 1 great. You already have one and if you love it. You know, keep promoting it but think about you know something for you if you already have a membership is think about how can I make a more specific roadmap that has outcomes and promises out the gate like within the first 2 to 4 weeks thirty days sixty days ninety days

 

Because people don’t want to just sign up for something to get access to a bunch of videos that they don’t know what to do with and they like there’s no experience there. So if you can communicate a tangible result in a certain amount of time with your Membership. You are going to sell it better. I Also think a lot of times memberships are for warm traffic. So Let’s say that you have a big warm audience and you want to create a membership because you want to create a small like. Are you not a small but you want to create a community right? A lot of people are attracted to that for the most part. Your warm traffic will sign up for that A lot easier than cold traffic committing to a recurring charge and being a part of a membership. So Sometimes I’ve seen large entrepreneurs and influencers launch a membership and do really well and that makes people think oh memberships are really great. Like I should do memberships. But it’s like okay how big was their warm audience. How big. Do you think their email list is how big do you think their audience is they leverage that to launch that membership so it makes sense that it did well because your warm traffic is going to pay a lot easier to be a part of a community with you. Without needing tangible results, tangible outcomes if you want to market something to cold traffic. You’re going to have to convince them of the tangible results. The tangible outcomes in a certain period of time that they’re going to get with your offer as cold traffic without knowing you that is harder to do with a membership.

 

So downsides with a membership strategy are number 1 it can be low profitability for your business right? because you’re you’re probably not profitable on average until the third month so you’ve got retention and and churn that you’re fighting to to get to that point where members are staying beyond the third month number two it. Sometimes it’s not the right way to solve your audience’s problem and and people I see entrepreneurs get in their head about how nice it would be to have recurring passive revenue and they lose sight of like okay, why are we creating this into a membership anytime I create an offer. I create the offer from a place of what is going to serve my audience the best which is why I said those industries like cooking gardening fitness. It might serve your audience the best to have a membership and that’s fine, right? but. If you’re just creating a membership because you think it sounds cool to have a membership because you want passive recurring quote easy revenue that is definitely for the wrong reason because for the most part people want to buy a result that’s in a tangible amount of time which you really just can’t promote with memberships.

 

If you really want to have a membership then the most strategic way to do it for your business is to sell those members into something else higher ticket and most of the successful business owners large businesses out there and influencers who teach memberships. If you look deeper. They have something they sell those members into that’s higher ticket. That’s how they’re making their money. They don’t care if they’re breaking even on this membership because they’re taking those members and they’re selling them into a higher ticket offer and that’s how you can create profitability for your business. So. My advice overall for memberships is really stop and think before you decide to do them and make sure that your intention behind it is not that you’re looking for so for a strategy or an offer that will be easy and create passive income because they’re not easy. Like no offer is just easy passive to sell, you have to put energy and intention into it and if you feel that a membership is the right thing for your ideal customer make sure that you have a tangible result. An experience that you can both deliver on but also communicate what that is when you’re trying to sell this membership and then run the numbers and look at okay if I you know am charging $50 one hundred dollars two hundred dollars like what can I pay to acquire a member.

 

And when will I be profitable and how many members do I need to make how much money I want to make in my business or am I selling them into something else and then how many of my members do I need to convert into something else I kind of prefer the let’s sell them on something higher on the front end and use the membership on the backend to retain them. Or have a downsell or something if what you want to create from your membership can be put into a ninety day course or program or experience typically if you’re talking to me one on 1 my recommendations going to be to do that. Obviously every strategy is unique and every business every industry there are some super successful memberships. Most memberships that I’ve seen be really successful started with somebody who had a big warm audience and didn’t just start out the gate with a small warm audience. A small list. And launch a membership generally I see them do better in the b to c space business to consumer than b two b and these key components have to be taken into consideration your cost, your churn, how long until you’ll be profitable. And the experience and outcomes you’re communicating with that membership and so just pause and think about it if you are considering a membership offer and make sure your intention behind it is not oh it’ll be easy recurring passive income for me because that isn’t true.

 

And even the people who have massive memberships. They’ll tell you it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of community management. You have the people leaving and coming and you’re constantly kind of battling churn right? to keep your numbers profitable and you know is that worth it for your business. So. Obviously if you are an embodied marketing client. We’ll give you specific customized feedback around this but I wanted to do a specific episode talking through my thoughts around memberships and hopefully I didn’t disappoint too many of you but I always keep it real because I don’t ever want someone to. Pour their heart and their time into an offer and then it not be successful and memberships are one of those things where like when you create it and then let’s say that you have a handful of members. Even if it’s not profitable. You have to deliver it right? So you’re still now putting the work into this delivery when you don’t have enough members in there. And so I prefer if someone’s launching a membership. They have an audience. They have a list. They have warm traffic that they can get as those initial members to make it worth it out the gate for the amount of energy and time and resources. It takes just to maintain a membership so those are my thoughts. Thanks so much for tuning in if you have questions feel free to send me a message on Instagram and I’m happy to chat about it. But I hope this was a helpful little episode on memberships and I’ll talk to you guys next week.