165 | Adopting the Membership Model to Create Community with Robbi Baxter

Robbi BaxterIf you’re a service based business owner, then you’ll want to lean into this episode. More than likely, you have thought about or have found that the membership model could be advantageous not only to you but to your customers as well. Our guest for this episode is Robbi Baxter- an expert in the membership model. Listen in to how you can adopt the membership model to your business that potentially create genuine community and connection (what we all crave at the deepest level!)

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Target Audience: For the last 15 years, Robbi has been consulting with organizations that utilize a subscription model and elements of membership. She focuses her work on entrepreneurs who care about carrying on an ongoing formal relationship with their members.

Why is membership such a good business model for young businesses? According to Robbi, it’s recurring, predictable, and creates revenue streams forever. As she calls it, it’s the “forever transaction.” This model works well because it is as equally great for customers as it is for the business owners. For the customers, it helps them to achieve their goals and needs. Consider psychologist Abraham Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs. Once basic needs are taken care of (food and shelter) people naturally want more in life. They can then focus on higher needs such as relationships and being part of a community. People naturally desire to be held in high esteem by their peers. This can all be achieved through this ongoing model.

Robbi BaxterAccording to Robbi, the idea of acommunity stands for a group of people that come together over a common need or interest. The service based business or organization serves as an umbrella to bring everyone together. There’s so much potential to help your customers by letting them talk to each other in addition to having your (the business) direct service. The idea includes online communities as well as providing opportunities for physical connection as well.

Think about it: the people coming to you for your expertise could also be benefitting from people who are also on that journey. It creates additional information to be taken away by the customer without the additional work on the coach’s part.

Keep in mind that building a community requires a lot of hard work. You need to focus on enrolling people ready to engage. You must invest early on to gather a core of active people. They also must be on the cutting edge of the topic in order to set the tone of aspiration . That way- there will be those people asking the deeper more poignant questions and can answer questions for those behind them (following their lead). That’s also what attracts new people.

You can also have Tiers of membership. The basic membership is usually free forever (think: Linkedin- most don’t pay). This is needed because it gives value. It makes total sense to have both a free and paid option respectively.

Robbi also touches on the subject of Facebook. The advantage business owners have with Facebook is that it’s great for discovery and great for entry. BUT it’s not yours- you don’t have complete control in regards to the experience you intend for your members. This is because, simply, it’s not designed for vibrant communities. It’s designed for updates. Nevertheless, Facebook is a good place to start and you can invite them to other places as you connect on this platform.

Some success stories Robbi has witnessed include Allan Weiss who coaches the independent consultant. Over the past 10 years, has tinkered with subscription models and also offers events. You pay once to join and have access for a lifetime. Then he has some more expensive membership options. Allan keeps trying different things. Sometimes it doesn’t work. However, Robbi has seen that having an attitude that you’ll be constantly tinkering with the different offerings is important. Also, take Amazon for example too. This company has also been tinkering with different models. It really comes down to not being afraid to try new things and dropping what doesn’t work.

Robbi suggests putting your customers at the center of what you do (not your product!). This will cause a huge mind shift for you. You’ve got to be in love with your customers and committed to keep identifying their needs. Know that this will change all the time.

In this episode, we’ll cover

  • How the membership model benefits business owners
  • How the membership model benefits customers
  • The importance of having different membership options
  • Why tinkering with different modes is essential
  • Why your customer is the center of everything
  • How communities help both the customer and business owner thrive

Practical and Actionable

Go back to your mission (the forever transaction). What’s the problem you can solve for them forever? What are you in the business of? What would justify a forever transaction? Think of it from the angle that you are solving a problem. How can you solve this problem on an ongoing basis in such a way that this problem never returns?

Resources and Links

Do you have questions about today’s episode!?

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