I have worked with many clients who have a good solid foundation and a wealth of knowledge in a chosen subject and most of them have created, or at some point will want to create, a membership site. When my clients approach me with the subject of a membership site, I draw in a big breath and hold it. I bite my tongue as my client tells me their plans and dreams and we both see dollar signs – he sees the money coming in, and I see all the time and money that it will cost. (That’s the pessimist in me but I feel that half my job is to protect the bottom line.)

Don’t get me wrong – I love the membership model and, if done right, it’s a win/win for everyone: The client gets to interact with multiple clients at once and loves the fact they can get away from the one-on-one schedule and the site members get the benefit of  expertise and coaching without paying premium prices.

But here’s the thing… many mentors and/or marketers are quick to tell you all the great reasons of having a membership site, residual income, leveraging information, etc., but many times they gloss over the facts. I’m here to tell you the nitty-gritty because I’ve seen many a membership site go wrong.

It’s not a “set it and forget it” way to make money.

A successful membership marketing program requires an investment from you. An investment of your time, your money and of your business. It is up to you just how “expensive” your membership marketing program and membership site will ultimately cost, given the initial and ongoing investments it can and will require.

You cannot expect to throw up a membership site, market it to your list, and achieve instant riches. It just doesn’t happen that way. Kendall Summerhawk recommends that you have at least 1,000 people on your list (2,000-3,000 is better) who are already used to hearing from you at least every other week, who have already proven they like buying stuff from you, and who are loyal followers of what you have to say.

Visibility and communication are key.

A successful membership site also requires visibility. There are a few things that you can turn over to your virtual assistant, such as customer service inquiries, posting information, creating the creative materials, but the owner needs to be present. Communication is absolutely critical to the success of your business. You must communicate with your customers to let them know you are committed. You also want to serve as a constant reminder that your business is of value to them. They have to be made to feel as though they need you, because ultimately, you need them.

The average length of a member is 3 months, so make sure you remain visible so that the member doesn’t forget why they joined in the first place.

Innovation and dedication.

Whether it’s possible or not, you must always be certain to stay abreast of new and exciting products and offerings in your industry. If you aren’t offering the latest and greatest, you will quickly become yesterday’s news. Keep informed about your competition and be sure to not just undersell them, but offer value.

Also, no matter what element of your business, be it your product, your service, your list, or your membership site, the level of your success will be directly related to the level of your dedication. The more dedicated you are to your business and your customers, the more success you will see.

Here are some other guidelines to follow for a successful membership marketing program:

  • Membership marketing is the art of acquisition and retention.
  • Membership marketing inherently builds loyalty through mutually beneficial customer relationships.
  • Keep your prices reasonable and allow room to upsell.
  • Apply the multi-level membership model to your program to entice more customers to become members.
  • Nothing adds value like offering value.

These themes are not “new” but remain absolutely critical to the success of any business. Why? Because without communication, your customers wouldn’t know who you are or what you have to offer. Without innovation, your business can never move forward. And without dedication, you will not succeed.

All of the important principles you have applied to make your business successful still apply. Your membership marketing site and program should simply serve as an extension of your efforts.

If you apply these basic marketing principles to all that you do, coupled with the knowledge of how to entice your specific target market, and a well-devised membership marketing campaign, you will achieve success. Just realize that it may not happen overnight, it may not be easy, and it will take a lot of work.