By: Jennifer Calero On: September 19, 2016 In: Small Business Tips Comments: 0

Thinking about adding a membership program to your business?  Adding a membership program can be a great way to generate a lump sum of revenue or ongoing monthly income.  They are also a great way to ensure your customers stay loyal to your brand.  Many business owners know all this, they just aren’t sure where to start when it comes to designing and launching membership programs so here are 5 tips to help you get the ball rolling.

How to Create a Membership Program for Your Business1. Create the Program

The first step in creating a membership program is to decide what your program will entail.  There is no one size fits all answer to this.  You need to look at your business and determine:

  • Which product or service do you want to include in your program? – You want to find something that people need on an ongoing basis so buying a membership makes sense for them.  Think of gym memberships!
  • How can you package this product or service in a program so you make money off of it? – Many business owners will offer a slight discount as an incentive to join.  That’s fine, you just have to make sure you don’t discount too much!
  • What’s the fine print? – Before you start promoting or enrolling people in your program, work out the fine print.  Decide how long the membership goes for, how they will be billed and how often if it’s a monthly membership, etc.  Also think about things like refunds, failure to pay, etc. and create a contract that covers you for all these items.  Make sure you create a document that details all this stuff and have clients sign it at the time of enrollment.

Here are a few industry specific program ideas to get your wheels turning:

  • Salons – Create a waxing membership program where guests get to come in once a month for hair removal services.
  • Fitness Coach – Create an “Inner Circle” type membership program where clients meet as a group monthly for support.
  • Product Based Businesses – Select a product that customers consume regularly and create a monthly auto-ship program.

Membership programs come in all shapes and sizes.  You can create one for just about any business if you give it some thought and do some research on how others in the industry have developed their own membership programs.

2. Plan Your Launch

Once you decide on the details, you need to decide how you are going to launch your program.  You’ll need a detailed marketing strategy that includes all the tactics you’re going to use to launch your program.  This could include things like:

  • Flyers
  • In-Store Signage
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Updates
  • Direct Mail

3. Campaign vs. Ongoing

As you’re thinking about communicating your program’s details you should also consider if you are going to launch your membership program as a campaign or offer it on an ongoing basis.  Some businesses create membership programs that customers can join at any time and they are available on an ongoing basis.  Others launch them as campaigns where the option to join is only good for a specific amount of time.  I tend to lean toward the campaign model for many businesses because it creates some urgency and encourages people to act on the opportunity.

4. Work Out Internal Logistics

Before you launch, I highly suggest you work out the internal logistics behind managing a membership program.  Say you are creating a membership program that provides an educational piece every month to members.  You’ve got to have a plan in place to make sure you are getting the content out as promised.  If you are providing services, look at your work load and determine how you’re going to manage these additional services you are on the hook for!  Thinking of internal logistics should also include everything from billing to account management.  You need to have accurate records of what they’ve taken advantage of and what you owe them at all times.

5. Pay Attention to the Numbers

No matter how well you plan for your membership program, you still may encounter some unexpected expenses with it.  So, as you are dealing with the program you need to pay close attention to your numbers so you can determine if your membership program makes sense.  If you are product based, you have to account for everything it takes to provide the product.  If you are service based, you need to make sure you aren’t spending more time with program clients than you should be.  In either case you also have to take into consideration the time you are spending managing the program itself.

Once you have this information, evaluate what you find.  In doing this, you may find the structure you originally thought would work, does not and that’s ok.  Using your data, go back and reconfigure your program to better meet your business goals.

If you have questions about creating a membership program for your business or would like to schedule a consultation to brainstorm on potential membership programs, please contact me!

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