3 Often Overlooked Marketing Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Membership Site

John Morris here with WishList Products, and in this video, I’m going to reveal “Three Often Overlooked Marketing Sins to Avoid When Selling Your Membership Site” that cannot only cost you new members, but also increase the cancelations of your current members.

Plus, I’ll show you three strategies that you can use to avoid these pitfalls to increase new members’ sign ups and increase your retention rates. So with that said, let’s dove in.

All right. So sin number one is what’s called “Intangibility.” Now, this word I first learned of it, I don’t know if he invented it, but I first learned of it from a guy named Carl Ronisky, who is a professor at New York University that specializes in digital marketing.

And his definition of intangibility is this; so he says “In marketing services, intangibility means the inability of a consumer to pre-assess the value of using a service. Unlike a physical product, a service cannot be seen, tasted, felt, heard or smelled prior to its purchase. 

This makes it hard to evaluate its quality. You can’t ‘kick the tires’ in a service.” Now, of course, he’s talking about service, but it’s the same when you’re talking about trying to sell a membership site and digital information. 

Because really the core proposition of a membership site is more; it’s access to more up to date information on a particular topic. But that’s vague. It’s intangible, and ultimately it’s harder to sell. Now, again, yes, all digital products are intangible, in a sense, beginning a course or a PDF, an audio file, a video, all of those things feel a little bit more tangible than simply access to more content.

So one solution to the problem is to make your membership concrete and tangible by objectifying it. So let me show you an example. Now, this is a monthly print newsletter, but the same principles apply. Notice here how Ben Settle, the creator of this membership only spends a few paragraphs talking about the actual membership before he introduces a book that you get as a bonus. And then he spends the rest of the sales letter talking about that book. Now, if you don’t know Ben, he’s considered one of the more savvy online marketers out there.

In fact, you can see from the testimonials on his sales pages that it’s a literal who’s who of copywriters and online marketers. So if he’s doing it, you know that it’s on purpose. And there’s a very good reason why: because it works. And the reason it works is it’s easier to understand for the prospect. It’s a finite, tangible thing that they’re getting instead of an intangible “more.” Now, of course, this is only one way to apply this principle.

I encourage you to develop other ways that fit your style and your audience. But the bottom line is this. The more you can objectify your membership and make it concrete and tangible, the easier it will be to market, to sell your membership and to get new members. All right. Sin number two, then, is what I call “Forever Syndrome.” So if you work with membership sites long enough, one of the things you start to realize is that most members don’t sign up, expecting to stay members forever.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Oftentimes what happens is something in a promotion or your sales letter catches their eye and they sign up to get that one thing.

So one example that you could think of for this is how HBO Max used Wonderwoman 1984 to boost sign ups or how Disney+ will release movies in theater and on the platform simultaneously in order to boost memberships. Now, how many of those people do you think sign up saying that they’re going to stay a member of those platforms forever?

Probably not many, but those platforms know that. So what do they do?

Do they just hope that people stay? Do they hope that you like their regular content enough that you’ll stay? No.

They continue to put out these movies and TV shows like this as often as they can and get you to stay just one more month to get that “one thing.” And every month or so, they’ll have another one. So there’s another reason and it just goes on forever until eventually you just kind of give up and say, “OK, you know, I’m just going to stay a member of this thing.” That is what’s called a “Compelling Monthly Reason.” Every month you give your members a compelling reason to join or stay, on top of the regular content that you produce.

Maybe it’s an interview with an industry industry expert that they only get if they’re a member for that month. So that is they can’t sign up later and then come back and get it in the archives. That’s not how you do this. They have to be a member of that month in order to get it. And if you notice with the way HBO Max and Disney+ does it, they often premiere the movies for about a month and then they go off of the service.

And then at that point, you do have to go to the theater, you have to buy it on DVD, etc. until sometime later when they put it back on, etc.. So you have to be a member during the time period when it’s released in order to be able to get it, that’s what this is, that’s your “Compelling Monthly Reason,” and if you do this kind of thing, then you’re going to retain more members. You know, you’re going to have a compelling reason to go to your lead list and give them to sign up that particular month.

Now, again, it could be an interview. It could be a monthly course. It could be a video, could be a training, whatever fits your style and audience. But it has to be highly compelling. So here you want to think sizzle, not steak, so you can give the meat and vegetables and your regular membership content, here you want to give them the sizzle; the thing that they want, not necessarily the thing that they need. So something they just have to know or someone they have to listen to in your industry and then simply aim to do that every month, have something like this every month. And if you do, you’ll watch as your retention rates and your new monthly sign ups skyrocket.

OK, the last sin then is “Too Much Information.” So let’s talk about overwhelm a little bit, which is the arch nemesis of membership site owners, because you’re in a little bit of a tricky spot.

You want to provide enough information to justify your monthly fee, but if you do too much, then your members will get overwhelmed and they’re not going to consume it and then it has no value to them. And if that goes on long enough, they’re going to cancel. In fact, and all the membership sites that I’ve worked on over the years for all of the big-named people that I’ve worked with, the number one reason, the most common reason that I’ve seen for canceling and all those membership sites is too much information.

So it’s a balance. Now, the approach that I’ve found that works really well is to think “synthesis, not volume.”

So think of it this way. Today, no one is at a loss for information that might have been the case 30 years ago. It is not the case today. What people need today instead is to make sense of all of the information that they have.

What’s the right information, what information fits best with them and their style, how do they apply it, etc.. Those are the things that people want and need. Your job really is to synthesize information, to take the “piles of paper,” metaphorically speaking, and organize them for your members.

Trash what’s not necessary and organize and explain what is, so they can actually implement it and get use out of it. That’s what people need today. And when you’re when marketing your membership site, that’s the value proposition that you want to speak to, not necessarily volume, because that is, today, what people actually want.

Now, all told, these aren’t gimmicks or “hacks” to instantly triple your conversion or anything like that. But these big picture strategies will make your core membership offer more compelling and your membership site easier to market and sell. And that could lead to many more new members over time and a lot less energy spent getting new members. So you can focus on helping the members that you do have and increasing your retention rates and growing your membership site.

So hopefully you got something out of that. If you like the video, I’d appreciate it ifa you’d hit the like button. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe. And of course, if you need the technology for building your membership site, head on over to wishlistmember.com to learn more about our plugin. All right. Thanks for watching.

We’ll talk to you next time.

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