Sorry guys, but those are NOT membership sites

The latest membership site launched a couple of weeks ago in a blaze of hype. Limited numbers, doors dramatically reopening for a day to let those desperate stragglers in, lots of talk about the “last chance this year” and so on. This particular one was for three months at $297 and was typical of several such launches this year.

But these aren’t membership sites!

They’re training courses. Sure they contain lots of information, no doubt very useful and beautifully presented, but at the end of the day they are information products just like the ones we have been selling for years, only bigger and more detailed. They’re the ultimate incarnation of the E Book.

This type of site may be fulfilling the marketer’s dream of creating a product once and being paid over and over, but they are not membership sites in the true sense of the phrase. And they are missing a huge opportunity to create a site that will keep members paying for years and years – a genuine long term, sustainable income.

So what does a real membership site look like?

Lotus

Let’s delve into history to see. Back in the 1980’s Dave and Paul both discovered a shared enjoyment for Grand Prix racing. They watched every race together, reconstructed them in the bar afterwards, and they both read all the write ups in their daily newspapers. But Paul went a step or two further. He bought Autosport magazine, in fact he subscribed to it, and he even had a couple of letters published in it. He also bought his team’s shirt and regularly wore it on Grand Prix days. He ordered a copy the end of season highlights video that the BBC produced each year, and his wife got him tickets to the British Grand Prix for his birthday.

Today, Dave and Paul are still big fans, and they avidly read several websites for information about their sport. Paul stopped his subscription to Autosport a couple of years ago, as the news was so out of date by the time he got the magazine.

Paul would happily pay $5 a month for:

  • Additional content about the sport and some inside stories
  • A quick roundup video review of every race
  • The chance to buy his team shirt every year with a small discount
  • A forum where he can interact and argue with other fans
  • A resource centre where he could download photos, videos and stuff
  • A classifieds section where he could buy and sell memorabilia

Dave wouldn’t join the site. He’s never paid to be a fan. But how many Pauls are there out there who would? The TV audience for each grand prix is estimated at 20 million people. If only 1% of those viewers are “Pauls” then the segment contains 200,000 people. If we could reach out to just 10% of those……..well you know where I’m going here. It’s back to my old hobby horse – Truly leveraging the power of the internet.

Isn’t that what a membership site is?

These may be interesting to you as well:

1/ How to be rich and happy

2/ Eight time saving tips for bloggers

3/ Why an E Book launch went wrong

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