Membership Programs For Businesses

Episode 1014: Membership Programs for Businesses, with Sandra Martini

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Membership programs for businessesExplore best practices and networking opportunities through membership programs for businesses.

Membership programs for businesses — Sandra Martini, founder of boutique coaching firm The Martini Way, offers her mentoring clients a perfect balance of marketing savvy, intuition and results-driven systemic implementation with a healthy dose of nurturing and love.

Sandra’s style is to learn about your goals and then reverse engineer them to where you are now, so you can create the quickest path to your goals possible without sacrificing your sanity or self care.

The sustainable success Sandra teaches takes time and work. If you’re looking for someone to tell you to call everyone you know and sell them a high level “X”, Sandra isn’t for you.

If you want a partner who understands the big vision and intimate details of running and marketing a successful, sustainable business; who understands you and where you are, who nurtures you while being completely honest and non-judgmental and who can pull from her years of hands-on business and marketing expertise, then Sandra Martini is ready to help!


What you’ll learn in this episode is about membership programs for businesses

  • How innovating in her prior roles gave Sandra keen insights into membership programs for businesses best practices that she carried with her into her entrepreneurial career
  • Why a great membership program takes intentionality, hard work, and a laser focus on providing ongoing value to your members to retain them in your program
  • Why a thriving membership program needs a great backend to support it, with systems, processes, employees, information-tracking and problem-solving built in
  • Why a powerful content library does no good if members in the program don’t know it’s there or how to access it
  • What pitfalls, expenses and potential obstacles you should be aware of when considering about offering membership programs for businesses
  • Why it is important to offer upgrades to your members in your value ladder, and why you should avoid overwhelming yourself by trying to over-deliver on your program
  • Sandra shares a powerful strategy for targeting and curating your content to elevate your membership experience
  • Why an easy-to-navigate onboarding and welcome process is crucial for retention, and why it is important to avoid forgetting your existing members in favor of new ones
  • Why falling in love with your program can blind you to issues that can keep it from being profitable

Additional Resources:



Membership Programs For Businesses: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner. Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI. 


And your host for Onward Nation, where I interviewed today’s top business owners. So we can learn their recipe for success, how they built and scaled their business in one or the key ingredients Onward to building and scaling your business. Especially if part of your value ladder is a membership program is to avoid the common mistakes, the pitfalls, when you first start thinking through your membership strategy, for example. Yeah, of course, you’re going to need to promote your membership program, but how do you go about doing that? I mean, do you open it up for beta? Do you open it up with a discounted price for your founding members do add a group of free members like partners, clients, and colleagues, to stress, test it, to give you some good feedback so you can make improvements, or what about thinking through how best to avoid the retention mistakes? 


Because no matter how great you are on the promotion side, if there’s sort of a leaky backdoor, because you don’t have a great retention strategy, then you haven’t really made any progress. The typical member churn is about 90 days. So are there specific retention strategies that you can build out and put into place that will help you avoid having to essentially rebuild your P and L every 90 days or so? Well, to help us walk through all of this in a way more, I invited Sandra Martini to join us today as our guest expert, Sandy and her team have a doubt, a depth Onward Nation of expertise in helping clients, just like you and me create Membership programs with excellence and then put the right retention strategies into place. 


So you actually build and scale your programs and you build in steel, your business with a monthly recurring revenue instead of needing to re-invent your PNL each month. Okay. So in full transparency, though, I need to share this with you. I first met Sandy when she decided to join our authority sales machine program or ASM as we call it, for sure. Soon after joining signature, a very politely emailed you in idea, that you to consider will be helpful too. Other members like, Hey, Stephen, you might want to consider doing this. And Erik and I, we were like, holy bananas, these are great ideas. Let’s put those into practice right away. And then another idea from Sandy and then another idea from Sandy, and then another idea. 


And then Sandra decided to upgrade from ASM to our 90 day sprint program. And as we were talking through the content, ’cause, we invite our sprinters to teach and share their smarts during the hour intensives we had an intensive and March and we have one in July and then again in November. And so when we were talking through the content that would be teaching at an upcoming intensive for ASM members, it became super clear to Erik and me that we needed to hire Sandra to help us level up the experience that we were delivering for as the members. So we did. So in short, Sandy is amazing. She is a super generous in sharing her smarts and she’s extremely helpful. 


That is her entire goal is to be helpful. So I am excited for you to get to know Sandy to so without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, my friend, welcome to Onward Nation, Sandy. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Sandra’s Introduction


Thank you so much, Stephen. I’m really so excited to be here. And I’m looking forward to this conversation around what business owners, what the mistakes that they make when they’re creating their own membership or subscription program, because any of the same things apply to both. And they, they go into those programs, just kind of excited and wide-eyed. What often happens is the reality, or it can be brutal. Do you know the depending on what they do? So I’m very excited to share some great information and some helpful tips and things to do, and maybe not to do on what their members 


Politely saying. They’re not to do it because it’s so easy to make mistakes and certainly not intentionally, right? But I mean, we, we wanna create something that’s a good for the business in hopefully helpful too, members or perspective members, but, but it’s easily to fall into the trap doors and that’s how we’re going on. That’s what we’re going to walk through Onward Nation, so that if you decide, or maybe already have a membership program, how to make it even better, a based on the advice that you’re going to get from Sandi. Before we do that, Sandy can actually take us behind the curtain here. And sure. A little bit of context about your path, your journey, and in the, and then we’ll dive in with what I’m sure it’s going to feel like an onslaught of questions that are coming your way, but give us a little bit more insight into your passenger. 


Years and years, decades ago, I used to work with the government, the federal government, with the Peace Corps in the marketing department, and then over to AmeriCorps. And I loved it. It was such a fantastic time to see people, the people that I was working with who are on such a mission to the first, the Peace Corps staffed, and then AmeriCorps and Vista staff set on such a mission to help people whether overseas or domestically. And I saw myself living there. I’m just completely staying in the AmeriCorps world, and then things happen. 


My dad got sick, and I ended up moving back to Massachusetts where I, and I worked for a national satellite television company for about seven years as their director of operations. And when I was in there, I really started seeing client experience customer care churn. What happens when we bring new members in and they don’t stay. And we’ll, because of the role that I had there, I was seeing all of it from the operational and financial standpoint. So I would look at the P and L and see this up and down, up and down as turn increased.


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: A Journey of Entrepreneurial Success


Well, what have we did a show or what we did, so that we weren’t seeing these people drop off after their trial period or the reduced to pricing, or after the big fight they signed up to say, and then bam, they, or off. And we were bought out by direct TV. And my choice was to go to California and work for direct TV or stay in mass. I decided to stay. And what I say, I said, you know what? I think I could do this for others. I think that that could help other businesses. And then I began my, my kind of entrepreneurial journey, if you will. 


And I started this business in like most of us in a spare room with no, no team, no staff. I think I missed the first summer actually trying to build the little website by myself and to do and going all in. Like we do. And I had given myself, and I was single. I had a house. I gave myself six months and I said, okay, look, if you can pay the mortgage and eat at the end of six months through this business, you can keep it. If you can’t, you have to go get a quote, real job. And I did. I broke a a hundred grand with a list of 80 to people in my first six months. 


Amazing. I looked at that, and I said, okay, I’ve proven I can do it now, let’s go back and do it. Right, right. Because I just created this craziness to make it happen. And that was like, oh, all right. Now I need to actually do systems, get some help, and build this out a little bit. And we launched our first membership program. 11 years ago. We still have some of the same members who signed up for it in February of 2010. They are still members month in, and month out. And it’s fantastic. 


Membership programs for businesses is all about taking a look at what clients want, what they need, whether they know they need it or not, and how to deliver it to them in a way that isn’t overwhelming, a way that they can actually take action on it and do all of that from a price point that is fair to them, reasonable in their mind for what they’re getting and profitable for us because we can deliver it in a prophet then that you know, that there is no sense in doing it. So it was working the magic and figuring the math between all of that, and then delivering in that, to me, the delivery part is the most exciting part because you hear in their voices with with zoom and video, you’ll see on their faces, the moment they get something, and the moment they get, how they can apply that in their business. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Power of Leveraged Membership Programs


And all of a sudden, you have made a change via your program. You have made a change in someone’s life, in their business and for their future. And there’s, there’s no greater joy than that. And to be able to do that in a leveraged way if we try to do this, one-on-one with everyone, it’s not doable, but when you take it into a program like a membership, when you go to leveraged, all of a sudden, you can help more people, and you can do it in a way that serves them and your business all at the same time. And that, to me, that’s the biggest joy of having a program like this. 


So amazing and onward nation, one or the many reasons why wanting to have this conversation in front of you is because Sandy has these conversations with business owners, too, just like I do. And that is the, oh, Hey Stephen, Hey, Sandy, I’m considering a membership program. And I’m thinking of a could you imagine how amazingly transformative it would be if we just charge $99? And we had a thousand members all, oh my goodness, my business would be on autopilot. It would be like an ATM a profitability, which of course, he’s a Patriot. And then, so when Sandy and I were to sort of giggling about that, because they completely underestimate the amount of work that it really takes to build a good solid program or a program that does what Sandy was talking about, helping so I’m not surprised at all to Sandy that when you are talking about peace core in AmeriCorps. You mentioned helping, I mean, cause your all about that, which is just amazing. 


So when Sandy and I were talking about that in the green room, she said to me that Stephen reminds me of a, hopefully, I’ll get this rate in my notes here, or the lure of a highly leveraged member map. So take us through that. Right. So, because that seems like a trap door, like right at the beginning, right? 


Membership programs for businesses is often the very first trap door. So it’s the I’ve been launching, I’ve been, I launched this program, I launched that program. My revenue goes up, it goes down with the, as a launching things or just, isn’t a sustainable form of me. I really need consistent recurring revenue and businesses or seeing that and thinking that even more after recessions, after the pandemic, those that have that consistent recurring revenue stream fair or a much better, regardless of what’s going on in the economy or the world. And so they say just, just like you said, $99 a month. 


If I did this, if I did that, wow. You know, wow, I could pay off my mortgage. I could find my kid’s college, my retirement, this is fantastic. And what happens is they focus so much on that number or whatever it is, $99 a month, a hundred people, a thousand people, the price point, the number of changes that the focus becomes on getting new members in because they want to get to that point. And there’s no focus on their existing members. You know, there’s no focus on retention. There was a study done by Bain and Company years ago that shows that a 5% increase in retention equals a 25 to 95% increase in profits. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Key to Sustainable Growth


Wow. Huge, huge. Now imagine if we stopped focusing on getting new members in all the time, focused on truly serving in the way that works best for them, for our members truly serving them so that we didn’t have to worry about constantly trying to attract new members. The referrals alone would get us where we want to be because our members would be so happy. They are screaming our names from the rooftops. Yeah. You know, in terms of, wow. Look at what I got from this particular program. Yay. I got a new member in. Okay. 


Yep. Great. Let me go get another one. Meanwhile, Jane over here is in the program and, if I could kind of swing into another trap door is that many business owners they launched this, this membership program before either they’re ready or their businesses ready, and their clients may not be ready. They haven’t thought through to your point earlier, what am I going to provide on an ongoing basis that my members, my paying members consistently want and will pay for and see as valuable. 


Membership programs for businesses? Yep. So it’s not, what am I gonna put it into the program today or upon a startup, but what am I gonna keep offering that is going to be valuable enough that my members or going to say, yeah, I want that. And I’m willing to pay for it in my case, get it done. Right. There’s later a month after month, whereas the excitement to deliver X, if you don’t have, or can’t pane that outside of the thousand people at $90 a month if there is not something else driving you to do that you are members are going to feel that. And that’s one of the big traps they don’t think, OK, can I do this? 


Do I want to do this for the long term? And can I provide enough value that will give it to the long-term firm?


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Top 5 Underestimations


Do you find Sandy? And I know that we are going to spend some time on what you considered to be the top five mistakes, the top five mistakes that owners make, when creating a membership program before we get to that, let me ask you this sort of, and maybe this will be a transition AE or a transition Nori type, or why am I struggling with that word? Maybe this will help us transition to that work or to the next section. Goodness, that was weird. Anyway, do you find that business owners also underestimate the not only just the amount of work, but the number of systems and teams that are going to be necessary in order to do this right? 


Thinking like, oh, I’m just gonna throw some things together on my desktop and boom. There it is. There’s the membership program that are going to have a thousand members just, and they’re going to be members into perpetuity when a reality is actually something that requires a lot of work ongoing, 


Right? Yeah, absolutely. The back-end infrastructure have a well run. A membership program is huge. It’s the wrong word. It can be very, very simple. However, all the wheels need to be spinning, and all the gears need to be working in harmony. And it’s something you really need to think about in setting it up because it’s a lot easier to set it up well to set it, or I don’t want, I hesitate to use the word correctly, but to set it up well, before you started then going back in trying to kind fix things and fix hiccups that our in the program. But yeah, a lot of people think, well, I’ll just, I’ll hop on a call once a month and my members will find it so valuable. 


Yay. And they don’t think through it. Okay, what systems do I need for that? Who’s gonna track the money in terms of members coming on, members going off the onboarding, who’s going to make sure those emails go out in that members or reminded of the benefits then to make sure that there’s or using the benefits who is going to say when, when Jane’s credit card declines because it would expire, how is that going to get updated and fix? You know, if someone has a problem finding something, who’s going to get it for them? They don’t think about all of the admins that come with a membership program. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Navigating Customer Experience Challenges


Membership programs for businesses — And if you have 10 members, not so much of a big deal. If you have a hundred, if you have a thousand members, okay, now you need it. At least a team member who is focused on managing all the customer experience in back and to those customers, no matter how beautifully automated you have some pieces of it, there still needs to be a human involved. Particularly if you’re thinking about actual retention outside of the standard 90 to 120 days when members say, okay, I’m done.


It’s so perfect. Onward Nation in complete transparency, all of the pain points are all of the challenges are all of the issues that Sandy just articulated. Erik and I have felt here at Predictive with ASM. Ah, in fact, just the other day when, when Sandy, Erik and I were talking about how we could benefit from Sandy’s smarts and make ASM even a better, she said, Hey guys, that was just going through it. The descriptions are the other day with the master of the library. And I saw the most recent three videos. How basically kind of Greek text and I’m like a, cause I didn’t write—the descriptions in. And so there is like, okay, that’s a fail in a system, right? 


So we need a better process. We need a better structure. We need better project management, whatever, but that’s me then failing in the system and then are members feel that way. So we have made all of those mistakes, Onward Nation, just again in full transparency. ’cause we didn’t know Sandy when we launched it. Now, we will be better as we scale the program because we have the benefit of her smarts, but we made all of those mistakes and they feel not so awesome when they happened. So, Sandy and let’s transition into the top five mistakes. Maybe you can take us high level first and give us sort of like the 30,000-foot view of the five. 


And then if you don’t mind, I would love to go more high level each of the five is happy too. And let me just take a quick step backwards on what you just described in ASM with those videos. There’s I see two things. They’re one. Yes. We need to process to ensure that those or updated on a regular basis. And then two, my question would also be, we didn’t know this until a member shared it. So if no membership and not that we needed the quality control, that’s part of the process. My thought is if no member ever shared it, and that tells us that the members aren’t actually going to the site and using the incredibly valuable data that’s their, or the content or not using that content ’cause it was their, and no one can know, member reached down and said, Hey, it, did you mean for this to be like this? 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Avoiding Common Launch Mistakes


Membership programs for businesses – as part of that process, we want to make sure that the members no, where the most valuable content is how to access it and how to engage with it. Because if we have this incredibly valuable content library, which ASM does, it’s just amazing. What’s out there? It does no good. If the members aren’t actively using it to benefit them in every way, shape, and form. So it’s that combination of, yes, we need to make sure it’s done and we need to make sure our members know how to engage with the data that it’s there for their benefit. 


Membership programs for businesses — Otherwise, we had that kind of a dusty library as well. And in Erik and I, as you’ve experienced Sandy, you like, like, we want that feedback. We want candid feedback. We want the difficult conversation. We want the criticism so that we can get better. But, but my guess is there’s many business owners who are like, oh geez. You know, these members keep complaining when instead is, it’s an opportunity to be better, right? So a I’m really looking forward to the top five mistakes and you navigate getting us through that. Cause I think it will be huge opportunities for growth. 


The first one we touched on it is launching before you have already for the membership and not understanding what goes into it. So for example, if we were to create a membership today, something say similar to ASM, it has a platform. It has regular intensive emails go out a beautiful program in all ways. And we don’t know how many members we need to make it profitable. We could be creating this just absolutely gorgeous program. Does a lotta have a lot of value, a lot of content? And it’s a loss for the business. 


We don’t know how many members we need and where I see this happen. The most is businesses that create a fantastic program. And they see the program with colleagues, with clients, with friends, because they want to show some activity. They wanted to get some feedback, but none of those people were paying. So now they have a program and let’s say, 10 people are paying. They’ve got 10 people paying for it. And I don’t know. And we’ll say 30 people aren’t. So when they look at their numbers, then we’re like, well, we have 40 people in the program. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Calculating Break-Even and Beyond


Well, it’s not 40 times $99 it’s 10 times $99. Yup. So they’re doing all of this work for a program. That’s not bringing in a lot of revenue. So their focus is serving those 40 clients, 40 members as it should be. And, but they don’t stop and say, wait a minute. Our break, even with this program is twenty-five members to get to our points from a few minutes ago of the infrastructure behind managing the program. Well, that infrastructure first, you have the setup fees the build of whatever platform you’re doing. 


Then you have the ongoing month-to-month fees of managing the program. So you have to make sure that one or the ongoing month-to-month is profitable and that your chipping away at that initial build costs so that how long it’s gonna take with say a minimum, have to pick a number of 25 members for you to at least break even and become profitable overall in the program. And that’s what a lot of businesses don’t consider. 


So let me add one question to that, then. So let’s say in your scenario that 10 people and their pain X dollars a month, and then let’s say that a one of the 10, or just for the ease of math, let’s say one of the 10 decides to upgrade into something else that might be in the company as value ladder does or does the revenue from the upgrade, like in your analysis, like if you were reviewing the profitability of the membership program, would you include the revenue from the upgrade or, or was that excluded? And now that’s just the revenue of whatever that upgrade is. Those are two completely different things. 


How would you analyze that? 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Leveraging Upgrades for Growth 


A couple of ways. First, if lets say that upgrade is a part of that upgrade, they also still get the membership. Okay. So that, that is still a piece of what they get. Well, let’s say our membership has a, a a hundred dollars a month or so. And then our upgrade is a thousand dollars. I would take that a hundred dollars in still associate that with revenue for the membership program because I’m giving that as a bonus for their upgrade and that other $900 would be assigned to that new upgrade program. Now, if it’s a thousand dollars total and I’m giving them three months of the membership program. 


Okay. So that upgrade program, ’cause, it’s a hundred. So the upgrade program is now $700. Cause a hundred of it. I would have associated a hundred per month to three months with the membership program. 


I love that because then, that really does a whole true, the profitability that your trying to arrive at when you said you launched before you ready for the membership, that makes total sense really gives you the ability to see the difference or excuse me, to see the numbers with. 


Yeah, exactly. And the other thing is when I create the membership program, I would be asking myself, why am I creating this membership program? Am I creating it purely to have this membership community to provide this in a much value at this price point? Because I want a very highly leveraged recurring revenue profitable program and or am I creating it because I want to show how much value I can provide. And I want people to upgrade to this next thing. I know that X percent I’m going to upgrade to this. Maybe it’s private work. Maybe it’s a high-end mastermind group, or it could be anything, but I want to showcase my value and I like X percent to upgrade to the next thing. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Leveraging Membership Programs for Success


Whereas the membership program then becomes essentially a feeder or a program for the next level. 


Well, I love that, in the reason why I love that is because Erik and I had no strategy for that, ah, in the least a little bit with respect to ASM or a goal. So already point number one, as I’m taking my notes, I’m like, oh my gosh, we totally did that. You do as far as like or not, or I should say we didn’t follow that a recommendation, right? They’re we totally a cheque fail ’cause we made that mistake. We didn’t have the right numbers or like the right a sort of a break even and dialed in and all that. We didn’t have a plan for, if somebody is here or maybe they’ll upgrade into a sprint, like we didn’t have that really. Now we do, or I should say there’s some semblance of that, but we can absolutely make that better. 


But we didn’t do that level of planning that you’re suggesting. So when you are sharing that, I’m thinking, oh my gosh, we could have avoided this. And so this had, we done what Sandy said that is totally or that or so, so helpful. So yeah. Yep. 


And I actually considered a testament in your, in Erik’s case two, how wonderful ASM is on its own, right? Because you didn’t have, that is a plan or a strategy for people to upgrade to something else. And yet members are upgrading to other stuff because they see how helpful in how valuable the program is. So that is a Testament to how strong that program is in terms of delivering value. And it also shows you that the program is working because people love it. They’re staying it. And they’re upgrading to something for even more from you. 


So it doesn’t have to be a, oh my goodness, how are we going to get them from A to B if you do so well with a, with a membership program, people will want to upgrade, but you wanna make sure that you have something available for them to upgrade to if that’s a part of your value ladder, if it’s not, why not? So thanks for giving me a silver lining there. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Avoiding Overwhelm in Membership Programs


Or I’ll go with that then. That sounds lovely. A way better as the darknet boy. Did we have a really messed that one out? Okay. So that’s, that’s the number one. So that would be a number two. 


Number two is the desire to be super, super helpful and in wanting to provide so much value that the business owner overwhelms. So we essentially overwhelmed by over-delivering and you know what I’ll use, I’ll use your podcasts as an example. So we will take, let’s pretend that this podcast was a membership or a subscription program. There were over a thousand episodes so far in building Jane signs up for this program. She logs into the platform and there are a thousand episodes staring her in the face ton of value. 


No one can argue that, but she’s like, oh, and then she’s away because where do I start? What do I do? Right. There’s so much content and it may all be helpful, but it’s too overwhelming. Initially. Now, same thing, same podcast membership program, same thousand plus episodes. Now in Jane signs up, she gets a questionnaire that essentially asked her about her interests and her needs. And she gets a recommendation, oh, you’ll want to start with this series of podcast episodes. And when she logs into the platform, there’s essentially an index that says, oh, how are you interested in SEL? 


And a website traffic here are seven podcasts episodes that come up with that, handled that. And because those or super tactical type of podcast, here’s the action guide for each one that you can hand to your team. Now, all of a sudden chain’s gone from, oh my goodness, there’s over a thousand episodes to, okay, I’m interested in leadership development work. There’s that topic here is the eight podcasts that refer to that with the audio on the show notes, the transcript, and for those that have tactical actions and action guides, all of a sudden this has just become like a college course. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Enhancing Member Experience


That’s extremely digestible to her. Then she can take actions and she can grab the guide and give it to her and say, do one through seven go. And it’s an entirely different experience. And it’s the same podcast membership program with over a thousand episodes, but one is overwhelming, and the other is, wow, this is so helpful to me. Of course, I’m never going to leave this program because Stephen’s doing all the work and finding the experts, getting the tips, he’s curating this amazing thing for me. And I can go to the subject that I’m interested in and take action right away. Oh, my word. 


Seriously. That is such an amazingly awesome idea. I promise you Onward Nation. That was not rehearsed. And, at least a little bit, I had no idea to Sandy was going to say that. And I’m so totally as stealing that idea from you. Oh, my word. That is so awesome. Awesome. Wow. 


So I picked that because your listeners know about your podcast. So that’s something that they can easily identify.


Seriously. and also, I like that, that is a completely channel-agnostic strategy Onward Nation. So if you have a podcast awesome, she just gave you the blueprint. But if you have a video series, if you have a blog, you however your creating your cornerstone content to be able to do this questionnaire and then be able to serve up the action guide and then be able to serve up where you ought to start with these five or six blogs because they align, oh, my word, Sandy, seriously, huge golden nugget. That was amazing. Excellent. Okay. I need a brace myself for number three, with the numbers. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Elevating the Membership Experience


Number three is minimal on-boarding. So what typically happens with your average a membership program is when I sign up, I get a welcome email. It gives me my login information and we’re done not enough. So not enough there or are there are six general ways to connect with someone, email or phone call in-person snail mail, videos, and gifts? Okay. Of those six, the initial onboarding should include at least three of them. And the reason why is because as soon as we buy something and it doesn’t matter if it’s $10 or a thousand dollars a month, we have this subconscious buyer’s remorse that kicks in that I’ve done it. 


Did I do the right thing? How else could I have spent that money or invest that money? So we want to, as the owner of the membership program that we want to ensure that they feel comfortable now. What if instead of that welcome, here’s your why your information, so you’re on your own, or what if instead, they got a welcome email in a welcome email, or here’s your login info, or here’s a video that walks you through the, in how to use it or what to find using a podcast example, perhaps there was a questionnaire so that you can find the content most relevant to you. Then a few days later, they get a little welcome pack in the mail, snail mail, we’re so happy to have you in the program or quick reminder of the benefits, anything that’s regular. 


So for example, if we had a regular third Thursday of the month call, there’s a reminder of that and where to find it a completely different experience, same exact program. And the best part is that 90% of that can be totally automated. So it’s all just in setting it up so that when they join, it’s not, oh, great. I’ve joined. I wanted to be in there. Oh my goodness. Now I have to go figure all of that out. That’s done for them. It’s welcome to not just our community, but welcome to our family were so excited that you’re here and we’re looking forward to going on this journey with you. 


What has help you, what do you need all done in an automated fashion, aside from the snail mail piece, because let’s be real. We are all just buried with online and digital. So now all of a sudden you go to your mailbox and there’s this yellow envelope a nine and a half by 12 envelopes sitting there waiting for you when you were like, oh, what’s this. And it just reinforces everything. So minimal onboarding, huge mistake that many business owners make. They think that just here’s you log in and buy a welcome isn’t enough. And it, so isn’t it that you made that one too? 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Key to Long-Term Success


So all joking aside, we did do the email that you described, right? Was it a login now sort of to our credit? You know, we did include the onboarding video series, but that’s where it stopped. And so, as I’m, as I’m hearing you talk about the welcome packet, I’m like, oh my gosh, well, we can totally have our own teammates and the express Serie who do all our gifting strategy in that kind of stuff. We can easily build a welcome packet and make sure that when somebody registers and becomes a new ASM member, then it goes over to Jamie in her team. And then they, and they, they put together this beautiful package and then that person receives it. 


Our new member, like you said, feels welcomed into the family in a litany of other things that we can do to make sure that they’re onboarded correctly and that they feel like they have a path. Amazing, really awesome. Okay. So thank you for that. And I would include a copy of your book with that packet because of the book ties to you so much of the content in ASM. So it gives them another way to consume and reinforce the content. 


I love this, in Onward Nation. I should also say a share in full transparency when Sandy and I were in the green room getting ready for this conversation. I said, you know that there’s nothing off limits here. It’s fine. A that we can talk about ASM and all the good and the bad ’cause. We have a clearly made some mistakes along the way, and I’m fine. And using us as an example. So I’m really loving this. I’m taking copious notes because I know that ASM will be better as a result. So I’m a senior, I know that were quickly running out at a time. Are you still okay for us to keep going? Because this is really awesome, but I want to be respectful. 


I am. Thank you. Alright. So then what does the number four number for? We can do a pretty quickly, cause we talked about early on it’s focusing on new members and not retaining existing ones. Okay. So it’s more, or that blinding being blinded by the highly leveraged member in math. So we just, we are so zoned in, on getting new members to get us to that X amount per month that we, we forget about our existing members. We think that if we’re putting the value out there on the platform, on our calls, that we’ve done enough with the question, are we engaging them or are they continuously seeing the value? 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Power of Member Retention


You know, there’s the Bain and company report that shows that a 5% increase in retention gives us a 25 to 95% increase in profits. Yeah. You know, just to imagine that, so for every 5% that you keep, your members passed the typical 92, a hundred, 120 days, you’re seeing a 25 to 95% in their profitability. So Jane as a member, awesome, Jane is a profitable member, and she has stayed with you long enough to pay four, to cover her initial marketing acquisition costs. That means every month afterward that piece of the PI of that marketing acquisition costs that goes straight to profit ’cause she’s covered. 


So the best hope that any business can have regardless of the membership or not, it is to be customer-funded, to be quiet, to find it so that when you are growing, when your scaling that is done, because you have the right customers, not because you have to drain savings or go take loans or get investors, it’s having a customer-funded business. And when you focus on retention, that gives you the power to incorporate that into your business, to grow your business, to scale it and to do even better things for your members, so that they stay with you and refer more, even longer. 


So this would be a good spot to – I have in my notes here to ask you, would this be a good spot to talk about that Forester research that you had mentioned to me at the beginning? Yeah, absolutely. So there’s some, it just can actually come out on Forbes today. So, new forester research, that companies that are driven by customer experience and the value of keeping their customers engaged and retain, they see almost to times there’s 1.9 times higher annual growth in their customer, attention to their customers, repeating their purchases and customer lifetime value. And that’s all around creating an experience that makes the customer in this case, the member, not just not only feel valued, but actually get results from that thing that you’re offering them from the value that you’re providing really amazing.


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework 


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Key to Business Success


Powerful stuff, right? I mean, we all should be looking for ways to make our businesses more profitable. But what I love about this is that the path to profitability is actually being helpful to your members that, that, that some sort of a magic trick or some sort of like the thing you’re doing your P and L or just to get as many in as you can, or this is, this is actually about truly being helpful, like in authority does, I mean, one or one or the truths of being an authority Onward Nation. You’ve heard me talk about that before is that you are generous and truly want to be hopeful to your audience. And when you do that, sure, you’re going to make some improvements along the way. 


Like you’re hearing us kind of confess in full transparency and we are going to be better for it. But our whole purpose of doing that is to be helpful to our audience. So like, if we come to it with that sort of heart, if you would Sandy, I mean, that’s one of the keys, right? 


That’s mission critical. If you come at it with, I want to be helpful and I want to help my members engaged and consume this information. ’cause I know that they’re gonna be better for it, or whether your business to business or business to consumer, or you know, that if you’re a member’s use the content that you’re giving them take action on it, they are going to in some way, be improved their business, their personal lives or something. And if that’s not the case, then I would say, why do you have the program? You know, you need to know that. So coming from a place of being helpful, providing the content and helping them consume and take action on that content is it’s the best path towards retention towards being helpful. 


And then ultimately towards having a profitable, a bit of a profitable business.


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: The Pitfall of Ignoring Data in Program Management


Powerful litmus test right there. Yes. Okay. So, to bring us home with number five, okay. Number five is falling in love with a program to the exclusion of the data. So this is especially true. When the program includes free members like a beta testers or friends, you love delivering the program, you love sharing the content. It’s amazing content. You love having the community, but if you’re not focused on profitable retention and whether the members or actually engaging with a material, then the program is gonna hurt your business because your S your so in love with the program, you just, you don’t pay attention to anything else to know that it’s not working as well as it could. 


Let me go in and either see if I can change that or admit, okay, it was the wrong time or something is not right with this program. So the example we talked about in the beginning where we’ve got 40 members, but only 10 of them or paying, is that a profitable who program? I don’t know, depends what it cost you to run it. But if the answer is no, there needs to be a plan to get our a profitable or say, this isn’t the right time for this particular program. We need to let it go. And that’s something that business owners who, who have a big heart and really want to help often come to that realization late in the game. 


And it hurts the business. So you have to have both, you have to have the big, hard, you have to be desiring. You want to help. You have to have valuable content, and you have to have the numbers that back up the way your delivering it, you know? So if you can’t be that person to have that objective, look, then someone on your team needs to be that one that’s tapped you on the shoulder and says, Hey, we need to do A, B or C because this as it is, isn’t good for the business. 


Oh, so good. and because your, your, where you mentioned life to the exclusion, to the data, like when we stop paying attention to the data and the profitability that’s where we run into issues and make additional mistakes. And then they start to compound. It’s been amazing. I know we covered a lot and I am grateful for that, but before we close out and say, goodbye, Sandy, or any final advice, or any final recommendations that you’d like to share, anything you think we might have missed, then of course, please tell Onward Nation business. Owner’s the best way to you. Yeah. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Key Insights for Building Thriving Membership Programs


Well, the first thing is that Membership programs, subscription programs, they are fantastic. They are an absolute boom to your business. When you consider the things that we talked about today, the five things that you want to make sure you consider. And when you go into it, as you said to Stephen, with the wanting to wanting to serve, wanting to help, wanting to make your members lives in whatever way you do better, easier. So that when they’re looking at their credit card bill, and they’re thinking looking at all these recurring charges, I probably should cut a few things. You’re not even a blip on the radar because they see so much value there. 


So what can you do about that? And I would advise you to sit in the seat of your member, the seed of your potential members when figuring that out, what we’ll make it easy. There is, there is a book it’s called tribe of mentors that Tim Ferriss wrote. The book is over 600 pages long, or almost 600 pages. And it’s wonderful when they considered this. So that one, if you’re thinking about a membership program, I recommend getting this book. And here’s why it’s not the content so much as it is the organization. So he took all of these amazing conversations with mentors over the whole world. 


He shortened it, them into 1, 2, 3 page chapters by a member. So he distilled a whole conversation down in the end. He has an index of all the mentors. He has an index of the questions in case there was a question that you particularly really enjoy so that you can look at that question and see the lists of the experts that answered those questions and the page numbers. So we can go at it that way. And then if there were any mentors that you really, really enjoy, he has links where you can go and find extended conversations. So you could dive deeper if you want to. So this book was done in such a way. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework


Membership Programs For Businesses: Last Bit of Advice and Connect with Sandra


It could be really overwhelming like hundreds of conversations. And you’re like, I just can’t, but now you can take that book, and you can say, wow, what a great question. Let me go see who else answered it in how or, wow. I really liked the conversation with this person. Let me see. Where’s the extended piece on that. So why don’t you put yourself in the position of, in the fairest book, to the reader, in your program, the member, and say, how do I make this easier? How do I make this a consumable? How do I make it so simple that they can take action on it? 


Knowing that they have a gazillion other things going on in their world, if you can do that and focus on doing it on an ongoing basis, you’ve got a winner. That’s what I don’t think so. Wow. 


Oh, okay. So Tim Ferris is the master of long form content for sure. Long-form. Great content. Like if you’re a fan of Tim, I mean, you loved the long-form and in what you just mentioned is such a great way, no matter whose content we’re talking about in order to, in order to serve it up in a way that, like you said, that it’s easier than a simple, that is more actionable, love that Sandy. So I love your analysis of that book. Really good. 


And we talked about these, these five areas today, and I have an e-book, which includes worksheets to make it easy. If you want to figure out, for example, how many members do I need to have before my program profitable. So I just wanted to let you listeners, now that they can get that at Membership so they can download that for free at any time. 


Okay. So, Membership programs that info, yup. Okay. Onward Nation, we will include a link to the resources that Sandy just mentioned. We will include that in a today’s show notes so you can easily get access to that and benefit from Sandy smart, amazing or any other ways that I’m Onward Nation or to reach out and connect with you, Sandy. 


Absolutely. We have over 700 articles on the blog. So definitely pop over to our website at And we have a couple of other free options over there. And if you’re interested in overcoming overwhelm setting up your membership, etcetera, or so I’d love to see you there. And of course, I’m on LinkedIn at Sandra Martini and also on Instagram with the same Sandra Martini. Awesome. 


Okay. Onward Nation, no matter how many toads or how many notes, I took a page, have them. The key is, as Sandy just mentioned actionable, the key is to take everything that she just shared with you, which was a plethora, the take all of it and take action upon it. And when you do, you will accelerate your results in Sandy, a we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day, and I’m grateful that you took a big chunk of yours to share with us and being super generous and being helpful, and to be our mentor, to be our guide, to help us move our business onward to the next level. 


Thank you so much, my friend. 


Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I greatly appreciate being here.


This episode is complete. So head over to for show notes and more food. If you have your ambition, continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation. 


Learn these best practices for membership programs for businesses: Our “Seed & Open Loops” Framework

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