There is something so appealing about the members-only startups model. Perhaps it’s the air of exclusivity surrounding it, or the idea that not everybody is granted entry at the door. Of course, there is also the value for money. A Costco Gold Star card allows members to shop at the retailer and enjoy deep discounts. A KFit pass gives people access to many studios across several Asian cities in which they’re living, working, or traveling.
Meanwhile, owners enjoy the recurring revenue, captive email list, and referrals that come with paid membership platforms. At the same time, there is no way for them to dodge the responsibilities and challenges of nurturing their community. If you're looking into building your own member-based startup, you have to organize your business and member information from the get-go. Here are four ways to begin:
Find Membership Software That Works for You
Your employees may have the time and headspace to understand the complexities of a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Salesforce. Your members, users, or volunteers won’t. You have to make it easy for them to register, pay the membership fee, get their payment receipt, renew their membership, update their profile, and upgrade/downgrade their membership. I strongly suggest considering specialized membership software that will do the job for you.
On your end, you need to leverage the features that cater to your type of organization. Keep in mind that a chamber of commerce will have a different set of requirements from that of a church or a non-profit. Your fitness startup will have to fulfill specific payment and scheduling systems. Further, you must ensure protection against data loss and intrusion even as you keep tabs on all your members.
Create an Electronic Filing System
This point may seem straightforward, but not every business is careful about the way they store files. It is true for startups with a few staff members and a million tasks to complete.
If this is you, learn a thing or two from the experience of Tamara Monosoff, the CEO of MomInvented. Monosoff recommends creating a structure for storing files, from electronic to hard ones. Label them, so you won’t lose that promotional image you need to attach in your email newsletter. Better yet, subscribe to a file hosting service such as Dropbox.
Devise a Medium-Term Content Marketing Strategy
This is one of the challenges you will encounter when using the paid model. You have to keep creating value for your customers. Otherwise, they will choose to cancel their subscription at the end of the month and go running toward your competitor. Even if you have integrated the membership software into your beautiful minimalist website, it’s not a guarantee that they will be on it when you announce promos and events.
You have to meet your members where they are. If that means posting the announcement on Facebook or building an effective email campaign to promote your site, do it. You should let them know what they shouldn't miss. It can be the free yoga workshop you're offering on Sunday or the crash course on Java programming that you're hosting for the first 20 members who will sign up. Use automation software like MailChimp for scheduling newsletters and Hootsuite for scheduling social media posts.
Monitor Internal Processes
Monitor your processes and progress using project management software such as Basecamp and Trello. Both are web-based applications that allow you to do different things. Basecamp lets you track time, set to-do lists, upload and edit content, and assign tasks. It is particularly useful for multiple teams working on a project.
On the other hand, Trello employs the agile system. You can organize tasks, information, and other details using boards and cards that you can move around.