If Caterpillar Can Do It, You Can Too!

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This morning I woke up with a quick flashback to my days with Peace Corps and AmeriCorps — it’s the last day of the fiscal year for the Federal Government and heaven forbid you didn’t spend your full budget as it would often mean cuts the next year.
What a difference from owning a business and working to ensure every penny is optimized and contributes to your vision.
I recently shared how we’re seeing subscriptions/membership programs everywhere these days as companies learn the best way to optimize their marketing dollars is to attract clients who say “yes” once to the offer and pay again and again.
Today’s article is the first in a 3-part series on subscription/membership programs — of which I’ve had as a profitable part of my business for over 10 years.
And before you think, “A membership program won’t work for my business”, a few examples to get your creative juices flowing:
  • Caterpillar, the heavy equipment manufacturer, offers a subscription program that relates to helping their customers manage labor expenses through realtime tracking of job-site labor costs.
  • Peloton Bikes offers real-time and on-demand classes right from your bike — including a leaderboard so you can compete with people worldwide. No bike? No worries, they offer another subscription program for classes streamed to your computer, tablet or watch.
  • My vet offers unlimited visits for a set price each year and lest you think the price is astronomical, it’s $119/year — the cost of 2 office visits I’d be doing anyway.
  • Michael Hyatt offers a subscription service for his quarterly planner.
  • My HVAC company offers an annual plan. Pay $240 and get “complimentary” quarterly plumbing and HVAC checks + 15% off anything needed.
  • A friend who was laid off and having trouble finding a new job is now offering an annual subscription of handmade seasonal/holiday decoration door hangers and went from zero to 39 members in just over a week.
Some are fixed term, like my vet and HVAC, and others are ongoing until you cancel, like Caterpillar and Peloton.
What can you offer as a subscription? As a membership? As a recurring program product or service?
Think of each of those words separately. There’s a reason I listed them that way.
The above examples can be considered subscriptions or memberships, but what about your virtual assistant? While the monthly investment may vary (unless you have a set package), it’s a recurring expense to you and recurring income to your team.
What else are you paying on a recurring basis? These are all subscription-type programs, products or services.
Some benefits…
  • Better results for your customers when they use what you provide — they say “yes” once rather than have to make decision after decision
  • Increased return on original customer acquisition costs
  • Easier to offer proof of concept and trial periods
  • Depending on the type, leveraged work for your business
  • When done well, increased client retention
  • Predictable revenue/cash flow
  • Clients become advocates/fans referring others
  • Ability to upsell/cross-sell to customers who already know/like/trust you if you have other appropriate offers
Now that you’re thinking what you can offer, next week we’ll cover what to consider, common pitfalls and how LinkedIn came out of a dating site. 😉