If your membership business wants more members, you need to know exactly who you’re targeting. We’re going to explore the first, most vital step in finding more members for your membership businesses.
At MeBox, we often hear “Mike, Mark, we really want more people joining our online course. Can you help us?”
Without a doubt, we can find you more members and we can help you keep your members. But first, can you tell us who we’re targeting?
“Ah…yeah. Pretty much anyone. Everyone could be a customer.”
This is the first big mistake online membership businesses make. If you’re not specific on who is going to benefit from your membership, then you’re never going to find more members.
Build it and they might not come
There’s a misconception that people will be able to understand what you’re offering, and filter themselves out. It’s a thought process that if we just build a course and membership, people will actively seek it, find it and join.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you don’t understand exactly who you’re targeting, you’re going to struggle to find customers. Your membership business needs new members regularly and if you don’t understand who you can help, no one is going to benefit.
We’re going to explore exactly what you need to do, in order to start finding the right customers. To do this, we need to create a customer avatar or profile.
If you want to do this faster and easier, and if you’re serious about finding more members, you can download our Customer Avatar worksheet below.
Note: Full disclosure, this process was taught to us by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. It’s his perfect formula for a customer avatar.
Who is your customer. What is their name? What do they look like? Are they male or female? What’s their age and style?
You need a physical representation of your customer. Something that you would recognise if you saw them in the street, or at an event or while networking.
It doesn’t need to be too deeply detailed. But it does need to represent the majority of your customers. You can have more than one avatar, but the more specific you are, the better.
For example, let’s say we have an online membership course for accountants. They need to take a certain level of CPE courses in the year and you want to work in that market.
We could choose Brian and Mary as our avatars. Brian is 35 and Mary is 40. They both are accountants at medium sized accountancy’s.
This might sound obvious, but the faster you write these down and do this exercise, the clearer your vision will become.
Ray, a 19 year old college student, training to become an accountant probably isn’t going to join. He might, but the delivery, course material and marketing content can’t suit him as well as Mary and Brian.
What do they want and why?
What is their big driving want? NOT what you think they need, or what they want from your course. What do they want?
Drive down into motivation and why they want those things. Your customers don’t want to join a membership or take a course. They don’t want what you think they need, they WANT what is going to make their life better.
Take Mary and Brian again. Brian wants to support his family and earn a higher salary. He’s going to do this by proving how valuable he is to his employer.
Mary wants to increase her accountancy skills in order to better serve her clients. She’s got a vested interest in driving more business from her customers, so if she better serves them, she’ll she a benefit from that.
Note that we don’t say they WANT to take CPE credits or a course. You have to be really clear about what you’re offering and what the customers wants. They should overlap and your product should serve what they want. But you can’t tell people what they want.
What do your members want and what is the driving motivation behind that? What do they want to achieve and why?
What is their biggest problem?
What’s their biggest problem? What are they trying to solve? What’s the underlying effect of something not going right for them?
We all have goals and desires and wants. But what do those goals and results solve? How does that goal or result make their life better?
With Brian, his biggest problem might be that he needs to support his family. He’s the sole provider of income and he has another child on the way. So he want’s to secure his future both professionally and at his company.
Mary’s biggest problem is that she’s unsure of how to add value to her customers. She want’s to, but need guidance and modern tactics in order to learn how she can do it.
What are the biggest problems your members face? Again, think about it from their perspective. What are THEIR problems, not necessarily the problem you can solve.
What are the consequences and benefits?
What happens if they don’t solve this problem? This is most overlooked aspect of avatar research. What happens if they put off this problem? What happens if they don’t reach this goal?
We aren’t trying to put the fear of God in our members. But we want to understand how their life will be worse if they don’t achieve this goal.
Similarly, what are the benefits to their life if they do reach that goal? How is their life better if they reach that goal?
What’s better about their life when they complete what they’ve set out to do? In other words, how are you going to make their life better?
If Mary doesn’t start better serving customers, they’ll go elsewhere. If her customers start leaving her, her manager will put more pressure on her to find more customers. If she does help her customers, their billable hours increase and she increases the contributions to her businesses bottom line.
Brian needs to increase the value his employer sees in him. If he sits on laurels he’ll never achieve a salary which fully supports his family. He might even miss promotions or the chance to become a partner.
If he does take the course and increase his value, he’s more likely to get raises, be offered partner deals and secure his family’s future.
What are the consequences if your avatar doesn’t join your membership? What happens to their life when you aren’t there to help them?
On the other hand, what are you helping their life become? How is their life better when they have you in their network?
How do they buy?
This is critical to the avatar and rarely explored. We make the assumption that whatever we’re happy to purchase, others are too.
Are you customers happy to spend money every month on a monthly subscription membership? Or are they more likely to buy one off courses?
Do they want to buy online? Or do they need an account manager? Will they happily follow a membership launch funnel and make a purchase, or will the want someone to sell to them?
You have to be crystal clear on the buying process your customers are happy to take. The more value they see in working with you and joining your membership, they more likely they are to bend their usual purchasing habits. But don’t take that for granted.
Think bout how you’re going to sell and how they’re going to buy. Do they overlap? Are they used to purchasing from people they’ve never met? Do they hold the purse-strings to their own budget? Do they need managerial approval?
How do your customers buy and how are you going to make it easier for them?
How do they communicate?
How do your customers communicate? How do they consume content, learn what’s going on and keep up to date?
Are they morning newspaper people? Networking and speaker event types? Social media? Email? We have to know how your members are going to communicate. If we don’t know what to say and how to say it, we’ll spend countless hours and money on trying to reach them.
What is their preferred method for communication and how can we tailor our content and message to that experience?
Remember, you can download our Customer Avatar worksheet, to follow along exactly what we’re talking about here. It’s completely free and we’ll send it straight to your inbox.
I don’t want to narrow my options!
Often we’ll hear that if we create a customer avatar we’ll narrow our options. We all love the sound of niche marketing, but very few businesses are willing to actually do just that.
Your hesitance to be specific about a customers avatar is understandable. Lots of membership businesses feel the same way, but what we’ve found at MeBox is that if we’re specific about who we’re going after, we find faster growth.
We can focus our attention and energy on two or three people and make sure we’re valuable to them. Making sure all our content, messaging and course material is dedicated to them.
Focus and finding a niche accelerates your growth. You will find faster traction if you know who you’re going after.
So in order to find more members for our membership site, we need to understand exactly who we’re going after.
We define what they need and why they want it. We have a physical description and name to make it easier to visualise them. We know their problems and consequences if they don’t buy from us. We also know how their life is made better and how they communicate and buy.
If you want to start finding customers, you need to create a Customer Avatar first and foremost. If you’re serious about finding and keeping more members for your membership business, you can get our Customer Avatar worksheet sent straight to your inbox below.