By: Gabrielle Collard-Marketing professional and owner of The Coach Space- https://thecoachspace.com/
I’m the owner of The Coach Space, a subscription based business.
I came up with a subscription based business model as a way of distributing marketing services more efficiently, and as a form of marketing in itself.
The members are all coaches, all with similar business issues. We have done the groundwork to understand these issues and created a subscription to access services tailored to a specific need (content marketing). Not only does it make providing services cost effective, it means we can specialise and deliver better results.
Marketing services have become very broad and complex. It makes it hard for a small start up to gain traction as a marketing agency. It’s impossible to do everything well and make a profit when there are so many areas to cover, all with their own particular skill sets.
Also, with each new client, a marketing agency has to spend a lot of time gaining an understanding of the client’s business and industry. It made sense to focus on one type of client and deliver one element of their marketing needs.
Productising the service
The last part of the jigsaw was how to make the service more accessible for small business owners and reach a larger number of clients.
Marketing services are generally seen as expensive for owner-operated small businesses. Marketing is delivered project by project, each involving large set up costs. For an individual starting out in business, investing large sums of money in marketing is a big risk. For years I’ve wanted to tackle this problem and help small businesses get off the ground. In the end I opted for content marketing as the product as it is a continuous marketing need. It’s a service that can be offered as a subscription more easily than, say, building a website.
The difference between subscribers and members
Although members pay a subscription fee to The Coach Space, they are not merely ‘subscribers’. Firstly, we use the term ‘membership’ as it is exclusive. Not anyone can join, they have to meet certain criteria. Also, they receive active support from the organisation. For example, members can reach out to The Coach Space for advice on any marketing issues they have. There are also meet ups for networking and collaboration.
So, we use the term ‘membership’ as it is important for our clients in particular (coaches) to have a sense of belonging, to be given opportunities to collaborate with other members and to know they can get support when they need it. The term ‘subscriber’ would suggest something passive with little or no interaction with other subscribers or the organisation.
Benefit to customers
All you can eat
Members of The Coach Space have access to a particular marketing service as much as they want. The reality is that most members will not take advantage of this, but nonetheless, they can if they need to and just knowing this is reassuring for them.
Members have the convenience of being able to tap into the service whenever they want, with the knowledge that their content marketing for that month will be dealt with promptly. Once they have the service up and running, they don’t have to think about it.
Subscription fees make it easier for marketing clients to budget effectively for their business. As mentioned before, whole-project fees make marketing services difficult or impossible for small business start ups to access. With a monthly fee, they know where they stand financially.
Benefits to the business
By productising our marketing services, we’ve been able to streamline and automate business processes. Scoping out projects, costing them, planning them, setting up the billing stages and chasing invoices… all of this labour has been eliminated, which is no small thing believe me.
Services sold as subscription products can create compelling marketing messages. You can offer a very juicy package, knowing that a small percentage of clients will take full advantage of everything that’s on offer and some won’t.
A monthly subscription fee is perceived differently to a project fee even if the project fee is broken down into installments.
With recurring fees you can maintain a healthier cash flow in the business. Taking into account a churn rate of subscribers, you can plan ahead and grow the business.
In the end a subscription model is a win-win for customers and the business.