Copywriting is foundational to any sales process. Yet, I’ve bought dozens of subscription boxes, and few companies get it right. I’ve also subscribed to and reviewed hundreds of newsletters published by everyone from financial advisors to health care providers to industry trade associations, and few understand it.
The biggest mistake I see in ongoing content is that it’s 100% “how-to” information. Subscription boxes focus too much on the value of the individual samples that are in the box compared to the subscription price. This greatly constrains your margins because you’re weighing every increase in price internally against what you’re shipping in the box.
There’s a lot of value beyond the return on investment you deliver.
Too much how-to information is boring, overwhelming, and monotonous. Plus, there are billions of pages of how-to content available for free on the Internet.
When it comes to subscription boxes, do customers really need more samples? They can eat all the samples they want for free at Costco on Saturdays; do they need yours?
Yes, “how-to” is important, as is the tangible value you deliver in a subscription box. And yes, when you ask your members, that’s what they always say they want; however, when you deliver what they want in the right way, it will result in a huge reduction of your churn rates.
I was working with a client on this in December. For that engagement I created the following formula for content:
Content = Vision + Clarity + How-To + Personality
Over the last two months, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Money Map Press, an Agora affiliate and one of the largest financial publishers in the world, to implement this model within their editorial department. As a large publisher, they have several different experts who provide content for various publications. I’ve had ongoing calls with an editorial team to apply this formula to their publications and personalities.
Here’s a breakdown of the formula:
- Content – What you deliver to your members and subscribers. This could be in the form of newsletters-like those that Money Map Press publishes-your onboarding products, subscription box, audio programs, coaching programs, or presentations.
- Vision – A dream of what life could be like, should be like, and will look like when your members achieve their goals. Jay Abraham calls this future pacing, where you help give members a mental picture of what life is like after they implement what you deliver. Just like Apple MacBook owners feel superior because of the computer they use, you want to give your subscribers the opportunity to feel superior because they are part of your vibrant tribe.
- Clarity – You must eliminate all of the other options, help your subscribers set aside time in their lives for your materials, and give them a clear path to follow. Think of college; once the student chooses a college and a major, the college provides a curriculum and a schedule of classes over the next four years to earn a degree. Once the student is sold on the destination, the college outlines a clear path for success. Don’t just send a box of samples; show your members exactly what to do with the materials they’ve received. All I needed to see was one subscription box unboxing video on YouTube to understand this. It baffles me that for all of the subscription boxes I’ve received, not one has included a link to an unboxing video to show me what to do with all the stuff inside. An unboxing video is a great way to infuse personality, demonstrate the value of the enclosed items, and build a connection with your customers.
- How-To – The actual training your members need to accomplish their goal. Or for subscription boxes, the market value of the contents. For me, when I was learning how to swim, I kept hyperventilating and couldn’t complete a single lap without stopping. My coach taught me to exhale (blow bubbles) while my face was underwater so when I turned my head up for a breath, I was inhaling only. This was the basic “how-to” element that enabled me to become a successful swimmer. “How-to” and value are still critical. This formula doesn’t replace value; it uses your value to turn your subscribers into a vibrant tribe that renews and refers.
- Personality – You have a unique voice and are appealing to a group of customers. Incorporate your unique personality, what you stand for, and your values-and be vulnerable. Talk about your failures as well as your successes to create a connection with your members.
That’s it – A simple formula that will keep your members coming back for your content every day and each month and motivate them to pay you for the privilege.
Check out the content you subscribe to. Think about the people whose content you read every day, week or month. How do they use this formula to capture your attention on an ongoing basis?