How to Protect Your Subscription Business From the Next Recession and Reduce Subscriber Churn Now

When the next recession hits, we can expect to see hundreds of thousands of layoffs again. Plus, during any recession, customers cut expenses even

During the last recession, I saw the destruction of hundreds of monthly subscription programs.

If your customer loses her job tomorrow, which expense do you think she will cancel first, her monthly cosmetic box, her iPhone service, or her electricity?

When the next recession hits, we can expect to see hundreds of thousands of layoffs again. Plus, during any recession, customers cut expenses even when they haven’t yet experienced a job loss. Many of today’s fastest growing subscription boxes won’t survive the next recession.

In contrast, many other subscription businesses thrive during a recession. I remember one of my mentors in 1997 telling me, “Never waste a good crisis.” When built properly, your subscription can attract and retain members during a recession. This is when members clutch their membership the tightest and when it’s easiest to get prospective members to pay attention to your message and join.

Here’s an important quote to remember about our industry:

“People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies.”
-Blair Warren

 THIS is what the subscription membership industry is all about. This is what builds a monthly relationship. Whether you are delivering information, insight, razors, candy, lingerie, online resources, or a Facebook community, your members want certainty, clarity, and an advocate. THIS is more valuable than the value of the stuff you deliver.

This is the essential secret of creating a membership that grows versus struggling with the never-ending treadmill of trying to recruit new members faster than they quit. Become an advocate for your subscribers. Connect with the problems that frustrate your members. Take a position against those problems and present your membership as the path toward a solution.

Compare the successful subscription programs such as Dollar Shave Club (against expensive drugstore razors), Netflix (against expensive cable TV), IPSY (advocate for young women), and Datebox (advocate for connecting with your partner). They are delivering items, sometimes items available elsewhere. But these items come with a firm advocacy component that makes the subscription addictive.

How can you incorporate an advocacy component into your membership subscription program? What frustrates your members the most? What can you take a position against that will excite your subscribers? What messages can you include to foster a vibrant tribe relationship?

It’s not about delivering more. Stop feeding the beast. It’s about connecting with members around what matters most. This is what stops members from quitting and makes them cling tighter to their membership connections when times are toughest. Do this and you will recession proof your subscription business and grow your membership in good times and bad.

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