Don’t make this common membership site mistake!

Do you know the best thing about losing your wallet?

A couple years ago I lost my wallet. It was one of those super slim, tiny ones that only had a couple cards and some cash in it – my ID, a debit card, a business card, and maybe a 20 dollar bill, folded in half.

The rest of my cards (membership cards, health insurance, etc) were in my normal wallet back at my home. Which was great news because I only had to close down one card (since on this particular trip, I was traveling light).

But do you know what the best part of all this was?

All those little services I had once joined for $3/month and $5/month – tied to that account – weren't paid when I closed that card and replaced it with a new one.

It was like a little reminder that I had once thought all those services were useful, and it was a great way to cancel a lot of little services at once.

I didn't cancel a couple of services

I didn't cancel my Amazon Prime. I've been subscribing to Prime since the day it started. Seriously. Because I order from Amazon all the time. I can't state that enough. When we built our new house almost two years ago, it was all dirt around there.

But the UPS and Fedex guys found me because they had to – I had Amazon boxes to open!

I didn't cancel Prime because it delivers value to me. But that's not the mistake I want to share with you today. In fact, Prime is a perfect example of the opposite thing I'm going to talk to you about.

But first let me tell you about the other service I didn't cancel.

I'm a member of Fiesta Americana Vacation Club

One of the folks I had to call when I changed my card was Fiesta Americana. They're a vacation club company that I discovered when we became Hilton Grand Vacation Club owners.

Yes, I am a big fan, in the right circumstances, of these two kinds of timeshare / fractional ownership companies. That's a whole different discussion for another day.

But my point is that I called them right away to make sure they had the latest and current information for me, because I didn't want anything to happen to my account, or to delay anything I did (like book three bedroom suites for CaboPress this year).

I belong to both of these – Hilton and Fiesta Americana – vacation clubs. I have purchased an allotment of points that allows me to vacation at their properties around the world.

But it's more. I'm part of a membership. They know me at the resorts we frequent. Not just the person who bills me. Not just the sales guy who calls if they have a promotion. The site staff.

When I arrive on the premises, I'm recognized. I belong.

Here's the membership site mistake most people make

The membership site mistake most people make is that they focus on the wrong things.

Membership sites often focus on content protection and recurring charges.

A subscription – which is the idea of recurring revenue thru something like monthly billing – is a financial instrument.

Don't get a financial instrument confused with a relational instrument.

People want to belong to something.

They'll pay any amount of money for that feeling. In the absence of that, in the world where you only focus on protecting content, all you're doing is hoping people keep paying.

And they'll only pay because of direct value delivered. Like Amazon Prime.

I pay because I get value. The moment I stop wanting things in two days at my home for free, or stop ordering online (unlikely for me), I will cancel Amazon Prime.

That's why when all those little monthly charges showed up it was so easy to kill them. I couldn't even remember the value I thought they delivered.

But Fiesta Americana or Hilton Grand Vacations can raise prices and I won't blink because of how much we feel a part of those families. Especially Fiesta Americana and the Cabo staff.

Don't confuse a financial dynamic with a relational dynamic.

That's the mistake too many membership sites make. It's not just about content.

When you create ways for people to connect with each other, when you create ways for people to meet each other, when you create ways for people to help each other – you've then created a membership.

Until then, you just have a subscription site.

Money's good. Don't get me wrong. But you could be building something much more valuable and worth much more in the long run when you avoid this common membership site mistake.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission, at no cost to you.

Default image
Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

Have a specific question?

Over the last few years, through private consulting, coaching, and using the pay-by-the-minute Clarity service, I've helped hundreds of folks like you solve their business, strategy & WordPress problems.

Let's chat. Most calls last less than 20 minutes.

Chris Lema on a Video Call