How To Grow a Membership Business

Increasing sales is always a demanding task. Sometimes it’s daunting and you don’t know where to begin. For most business owners, growth is always the number one priority. But where do you find it? How do you make it happen?

Introducing: Traction Channels

When you are faced with the task growing your membership or subscription business, it’s often helpful to think in terms of marketing “channels.” Channels are the roads that can lead prospects back to your business, where you can hopefully convert them into customers. They exist externally from your business.

Often times, in-experienced entrepreneurs under-estimate the importance of having a good understanding of what marketing channels will be responsible for the growth of their business. “Build it and they will come,” is never a good business strategy. You have to get out there, where your potential clients are, and let them know you exist. But where do you start?

One of the marketing books I recommend the most to clients is Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. You can trust their advice because they’re seasoned entrepreneurs, they’ve been in the trenches and have tried many tactics in their attempts to grow their ventures. And they have a great track record. What I love most about this book is how they describe each marketing channel. Simply knowing what they are will give you a framework to think about your sales and marketing efforts. So, without further ado, here are the 19 traction channels identified by Weinberg and Mares:

1) Targeting Blogs
2) Publicity
3) Unconventional PR
4) Search Engine Marketing
5) Social and Display Ads
6) Offline Ads
7) Search Engine Optimization
8) Content Marketing
9) Email Marketing
10) Viral Marketing
11) Engineering as Marketing
12) Business Development
13) Sales
14) Affiliate Programs
15) Existing Platforms
16) Trade Shows
17) Offline Events
18) Speaking Engagements
19) Community Building

And that, my friends, is the lay of the land. As you consider different tactics to grow your business, consider each of these channels. Which have worked for similar businesses? Which are your competitors using? Which may contain contain untapped opportunities? Try as many as you can, and also try not to have too many preconceived notions about which will work and which will not. As you start to test each marketing channel, scale up the tactics that work, and cut back on the things that don’t.

Michael Masterson of Agora Publishing (hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenue) once told me that, “every business has a customer acquisition secret.” What he meant was, usually, there is one method of acquiring customers that is far superior to all other methods. And it’s your job to discover it. Where do you start? Well, by testing out a few things in each of these marketing channels. Somewhere in these channels lies the key to your growth. So get out there and start hacking!

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