It is already a concrete reality: subscription business models have conquered the world.
And it is not difficult to understand why: they represent a valuable solution both for customers and for entrepreneurs.
Magazines and newspapers have been pioneers of this kind of model: in last few years it has been adopted by many businesses and websites.
I am not here to write how to build your successful subscription model, since Zuora has already written it in a stunning way, which is definitely worth having a look at (9 keys to build a successful subscription business model).
Instead, I would like to explain why you should adopt it if you are a freelance.
But first of all, let us take a step back.
Why should a customer pay your monthly fee?
As long as there is a benefit for your customer, your business will be likely to make a splash.
What kind of benefit is your customer looking for?
Digging deeper, a subscription model is a business model where a customer must pay a subscription price to have access to the product/service (Wiki’s explanation).
So if your customer is up to this sort of deal, then he/she is probably looking for:
- getting their goods without the hassle of going to the physical shop, wasting their time, arguing with salespeople, etc.;
- getting high-quality products for an honest amount of money;
- directly paying their products through their Credit Card/PayPal account (no cash);
- getting their goods even before they actually need them.
Imagine how much time and energy you could save by getting whatever is your necessity directly at home, month after month.
This is revolutionary.
Not to mention, in America they have already started with delivering the most disparate items or services. Just for instance:
- Razors: Dollar Shave Club;
- Toothbrushes: Quip;
- Wines: Wine of the Month Club;
- Groceries: Blue Apron;
- Diapers: Honest Company.
Although it might seem useless to introduce giants like Netflix and Spotify, I would like to point out that they have adopted the subscription business model.
They fancifully represent a video/music delivering service.
Speaking of Netflix, let me open a brief parenthesis.
Do you remember BlockBuster?
At its peak in 2004, BlockBuster had 60.000 employees and 9.000 stores worldwide with a market value of $5 B.
It is funny because in 2000 BlockBuster declined to purchase Netflix for $50 M.
It might seem that the Internet killed BlockBuster, doesn’t it?
Actually, BlockBuster killed itself (as said by Jonathan Salem Baskin).
Apparently, choosing the right business model and keep up with the times is definitely crucial for your activity’s success.
So, now we should analyse why the subscription model would be efficient for any business. What are seller’s benefits?
- Deeper rapport with your customers – having a monthly contact with your customer will consolidate your relationship more and more;
- The opportunity to rely on a consistent cash flow – this point is very important, because it will allow you to invest in your business and have a competitive advantage over your rival firms. Furthermore, having a flowing monthly revenue will increase your company value;
- Trustworthy feedback – Providing the chance to cancel the subscription to your service in anytime, will show you what your business is doing right and where you can improve your service;
- Lighter workload for your management – it will be way easier to manage your inventory and to calculate the lifetime value of your customers.
Sounds cool, doesn’t it?
That is why by 2020, more than 80 percent (!) of software vendors will change their business model from traditional license and maintenance to subscription.
As I wrote above, subscription business models already are a very solid reality.
But professionals have not adapted their business yet. Why?
I guess this is the sticking point.
It is intuitive how to offer a subscription deal if you provide a software or a product, just have a look at Adobe. It is way less intuitive if you are offering are a lawyer or you have a car wash system.
What should you take care of?
- First of all, you have to make your proposal simple, clear and advantageous. This is much more important than how it might seem. Let us have a look at how some of your future competitors offer their plans:
Please, note that if you are offering a good deal, it is very useful to propose a trial of your service. This still is Netflix’s best way to convert prospects in users (Netflix is operating at an astounding 93% conversion rate).
Are you a car washer? What about offering a monthly car-cleaning for a convenient monthly-fee? You could define one day a week for cleaning only your subscribers’ cars. Yep, you could also offer a free-trial to your future members.
- Second of all, unleash your imagination. For some professional profiles, it is not easy at all to reinvent themselves in digital era: but I can assure you that it is possible, whatever your business is. Main goal is to succeed in creating tons of value for your users:- you could create a premium area in your website, where you share periodical high-quality content. Furthermore, users will be allowed to post questions, case-studies and doubts: in a long-term view, this “forum” will provide more value to your members. Subscribing will mean join a powerful professional-network, which will motive, educate and improve the users;
– you could create an online platform, which you offer lectures and webinars in. By subscribing, your users will be able to access in the platform, and take part in each webinar;
– otherwise, you could divide your online content in modules and work as follows: take for instance that you are offering 10 modules. Your subscribers have to pay a one-time payment (can i use “a tantum”?) to unlock each module, and a monthly-fee to access to your platform.
- Finally, you could release certificates. Does it sound tough? Not that much! Once you have a good awareness around your professional figure, you could start teaching and realising certificates for those who pass your exams.
For improving your awareness, start producing tons of content and lecturing seminars all over the world. If you are not english native, you should consider if cultivating your local niche is worth it or not. It would certainly mean having less competitors.
That’s it dear reader.
It is not easy to successfully adopt a subscription model, but it might give you big satisfactions.
The only thing I can tell you is that it is possible. Whatever is your realm, whatever is your business. Be creative, and you will find a solution to revolutionise your activity.
If you are having an hard time in finding a solution for your business, contact me. It would be a pleasure for me to analyse your activity situation and provide you a free consultation.
There is always a way.
P.S. Pleeease, do not ignore this opportunity, your competitor is likely hunting for adapting his business to it. If he will achieve it earlier than you, then he will disrupt your marketplace and leave you behind (there is a phrase for this kind of situation, but I can’t remember it).