Why do some people have successful membership sites (or any business for that matter) while others struggle? I’ve wondered that myself and decided to find the common denominators among the more successful.
Over the past six years I’ve worked with nearly 200 different membership sites. Some are wildly successful and others sadly are not. Why is that?
After doing an admittedly unscientific survey I found three common attributes among the successful. Here they are:
Successful membership site owners:
- Have a clear understanding of the core motivation (or need) that drives their market to seek their help
- Know the common problems and frustrations that prevent their market from fulfilling that need
- Provide content, products and services that help their market solve those problem.
I found reason number one the most compelling so let’s dig into it here. The rest I cover in detail in a new ebook.
Understand your market’s core motivation
Every successful membership site owner I know really understands the underlying motivation that drives their market to seek help. This core motivation is often not the obvious reason someone gives for seeking help. It’s normally much deeper – the reason behind the reason. Skilled sales people understand this well.
What do I mean by that? I’ll give you an example. We are in the business of creating membership sites. Most people tell us they want to create their membership site to generate income. Others tell us they’re doing it because they have a message to share or a passion for a hobby or a cause.
But those are the surface reasons. In almost all cases there is another underlying reason that’s motivating them. Over time I’ve observed that beneath those reasons there’s something much deeper which is a desire for freedom.
It could be the desire for freedom to live life on your own terms and the membership site is a means to that end. It could be freedom from the 9–5 grind, freedom to do it your own way, freedom to speak your mind or any number of reasons. But most of the time it’s about freedom.
When you understand your market’s true desire you can learn what’s preventing them from getting it. These are the obstacles and frustrations that they struggle to overcome.
And when you know this, you can create or provide products, services and content that help them solve those problems.
But it all starts with knowing (not guessing) your market’s underlying desire.
How to determine your market’s underlying needs
If you’re unsure about your market’s underlying needs it’s helpful to step back and look at Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Human Motivation (stick with me on this). His hierarchy of needs gives us a handy framework for finding it.
Maslow says that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is fulfilled a person seeks to fulfill the next one. The hierarchy is most often depicted as a pyramid with the most basic needs at the bottom. Those being air, food, water, warmth, sex, sleep and so on.
People are naturally driven to fulfill needs at one level before progressing to the next. The longer someone is deprived of a basic need the more motivated they are to fulfill it. For example hunger. If you go without food for several days you will think of little else.
Everybody is naturally motivated to move up to the next level. But it’s not a steady progression as we’re faced with problems and challenges that can pull us back to more basic levels. Loss of a job is a good example.
If you recall, our target market’s underlying need is independence. When you look at the chart below you will see that it fits squarely in level 4 – Esteem. That’s pretty high up the food chain.
- Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
- Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, stability, freedom from fear.
- Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, affection and love, – from work group, family, friends, romantic relationships.
- Esteem needs – achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, self-respect, respect from others.
- Self-Actualization needs – realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences.
Where does your market fit in the hierarchy? It’s different for everyone. If your market is looking for self-defense skills then they’re likely at level 2. But if they want instruction on meditation they’re probably seeking fulfillment the top of the pyramid, self-actualization.
Once you know this you can begin to learn about the obstacles and frustrations your market faces in trying to fulfill that need. That will tell you what products, services and information to offer them.
For a simple guide on how to uncover those frustrations and the products your market is already buying check out our free ebook Understand Your Market Action Plan. It’s a practical step-by-step guide that shows you how to know what your market is seeking…if anything.
Do This Before You Spend Another Nickel on Your Membership Site
Whether you’re planning a new membership site or updating an existing one it’s vital to know if you have a good market, what that market needs and whether they’re willing to pay for it.
Our free Understand Your Market guide and action plan removes the guess work and shows you how to find what your target market needs and what they’re looking for.
Photo by Celestine Chua