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Membership Website

There’s a lot to cover , so get comfortable.  First, we’ll discuss the different types of membership Websites and their benefits and drawbacks.  Then you need to take a look at your options for building a site and make a decision.  You could select a script like Easy Member Pro that offers a premade template that you can upload files to, you can outsource the Website design and management, or you can outsource the Website design but manage it yourself.  Of these three options my guess is most of you will choose to outsource the design and retain the management, but that may not be the best choice for you.  We will go over the benefits and drawbacks of each option so that you can make an educated decision.

You will also need to know what you need to do to get prepared and what to expect to spend.  Then we will discuss all of the design tips that can help and hurt you.  Now you are ready to start working on outlining your content categories, don’t panic I will give you a ton of examples to get your ideas rolling.  Next, I’ll show you how to take a piece of content and use different formats to multiply the value to your client.  You can review some tips to help you determine the best schedule for providing updates on your site, and what content to collect in the archives.  Then I’ll share some pricing strategies with you to help to select the right price for your subscription.  At the end of this chapter you will have a very strong grasp on what your membership Website will look like.

Choose a Membership Website Format

The first thing you need to decide is what type of membership Website format you want to have. Selecting the website format will give you information about how complex your project will be, what tools you have access to help you with it and if you want to do it yourself or outsource the project.

There are three primary formats to consider: content based, forum based and Autoresponder.

Content Based

A content based website is just what it sounds like, a site chocked full of valuable content that people pay to access.  You can set your site up so that all of the content is password protected or just some of it.  You can also allow your members to access the information all at once or a little at a time.

§  Traditional Continual: This is the membership Website that we are most familiar with. It is designed to provide support and information to its members indefinitely.

o   Benefits: Some of the benefits of using the traditional continual format are that it is an ideal format for creating lifelong clients, and it allows your members access to all of the information at any time.  Having unrestricted access can be particularly useful when a client joins a website for a specific piece of material and wants to get to it right away. It’s also nice for ambitious new members who want to devour a large amount of knowledge when they first join.

o   Drawbacks: The biggest drawbacks are that you have no control over how the information is reviewed, and you need to provide a large amount of content as well as frequent updates. You can include audio, video and text tutorials that suggest the order in which to review the information, but you have no way of forcing them to comply.  The open format may also lead to disorganized study patterns and the user missing some vital information if it is not properly highlighted in the program.

§  Course Style:  This is a newer type of content-based site that is created with the aim to educate the client on the selected material and then end when they have completed.  Sometimes the members go through a form of testing and graduate at the course’s completion.

o   Benefits:  There are several benefits to this structure.  First, information organized as a course is generally perceived to be of high value, also you have control of revealing the information to your client in a logical manner that will provide them with the most benefit. The clear ending of the program can also motivate some people to continue their education until they meet it.  If they are paying month to month it may also encourage them not to cancel the program early. This format allows you to add a graduation gift to your program as both a purchase and completion incentive. Read more about Graduation Rebates here.

o   Drawbacks: The biggest drawback is that if you utilize a course style site you will have a distinct ending to your program, where you will need to sell your client on the next product/service if you want to keep their business. By putting your information into a course format you are creating a distinct ending where people will drop out, therefore eliminating much of the “snowball effect” growth of a continuity program. Your client is also restricted to accessing only specific information in the beginning of the program.  This can be a problem if for example they are frustrated because they purchased the program to get access to a particular sales strategy that you don’t discuss until week three.

Forum-based

This membership Website is a community for people to interact with each other.

§  Benefits: In a forum based membership website your members actually create content each time they participate.

§  Drawbacks: It can be a lot of work to make your forums active and high quality enough that someone would pay to access them, which is why this format is popularly used as a hybrid with the content based membership Website.

Autoresponder

The Autoresponder membership Website really isn’t an actual Website at all, but many people consider it falling into the category of membership Websites, so we’ll cover it.  Basically the Autoresponder “membership website” is a series of content filled pre-scheduled automated e-mails.

§  Benefits: The upside is that it’s easy, you just create and schedule the e-mails with your ESP you don’t even need an actual membership Website.  It’s also very convenient for the user who doesn’t need to remember to visit a website and login, just open their e-mail. Also similar to the course style content site you have control over the order and pace that your members get access to the content, so you can provide information in a logical sequence and spread it out over the optimal amount of time.

§  Drawbacks: Your clients don’t get the same feel for the volume of information right from the beginning of the program because they are only spoon fed small pieces at a time.  Your clients are also limited to studying the topics as you present them.  Many people purchase comprehensive programs for one or two primary tools, and consider the rest a bonus.  The Autoresponder program doesn’t allow them the choice to dive into these hot topics first.  Finally, the lack of an actual site results in a lower perceived value of the program.

Building Your Membership Website

When it comes time to build your membership website you have several different options to choose from.  If you have the skills to do so can build it yourself from scratch, you can build it yourself with the aid of a membership website template (also called a “script”) you can hire a website designer to build you a website from scratch or one of their existing templates and have them set it up so you can easily manage it yourself or hire a webmaster to manage it for you.

Building from Scratch

If you have the skills to build your own membership Website from scratch, congratulations.  You will be able to save yourself some money and even more importantly have the ability to adapt your site down the road to meet your needs.  Personally, anything beyond a blog or simple sales or landing page is out of my league unless I have a template or script to work from.  You will need an html editor if you don’t already have one.  There are free versions like KompoZer, or you can choose more complex software like Dreamweaver.

Building Using Templates

First you need to pick a script.  Easy Member Pro, Wild Apricot, aMemberPro, SubHub, Membership Script are all options.  If you are more comfortable you could also go with WordPress or Joomla. My favorite template application is WordPress.

In the enclosed DVD titled, “Building a Basic Membership Website,” you can see exactly how I have customized and uploaded information to a membership website using a membership website script. If you prefer to use a different script to create your membership website that’s okay. Thankfully, many of the Websites offer “how to” video’s to help you get started.

Hire a Web designer to build a site you will manage

If you have the resources to pay to have your Website built and you are not too keen on doing it yourself you can always hire a Web designer to build your membership Website. There are lots of benefits of this.  First, you will save time and perhaps some frustration.   Although, the scripts are pretty easy to use there is still a learning curve, and if this sort of thing isn’t your forte’ you could get stumped and waste time.  Outsourcing solves that problem.

Secondly, you will have the opportunity to customize your Website any way you like.  You may add a considerable amount of flash, a customized calculator or unique design features that are not options for you when working with scripts.

Drawbacks are you will have to relinquish some control, take the time to communicate your needs effectively, pay for the work and risk going over budget or not getting what you’re looking for.  You can even hire someone to build the “framework” and design the home page and you can upload the content to the other pages.  Doing the extra work of uploading the content will save you some money, but even if you don’t mind paying to have that task off your plate make sure that you have your Web designer show you how to upload content so that when you want a page updated ASAP, you can easily do it yourself.

If you are looking to outsource your membership Website and get quality work without spending a fortune, look into your local college, recommendations from business owners, and your local businesses.  Feel free to negotiate, many Web designers bill hourly for projects but if you have very clear details of what you want and you agree not to change your mind (unless you want to pay more) then some designers will agree to a single fee for the entire project.  This lets you rest comfortably as you know the charges are fixed.

Hire a Web designer to build and a Webmaster to manage your site

Another option is to hire a Web designer to build your site and a Webmaster to maintain it.  A Webmaster is in charge of making any minor adjustments and updates to your site, like updating or adding a page. The fees are substantially less than the Web designers.

The benefits of having a webmaster is that now you don’t have to do anything to your Website. It’s all taken care of for you, and that can be a nice feeling.  The drawbacks are that small modifications can become expensive, changes may be slow and overall you have a lack of control.

Let me give you an example.  You are creating new content for a new section of your Website and you announced that it will be out on Jan. 14.  The problem is that you had a really intense week and fell behind schedule.  Now it’s Jan. 13, and you are still writing.  You had hopes of being done by early afternoon, but now it’s 11 p.m. and you just finished.  It’s not a complex file, just a 3-page tutorial and a couple of simple diagrams.   You e-mail the file to your Webmaster with a nice message urging him to update your site ASAP.

Your webmaster gets the message and has your new page up by 10 a.m. Jan 14, not bad, but he misunderstood where the images go in the document and accidentally switched them.  Now anyone who reads the new piece will be completely confused.  You call the Webmaster and leave a message and e-mail him about the mistake, but he is out at a meeting.  By 11:30 a.m., he has the problem fixed, but you are getting some e-mail from your clients who have seen the article and are confused.  You spend 30 minutes addressing their questions and the small problem is solved.

If you had been uploading the material yourself you could have just uploaded the file and the two images as soon as they were completed and had it all done correctly before 11:30 p.m. the night before.  You would have been able to procrastinate, meet your deadline, avoid the mistake, and save time and money.

Moral of the story:  Under most circumstances you are better off acting as your own Webmaster.

Be Prepared

Regardless of if you are planning on managing the Website yourself or hiring a Webmaster to do it for you, you need to be prepared when you go to your Web designer to have your site built.  Make sure you already know what you want, and I mean exactly what you want.  Then if it turns out to be too expensive you can work with them par down your plans to fit your budget.  I can tell you from experience this is much easier then deciding afterward that you need to add something but the site is not properly set up for it.  Often just knowing that you might want to add a specific feature down the road makes adaptations later much easier.  Always plan ahead.

There are reasons other than money that it’s a good idea to know what you want ahead of time.  Designers are good at making things look good, but they are not necessarily utilizing the correct marketing techniques to make you any money.  This is your baby.  When designing my first Website I fell into the trap of believing that the designers knew better.  It’s hopefully true when it comes to the mechanics of your Website, but don’t rely on your designers to decide the layout and format of your Website.  Accept their feedback and then think about the end user, who is probably more like you.

What is this going to cost you?

How much should you be paying your Web designer?  I have worked with several different design companies over the years and have usually paid between $65-$95/hour. You can also work out a project quote with your Web designer.

As a general rule of thumb a firm or agency price will usually run around $100/hour.  A freelance designer may help for as low as $40-$60, and if you’re lucky enough to find a skilled college student you may be able to get work for $25-$30 per hour.  Keep in mind that with the less expensive and experienced options, you may have to take more time to clearly express what you are looking for, allow more time for the project to be completed and understand that due to life changes they may be less likely to be around to help you maintain or upgrade the site.

Design Tips

How user friendly is your Website?

You want your Website to deliver your message and teach your members, in order to accomplish this you need to have a clean, organized site that’s easy to navigate and has minimal clutter. If you try to pack too much into each page, especially the homepage, it will look cluttered and leave your client wondering what they are supposed to do next.

§  Don’t distract or confuse your website members by having too many options for them to pursue.  A confused mind lacks focus and is more likely to abandon your site without getting what they came for.  Keep your design free of unnecessary images and other visual clutter.

§  Avoid ads on your homepage, unless they are for advanced coaching programs that you offer.

§  Include the text replacement for graphics so that if the graphics option is off on their browser or the information is not completely loaded they can still get an idea of what the image is about.

§  Clear navigation

o   Use the same format throughout the site.

o   If navigation is at the top put it below, not above the logo. People expect to see banner ads at the very top and tend to ignore that area.

o   Don’t bury information in a million clicks.  I experienced this problem with my first membership Website.  I didn’t realize how much information we would eventually have, and so I didn’t create enough categories (only four, when I could have used seven).  The end result was lots of sub-categories, which meant extra clicks to get to what you are looking for.  You can avoid this problem by carefully laying out all of your information ahead of time and limiting how many “layers” you have.  Sub-categories are fine, but avoid sub-categories for your sub-categories.  Those will drive people crazy.

Topics and Formats for your Site Content

If you are getting ready to create your membership Website odds are you have given some thought to content.  What type of content should you provide, how often should it be updated, what formats work best.  Here are some topic and format suggestions for information to include in your site:

Category

§  Marketing – your marketing systems, including:

o   Advertisements you use to funnel prospects to landing pages

§  Copy

§  Advertising medium

o   Magazines, e-mail

o   Pay per click (PPC)

§  How you choose keywords

§  How you determine maximum bid price

§  What PPC search engines you recommend

o   Seminar invitations

§  List supplier

§  Copy

o   Letters

§  Copy

§  List supplier

§  Packaging

§  Mailing

o   Speeches, seminars

§  Locations

§  Content

§  Set-up

§  Free give away

o   What you give away

o   Cost

o   How to create it

o   How to promote it

o   Client events

§  Themes (wine tasting, birthday party, dinner and seminar, musical entertainment, fundraiser)

§  Budget

§  Getting sponsors

§  Choosing a location

§  Speech script

§  Entertainment

§  Primary goal

§  Ensuring good attendance

o   Referral programs

§  How to get referrals from your clients easily

§  Rewards you provide to clients for referrals

§  Special benefits you give to the referrals

§  Sponsors

o   Ezines

§  Provide your clients with an Ezine they can easily customize and pass on to their own clients.

§  Explain how you get/create content for your Ezine if you have one.

§  Teach them how you get people to sign up.

§  Reveal how your Ezine format impacts your readership.

§  Tell them how frequently they should send the Ezine.

§  Give them popular topics for the personal section they write about themselves.

o   Autoresponder

§  What e-mail service provider do you use?

§  How frequently do you send messages?

§  What percentage is promotional vs. content based?

§  Do you utilize personalization and if so how?

§  Is HTML or text more effective?

§  Suppliers/Vendors

o   What companies do you work with and why?

o   Compare vendors and suppliers and explain their different benefits and drawbacks

o   What does your client have to do to be able to work with these companies?

o   How to get the best service, and prices from your suppliers/vendors

o   When to add/remove a vendor

§  Special Techniques/Strategies that you use

o   Depending on your field may include specialties in specific types of listings, mortgages, financial planning, tax planning, or a type of decorating, college funding – it could be anything.  What’s important is to identify and focus on your core professional techniques/strategies that give you an advantage over the local competition.  Note: Depending on your situation you may choose to not accept coaching clients from your local geographic region.

§  Client Service

o   What systems have you developed to handle new clients that make your job easier?

o   Special touches that you provide your loyal clients, and how you systematize the process to save you time

o   Any unique company policies concerning your clients

o   Client events, gifts, promotions

o   How often do you contact clients and how?

§  Employees

o   Share your interview process

§  Who do new prospects interview with?

§  What specific qualifications do you look for in an employee, including but not limited to experience, certification, and education?

§  Would you conduct any personality or skill testing?

o   Protocol for periodic evaluations, raises, promotions, bonuses, etc.

o   Standard meetings, celebrations and other events

o   Different positions that you employ, the responsibilities and pay associated with them

§  Environment/Building

o   Office or storefront atmosphere, how is it unique?

§  Décor, location, atmosphere

o   What factors are most/least important to you?

o   Do you rent or lease?  Is this important to your success?

o   How do you see that these things are maintained to your standard?

§  Licensing/Insurance/Certifications

o   What experience do you have, and recommend for your coaching clients as they attempt different stages of your program?

o   What insurance do you hold to protect you and your business?

o   What licenses and certification do you have, and recommend to others in your field?  Where do you advise they get these licenses/certifications if they don’t already have them?

§  Niche

o   What is your niche?

o   How did you select this niche?

o   Are you recommending that your coaching clients all work within this niche?  If not how do they find the best niche for them?

o   What are the special considerations for working in this niche?

o   How does this impact you (benefits/drawbacks)?

§  Products/Services

o   How do you structure/price your products and services so that they are unique from the competition?

o   Do you have special offers that work well?

o   Do you use product/service bundling to provide more attractive options to your clients?

o   Have you been successful at creating a continuity program for your clients so that they pay you on a regular basis and remain loyal customers for years to come?

o   If you work with services, how have you used names and packaging to give your service a “physical” presence (something they can see/touch that represents what they are buying)?

o   What have you done to provide products at multiple stages of the buying process (for example entry-level, moderate, and premium service or product levels)?

§  Expenses

o   What is your overhead?

o   In what areas do you save money?

o   Where do you feel it’s important to pay for higher value?

§  Outsourcing

o   What parts of your business do you outsource and to who?

o   At what stage in their business would it be advantageous to outsource this particular task?

o   What do you pay for outsourcing this job?  Should your clients expect similar fees?

o   What company do you use?  Is this a good option for your client?  If not who should they consider working with?

o   Have you tried alternatives to outsourcing this project?  What were the benefits/drawbacks of this alternative?  Would you recommend the alternative to your client while they work towards outsourcing?

As you can see, there are tons of options for topics on your membership Website.  You don’t have to use all of these (and it’s likely not all of them apply).  I just wrote this to get you thinking and make the brainstorming process easier.  Keep in mind that you may find that the most important information in your mind is not always what your client is searching for.  It may be because they have different skills, talents than you or because they are at a different stage in their business.  If you want to be successful, give them what they want and what they need.

Parts of your Website

Tutorials

The bulk of your site will likely consist of tutorials that teach your members strategies, techniques and skills that they can use to improve their businesses.  Your tutorials may use audio, video and/or text to share information.  I recommend teaching important concepts using multiple mediums to increase convenience and comprehension for your members.

Interactive Tools

Examples of tools you may offer on your site are a software program or specialized calculator.  You may or may not have tools on your membership Website.  Tools are great because not only do they provide a needed service to your clients but tools also work to get your members coming back to your site repeatedly.  This keeps them “plugged in” and in the habit of getting on the site and using it.  A tool that requires regular visits to the Website is very helpful in increasing client retention.

Static Resources

Static resources display valuable information that you can gather without gathering any specific data.  Examples are charts, rules, lists of links to vendors and regulatory sites. Static resources are typically expressed in text only.

Forum or Chat Room

A forum or message board is a place where people can share on the Web and have “discussions” without having to be online at the same time.  Users can communicate via a series of posts, usually referred to as a thread.  Comment areas are another way to communicate to the group.  They typically appear at the bottom of a content page vs. on their own page.

A chat room on the other hand is an Internet page in which members can communicate informally in real time with each other.  For a chat room to be successful, you need to have a number of active members who are online at the same time.

Having an active forum or chat room is not a necessity to a successful membership Website, but it does help.  Forums and chat rooms help to foster a feeling of community and keep members involved and repeatedly visiting the site.  Odds are if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of members who are online at the same time, you may be better off with a forum, because your members can communicate with each other even if there are substantial time delays between messages.  You can always add a chat room at a later date once your site is more established.

Basic Information Web Pages

There are several standard information Web pages that you are going to need for your site.

Privacy Statement/Legal info

This section may be relatively brief or very detailed.  Consult your attorney to get professional input regarding your specific needs.  Here is some information you will want to include:

§  Guarantees – Any pledges or promises that you make to your clients regarding your products or services.

§  Disclaimers Any statements that need to be made to specify the scope of rights or obligations that may be exercised and enforced by parties in a legally binding relationship.

§  Delivery Policy – Explain what time frame products will be delivered in. You might also want to tell them what carrier you use (if it’s always the same) and if there are any special actions they must take, like signing upon delivery.  If your product is “delivered” via the membership Website, then detail how and when they will receive the username/password.  You may also want to include mention of how you will handle down time due to Website maintenance.

§  Refund Policy – Explain exactly how, when and under what circumstances refunds are made.

§  Terms of Service – Explains acceptable conduct in chat rooms and forums, and list any limits on the use of images and content.  Also, state the consequences if abused.

Testimonial Page

If you already have some testimonials, then you will want to put them on your sales page. You should also include them on your membership Website home page.  Depending on your layout you may want to put them along the sides of your home page or on their own page with a place to access them from the home page.  It’s important for members to be able to see the success that others have achieved to help inspire them and keep them motivated.

Copyright Information

Copyright information falls into the category of “legal” mentioned above, but I also have given it its own place because copyrights are often listed right at the bottom of each page, instead of on a page of their own.

Contact Information

On your home page you should have a clear link to a contact page where members can find the names and e-mails of employees, the physical address of the business and phone number.

About Us

This is where you want to include your story.  The objective you are trying to meet, what is special about you and pictures of you, your staff and possibly your office/storefront.

Content Format

When you are delivering information I have found that the best thing you can do is deliver it in as many formats as possible.  The reason this works so well is that sometimes we need to be exposed to something in more than one way in order for it to sink in.  Also, some people will find certain formats far more convenient and effective than others, and you can bet that they won’t all agree on which format that is.

Text

Anything worth having on your Website is worth putting in text.  The written word is a fundamental teaching tool on which people have come to expect and rely.  Here are some reasons why text is still a fundamental:

§  It’s easy to analyze.  If it’s on a computer screen you can print it out and scrutinize every detail.  Circle, highlight and make comments on key points.  Easily review information from previous pages and absorb the information at your own pace.

§  People are accustomed to working with text.

§  You can study and review text without interfering with anyone else’s work.

§  It’s easy to transport. Weather it’s sent through e-mail, read on a Website or in print, it’s easy to take text with you practically anywhere.

Uses for text in your information products:

§  Step-by-step instructions, directions and tutorials

§  Stories

§  Scripts

§  Schedules

§  Definitions

Audio

Audio is becoming a very common tool for a few reasons:

§  It’s convenient.  You can listen at your computer while you answer e-mail – or download it to a CD or your iPod instead and listen while you go for a run or commute to work.

§   It’s entertaining.  You can use the inflection and tone in your voice and music to hold your audience.

§  It’s personal.  You can learn a lot about someone by the sound of his or her voice. This allows the listener to bond with you easier than with print.

§  It’s versatile.  Practically anything you have in text format can also be delivered in audio, plus you can create a lot of original content with audio by recording events, conference calls and interviews and posting them on your site.  If you really like the material you can have it transcribed and deliver it via text as well.

§  It’s expressive.  Audio allows you to easily share emotions.

§  It’s original.  You can create fresh content with audio by recording interviews, conference calls, and events and posting them to your site.

Video

Uses

There are several benefits to using video.  First, you get the advantages of audio and video to share your message.  This allows you to express complex ideas in a very short period of time.  Also, the audio and visual cues create an ideal situation for the viewer to bond with the presenter(s).  People like video because it’s a passive teaching method that doesn’t require a lot of involvement from the viewer.  Video is also becoming easier to view and share conveniently.

There are still a few drawbacks.  It does require special equipment and isn’t as portable as text or audio.  Creating a video takes more special equipment, staging and planning than an audio or text piece.

Movies, TV sitcoms and commercials may be some of the first examples of videos that pop into your mind but there are many more inexpensive options that you can use on your Website.

Here are a few examples:

§  Informal videos of you teaching material, speaking at an event, or conducting an interview can be very helpful on your membership Website.  You do not need a professional videographer or camera to be successful just make sure to use a tripod or other tool so you don’t have a picture that’s bouncing around.  Also, avoid recording in front of a bright window as the back lighting will make you appear to be in a shadow.

§  You can also use screenshots that are actually a recording of your computer screen.  This is a great way to teach people how to do something online.  You can include your voice over the screenshot, making it easy to talk them through the steps.  Check out Camtasia, or try conducting a webinar with an audience.

§  Presentation style videos can be created easily from PowerPoint slides and/or images and voice over and/or music.  This can be easily done with software that is probably already on your computer (especially if you own an apple).  If you don’t have software you can get some online for free or anywhere from under $100 to over a thousand.  Your typical $100 video editing software should do everything you need.

§  Combination videos.  Sometimes the most interesting videos are actually a combination of actual footage, screenshots and or slides and graphics.  Feel free to play around until you create something you are happy with, but warning as with any fun gadget don’t get so carried away with the cool features that you drown out the message.

Graphics

A graphic is a symbolic image that may appear on your site in the form of a logo, picture or illustration. If used properly graphics can help to build brand image, easily express complex concepts and contribute to an enjoyable online experience.  However if implemented haphazardly they can create, clutter, confusion and cause your pages to download slowly.

You may use any of the following types of graphics on your site:

§  Photos

§  Drawings

§  Logo

§  Chart

§  Diagram

§  Graph

Reasons they are effective:

§  Deliver a lot of information in a compressed space

§  Enable someone to quickly gather information including key points easily

§  Appeals to visual people who learn better from pictures than written or verbal words

§  Summarizing data

§  Depicting correlations, associations, organizations and cause and effect

§  Creating models

§  Convey exact appearance

Tips for using graphics:

§  Include a compressed graphic for your logo that reflects the style of your business.  For example: exclusive, casual, traditional, cutting-edge

§  Include relevant charts, diagrams and illustrations that can provide additional information to the reader or a clean summary of data you have already provided in text.

§  Include a caption under photos, diagrams, illustrations, charts, and graphs to help people scanning the information to quickly determine what they are looking at as well as allow readers to figure out what information is located there in the event that the image downloads slowly or not at all.

§  Compress your images to provide for a quicker download

§  Do not use graphics that are not directly related to the information you are presenting and/or do not provide substantial added value.

§  Keep in mind the average internet connection of your users and do not include so many graphics that the download time is excessive.

Adding Content to Your Membership Website

How much information should you add and when?

Updates can be a big source of concern for new membership Website owners, but they don’t have to be.  Once you have a set schedule of the updates you are committed to and have practice creating new content it’s no big deal.  Think about it:  You have already created all the content for your membership Website, so by now you are getting pretty good at it.

It’s a good idea to set a schedule that lets your users know when specific key sections of the site will be updated.  Then if you have additional bonus content, great.  I would recommend doing your first two or three months of updates before you launch so that you can focus on attracting new members as soon as your membership is live.

You will want to add a “new content” box to your home page so your clients and the search engine spiders can find the information.  All you need to include is the title of the content as a live link and a short description.  This allows client to easily navigate new information.

Note: Search engines will not “credit” you for information that is password protected.  If you want to increase your page rank and search engine results by providing valuable content you have to leave that content open to the public.

Suggestions for updates

You can literally provide anything you want as your Website updates, but some things are easier than others to provide routinely. Here are some examples you may want to consider:

§  Monthly newsletter template that your clients can customize and mail.  They add their picture, logo and a short personal tidbit if they want and send.  Your members will appreciate the convenience.

§  Monthly Ezine that your clients can customize and send to their clients. You should be sending something to your clients anyway so just pass it on to you coaching clients and give them permission to use it as their own.

§  Monthly Webinar/Conference

§  Major Quarterly Updates work well for sections of your business that change periodically throughout the year.  These tend to be substantial content updates on some of the following topics:

o   Marketing systems

o   New technique or service for working with clients

o   New inventory

Schedule

Here is the schedule that I used with my last membership Website:

§  Client Ezine informs the members of what’s new on the Website, discusses some current events and how they impact their industry, and lets your members know what’s new with you.

§  Monthly Newsletter: This is actually the same monthly newsletter that you send to your clients.  You just make it available in an editable digital format for your Website members and leave the spaces open that they need to customize before sending it out themselves.  If you want to go a step further you can have your members upload their name, business info and logo once and each time they download a newsletter it will be automatically entered into the appropriate fields.

§  Monthly Case Analysis: Is a dissection of an experience with a new client, covering the entire process from an initial consultation, to delivering a welcome gift.  I used the monthly case analysis to depict the financial planning strategies used with a particular client so that website members would have a better grasp of how to implement the new strategies they have learned.  This process works well with any service industry that involves executing complex strategies.

§  Quarterly Marketing Update:  Each quarter I added a new marketing system, usually a seminar program for attracting new qualified prospects.  These are relatively substantial updates as they include an invitation or advertisement, mailing list information, recording of speech, script or outline for speech, PowerPoint presentation, location details, food and beverage suggestions, associated handouts, and procedures for collecting feedback and appointments.

§  Monthly Live Webinar or Conference Call:  This is a great way to provide interaction with your members and create new content for your membership website.  If you hold a monthly webinar or conference call say on the first Tuesday of the month, then you can record the call and add a link to your membership Website for those who missed the call or want to review the information again.  When I first got started I avoided posting recordings of calls out of fear that it would diminish the attendance of the live call.  What I discovered though was that people still attended because they wanted the option to ask questions, and many more people benefited from the recordings.  It’s a win-win technique.

Teleseminar/Webinars

Here is the step-by-step process for conducting a teleseminar or webinar.  A webinar is a teleseminar in which the presenter also shares their computer screen with the audience on the call.

§  Choose a date and time, set up the number, create an outline and write a script for the start and finish.

o   Send several e-mail notices about event, including a reminder the day of (If you have the staff help, a phone call in addition to an e-mail is ideal.).  Expect about 50% to show up.

o   Make sure you have a QUIET area to conduct your seminar. Nothing is more unprofessional than your staff, kids or dog making noise in the background.

§  Prepare by getting everything you could possibly need ahead of time:  Tissue, water, cough drop, mute phones, sign on your door.

§  Make sure you have handy instructions for muting guests and activating the recording function.

o   Post recording of teleseminar on your Website (after some minor editing)

o   Post the transcription on your Website

o   Take “pieces” of teleseminar and use as a starter for discussion in forum.  Do people agree or disagree?  Are there other solutions?  Will this solution remain valid for long?  How do you implement the different steps?

Archiving Old Content

As you conduct webinars and conference calls always create a recording and make it available to clients on your membership Website.  As new recordings replace the existing ones make sure to archive all the older material and keep it organized and easy to access.  Do the same with marketing and strategies that have been replaced with new methods.

In the past I have made the mistake of not recording and archiving conference calls and webinars out of fear that it might decrease attendance at the live calls.  In reality it had very little effect on the attendance, and the members who had been missing out now had the ability to access the recordings.

When older marketing and service strategies are replaced with new methods keep the older methods around in the archives unless they are rendered completely unusable due to regulation changes. Sometimes people in different geographic regions or at less advanced places in their careers will find the older methods helpful due to lower cost or complexity.

Pricing

Here are some tips to help you set the price for your information physical/digital information product or membership Website:

§  Set price based on the value of the solution not the time put into delivering it or cost of raw materials.  Always acknowledge the real value of the solution and then set price significantly below that value.

§  Certain numbers are received better than others.  Set the dollar and cents, so that the dollar ends in a 9, and then 95 cents.  If you are going to use a whole number for your price, set it to end in a 7.  Here are some examples:  $39.95, $69.95, $97, $197, and $297

§  The more difficult it is to get the information, the higher the price it will command.  On the other hand if you are trying to sell information that people can already access on the Internet for free, you will have a difficult time making any money.

§  People will generally pay more for a physical product than they will for a virtual one.  Note:  Don’t let this completely discourage you from using virtual products; the advantages of total automation offset the lower sales price.

§  What is the lifespan of a product?  Are you selling a tutorial that will be read and applied in a few days or is this a yearlong coaching program?  Usually, the longer the lifespan the higher the price.

§  How much support are you offering?  Do clients have access to a 24/7-support line?  Can they e-mail you personally?

§  What kind of guarantees do you offer?  If your guarantees are weak, you will not be able to price the product as high as if it came with a large guarantee.

§  What are your credentials and education?

§  Do you have a track record of success? If you have proven strategies with your own “real world” success you can command a far greater price than if you are simply teaching techniques you have learned from someone else but have not personally implemented successfully in business.

§  How established is your reputation in the industry?  A strong reputation can go a long way towards minimizing a client’s fear of making a substantial investment in a coaching program.

§  How affluent is the market you are targeting?  What are they accustom to paying for industry specific coaching services?