5 Most Effective Online Continuity Program Models
Online business owners need to seriously think about changing their business model to include the concept of recurring revenue. This passive revenue model brings in regular recurring income on a weekly or monthly basis from the same customers.
Continuity programs are the "new" online business model that has recently escalated in popularity. No longer is it good enough to simply sell information products for a one-time sale or sell your services online. Instead, online business owners need to seriously think about changing their business model to include the concept of recurring revenue. This passive revenue model brings in regular recurring income on a weekly or monthly basis from the same customers. While there is still some work required to continue to market these programs, overall you will find it much more profitable to sell to one customer over and over again rather than having to go and find new customers repeatedly for a one-time information product sale.
Many companies have been offering continuity programs for years. Proactive does it with face cleanser. Leeza Gibbons does it with Sheer Cover makeup. Doubleday does it with books. Columbia House does it with DVDs. Each of these companies offers an option in which subscribers pay a set fee each month and receive something new in return (books, DVDs, etc.). I've belonged to all of these continuity programs at some point in my life, and chances are, you have, as well. How can you incorporate this recurring revenue model into your business?
Here are the 5 most effective online continuity program models to consider for your online business:
1. Retainer. Attorneys and accountants have done this for years -- their clients go on a regular retainer and the client can contact the attorney/accountant whenever needed as defined by the parameters of the retainer. Consultants, coaches, and virtual assistants offer this option, as well, as a way of providing services over an extended period of time. While having this in place makes for less client turnover, this model is the most time-intensive model of all of these models, as the model requires trading time for dollars. Most retainers offer x number of hours of work or x projects to be completed in return for a set monetary amount.
2. Subscription Membership. In this model, you are providing new content regularly to your members via a membership web site. Members log in and access new articles, audio, checklists, ebooks, discussion forum posts, etc. This is a content-driven model, as you need to continue to provide new content for your returning members as well as to attract new members. The upside of this model is that many members retain their membership for a year or longer, especially if offered the option of a reduced annual membership fee.
3. Fixed-term membership. In this model, you are providing new content on a weekly basis to your members for a fixed period of time. While initially time-intensive to set up, this model runs fairly seamlessly once all of your program modules are written. As long as your topic isn't one that needs continual updating, you can create this once and resell this again and again. However, unlike the other models, you keep your members only for a limited time (3 months, 6 months, 12 months) and then need to boost your marketing to continually replace members for this program.
4. Club or Inner Circle or VIP Program. This is a model that coaches, consultants, and speakers often use and may be marketed as a group coaching program. Typically the participant gets access to the program leader or an expert via a teleclass, and a printed teleclass transcript and CD are mailed to the participant each month. The program leader may also include open Q&A/coaching sessions, sporadic 1:1 coaching mini-sessions, and access to various resources and contacts to further help the participants. As long as members feel they are receiving value, they'll generally remain a participant in this type of program.
5. Association. Becoming the founder or president of a national or international association offers the kind of leverage not found in any other model. Because associations connote expertise, being the leader of an association automatically makes you the expert in a particular area. Reporters and writers often look to leaders of associations to comment on trends in an industry, which will result in much media attention for your business. Membership benefits and membership packages are the key offerings here, whether that's a monthly teleclass, access to specific downloadable content, networking opportunities, direct mail membership welcome packets, etc. This model is generally the least time-intensive, as 80% of your members will receive their membership package and not be heard from again until it's dues renewal time.
Why continue to trade time for dollars? Take a look at these continuity program models and see which one(s) make sense for your online business. If you pick the right target market at the right time, one of these models may become your full-time business.
Learn more about the author, Donna Gunter.
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