My holiday reading has included The Automatic Customer, by John Warrillow (also author of Built to Sell – another good read). The Automatic Customer is about how the subscription business works, quoting big industry names and how they’ve successfully adopted subscription type business model so that, we, small business owners can adapt those models and systems into our own small businesses so we can become more profitable and gain a regular and reliable income.
The book is split up into 3 sections. In the first section John Warrillow describes how the big names have created subscription models. They include the likes of Amazon, Ancestry and Apple to name a few. Section two goes on to describe the nine different subscription business models that any small business could adopt. The one I like in particular is The Membership Website Model, because it’s an online business model and I love setting them up for customers.
Membership Website Models are particularly suited to you if you have a tightly defined niche market and you have access to a steady flow or knowledge or expertise insider information that is constantly changing that subscribers need to stay in the know. It’s also a good platform to upsell other more expensive services or programmes to your subscribers.
John says that the most profitable membership websites are usually business-to-business that solve a real problem, offering ‘must-have’ information. He recommends producing the content in multiple formats e.g. video, audio and written so that you accommodate the different styles subscriber like to consume information.
The final section talks through the practicalities of setting up subscription services in particular how you measure your success and therefore how you plan for success. Also covered are things like reducing Churn (the number of subscribers who unsubscribe) as well as the different methods of how you might sell your subscription service.
This is a great book for understanding how subscription business models work and how you could apply that to your business/industry. Recurring revenue makes your business a lot more valuable and makes your company less stressful to run because your income is more predictable.
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