If you build a brand, you’ll eventually want to grow that brand. In order to accomplish this, you’ll need to secure recurring revenue—ideally, enough to cover your salary and other foreseeable overhead.
Only then can you commit some of your other income to promoting growth.
Okay, you get that. But let’s back up. How can you build enough recurring revenue to keep your brand afloat whilst you gear up for growth? Or how can you supplement your brand’s profit margin whilst enhancing things like brand awareness, customer loyalty and client acquisition and retention?
As you create your start-up or supplement your existing business’s strategy, I would suggest that you consider a Subscription-Based Business Model.
Does your mind turn to magazines? How about automatically filled prescriptions or razor blade clubs?
These are some examples of subscription models; however, the possibilities certainly don’t end there. With the right amount of research and imagination, your brand can break the mould, using a subscription-based business model.
Subscriptions: A Versatile Way to Build a Brand
Most brands have never considered offering a subscription to their customers. Most simply haven’t entertained the idea because they haven’t been encouraged to think outside the magazine or record club box.
Here are some points to contemplate as you decide if the subscription model is right for your brand:
- Services can be offered as subscriptions, too. When most people hear the term subscription, they think of products. Let’s not forget that the word comes from the root subscribe, which means to sign on. It stipulates nothing about what that sign-on is for. You have subscribed with your cell phone, electricity and cable providers, agreeing to exchange money for service on a regular basis…with a contract. Think in this way as you take a new look at what your brand offers.
- Does the demand for anything you offer happen on a regular basis? If your brand sells the type of product or service that is a one-time buy, the subscription model will not work. However, if that product or service requires maintenance, cleaning, refills or support, well then you have a basis for a subscription programme. Even if you can foresee your customers wanting regular instalments of information, that’s grounds for a subscription. Not every commodity is a tangible product. Often, the most valuable products your brand has to offer are locked away inside your brain. This is intellectual property, and its value, to the right people, is great.
- Would a subscription programme benefit your brand AND its customers? Brands like subscriptions because they’re a source of recurring revenue and they keep customers in contact with the brand. Customers like subscription programmes because they don’t have to remember to order products or schedule service; the remembering happens for them. Can you foresee a subscription programme being beneficial to all involved? Or will it prove to be problematic for one or more parties?
- Subscriptions enhance Top-Of-Mind Awareness. Top-Of-Mind Awareness (brand awareness that’s always there) is something that brands covet and struggle for on a regular basis. Subscriptions are one way to achieve this. Think about it: Just as your customers are about to forget about your brand or fall into the open arms of the competition, your trusty product arrives in the post. And there you are—back on the top of the list.
- Subscriptions can make up an entire business, or just part of one. You can build your entire business model on subscriptions; or, you can use a subscription programme to augment your existing model. Either way, if it’s a good fit for your customers’ needs and if it’s run properly, your brand will benefit.
- If you want to build a brand, trust is a must. How do you build trust, in any facet of life? You keep your word. Fulfilling a subscription, faithfully, is one of the best ways, as a brand, that you can prove your trustworthiness. Take the subscription, deliver it on time, always ensure quality…and there you have it: Trust.
One word of caution: if you decide that a subscription model will enhance your brand, be diligent. Subscriptions are not sign-them-up-and-abandon-them proposals. They require continual monitoring and close attention to subscribers’ needs. As markets and industries change, and as trends emerge, responses and adjustments are often necessary. Always remain true to your brand’s mission, vision and values…whilst staying relevant and interesting in what you have to offer—especially to your most loyal brand advocates (i.e. your subscribers).
Have questions about how to build a brand? We have answers. Join Sammy every Wednesday at 7 p.m. on the How to Build a Brand Facebook page for the B.R.A.N.D. Breakthroughs Live video. And join me on Twitter at @milesfryer, #BrandBrainsQandA, every Tuesday at 7 p.m. to ask your burning branding questions.