Membership Sites for Products... All Crap?

21 replies
Okay, so I've bought several products now which were delivered as membership sites.

I've cancelled all of them. Never refunded... I'm not a big ol' jerk... but I've never remained in a membership site that was delivered as a product.

Here's the pattern I've seen.

You tell people "I will teach you X, Y, and Z."

You say "It's twelve easy monthly payments, or you can pay all at once."

If you pay all at once, it's only ten payments. So if you have a $400 course, you charge $40 a payment, for a total of $480.

Now, you get into the course. You make your first payment. And behold, you get a load of fluff about how cool things are going to be later.

So you go okay, the value must be in the forum. And you go to the forum, where people are asking questions and nobody is answering them.

And you go okay, the value must be in the blog. So you watch the blog, but it's all just more fluff.

So you get in touch with support, and they say "oh, all the pieces will come together, just wait."

And you start to understand that the entire explanation of X, Y, and Z is going to happen after you make your final payment. You don't really get to pay as you go. It's layaway. You don't actually get anything more than promises and hype until the whole thing's paid off.

But this is just smart business, right?

Because at the end of the course, if you're really mad and want your money back, you can only get those last two payments - the ones you made less than 45 days prior.

And if you cancel before the end, you didn't actually get anything valuable, you just gave the vendor money for nothing. He'll take it, and he'll keep it, and you're just an idiot for not sticking around. "Thanks for the money, sucka!"

But here's the problem.

Every time I join one of these courses, I'm taking a risk. I'm not ready to hand you $400 for your product, because I'm not convinced it's going to do what you say.

I take the payment plan because I want to be sure it's a good investment, and the extra money is my way of compensating you for letting me try it in bite-size chunks. It's so I can go "ooh, no thank you" and bail before I give you the whole $400. I'll give you $80 for the privilege of buying it in a dozen pieces.

But if you don't deliver real info during the first couple of modules, I'm not sticking around. I'll risk $40, or even $80, to find out whether you'll deliver.

But if you don't, I'm out of there, and I am not going around raving about your course. I am just going to get progressively more upset that the first month wasn't worth $40, and the second wasn't worth $80, and now you're telling me month three will be worth $120? No it won't. Month 12 will be worth $400. Trouble is, I'll have given you $480.

This looks like a great recipe for dissatisfied customers.

(Oh, and when your customer cancels? I advise against sending him a snotty email about what a loser he is. Not good. Memorable, but not good.)

What about the rest of you? Experiences with products as membership sites? Good, bad, indifferent? Because some people are saying this is a great way to deliver products, but as I try products delivered this way, I'm honestly not impressed. Upset, yes, but not impressed.

How should a membership site be constructed to deliver a product? What makes a product-as-membership system work well? What do you like as a customer? What have you tried as a vendor?
#crap #membership #products #sites
  • Profile picture of the author Lou Diamond
    Hello,
    I would never pay for anything all at once no matter what the discount is, I like to pay as I go.
    If the content is not there I will voice my displeasure and quit as well.
    The big problem that I am having lately is how to find the unsubscribe in paypal as I spent an hour the other day before I was charged another month for a bad product.
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    Something new soon.

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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Ranger
    You just reminded me - I need to cancel a subscription. This thread has just saved me $50! I'm a member of one where you pay for forum access - theres about 10 new posts a week!
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  • Profile picture of the author Lee Wilson
    And in the process, it damages the reputation of the business in general. Then again, it's not rocket science. I'll probably get shot down for this but I consider most "gurus" as very inexperienced entrepreneurs. Most of them within the next ten years will be back in normal employment if they don't wake up to the fact they are constantly relying on a renewable customer base, and that's a bad business model.

    Lee
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  • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
    Originally Posted by denningmedia View Post

    IMHO a membership as product should have constant interaction from the owner, especially a membership that's intended to teach.
    I think every product is intended to teach. Even if it's just an ebook.

    It came up on another forum a few minutes ago that when you join a lot of these membership sites, they give you a link and a login but no actual direction. You get there and sign in - it's a blog.

    I paid $47 for... a blog? You want $47 a month for a freakin' BLOG?!

    Here's something I see a lot when people cancel these sites. They go to their favourite forum where you're allowed to "name and shame" (i.e. not here), and they say "so-and-so ripped me off because he said there was this and that but there wasn't."

    And then so-and-so himself shows up, and he rapidly goes down the list of where and how this person could have gotten this and that the whole time.

    If you're doing a membership delivery for your product, please: tell people how to get the benefits of their membership. Do a little "getting started" thing at the beginning. From every indication I've seen, this alone would drop the "I got ripped off" complaints on membership sites to near-zero.
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    "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I like to pay as I go ... no memberships. I've canceled every membership I've had, usually within 2 months. The promises are big, the delivery is small. Like you said, it seems that once you get in, they spend time telling you how great it's going to be and I've never gotten to the point where I found it to be great.

    Some barely have any content at all and they tell you it's being developed and will be here soon. Many promise a certain amount of new stuff every month and they deliver for a couple of months and then all of a sudden, there's no more new stuff.

    I just spent several hours looking for a good MRR reseller site, even if it's a membership site but I want fresh, current content ... not the same thing everyone has been selling for years. Didn't find it. Anyone know of one, let me know.
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by sbucciarel View Post

      I just spent several hours looking for a good MRR reseller site, even if it's a membership site but I want fresh, current content ... not the same thing everyone has been selling for years. Didn't find it. Anyone know of one, let me know.
      IMO, that would be Dennis Becker's Earn 1K a Day. Not a lot of MRR content (that's not the main purpose of the site), but weekly additions, and it's pretty solid stuff. Plus the people there are awesome. Well worth the $40 a month. Well worth two or three times that, in fact.

      I can give you an affiliate link if you PM me, or you can just hit http://earn1kaday.net and sign up bare. I heartily recommend it whichever one you choose.

      Besides, I'd love to see your take on some of the discussions over there.
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      "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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      • Profile picture of the author Black Hat Cat
        Banned
        I've cancelled all of them. Never refunded... I'm not a big ol' jerk...
        I must have missed something along the way....refusing to pay for crap makes one a jerk now? What does selling crap make someone, a saint?
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        • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
          Originally Posted by Black Hat Cat View Post

          I must have missed something along the way....refusing to pay for crap makes one a jerk now?
          No. Demanding your money back after you've paid for crap does. You can refuse to pay for it all day long; I do. But once you agree to pay for it, you've paid, and the vendor gets to keep the money. The only time I feel justified in asking for a refund is when I say "no, I don't want that" and the vendor charges me anyway.
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          "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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  • Profile picture of the author winebuddy
    I have always put ALL of my training content RIGHT THERE - AVAILABLE IMMEDIATELY as soon as you log in to the site.

    I understand the "drip feed" idea and how to do it but I have always been a pretty fast learner and know I am not the only one. On the other hand, I know a lot of people that sort of PLOD thru stuff and it takes them some time.

    With drip feed, the fast learner gets bored while, depending on the speed of the delivery, the slow learner can get behind or overwhelmed.

    That's why I have always put everything there - available when you are ready for it. Maybe it's not the best method but I think it fits all of the learning styles better.

    On a side note - one of the drawbacks is that newbies like to JUMP AHEAD to more advanced stuff and then have tons of questions...

    Then I have to chat with them and insist they go back and do the training modules in order, as they are supposed to be consumed. It is a drawback but I can live with it. AND - like I said, some people can rip thru stuff pretty fast and they are not going to wait until next week or next month to get their goodies.
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  • Profile picture of the author wiseleo
    I have a slightly contrarian opinion.

    I am developing a product that is essentially a continuity program only applied to the offline world where we manage networks for a fee. It's a complicated product to sell, so I created a series of videos that explain how it all works that are behind a login wall. The best way to accomplish that is to use some sort of membership script. Since I already made an investment into that, I might as well offer some added value to my paying customers (and give them very easy access to generate affiliate links...). As such, I am including a bonus area full of various PLR content (carefully selected to be devoid of fluff and branded with my imprint) to further sweeten the deal.

    I have a ton of stuff that would be useful to my customers, but don't want to overwhelm them.

    I won't drip modules, as some might, but I'll drip full packages of content.

    I guess the trick here is to figure out the drip increments. Such as to decide if you want to drip more than 3 hours of content per week, for example. 1 hour might be too little, but 5 hours might be too much. A clickable table contents is what I consider to be key so you can manage expectations. A one-paragraph excerpt might also be useful to show.
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    • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
      Originally Posted by wiseleo View Post

      I guess the trick here is to figure out the drip increments.
      The problem I always have is that I get a pack of worthless garbage and say "when do I get something I can use?" - and there's no answer forthcoming.

      I'm on one site where there's a massive archive of downloads, but most of it is "hidden" behind an unobtrusive link. A smaller download area of the newest and most popular files is prominently displayed, and a mailing list provides links to little tidbits from the archives over the first several months. At the end of the four months, the unobtrusive link is deliberately called to your attention via the mailing list.

      But throughout the entire process, the whole archive is available - you just have to click the link. This makes the value feel positively astronomical, and four months is enough time to get attached to the place and not want to leave. Very well constructed.
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      "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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      • Profile picture of the author wiseleo
        Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

        The problem I always have is that I get a pack of worthless garbage and say "when do I get something I can use?" - and there's no answer forthcoming.

        I'm on one site where there's a massive archive of downloads, but most of it is "hidden" behind an unobtrusive link. A smaller download area of the newest and most popular files is prominently displayed, and a mailing list provides links to little tidbits from the archives over the first several months. At the end of the four months, the unobtrusive link is deliberately called to your attention via the mailing list.

        But throughout the entire process, the whole archive is available - you just have to click the link. This makes the value feel positively astronomical, and four months is enough time to get attached to the place and not want to leave. Very well constructed.
        Interesting. Please post a screenshot illustrating this concept if that is not too much trouble.
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Barrs
      [DELETED]
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      • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
        Originally Posted by Paul Barrs View Post

        Problem is, I can buy a whole new computer for that
        I used to sell a similar service for just over $3,500 a year to corporate clients.

        Most people need four to six weeks to install and configure all the software they use on that whole new computer. So add the lost productivity over that period of time onto the cost of the machine.

        And to drag this right back on topic (surprise!), there were three main objections I had to overcome when I sold this to someone.

        The first objection was whether they would save more than they spent. It had to be a bargain.

        The second objection was whether we would deliver something worth what they spent. It had to be a fair price.

        And the third objection was whether they would have to change anything. It had to be easy for them, so they could keep doing what they already did.

        These are the same objections a membership site has to overcome. If I join a membership site, I ask three questions every time a payment comes due.

        1. Did I learn something that will earn me back what I spent last month? I'm in this membership as an investment. Is it profitable?

        2. Did I learn something that was worth the money that I spent last month? You're delivering this membership as a product. Are you doing your job?

        3. Was using the site easy and enjoyable? I didn't join this membership for you to be a pain in my arse, and if it's difficult or frustrating, I can live without it.

        If I can't get at least one "yes" answer, I'm cancelling, and I'd really rather see two. I almost never get a "yes" on #3.
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        "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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        • Profile picture of the author Paul Barrs
          [DELETED]
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          • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
            Originally Posted by Paul Barrs View Post

            Can I use them in the sales copy of my next membership site?
            Please do. People want the answers. It would certainly make ME feel more secure about joining the site.
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            "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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  • Profile picture of the author cronyoo
    i only want to sat thanks for sharing this information and i hope that you will give more that type in future
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  • Profile picture of the author Jay Jennings
    I'm a big fan of Jimmy D. Brown's fixed-time membership concept (see, Membernaire), which was also tweaked as Brunson's Micro-Continuity.

    I've been very happy with the FTM courses that I've signed up for and stayed until the very end. If your content can be broken up into chunks like that I encourage that as an "easy" way to put together a membership site.

    Jay Jennings
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    • Profile picture of the author Johnny Slater
      Keep an eye out for Steve Odette. He is silently making even further tweaks to this concept and his software is getting close to being finished up.

      Originally Posted by Jay Jennings View Post

      I'm a big fan of Jimmy D. Brown's fixed-time membership concept (see, Membernaire), which was also tweaked as Brunson's Micro-Continuity.

      I've been very happy with the FTM courses that I've signed up for and stayed until the very end. If your content can be broken up into chunks like that I encourage that as an "easy" way to put together a membership site.

      Jay Jennings
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      • Profile picture of the author TinkBD
        Originally Posted by Johnny Slater View Post

        Keep an eye out for Steve Odette. He is silently making even further tweaks to this concept and his software is getting close to being finished up.
        Cool. Thanks for the heads up. I am working on 2 different FTM sites and have yet to make a final decision about delivery...
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  • Profile picture of the author Vikram73
    This is sadly the case for most IM related products. There are several gems out there but in general everyone is just focused on a quick easy income and the hopes of auto-pilot income (without doing any hard work).
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    • Profile picture of the author butters
      The only membership site I have signed up for and stayed for some period of time was The Immediate Edge, imo they over delivered over there. I was kinda new to the game when I signed up there and it taught me so much so I have only had good experiences, I am sure a crappy one will be down the road some where.
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  • Profile picture of the author mannawealth
    I guess I'm one of the people who believed what the gurus said but I've learnt my lesson too. I scrutinize before I buy and like you I don't pay upfront just in cash the product does not deliver - I get out before I waist too much money. In my experience salespages don't always match product quality.
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