Pain of Disconnect: How to Get More, Make More, and Keep More (As Soon As You Understand This Very Simple Idea)

August 11, 201233 Comments

Can I let you in on a couple of quick, little secrets?

Secret #1: We are using "drip content" less and less in our business -- it's almost obsolete for us!

Secret #2: The marketplace goes through "cycles." Notice how one month articles are really hot, then next month it's all about making short reports. The month after, webinars are the "next big thing" -- then it's social media. Then it's membership sites... more on that in a minute.

Secret #3: We all have a $2,000 membership site inside of us -- as long as we can get over price reluctance...

Here's something I even have to remind myself sometimes... a membership site is just a download page on steroids. Someone pays you money (even a one time fee), or joins for free, fills in a quick signup form containing: first name, last name, email address, account username, and password...

And now they get the digital product (PDF, video, software, service) they just paid for -- plus you're building a mailing list. Plus they can get back to that page anytime they want -- recover the password if they forgot it. You can easily update or add bonuses, throw in a forum.

What You Probably Didn't Know About Drip Content...

Drip your content even if it's a single payment site.

Example: I charge $97 for my "Time Management on Crack" course. It contains a PDF report and a series of videos, people can post comments. But what's really cool is that new short videos are dripped out once per week 26 times. That means we stay in contact for six months even after they've paid me money.

I have links to other products in the sidebar of that site. Login offers when they come back to view more content. And, of course, if they refund (within the first 30 days), they no longer have access to the site.

Pain of disconnect. This makes it interesting because I could split up the payments and make it a 2-pay, 3-pay, 5-pay, 10-pay. Maybe something ridiculous like $9.95 for 10 months and then it's paid off.

Throw in a live monthly Q&A session where I setup a "recurring webinar" in GoToWebinar, schedule 12 of them, put it on my Google Calendar, schedule some email reminders so my members show up, hop on a call and talk about whatever's on my mind, and answer any questions people submit -- no big deal if there are only a couple questions or even no questions.

"The Last Thing You'd Ever Shut Off"

Quick question: What do you pay for on a recurring basis? What do you pay for on a recurring basis that's FUN? What do you pay for on a recurring basis, that would be one of the last things you'd turn off? How about...

  • Web hosting (HostGator)
  • Webinar service (GoToWebinar)
  • Email autoresponder service (Aweber or SendGrid)
  • Online storage (Amazon S3)
  • Mastermind group (Double Agent Marketing)
  • Paid advertising

If you had to shut off any one of these items, you'd be in serious trouble, wouldn't you? So if you want to make "real" money online, create a paid site that people simply can't live without.

Add a forum or community in your site where people can interact -- but keep it alive (that's the secret)...

Bundle your site with software that shuts off remotely upon cancellation. Adobe is going this right now with their "Creative Cloud Suite." For $49/month you get the latest Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, their audio editor, all of that -- and you'd probably pay that same price just to buy the software outright and keep it updated every year. But, you stop paying, and now you can't use Photoshop.

"Pain of Disconnect" Explained

Were you on the internet when "audio buttons" on sales letters were popular? Armand Morin had a service called Audio Generator. You place an audio button on your website, and can call a phone number, leave a message in their voicemail, and that's your audio message...

BUT!!! If you forget to pay your monthly bill, the audio messages changes to something like -- "This customer's service has been discontinued for non-payment. Add audio buttons to your site right now at"

Now... with that pain of disconnect, you have an easy time getting people to stay in, and they'll reactivate if they have even more than a couple of audio buttons around the internet -- no one wants to hear that message!

And that's why we have this "remote activation" built into our WP Drip, Video Player, Webinar Optin, Backup Creator, Plugin Dashboard, WP Import, WP Notepad, and WP Kunaki plugins. We can put these plugins on a payment plan (probably not a monthly charge forever). We can offer a trial period -- as we've done with 99 cent trials in the past.

I don't mind if someone joins for 99 cents, or makes 4 out of 5 payments and then cancels, because they'll be shut off if they do! The plugin will no longer function.

Eugene Schwartz: Marketplace Cycles

Getting back on track. Marketplace cycles. A really smart copywriter named Eugene Schwartz had a couple of ideas about finding a demand and filling it. First of all... unless you're Coca-Cola and spend millions and millions on "branding" ... you can't "create" demand. It's much cheaper to find out what people are buying right now and sell that.

But... the marketplace has its ups and downs. (Articles are popular, then not, then webinars, etc.) It goes in four stages...

  •  "Novelty" stage: brand new course teaches a "simple" technique to lose 10 pounds (i.e. diet & exercise)
  • "Enlargement" stage: competitors flood the market showing how to lose 50 pounds
  • "Sophistication" stage: even more competitors show how to lose 100 pounds, from just 5 minutes a day, in your sleep, without changing your diet or any exercise whatsoever
  • "Abandonment" stage: the marketplace is so fed up with complex solutions, and not knowing what to buy, that they lose interest

That is why you see these trends coming in style, getting too crowded, going out of style, then becoming popular again. That's why we sell multiple software products and have webinar training on different topics.

That's why if you're in the weight loss niche, you have one product based on Exercise. One product based on Diet. One weight loss product based on Mindset/Hypnosis/Goal Setting. One weight loss product based on Supplements. And now they can all sell year-round, although you'll cycle through what the marketplace is asking for right now.

Membership Sites!

Here's how I see marketplace cycles when it comes to recurring membership sites...

"Novelty" iteration: Drip content. Most marketers in your industry aren't using the "membership" aspect of their products so you create a site that drips out content over time, like 1 new video or interview per week with some assignments and tools in between.

Problem: you have to keep creating new "content" every month, and your customers have to wait to get it...

"Enlargement" iteration: Big box of crap. Now everyone is dripping out courses. You set things up so that when someone buys from you, they get that drip content, but are able to download a bunch of stuff when they first sign up. 10 hours of videos the first day. Keep putting out one new $97 product each month and say, you can either pay $97 for this one product, or get on this $97/month membership to get ALL my products at once.

Problem: when someone buys into your membership site, they're overwhelmed and have no way of consuming all that content before it's time to pay again... until they get frustrated and give up...

"Sophistication" iteration: Multi-tiered membership. Now you're saying, I want this site to be accessible to my low-ticket buyers, but I also want to make enough money to justify keeping the site open. I'll offer a "Silver" level for $17/month that contains all my products. The "Gold" level is $47/month and also contains a monthly live group Q&A webinar. Then the "Platinum" level might be $97/month and offer 1-on-1 coaching.

Problem: Can people easily tell the difference between each level? Is there an easy way to upgrade to a higher level? (Good news for you PayPal users: you can now edit the price your recurring members pay you every month... pretty cool!)

"Abandonment" iteration: Pain of disconnect model. We set our membership site at a fair price and bundle it with some software that'll shut off (WP Drip), or build a really useful tool right into the membership site (Make a Product or Newbie Crusher). Now it doesn't matter what we price the site at. How many payments we split this into. If we have a trial period or not. If they pay, they can use it, if not, they don't.

What's my point? Well, I see far too many people asking the wrong questions. What should I price my membership site at? Should I bill for a set number of payments or continue billing forever? Offer a trial period? How do I reduce refunds? How do I keep them paying?

This is backwards logic. Create a site, look at your competitors, and go with a price that "feels" right. There are some recurring sites like LinkedIn (job finder), eHarmony (dating service), or Angie's List (consumer reviews) where I don't "get" that monthly pricing model. I'm not going to pay a monthly fee just to find a local plumber in my area, I'll search Google. Someone might pay for LinkedIn for a month, then get a job, and cancel.

Lynda, GoToWebinar & Hulu

Can I tell you what I think is one of the coolest, most ridiculous recurring offers out there? For $25/month, you get access to 1,427 different training courses on everything from Microsoft Word, to PHP programming, Apple software creation, video editing, audio editing, photo editing, any tutorial you'd need.

They don't worry about dripping content. It kind of is a "big box of crap" site, but even if you only took one course from them every month, you'd stay in.

GoToWebinar. You can run an unlimited number of webinar sessions in a given month, run free ones, charge for others, use them for meetings and coaching calls, run them for others -- if it costs you $99 per month, all you need to do is get $99.01 of value from it every month...

Hulu Plus. 7 dollars and 99 cents per month and I can watch many TV shows on demand, even several TV shows that were on-air yesterday.

I'll be honest with you. The first time I charged $200 for a product (I was 19 years old) I was terrified. The first time I charged $300 for a simple web page design (I was 17 years old) it was scary. But since then we've sold $297, $497 membership sites. $997 live webinar courses. $2,497 per person physical seminars -- and though it took a lot of marketing, follow-up, and course correction... even though it was "scary" to charge higher than $10, higher than $100, higher than $1000... we got over it...

How to Get People to Buy (Easily)...

Not because of "X number of videos" or "X number of hours" or "X number of pages" -- but because if they didn't pay the $2497, they'd lose $2497 in future profits by missing out on that training. Because if they refunded $2497 or didn't make all the payments, they'd lose $2497 in opportunity and lost profits.

Pleasure vs. pain. People buy access to your membership site because it's more painful not to have access and more pleasurable to get results from your training. The value has outweighed the cost of your course! Then, there's more pleasure (value) that comes from making those recurring payments than there is pain (cost) so they keep paying, and they stay out of the refund zone.

Create a tool and bundle it with training course that people will get much more than $2,000 of value from. Price it at $100 or higher. Cut it up into payments. Offer a trial period on it. Market the crap out of it (joint ventures, affiliates, pitch webinars) and create about 4 hot sellers so you'll be diversified enough to ride out the marketplace cycles in your niche.

Easy question: what "could" you add to your membership site (whether you have one or not) to give people the pain of disconnect if they refund or cancel? What are your favorite recurring membership sites and what pain of disconnect exists there to keep you in? Please let me know in a comment below, if comments are still open.

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Comments (33)

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  1. Kirk Ward says:

    To me, this is an inspirational and motivational post. However, I’m still scared to raise my prices. Is it easier with a larger list? Can it be done with a small, very specialized list?

  2. Robert Plank says:

    Kirk, how to overcome price fear…

    1. Look at what your competitors are pricing at (price slightly higher than them)

    2. Edit your payment button and change a number (that easy)

    3. Promote the heck out of it — you will probably have to write more autoresponder messages, contact more joint venture partners, get more eyeballs in front of it and spend more time fixing up the sales copy — but it opens new doors, high ticket affiliates for example.

    4. Don’t back down — there is a vocal minority that only buys based on the price. They won’t buy anything priced $100 online even though they’ve spent more than that on taxes, computers, internet access, web hosting AND the average person I know in that category already spends over $100 a month on information products, they only do it $5 or $10 at a time. But you’ll experience some resistance if your list is trained to buy at a low price and you now have a high priced product. All this means is you have to be a MARKETER.

    5. Do it a few times — it took me about 6 high ticket products to get comfortable selling at around $500-$1000, and now I have a much better feel for what should be priced at $1000, $500, $100, or $50.

    Also: at the end of the day, you don’t have to price everything super high but I would have at least one product in the hundreds of dollars. Otherwise you’re just leaving money on the table.

  3. Donna says:

    Most of us would agree that the pain of disconnect would be the absolute worst in our web hosts and our domain registrars!

    I’m still in the “I wish I knew what kind of membership site would sell so well that nobody would ever cancel it?” stage and thereby frozen.

    Same with a backend product… the IM niche is saturated with “must-have, can’t live without” products that end up not solving the buyer’s original problem. I don’t want to add to that dismay… so I’m ‘frozen’ in the what to create stage.

    Your article is so excellent I am going to copy and save it to use as a guide for creating my first membership site with (once I decide WHAT it will be). THANK YOU so much for writing it!

  4. Robert Plank says:

    Hi Donna,

    I’m not 100% sure what products and services you have available to answer that…

    Off the top of my head, I know you have a “newbie” product and a list building product.

    So, what if for $997 you created someone’s product for them, setup the sales letter, pre-sale and post-sale autoresponder sequence?

    Then for $997 every month, guarantee them 1,000 new targeted email optin subscribers every month.

    If they stop paying you, their business stops growing.

    If any of these numbers seem to small to be worth your while, increase the price. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it doesn’t hurt you to have a payment button online. In fact it gives people something to compare your other prices against. “I charge $997 per month to do this for you, but you get this list building course for $97.”

  5. Ralph says:

    That was an excellent article, as usual.

    The only “membership site” that I belong to is the well-known Warrior Forum. That and the “War Room”, of course.

    The wealth of knowledge and wisdom found there would be a great loss if it were to suddenly disappear.

    Other sites that I value highly are Pandora Radio and YouTube, neither of which I have ever paid for and both of which I would consider paying for if the price was right.

    Of course, as Donna mentioned, sites which provide services such as HostGator, Namecheap, GoDaddy and more are essential to working online, and as many domains as I own and manage for my customers, it would be a major “hassle” to have to change.

    I actually wasn’t aware of and will have to check it out, although I doubt that I will be subscribing to it.

    The problem as I see it with membership sites is not the individual cost of a site, per se, but the aggregate cost of all of them together.

    Thanks for reading!

  6. Nancy Boyd says:

    Hi Robert,

    What this says to me is that the content has to be so remarkable and necessary to the customer that the “pain of disconnect” is obvious even before they join.

    Takes a heap of planning and deep knowledge of your niche, I’d say.

    Most of us do have that, or at least have a hope we can get there. But suppose you want to enter a new niche, one where you don’t have as deep of a connection as you do with your regular niche. Would you advocate not to enter that niche, unless you can quickly learn what that “pain point” is all about?

  7. Robert Plank says:

    Hi Nancy, instead of calling is “planning and a deep knowledge of your niche” can we instead call it… creating and launching 1 small product per month for a couple of months to get a good idea of what the marketplace wants? That way we’re making money along the way.

    If you can’t find a pain point, don’t enter a niche. But for me, if I can find the #1 most highly trafficked forum in any niche, and flip through the first 5 pages of post titles (without actually opening any of the threads) I can discover enough items to create a report or a set of videos.

    For me, the easiest way to make any money is: create a service based on that pain point. (I was a PHP programmer, then a script installer, then a WordPress plugin developer.)

    When you get “tired” of providing that service, take your system and put it into a product.

    When you get “tired” of selling low ticket products, look at what sells the best, make a big ticket course out of it and that’s your “can’t live without” pain of disconnect product.

  8. Randy says:


    Where do you get software to exclusively run on your site, then shut down when a member stops paying? Do you have to build it yourself or get someone else to build it?


  9. Robert Plank says:


    I use Wishlist Member to host the membership. I bought it because:

    1. At the time, “every other” membership software required buyers to first create a membership account, and THEN pay — killing conversions and leaving you with lots of half-created accounts

    2. WordPress plugin — no files to edit, install the plugin and it’s done

    3. It’s one of the few membership plugins that uses “membership levels.” The others require you to manually set the protection on every single page or post within your site.

    The way PayPal and Clickbank IPN works… if someone cancels (even from the PayPal end), or refunds, it hits your membership site and tells them to cancel their account. The account still exists, so you can turn it back on, but they aren’t able to login anymore.

    To add tie OUR software into that membership site is a custom software job, but it calls home to that membership site to keep it all simple, if that makes sense.

  10. Derek says:

    Hi Robert,
    thanks for a very informative article. You managed to put clearly what I have been thinking about for a while.
    I do not have a membership site yet but am working on it.
    My question is wouldn’t it be easier to keep the cost low – say just beer money per month so that the customer doesn’t even notice it even when they have – say – forgotten about the site and continue to pay? Have you done any research into price versus turnover of customers?
    Thanks again,

  11. Jim says:

    I have several domain names that could probably be hosted and used for membership sites. My real problem is I have no idea how to build them, advertise them or what I would sell memberships to.
    This is an area I have heard a lot about but really do not eve know where to start. That is probably my biggest problem. Where to start, what to offer memberships on and wherer to get the product.

  12. Well dang Robert your post isjust about a whole course in membership sites all by itself! Clearly and obviously this was written by someone who is in the trenches doing membership sites all the time and has been through the wringer on it too! Love how you have the emphasis on not starting with how “much to charge” but rather looking at the business model of the information site first. It’s great to how you so clearly describe the cycles of niche/product development on the web-certainly have seen lots of that over the years and it is good to keep all that in mind. It’s just a fantastic tip in that regard to diversify your products even within the same niche so that you can weather out the cycles within that niche. Best of all for me is that reading your post and seeing all sides of these issues I actually started getting ideas again for a niche that I had given up on in terms of membership sites-so thank you!

  13. Tatiana says:

    Hi Robert,

    Such a valuable article this one is, that I am saving it as a gem of knowledge definitely to be used if I start a membership site 😉

    My favorite membership site that I don’t plan cancelling as long as I remain a server owner is PSM –

    The service is absolute TOP notch and that for such an affordable monthly price. And even if I don’t need the service I keep paying the monthly fee because if I don’t and I get a problem, having it solved by someone else would not only cost me too much, but than I’d have to give access to my server to someone that I don’t really know, or trust enough.

    So my own “Pain of Disconnect” would be the fear of future problems not handled fast enough + having to trust someone new, while having to pay much more all together.

    Thank you for sharing and teaching your marketing wisdom!


  14. Robert,

    First of all, great inspirational and thought provoking post!

    Now on with what I think:

    1) Without a domain name, we know we can’t function properly online

    2) Without web hosting, the domain name is pretty much useless

    3) Without sales copy, products and services (or whatever is being sold on the site) then nothing’s going to work once again.

    I think any kind of service which is ongoing and needed, that is suspended, cut off or terminated is really going to make someone renew immediately if the pain is too great.

    Then comes the question, “how much pain do they need in order to make them instantly renew?”…. “what kind of product or service will generate this pain?”… “what price should they need to pay that (1) isn’t that high that they’d forget about it and move on (2) they have to pay in order to keep their business alive and online.

    I think the following things are things that’d MAKE them renew:

    1) Audio services (such as InstantAudioGenerator)
    2) Video services (such as Vimeo)
    3) Social services (eg, Facebook comments)
    4) Membership plugin (such as WishList, WP Drip)

    Anything that disturbs the site owner, puts them into a state of “geez, I need to renew that right now” and makes the site owner look stupid to his/her subscribers – this is probably enough to make them “pay their bills”.

    Imagine this:

    WordPress upgrades and then everyone hopes and prays WishList isn’t broken – then WishList upgrades and everyone hopes there are no conflicts with WordPress that’ll screw up and/or lose their database or links to content etc.

    I’m as sick as a dog at the moment, but I really feel your post has a lot of great thought provoking lines in it that people should definitely take note of it big time!

    Hope my comment makes sense, because my headache I’ve currently got doesn’t 🙂

    Yours In Success and Nothing Less,

    David Cavanagh

  15. Wow, Robert, great information . . . again! I find as much gold in your responses as in your posts. Very helpful!

    I’ve hitched my wagon to you & Lance (e.g., Membership Cube) and to Maria Gudelis’ & Tina Williams’ trainings. I’m pretty much unsubscribing from everything else, so I can focus my time, talent and activities.

    I really love the one-off payment + continued info drip model. That makes so much sense, especially in providing value to our BUYERS’ lists! What a relationship-multiplier!

    One of the admonitions I’ve heard is “when setting price, start with what you’re comfortable with, then add a zero!” Although I’m not quite there yet, I have reworked that strategy into setting my price, then adding $100 . . . and keep adding $100 to the final price until I just go over my comfort horizon. As an example, I had a web service that I was most comfortable with at $347. By the end of of adding $100 over 3 cycles, I presented $647 to one of my previous buyers, and she thought that was a bargain! So, back to adding $100s . . . and on to adding 0’s . . . :>)

    Thank you, again for your good work!

    In Joy!

  16. Kenny says:

    Great post, Robert.
    I wanted to share a couple of thoughts:

    1) I am subscribed to, and I spend $25 per month to stay a member. I usually access the training about once very two or three months. The thing is that when I need the training, it is usually late at night, I have a deadline, and I need the answer right away. I have thought of canceling, but the price point is so low, the value is so high, and if I had to sign up again the next time I had a late night ‘crisis’, it would take some time, be a hassle, so it’s worth just continuing.
    If the price point were higher, I probably would cancel, and just sign up again when I needed to. I’d say that Lynda has really found the ‘sweet spot’ to keep its members.

    2) You gave some great examples of pain of disconnect for software and marketing training (using your own examples). As I am in a ‘non-marketing’ niche, there are other ways to engage pain of disconnect.
    For example:

    – six weekly sessions that drip out in a membership site, and the guarantee is for 30 days…

    – taking away content in a monthly site – so only people who are members in July get access to the content (people will stay on so they don’t miss out on that month’s content)

    – Having people add their pictures or personal stories (imagine a ‘baby picture’ site – who wants to delete the pictures of their baby by canceling?)

    – Goal setting exercises/contests: I have done a ‘three month’ goal setting contest. By getting people to set a goal, share it with the community, and then share their progress – that creates the desire to stay connected for 3 months, and then when they are recognized for their achievements and progress, they want to stay involved because of the relationships and recognition gained.

    – getting a testimonial – it is much harder for someone to disconnect when they are on record as having publicly shared how great they think your product/training is…

    Thanks again for a great article.

  17. Eric says:

    This is one of those topics I can’t read enough about since there are so many clever ways to use this membership model and even in this article I found a few that I hadn’t thought of.

    Favorite membership programs I’ve noticed — I like these because they are so rarely thought of as memberships:

    gmail — Probably more email storage that I could use in a lifetime PLUS it is all searchable AND I trust google to be more reliable about backup than I would ever be.
    Pain of disconnect: I’d have no idea how to replace the functionality PLUS I’ve alread told people this is my email address for years.
    How they make money: Advertisements placed alongside the email. They don’t have to make a lot per ad because they’ve guaranteed I’m going to keep using the software for hours per day. Ads are targeted because google knows a LOT about me.

    facebook — Back when facebook first started gaining mainstream use was right before my 25 year high school reunion. I noticed then that they were going to run out of business — it was so easy to find old classmates and you didn’t have to pay $60 a year or whatever classmates charged to email them (though I must think that classmates was making tons of $ at some point when they thought they were the only game in town).
    Pain of disconnect: Until someone makes a piece of software that will scan all your facebook friends and likes and seek them out on google+, it is way to painful to switch. (That’s probably a good software idea for somebody inclined to do that.) But even if you switched, a lot of people haven’t — if everyone doesn’t switch at the same time (which seems to be what happened to and then it isn’t really a switch.
    How they make money: Again — same as gmail.

    online video games — I’m not as familiar with this since I don’t play any of them, but any of the multiplayer online games that charge monthly fees would qualify.
    How they make money: Monthly access fees and some games allow you to purchase in game merchandise (this goes for anything I think from Farmville to Warcraft to Second Life stuff).
    Pain of disconnect: These games all foster community and it seems there’s a big thing about being able to talk to the other players while playing etc. Plus if you put in the time to develop some amazing “game character” then you don’t want to lose that “identity” by stopping.

    internet access — I remember my 14K modem. I remember how TV hosts would make jokes about the internet. Who would ever use such a thing? Back in 2000 I made a site with a “internet TV show” and was told that nobody would ever watch video on the web.
    Pain of disconnect: Now internet access is almost as necessary as food.
    How they make money: That’s a MUST PAY bill. Or I guess some people have to frequent places like Starbucks that offer free internet access in an environment where you are likely to purchase other items.

    – Eric

    P.S. What do you use to be able to limit the number of comments?

  18. David Fitch says:


    Before I comment on your questions I wanted to respond to your premise about Pleasure and Pain. Many years ago I did group training programs for different companies management teams. One of the topics was “over coming resistance to change”. The distilled message of this training was that change is accomplished when the individual sees the pain of the status-quo as greater than the pain of the process to change. A simple example is smoking. I smoked for over 20 years and quit and restarted more times than I can count. However, when I started to have continuous problems with bronchial illnesses, including coughing up blood, all of a sudden the pain of the staying the same (smoking) was greater than what I knew and perceived the pain to be for changing (not smoking). This principle is a different take on your pain and pleasure premise but just as descriptive of why people stay with something or disconnect.

    Now to your question regarding membership sites. I have been weaning myself away from sites that have recurring monthly fees and favoring the sites that are one payment sites, like many of yours. My own site,, has a membership function to it and I am leaning toward a low cost basic membership model of $7/month rather than a one time payment. I think the answer is to test the two models against each other for this marketplace and see which one is the best money maker.

    One of the biggest hooks that has kept me on some membership sites for a long time is the ever increasing prices that the site owner charges new members. It is a good strategy because the longer term members can compare their monthly fee against the current monthly fees and continue to stay because they don’t want to give up such a good deal.

    Enjoy your week.

    Your elderly lawyer friend,

    David Fitch

  19. Shelley says:

    One very highly perceived value to add to a membership site is a one-on-one session each month. People just want to know that “someone is there” to answer their questions. Most people will never even take advantage of it, but it can be quite a motivating factor to stay in a membership – just for that factor alone. That said, can you realistically offer that level of personalized service if you have thousands of members? Probably not. But with a member number that large you could still offer a webinar or teleseminar format “Ask Me Anything” for 1-2 hours a couple of times a month. For a very high level mastermind memberships, some gurus give out their phone numbers or emails to answer. Personal connections…People eat that up! And that is not something easily given up – especially when you paid big bucks to be a member. And varying levels helps converts the no-pay or low-pay members to go up the rungs to higher paying members by “seeing” what they are missing. Like AmEx says: Membership Has Its Privileges!

  20. Well thought out article as always, Robert. My most painful to lose membership would ibe gotowebinar. While I use it for pitch Webinars, i also use it to communicate and train WordPress clients. It has saved me tons of $$ in travel time and gas. Besides my clients like the one on one attention. In addition, I record our training and add it to a membership site for the client to access later. When clients ask a common training question I’ve also been recording them and adding them to the membership site. Looking forward to this being a training site to market (soon). Then as I answer questions everyone will benefit. Thanks for more great ideas to apply, Robert!! Especially covering market cycles. Still working to see the trends.

  21. Hey Robert,

    Great post as usual – I’m struggling a with Ready, Aim…Ready, Aim…Ready, Aim… I never quite get to “FIRE!”…

    I’m a victim (self-imposed of course) of SOS – shiny object syndrome. I never seem to quite get a solution implemented when the next “thing” comes down the pike. I’ve gotten better at eliminating those SO’s that really don’t relate to my business (coaching and consulting), but still need to be better about focusing on ONE thing at a time.

    I really need to focus – and I know you’ve written posts on focus before. Listmaking seems to help…and I’ve got to nail myself to my chair, follow your ‘4 daily tasks’ procedure that just get it done.

    I did take SOME of your advice and created an autoresponder sequence around one of my free downloads, now it’s time to get the next phase going – what do I do with the members after the initial sequence? Off to get going – I have a list of 4 tasks I need to complete today and I’m going to focus until I get it done!

    Thanks for the post and the reminder!

  22. Adding to so many insightful comments, pain of disconnect also includes what we may be missing out on that is just “behind the curtain.” I’m always wondering what I’m missing out on that may be the piece of the puzzle that would lead to a more profitable experience.

    Obviously there are people who are making more money than I am and they must know more than I do about something, even if it’s just how to take action. But I don’t know those people very well, not well enough to pick up the phone and plead, “Hey, how the heck can I do that?” Knowledge just beyond reach, but untouchable! Painful! Such longing!

    Then someone successful reaches out and says “for just $9.95 a month” . . . well, that has a very strong appeal! No wonder a well done membership site can do so well.

  23. Stacy says:

    Certainly an interesting marketing technique, and presumably it works in the “marketplace” or there wouldn’t be so many using this model. I can think of a couple similar examples relevant to the web development/web consulting market: theme/plugin “clubs” and SEO services.

    Especially for Joomla and WordPress themes, there are a number of examples out there where a customer is enticed to join for 3 months, 6 months, or a year – with the enticement being access to all current themes/plugins and the promise of X many more during the period of membership. This seems to take advantage of both the “big box of crap” and the “drip” model – and many even add on the tiered method by offering certain items for free.

    In the web business, providers are often encouraged to offer maintenance packages and SEO services for “recurring income” – presumably to try to take advantage of the “pain of disconnect” for a customer who needs continued assistance. The difficulty in this instance is convincing the customer of the value and ROI.

    I don’t think you quite answered Randy’s question – if I understand correctly, he was asking where to get ideas for a product, not how to set up the membership site. I’d be interested in the answer to that myself – I have the technical part pretty much down pat; my trouble is finding my “good idea” to sell!

  24. John Deck says:


    Maybe I missed it in your discussion but at the top you said “We are using “drip content” less and less in our business — it’s almost obsolete for us”

    I was in your resent video sales tactics. Was that not dripped? Or membershipcube which I completed in June?


  25. Joe Mudd says:

    Hi Robert,
    That was a nice article. I would have trouble with doing an ongoing membership site. The idea of having to come up with new material every month doesn’t appeal to me.

    I like the Fixed Term Membership best. Set up a specific number of lessons, and when you get to the end, the payments stop. If the person stops paying, they have to start over from scratch at the beginning again. This discourages unsubscribes.

    Of course you have to find new customers an a regular basis too.

  26. Virginia says:

    Robert, thank you for the invaluable concepts:

    1. “the pain of disconnect”–definitely domain names, hosting and Aweber, and now your membership site.
    2. marketplace cycles, how they affect our market niche and how to avoid being caught in their trap;
    3. a blueprint for getting started.

    According to your post, it sounds like what I need to do is take the content I’ve created over several years ( and http://www.ThePersuasivePresenter) and put the content into a membership site, add some video and a webinar or two, advertise it and see what happens. Is it that easy?


  27. Hi, Robert,

    I’ve never read what other people say about you. I’m trusting my own judgement.

    So, let me share I’m your fan. Why?

    You’re a highly intelligent man, well mannered, sharing so many excellent high-value tips and insights on internet business and techniques with your audience, with such a respect and patience, with such a warm and an open heart and a humble mind – for which you are highly appreciated, and stand out boldly among many high-ranked internet “gurus”.

    Many thanks and deep appreciation.

  28. Robert Plank says:

    Hi everyone,

    I wanted to announce the comment winners… I’ll probably announce them tomorrow since I already emailed today.

    1. Kenny Handelman: additional pain of disconnect for non-software and non-marketing niches

    2. Eric: favorite memberships including gmail, facebook, online video games, internet access

    3. Stacy: “big box of crap” and “drip” fusion model for WordPress themes

    4. Shelley: one on one sessions to increase retention

    5. David Cavanagh: breaking down all the components for us

    I’m sending each of these people $10 to the email they used to make the comment.

  29. Great thinking starter article: will spend probably a lot of time pondering.

    I have several membership sites, given that I was the first person to sign up and complete your membershipcube course.

    I don’t allow people to download the content, and I had, in my last live course, no cancellation and no refund. Which tells me that they are afraid to lose the content. They don’t cancel the payments even if they stopped coming to the classes.

    When I look at the pain of disconnect, I found that if I have invested a lot of work, I don’t want to cancel.

    Example is Netflix. I have 400 videos in my dvd queue… I don’t want to lose it, even though I don’t feel like watching dvd’s nowadays, I am too busye creating new products and courses: I am on a roll.

    So I just pay monthly, and when I am good and ready I’ll have my queue… lol

    I have also been paying for Netreporter since it started, and am hesitant to cancel it, even though I never go to it… why? Because there is good stuff there I don’t want to lose.

    I think that the content or software, if it is sooo unique that you can’t get it anywhere else, and you can’t stand the idea of not getting or owning it, even if you don’t currently have time to consume it, creates a big enough pain of disconnect for people to stay in.

    I happen to teach something like that, so I can call myself very fortunate.

    I wish you had a different time slot for the live calls for your mastermind: it conflicts with my webinar schedule. I am available Thursdays only at 2 pm.

  30. Narasimharao says:


  31. Thanks for the good writeup. It in fact was a leisure account it. Look advanced to far introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep in touch?

  32. Andy Coder says:

    I recently disconnected with Aweber since I have other ways to send emails and build a list, so saved $20 a month.

    btw. how many volts does it take to get ones hair to stand up like yours? 😉

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