What Members Expect from Membership Sites

knowledge-treeThe thought of owning and managing a membership site might be exciting until you consider the fact that members are paying for something. Each person is going to have a different idea of what you are able to provide for them. Too much thought about the responsibility can cause you to avoid building your site and getting started. Anyone who has considered a membership site and then taken action is pleasantly surprised to find that there are a lot of amazing people out there. We tend to focus too much on the people who have outlandish expectations.

Here is my list of expectations from members who are serious about online business:

Timely Answers — Responses to email messages, scheduled Skype calls and support tickets will set the tone for your membership site. You will train your members with your initial responses. Everyone has a different idea of timeliness because of the urgency the situation presents. If one of your members is trying to complete a project, you will want to be very responsive. At other times, that same person might not need an immediate answer.

Maybe you have heard the expression, “Americans have watches, the rest of the world has time.” This is very true! Time drives everything we do as American business people. I was trained, or maybe brainwashed, that time is money. We must remember that people around the globe view time very differently than we do. If someone is late, be careful about making accusations or judgments. Every culture views time differently.

Value from the Outset — Your initial site can stand out from so many others in the same niche if you will take the time to complete your research. Investigate the “competition” and define the ways that the other sites leave the members without answers in a given area of the niche. Your site might present material in a unique way or format. Consider the ways that technology could make your membership site more portable or useful.

Most people have heard the story about the initial electronic versions of the encyclopaedias. One company held out until they almost went bankrupt. The market no longer wanted to store an entire bookshelf of printed volumes that were out of date before the ink dried. You could revolutionize your niche because you are willing to take another track.

Surprises – Humans are creatures of habit. Certain aspects of life require predictability because we all live in the fast lanes. At times, you can grab the attention of your members through simply offering a different presentation of the same information. Videos, audios, podcasts, images, written materials and combinations of all these will work together to teach, entertain and amuse.

surprise-giftYour idea of a surprise might be the perfect approach for the member who needs an answer to a question. Be creative and present your best ideas through every avenue you can find. Ensure that you involve your members so you know their questions and challenges. Listen to their ideas to know if your material is helping them.

Connections – Too often, we focus on the leader of the group instead of reaching out to other members. Your members should have a forum where they can connect with people who have similar interests and valuable skills. Can you imagine being able to say that you saw new business partnerships growing out of your group?

I have been a member of a group that is packed with brilliant people who want to find a unique pathway to success. I started out as a student to one person who has taught me more than I thought possible. His approach has encouraged me to work harder and take some risks that I would not have taken otherwise. Now, we are working together on a number of projects and ventures. Your members might find the perfect business partner in your group.

Insight – So many great topics contain unexplored depths because no one has taken the time to investigate other information sources. The library is one of my favorite sources of indepth information. Online articles tend to stay within the expected parameters. I want more background information about my favorite topics. Published books contain the breadth of information that will enhance your site. Experts will appreciate your ability to find nuances that are not discussed in other places.

In your niche, favorite sources of information might be too familiar to most of the people who share your interests. Look for offline sources that will increase your knowledge and provide more ideas. You might find local groups that are exploring your niche where you can interact with great people and bring something valuable back to your membership site.

Ideas – This is the primary reason that people enjoy participating in membership sites. Creativity comes in many forms, and can become your primary source of new members. Some people do not believe they are creative until they look around and explore the other possibilities. The more your learn about your niche the easier your creative juices will flow. As you interact with members, ask them for ideas and suggestions that keep you encouraged.

Too many times, we believe that everyone knows what we do. I have to admit that I struggle with the thought that I know much more than most people. The area that I get in the most trouble is discounting my professional experience. Those years in Corporate America gave me more insight into people and business than 100 years anywhere else.

Avenue to Ask & Suggest – As a member, can you imagine having a place to go every time you want to ask a question. You might not receive the exact answer, but you know that you have someone who cares. Your members will come to you for the most amazing reasons. Just because you respond and offer encouragement to carry on the conversation, you will make some great friends and become a known expert in your niche.

ideaSome of your members will be your primary sources of ideas because they ask such great questions. As you conduct conversations, you will start a notebook of comments they make that can provide help when you think you are out of ideas for your next project. Your site will expand and grow because you are the source of members’ information.

Useful Content – Always consider the fact that great content comes from many different sources. You might not recognize the importance of posting many levels of content about your niche because you area already an expert. Novices will appreciate your ability to translate the nuances of your subject into the first steps for them to master your topic. Writing and posting for them is just as important as providing the most advanced materials for your advanced members.

boy book stack - pixabayAs you choose what to post to your site, look around at the various ways your content could help your members with their websites, blogs and business ventures. Every niche has unique aspects that must be covered to make your content useful. People love to visit places where your ideas are helpful and encouraging to them.

Training – Any topic that you have to research to expand your own knowledge offers an opportunity for you to train your members. People will need your assistance to move forward in the niche. Leverage the time you already spend researching the topic you enjoy. Use the same materials to fill in the gaps for your members.

Simple training is just as important as the most advanced training modules and series of videos. Your novice members rely on you to fill in the gaps in their understanding of your topic. Think back to the days when you did not understand how all the pieces of your niche fit together.

Final Thought

No one can look into a crystal ball and anticipate the needs of a diverse group of members. Your greatest asset is the communications you will have with your members. As you listen to their requests, you will have the insight you need to create invaluable content for your site. Members at every knowledge level will remain active in your site when you offer content that draws everyone forward.

What are your experiences with members?

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