STU MCLAREN: “Knowing what to do and how to do it is more accessible than it's ever been before. And so it's not just, though, about what to do and how to do it. There's a huge gap between knowing what to do and how to do it and actually getting the result. Like, I can watch all the videos on YouTube all day long about becoming an elite swimmer. And it doesn't matter how much I watch them or how deep my understanding is of that material. Until I actually get in the pool and actually start to apply that material, I'm never going to get the result. And that's the gap that you and I help bridge with our courses and our memberships and the experience that we create.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Let's talk about a podcast I am loving. Inclusion and Marketing, hosted by Sonia Thompson, is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Inclusion and Marketing digs into important topics like belonging, customer experience, and diversity, and how you can practice inclusive marketing authentically. Because when you lead with inclusivity, you win the attention, the loyalty, and the trust of a broader group of consumers. I think one of my favorite episodes to date is when she shared about cultural appropriation and inappropriate use of a culture not your own. Such an important conversation. You can listen to Inclusion and Marketing wherever you get your podcasts.
Hey, there. Amy here. Welcome back to another episode of Online Marketing Made Easy.
Listen, as an entrepreneur, have you ever felt like you're kind of living in a futuristic movie at times? Like, I mean, come on. It's like we are always keeping up with the next best thing. And if we don't, well, it seems impossible to keep a profitable business alive. While having a pulse on the changing times may seem like a part-time job, you got to admit, it's kind of fun, too, right? Like, most of us entrepreneurs love variety, so if that's you, then you like that things are changing all the time. I'm not as big in variety, so I'm not the typical entrepreneur that has tons of ideas and loves variety and is changing things up all the time. That's just not my personality. Sometimes it serves me; sometimes it doesn’t. Like, I'm not an early adopter to anything, which always kind of frustrates me.
But a lot of my listeners, and maybe this is you, you like when things are moving fast. You like when things are exciting and changing. There’s lots of variety.
Like, take for instance, AI. It's all the rage this year, right? Entrepreneurs are excited. They're excited about the possibility of saving time using this as a new way of approaching work. And even if they're a little apprehensive, they're still excited. Maybe that's you.
So we’re going to talk a little bit about AI today with my special guest. And speaking of my guest, he's the peanut butter to my chocolate. He's my work husband, Hobie’s well aware. And if you've been with me for a while, you know exactly who I'm talking about: Mr. Stu McLaren, the wild man himself. And I'm so excited to share this conversation with you.
Of course, we're going to be talking about membership sites. That is what he's known for. He is the expert of all experts. If you ever wanted a membership site, I think he's the only person you should learn from, or at least the first person that you dive into membership sites with. He's that good.
But we're also going to talk about future proofing your online business. So he shares some proven ways to do this. You got to remember, Stu and I have been in the game for a long time, so it's safe to say that we have a little experience when it comes to future proofing your business, so I think you're going to love that part of the conversation.
And we also talk about Peloton. Now, I'm not a Peloton Bike girl, but I've got the Peloton Tread that I'm obsessed with. Did you know they have 92 percent retention with their app? I've never heard of such a thing. So Stu's going to talk about why they're able to do that and how you can incorporate some Peloton strategies into your membership site, your courses, whatever it might be.
And then we're going to talk about something I had never heard this term before, content complex, and how to avoid it. It’s actually not a good thing. So have you ever felt like maybe you're giving your students way too much content? We're going to talk about that.
So I want you to look at this episode through the lens of a future membership site or a membership site you already have, but it's also a great episode for course creators. So let's go ahead and dive in.
Well, hey, there, Stu. Welcome back to the show!
STU: Well, hello, there, Miss New York Times’ best-selling author!
AMY: That will never get old. Basically, you can address me like that every time you see me, all right? That’s a new rule.
STU: I have been waiting, waiting for the opportunity. I'm so proud of you, buddy.
AMY: Thank you so, so much.
Now, on more important news, I'm loving the beard. I'm loving it. I tell you all the time not to shave it, but then you always shave it. What's the deal? Why are we going back and forth with the beard?
STU: Well, okay. You know, your audience could probably relate to this. So I create content all the time.
STU: And I started this beard after I had recorded, you know, our signature course. And so I just don't want people who purchase the course to feel like it's old.
STU: So, yeah. So it's a seasonal thing.
AMY: That makes sense.
STU: Yeah. So I shave it when I'm getting close to promoting the course, and then, I grow it in the winter months, so to speak.
AMY: Well, I really love it. Does your Amy love it?
STU: She does. And the kids really love it, too. And the kids always—well, basically, my son Sam, who is nine, he told me that when I shave it, it's like I've got a bum on my face. And I was like, “Wow, great. Thanks, buddy.”
AMY: The kids, the things they say, especially yours, crack me up. Like, seriously.
STU: Yeah. They have pretty wild imaginations, and, yeah, it's always entertaining.
AMY: Okay. Speaking of Sam real fast, then we’ll get to it because I’ve got a lot of good stuff to cover. This is, like, new topics we've never discussed before, and I'm excited. But one thing that's funny is I sent you this really cool ion mat from a company called HigherDOSE, and Stu was telling me the other day that the brochures are very risqué for HigherDOSE. Oh, he has it right here. If you're watching the video, they're naked, practically, right? I can’t believe you have that right there.
STU: It’s on my desk because the kids brought it in the other day. But yes, like, you were so generous, and you sent this, and the kids like, “What is it, Dad? What is it?” And I'm like, “I don't know.” So I'm opening up the box, and I'm trying to figure it out. And then Sam, he grabs the brochure, and as you said, there's, like, this naked woman just lying in water. And Sam looks at it. He's like, “Dad, this is a little suss.” And I'm like, “What do you mean?” And he shows. I'm like, “Oh.” And then he turns to the inside, and there's another woman.
AMY: There’s more. There’s more.
STU: And Marla's like, “Hey, oh.” It’s like, oh my gosh.
AMY: But what’s so funny is you sending me a text. You’re like, “So we had to have the conversation. Like, we had to, like, get into it.” And I'm basically here to say you're welcome. I spurred the conversation that was going to happen anyway, so there you go.
STU: Yeah. Oh, well, it definitely provided plenty of opportunity for conversation because then Marla was like, “Dad, why is Amy Porterfield sending you pictures of naked ladies?” I'm like, “I don't know.”
AMY: That was a little awkward. I don’t know how we explain that one. But let me tell you, you’ve got to start using this mat. It's so incredible. Get ready for your life to change.
STU: Okay. All right.
AMY: I’ll link to the mat, for all of you if you’re curious, I’ll link to it in the show notes.
So, let’s get down to business. Are you ready?
STU: Let's do it. Let's do it.
AMY: Okay. So you and I have been in the industry for longer than I would absolutely like to admit. And to say it's changed since our first few years would be a huge understatement. The digital-course and membership landscape looks significantly different, and the catch is it's still evolving. So today I want to talk about how online learning is changing and evolving and how we as course and membership creators can stay ahead of the curve.
So with that, first up, your content team mentioned something about why Peloton has a 92 percent annual retention rate with their membership, while the rest of the fitness industry sits at about a churn rate of 50 percent. So what is Peloton doing, and why should we pay attention to it as course creators and membership creators?
STU: Well, you're right, Ames, and there is a ton changing in the course and membership landscape. You and I had a conversation about this literally last week, and I said, like, “Girl, we've got to really pay attention to what's going on right now because there are some big shifts that are happening.”
So as it relates to Peloton, you're right. They have an annual renewal rate of 92 percent, where the rest of the fitness industry is less than 50. So what are they doing differently? And if you just take a second and just zoom up, the short version or the short answer is that they're really thinking much more about the experience versus just the content. And there's a huge lesson in this for you and I as creators of courses and memberships and so forth, because so much of our time and energy has traditionally been put toward the content, the content, the content. We pour ourselves into the content.
But that's really now becoming a smaller and smaller piece of what people are actually craving, wanting, and needing when it comes to getting a result. And so Peloton knows this. Peloton knows that if they just provided classes and a bike, nothing stands out. They don't create the habitual behaviors, and they don't create the community elements.
So what do they do differently? Well, one of the things they do phenomenally well is they give badges and awards and achievements for all kinds of different things. So what I want to do is I want to kind of just highlight some of the different ways in which they give badges, because it'll trigger some thoughts for everybody as it relates to courses, as it relates to memberships, and ways we can do the same inside of our courses.
So first off, one of the things that they do is when you reach a milestone of a hundred rides, out of the blue they send you a T-shirt. Now, when I joined Peloton many years ago—I'm a huge Peloton fan. Shout out to all the Peloton peeps. You can look me up. It's just my name on Peloton. Come follow me—but anyway, when I joined, they weren't doing this, and so I had no idea about it. And then my amazing assistant, Summer, who's been with me for almost nine years, she joined the Peloton, and then she was riding, riding, riding, and then she hit a hundred rides, and then she got sent a T-shirt. And she said to me, she's like, “Oh, Stu. I got my hundred-ride T-shirt.” I said, “What do you mean you got your hundred-ride T-shirt?” I’m like, “What is that?” And so she showed it. It says, you know, it's, like, Peloton. And she said, “Yeah. They sent it to me because I hit a hundred rides.” I'm like, “What? I didn't get a T-shirt when I hit a hundred rides.”
But this is a credit to Peloton. They're continuously improving, and they're looking for ways to reinforce the behavior they want to see. So obviously, the more people ride, the more they consume the product, the longer people are likely going to stay a customer. And so they're very mindful of, like, identifying key milestones that drive that behavior. A hundred rides is a good key milestone, and they reward it with a physical T-shirt.
Now, that's, like, a physical realm, but in the digital realm, they do this phenomenally as well. They give badges for all kinds of different things. They get badges for habits. So, like, every single day you do any type of exercise, you get a blue checkmark on the calendar. And so you can have a visual of, like, how you are doing and how consistent you are. Like, Rick in our office, he does not go a day—he has, like, like a weird twitch. If he looks at his calendar and there's, like, a day that's missing the blue checkmark, and it's like it just ingrains in people. It builds the habits. So that's one way.
They give different badges for different events. So for example, like I just provided, it was in this particular month, they were celebrating, it was Women's Month, and there was all these different rides that you could do. And if you did these certain rides, you got these certain types of badges.
They also have, like, this Peloton contest, so to speak. And they break people up into two teams, Team Validate and Team Activate. Shout out to Team Validate. But anyway, but every time you participate in one of those rides, you get another different type of badge. They give them for different types of events.
They give, every time you do a ride with somebody else, so you consume content with somebody else, like a friend or somebody who's following you, you get another badge. They give badges for reaching different milestones, like when you've done a hundred rides or you've done a hundred stretches or fifty or whatever. Like, they have all these different ones that build up.
And my point in sharing this is that they create all kinds of achievements and gamification built into consuming content. We can do the same thing with our content, with our courses, with our memberships. And just imagine, like, as people are going through and they're consuming it, you can give different awards and badges for particular types of content you want them to consume or when they complete a module. Then there's—maybe it unlocks a certain surprise. There's all kinds of ways you can build fun and gamification that drive the behavior of consuming more content.
So my advice for everybody is take a page out of Peloton's book. Start thinking more about the experience of consuming your content as much as you're thinking about the content itself.
AMY: Mm, the experience of consuming the content, yes. I love the way you put that.
Okay. So I totally see what you're saying there. I see how we can elevate the experience. But I want to talk about future proofing our online businesses, because I believe, and I know you have a framework that you've used in your own business to really set up a foundation to ensure your programs and membership are in it for the long run, which I absolutely love. So are you willing to spill the beans and share it with the rest of us?
STU: Well, we can peel back the curtain, sure. Okay. So at the end of the day, when people buy our courses or join our memberships—I'm going to throw it back to you, Amy—what are they joining the courses and memberships for? What are they joining for?
AMY: Well, my first thought is to get results, the results that we've promised.
STU: Exactly. Like, they've got a problem, or they've got a challenge, or they have a desire to get some kind of a result. That's why they join our course and join our memberships, because the thought is, “I'm going to learn from Amy, who has decades of experience doing this, and I'm going to consume all that information in a compressed period of time so that I can get the results a heck of a lot faster than if I were to try to piece it together myself.” Right? So they join because they're looking to get a result.
Well, this is how we future proof our business. And the framework that we have is called the Circle of Awesomeness, and here's what it looks like. Think of, like, a circle, and at the top of the circle is the sale. That's when you've made the sale. The next step, about at—if I'm looking at a clock—at about three o’clock, right, is the result. So the whole goal for us is to help our people get a result.
Now, the mistake that a lot of people make is we think that the only result that matters is the end result, like, the big win, the big celebratory, “Woohoo, I made it!” win. But the fact of the matter is, is that those are often really hard and so far fetched for people to even imagine themselves there. And so if we only focus on the big wins, it makes it really hard for people to relate and to see themselves achieving that.
So what we've got to do is we've got to dial it back, and we got to look at, like, what are some of the smaller, incremental wins that lead to the big win? Like, Amy, do you remember your first online sale?
AMY: I do, yes.
STU: How much was it? How much was it?
AMY: So if I'm remembering, it feels like a lifetime ago, but I think it was, like, twenty-seven dollars.
STU: Okay. Twenty-seven dollars. And do you remember the feeling that you had when you made that first sale?
AMY: Absolutely. I thought I was the richest woman in the world and that nobody could get in my way. Like, it was incredible.
And this is reminding me. We actually are going to have to post it in the show notes. You just recently posted this. I had seen it before, but the two little boys who got paid to shovel the snow.
STU: I reposted this—okay. So let’s give everybody a little glimpse of this. So I posted this video of these two little boys going up to their neighbors. And the neighbors have one of those Ring cameras, so they recorded the whole conversation. And the little boys go up, and they knock on the door, and the neighbor opens the door, and the boy said, “Hey, would you like us to shovel your driveway for twenty bucks?” And the neighbor’s like, “Yeah, sure. Actually, that would be great. We’re heading out, but I'll give you the twenty dollars now, and then you guys can do it while we're out.” And they're like, “Okay.” And the neighbor shuts the door to go get the twenty dollars. And the boys are like, “Oh my gosh, we're going to be rich. This is amazing.” And they're like, “And they've given us the twenty dollars, and we haven't even shoveled it yet.” And then the other boy’s, like, “We should do a really good job because she's given us the money first.” And I was just like, oh my gosh.
And what I loved about this video is, like, those boys are making that first sale.
STU: It's like when you made your first twenty-seven-dollar sale.
STU: It's like when I made my first sale of $7.95. Amy, I have my first sale framed. It's plaqued.
AMY: Okay. I'm so jealous you have that.
STU: Yes. And this was, like, you know, if we're looking at this picture, it's on, like, this crazy, crummy plastic Toshiba laptop. It's so old and janky. But I remember this moment, and I remember this moment so clear because my wife, Amy, was there at the moment. And I said, “Ame, you got to take a picture of this.” And she's like, “Okay,” and she was, like, excited. And I said, “This is, like, a monumental moment in time. Like, this is the beginning. I am one day going to be on the cover of Inc. magazine, and it's going to come back to this $7.95 sale.
STU: And why I emphasize this is in that moment, when that first sale is made, it creates this belief. It's the belief that you had, where you're like, “Oh my gosh. I'm going to be the richest woman in the world.” It's like the belief that those boys had, which was like, “Oh my goodness. We made a sale.” It's, like, the same belief that I had.
Now, if we celebrate that moment for people, that is just as powerful, creates just as much momentum for people, as achieving the final outcome, because it creates that belief, and that belief creates confidence, and the confidence creates the momentum to keep them moving forward.
So what’s important is when we think of the Circle of Awesomeness, it starts with a sale. The focus for us then becomes helping our people stack the wins and celebrating those wins and getting a result. And when they get a result—now if we move down around the circle to the bottom, at six o’clock, at the bottom of that circle—now we have a story. And the story is the most powerful marketing asset that you and I can have, because when I start telling that story of Sally, who just made her first sale, and I tell a little more about Sally’s story, and I talk about the fact that she's a single mom, I talk about the fact that she's restarting her career, I talk about the fact that she was trying to juggle starting this business with little kids and all the things, now her story’s going to relate to somebody else in that audience. They're going to see themselves in Sally's story. And in that, they now open themselves up to the possibility of, “Wait a minute. Maybe, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can just get to that point.” And so those stories are so much more relatable. And so they start to borrow confidence from others just like them.
So Circle of Awesomeness: starts at the top with a sale. Then, it goes to us focusing on helping people get a result: big wins, little wins. They all matter. Then, we have a story to tell. And then, the next point on the circle, the nine o’clock, is now we share that story, and that's where the Circle of Awesomeness helps us future proof our business, because at the end of the day, information is getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper by the minute.
Knowing what to do and how to do it is more accessible than it's ever been before. And so it's not just, though, about what to do and how to do it. There's a huge gap between knowing what to do and how to do it and actually getting the result. Like, I can watch all the videos on YouTube all day long about becoming an elite swimmer. And it doesn't matter how much I watch them or how deep my understanding is of that material. Until I actually get in the pool and actually start to apply that material, I'm never going to get the result. And that's the gap that you and I help bridge with our courses and our memberships and the experience that we create. And if we focus on helping people bridge the gap and go from knowing what to do and how to do it to actually getting the result, that's where we future proof our business, because it's not just about the information; it's about the experience of moving people through the information to getting a result.
AMY: Yes. Amen to that. You know, Stu, you were the very first person—I don't know if you recall this story, but I've told it a few times on the podcast, where if we go back to the story part, I had told you that one of my courses must not be doing well because I don't have a lot of testimonials. And you literally laughed at me, and you're like, “Well, have you asked for them? Have you reached out to people? Do you have a system to get those stories?” And I had zero. So from there, we built an entire process of how to get testimonials, how to tell stories, and everything took off from there. So anyone listening and they're like, “Okay, I totally get the Circle of Awesomeness, but I don't have the stories,” you do; you're just likely not actively asking for them and going to get them. Would you agree?
STU: Let's camp out there for a second. I 100 percent agree because, you know, when I hear somebody say, “Well, I don't have the stories,” I get disappointed when I hear that because I'm just like, no, no, no. Like, that tells me either (a) you aren't asking for them or looking for them, or (b) you're not helping people get a result. And then I get the people that say, “Yeah, but that's easy for you to say, Stu, because you have an audience.” I'm like, “Hold up. Time out. Listen, you know what the easiest thing to do is? Find one person. Find one person that you can help. And in the beginning, just help them for free and help them for free so that you then have a story. And when you've got one story, you're going to milk that story for all it's worth. You are going to tell the same story over and over and over again.”
It's like when U2 goes to play a concert. Do you think that they are ever not going to play “Where the Streets Have No Name”? No. They're going to play that song over and over and over again. Why? Because it's a hit.
And it's the same with your stories. You're going to tell the story over and over and over again, because eventually that one story is going to lead to five, and five’s going to lead to fifty, fifty’s going to lead to five hundred. But it all starts with one.
So in the beginning, don't get lazy. Go and start working with somebody for free to help them get a result so that you have the most powerful marketing asset in your mix, which is a story of somebody who had a problem that your audience faces, you've helped them bridge the gap to get the result that they're after, and now you can help others do it, too. So don't get lazy. Go out and get a story and make it happen.
AMY: Amen to that. Amen.
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Okay. So we can’t talk about future proofing your business without talking about AI.
STU: Uuh, AI.
AMY: I know. I know you are passionate about this. So I'm guessing you've been using it as a creator, but I haven't actually gotten to talk to you about it yet a lot. So how do you feel about AI, and do you think it's been saving you time, money as an entrepreneur? Talk to me.
STU: You know, it’s interesting. So I have two business partners, who, on a geek scale of one to ten, they're, like, a fifteen. Like, they are, you know, mad scientist-like-level geniuses when it comes to technology. So I've been exposed to AI for actually quite a long time, and our team have been working with AI literally for years. So for me, it's been an interesting journey to watch the evolution of AI in terms of what it's capable of and how it's being used. And in fact, like, our team developed a variety of tools that work with AI in a whole bunch of different ways, both with our signature software platform Searchie, but also we created another brainstorming tool called Copy Creator that also helps people begin to come up with headlines and podcast outlines and engagement questions for their community and so much more.
Now, I share this because in the beginning I think AI absolutely is an amazing brainstorming partner, and that's the way in which I encourage people to think about it. Like, when I'm explaining it to somebody, you know, I am not a mad-scientist-level genius like my business partners, right? So I'm Simple Stu. Like, it takes me a long time to process things. People got to really dumb it down so that I can understand exactly what's going on. So when I explain it to people, here's how I explain it in Simple Stu terms: it's like a bunch of robots that do a whole bunch of stuff for you. But the real breakthrough in this AI technology is you can talk to these robots in plain English. So you don't have to be a mad scientist, you don't have to know code, you don't have to do any of that; you just talk to them just like you're talking to a normal person. So the way I encourage people to think about AI is, like, imagine having somebody literally sitting at your desk 24/7, who you can brainstorm with.
So maybe you're struggling to come up with some subject lines for emails. So you, in plain English, you say to the robot, “Can you give me some variations for some subject lines for this email?” and you paste in the email. And it'll say, “Sure, Amy. Here are fifteen different subject lines you can use.” And you look at them, and you’re like, “Oh, okay. Those are pretty good.” But then you might say, “Can you actually make them a little more funny?” “Sure. We'll make them a little more funny.” Or “Can you make them sound a little more like blah, blah, blah?” “Sure.”
It's like a brainstorming partner that is just constantly working with you. So do you have to have some robot conversation skills? Yeah, you do. You just got to know, you know, you just got to talk to it just like you're talking to a normal person. But that to me is the beginning of the magic that AI can produce, is looking at it and using it as a brainstorming partner. So for things like headlines, for things like subject lines, for things like email copy, for things like blog-post ideas or podcast-show ideas, I love using it as a brainstorming partner.
A little secret between us. I've even used it to come up with ideas for date nights for Amy—
STU: —or for little love notes and all kinds of things.
So again, you can use it for work, yeah. But you can also use it for personal stuff. I've used it to come up with ideas for entertaining the kids, like, with no screens. Like, when my wife, Amy, was in Kenya for two weeks, I was a single dad for two weeks. So I'm just like, “Okay. I need some ideas to have some fun with the kids without being on screens.” And so I went to ChatGPT, and I said, “Hey, I've got two kids, nine and eleven. Can you give me some ideas on ways in which we could entertain the kids without being on screens?” “Sure,” boom.
So think of it as a brainstorming partner. That's probably the best, easiest way to begin thinking about this. But there are all kinds of other ways that we can explore AI, if you want to go there, too.
AMY: Okay. Well, what I love is that you are integrating it into Searchie, which is your software for course creators and membership creators. And what I loved is one day you sent me a call, and you're like, “I'm going to blow your mind about what we're doing in Searchie with AI. And we're developing all this cool stuff to make it easier for your course creators and membership creators.” And I'm most excited about that. And I know you'll be talking about that more and more in the coming months, but I'm very excited to see what we can do with it. And I love that you've encouraged me to embrace it, which my team has because of that. So I'm glad we talked about that.
But we have some more to talk about. We've got to talk about content in general, because AI will help you create more content. But is more content really what we need? So let's talk about this.
So I want to take a moment to chat a little bit about the dreaded content complex and how easy it is for students to get overwhelmed with all they need to consume in a course or in a membership. So what have you found works best when it comes to finding that happy medium and ensuring you create an experience that your students and your members will absolutely love?
STU: Okay. This is a great question because I don't think course creators or membership-site owners are giving enough thought to what happens when you just keep adding content over time. And I'm going to give a visual for you and for your audience to think about.
Amy, you live in a beautiful area of Nashville, but let me ask you, in your home, would you rather have beautiful green grass or dirt?
STU: Grass. Okay. Now, however, what would happen if you just never cut that grass, and it just became a big jungle?
AMY: Then I wouldn't love it.
AMY: You wouldn't love it. And it's the same thing for our courses, our memberships. It's like having a beautiful lawn when it's manicured is incredible. But if we don't trim the grass and cut the grass, and we don't care for the yard, it begins to become a big jungle and a mess. That's what happens with so many membership sites and courses. People don't take the time to prune the hedges, to cut the grass, so to speak, in their courses and their memberships. And they just keep adding stuff and adding stuff. And the thought is, “I’ll just add more, more, more content, more value.” Aaaah, not true. So what do you and I need to do? We need to go in and we need to prune the experience on a regular basis. And I'll give you a couple ideas for you and for your audience to think about.
First and foremost, I've talked on your podcast about this before, the importance of a success path, creating the journey from where people are to where they want to be, and breaking that down into stages. Now, the reason that's important is that we want to serve people content that is most relevant to where they are right now in their journey. We don't want to give them access to everything, because if we give them access to everything, we overload them.
Like, for example, Amy, would it make sense for you to give somebody access to a training on scaling a business if they haven't even generated their first opt-in lead?
AMY: No. Absolutely not—
AMY: —because then it will overwhelm them.
STU: Right. And so what we've got to do is we've got to meet people where they're at. Now, this is where, to me, there's going to be a big divide in the coming months and years ahead, because traditionally, most people have stuck with platforms that provide a “one size fits all” experience for everybody, meaning, no matter where you are in your journey of learning, you're going to get the same experience. So if Adam, who may be very advanced, comes into your membership or course, starts seeing beginner lessons, how do you think he's going to feel?
AMY: Very overwhelmed—or not overwhelmed. Opposite
STU: Yeah, underwhelmed. Totally.
AMY: Underwhelmed, yes.
STU: He's going to be like, “I'm so far by this.”
AMY: Like, “This is not for me.” He's going to think it's not for him.
Now, let's think about somebody who's on the other end of the spectrum. Let's just call him Brian. Brian. Basic Brian. And so he comes in, and again, you're providing the same “one size fits all” experience, but he sees advanced lessons. How’s he going to feel if he's in the beginning stages?
AMY: “I'm in the wrong place. This is too much. I did this too soon. I need out.”
STU: Right. That's a real quick way to understand the importance of meeting people where they're at because if Basic Brian comes in and he sees basic lessons, he's going to feel like he's exactly where he needs to be. And if Advanced Adam comes in and he sees advanced lessons, he's going to feel like he's exactly where he needs to be. And most people think, “Yeah, but how can you do that in the same membership?” Well, this is where technology has really begun to evolve.
So companies like Netflix and Amazon and YouTube and Peloton and Disney+, they've all spent billions of dollars with this technology, because if I were to log into your Netflix account, Amy, I guarantee we're going to see totally different shows than if I were to log into mine.
AMY: So very true. Do you love Emily in Paris? because I'm loving it.
STU: That is not going to show up in my Netflix calendar. And that's my point. These companies are doing it, and it's changing expectations, because now people subconsciously are expecting, you know, catered or tailored content. And that's the thing that you and I have to pay attention to moving forward. And it comes back to the experience that we talked about in the very beginning. We've got to pay attention as much to the experience as we do the content.
So in a perfect world, Sally comes into your course or membership. You ask a few questions to gauge where she is in her journey. You identify she's at stage two. Perfect. Now when she logs in, she only starts seeing content that is relevant for somebody at stage two. She now feels like she's exactly where she needs to be. It's not a “one size fits all” experience; it's a tailored content experience. And you can do that now. And my encouragement to people is to begin thinking about the experience you're providing as much as you do about the content you're providing.
AMY: And I think this shows up the most—it’s definitely very much needed for courses, and I could see so many different ways that I can use this concept, but definitely for memberships because people come into memberships at different levels. And if you allow them to have the whole library, which I do, that could be incredibly overwhelming, and they could say, “I'm not in the right place.” So being able to target where they're at and dish up the content they need, huge. And it will help retention rates, beyond belief.
So I love that you talk about that, but, really, you're the membership guy. So I'll talk about courses all day long, but one area I am not an expert in is memberships, and that's where you come in. And so every year I like to inform my students about what's happening with memberships, how they can create a membership, how they can grow their revenue with memberships. And you've been working on a very exciting workshop. It's called the Membership Masterclass: 3 Secrets to Turn What You Already Know, Love, and Do Into Recurring Revenue. Recurring revenue, yes, amen. I want more of it, and so do my students. So talk about this special workshop, and then I'll tell everyone where they can go to sign up.
STU: Okay. So once a year we go deep and we deliver a free workshop where we break down, how do you take the things that you know, love, and do and turn it into recurring revenue? So for all of our course creators out there, holla! Listen up! If you've got a course, you 100 percent should have a membership, and here's why: because I guarantee you, when people come to the end of your course, you are receiving questions like, “Well, wait a minute. What happens when the course comes to an end?” “Wait a minute. Where am I going to go to get ongoing support?” “Wait a minute. Is this community going to shut down?” All of that is signals to you the people need you ongoing. They need help in bridging that gap between knowing now what to do and how to do it and actually getting the results. And so this is where a membership comes into play, and membership helps people bridge that gap. It provides that ongoing support. And we're going to show you exactly how to begin doing this.
And in fact, Amy, here's what's fun. People will actually launch their memberships during the free workshop. So this isn't just, like, Stu layering in a whole bunch of information. No, no, no, no. We roll up our sleeves, we get to work, people get results during the free workshop, and that's our whole goal is to give you a huge jumpstart to getting your membership site off the ground.
AMY: Oh, yeah. I've seen it. I've seen people take your free workshop and literally start a membership before they ever, like, dive in even deeper. Like, that's how good the workshop is. I want every single one of you to check this out. Stu is on the cutting edge of what's working now with courses and memberships. He knows what is moving people into your courses and memberships and also what is keeping them there. And so he's going to talk all about this, especially with the focus on membership. If you've ever wanted one or if you have one and you want to improve it, get on this masterclass, amyporterfield.com/membership, amyporterfield.com/membership. You got to go there. Check it out.
Stu, any last parting words for anyone listening that's thinking, “I want to have a membership this year. It is one of my goals”?
STU: Well, what I would say is that one of the reasons you and I both love memberships is it gives us a way to really serve people on their entire journey. And it is so rewarding, and it's rewarding for the people that we get to serve and helping them get incredible results. It's also selfishly rewarding as a business owner because it provides stability in terms of the income. And at a time when we're living in a world of instability and uncertainty, there is nothing that we as entrepreneurs want more than that stability and certainty, and you'll get it with recurring revenue in memberships. So come join us. I can't wait to show everybody how to do it. Amyporterfield.com/membership.
AMY: Let's go.
Stuey, thanks so much for showing up. I always love having you on the show.
STU: Thank you, my friend. Appreciate you.
AMY: Take care.
So, there you have it. I hope you love this conversation with my work husband, Stu. It's always such a fun conversation to talk to him. And I love how passionate he gets about membership sites. I'm telling you, my friend, he is the best of the best. So if you have a membership site and you want to make it better, you want to get more members, you want to increase that retention—I mean, who doesn't, right?—or if you don't have a membership site and you're thinking, “Maybe I want one,” maybe you already have a course and you want to lead your course into a membership, or maybe you don't have a course yet and you're thinking, “Do I start with a membership site or a course?” that's something that Stu will absolutely be addressing on his masterclass. So I really want you to take the time to sign up. He gives so much insight into his masterclass. So amyporterfield.com/membership. That's where you go. Amyporterfield.com/membership. I'll never steer you wrong when I recommend somebody else's masterclass because you know masterclasses are kind of my thing, right? So I'm only going to send you if they're going to be the best of the best, and Stu's will absolutely be. So if you are thinking about starting a membership or, again, if you have one and you're struggling with one, you know what to do. I know you're going to love every minute of the masterclass.
Thanks so much for tuning in. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.