Running a membership site is exciting, rewarding, and… a lot of work.
Sometimes it can be mentally taxing – so when it comes to thinking up fresh ideas for new membership content or features, it's not uncommon to find that the well has run a little dry…
We all need a helping hand with getting those creative juices flowing every now and again!
That’s why I’ve brought together 5 of the best ways to generate ideas and inspiration for your membership site.
Shall we get into them?
Run your own free social media group
Creating your own social media group creates a gathering place for your audience – members and non-members alike.
It’s a place for them to come together, ask questions, vent frustrations, and talk about issues/problems/obstacles they’re facing…
AKA exactly the kind of content you should be creating!
As a membership site owner, you’re trying to solve people’s problems and explain the ways they can grow and improve.
With this method, you get a direct line to discovering exactly what their roadblocks are.
Make the most of it!
At the heart of it, this process is simply about listening.
You’ll be amazed by what you hear if you take the time listen.
To show you just how effective this approach is, I can tell you that (in the early days), this is how we created almost all of our content for The Membership Guys.
We created a hub for our audience and the conversations that they had there provided an endless stream of ideas that we knew were relevant and important.
And it’s worth noting – this doesn’t have to be on Facebook, though it is the most popular platform.
It could be a LinkedIn group, a Slack channel, a Discord channel… Anywhere where you give people the space to come together and share their thoughts.
Survey your existing members
Your existing member base – the people who are paying you to solve their problems – are the model of your ideal audience members.
It’s probably worth listening to what they have to say!
Take the same principles as with the Facebook group, but apply them to your paid ecosystem.
What are they discussing on your forum?
Your private Facebook group?
Your Q&A calls?
Just listening, observing, and identifying their recurring challenges and problems will give you such quality insight.
You could ask questions specifically related to your membership:
- What features do you use the most?
- What new content would you like?
- What one thing would make this membership more useful?
Or ask something broader:
- What problems are you facing?
- What are the obstacles in the way of your goals?
- What steps have you taken to this point?
The 9-word email
The “9 word email” is something I learned from legendary marketer Dean Jackson.
It's a very simple concept – email your audience and ask them one simple question, nine words or fewer, that begets a clear response.
Nothing extra, no preamble, no CTA, no lead-up, just one line.
A simple, single, probing question.
So for someone on our list, that might be: “Do you still need help with your membership site?”
Now it doesn't actually have to be 9 words – the exact number of words isn’t that important, it’s more the overarching concept
Other examples could be:
- “Are you still needing help with your architecture exams?”
- “Do you still want to learn how to play drums?”
- “What’s the number one problem you’re having with investing in stocks?”
The 9-word email is designed to elicit a specific response – it’s designed to get people to reply and give you an insight into their needs and situation that you might not get otherwise.
Not only will it spark ideas, but it will also spark conversations that could lead directly to sales.
Your email list is an extremely useful resource for research and idea generation. Make the most of it.
Ask a question to the 3 core groups on your email list
- Group 1 – non-members
- Group 2 – current members
- Group 3 – ex-members
There are many ways you could divide up your email list, but this is the simplest, most effective way of doing it – especially for research purposes.
You need to ask each of these three groups a different question using the same principles as the 9-word email.
- Group 1: What’s the single biggest reason you haven’t joined?
- Group 2: What’s the single biggest reason you joined?
- Group 3: What’s the single biggest reason you left?
This simple approach can reveal huge amounts to you about:
- sticking points in your marketing
- the thought process that people have when they do join
- any problems or issues that might be costing you members
This works twofold in terms of inspiration and idea generation – it helps to inform your future content, but also highlights areas you might want to correct that aren’t working as they should be.
Join other memberships
It’s really easy as a membership owner to become detached from the experience of being a member or student.
No matter what you do in your own site, you’re always going to be too close to it to truly capture that feeling of being a member.
How do you beat this?
By joining other memberships in your field… and in completely unrelated ones!
Learn how they serve their members – what they do well, and what they do poorly.
This will help you switch your mindset up and really understand the member experience – from being a total newbie to being part of their ecosystem.
From our experience of running Membership Academy, many of our members tell us that they get a lot of value from our content and features, but they learn most from watching how we run our site.
They get the inside track on how we run a successful membership site. It’s all very meta!
In the Academy, we’ve gone one step further with our Membership Insider series.
This is a video series where we go inside 10 well-known membership sites and record our entire journey in real-time.
We take members through the process of signing up and onboarding, through to consuming content and participating, all the way to canceling.
Ideas and inspiration are everywhere… if you know where to look
Those are 5 ideas that should, by all accounts, unlock a bevy of new content ideas for your membership site.
Of course, there are plenty of other ways you can get this kind of insight, but these are 5 of the most effective ways I’ve found to spark new ideas for The Membership Guys.