If you run a subscription-based business, you have three objectives:

  1. To attract and convert qualified leads for your business.
  2. To keep your customers happily paying for recurring services.
  3. Generate partially-passive income for your business using a recurring model.

To accomplish these goals which lead to revenue, there are two must-have phases in a marketing plan for subscription-based businesses—direct sales and follow-up CRM. The former converts prospects to buyers, while the latter turns them into brand ambassadors.

Of course, these loyalists create new buyers through word-of-mouth promotion. It’s a beautiful cycle wherein existing customers encourage and create new customers. The end result is compounding and recurring sales.

The caveat: this result only happens when you deploy a sales and follow-up marketing sequence.

What Qualifies as a Subscription-Based Business?

Subscription services are not limited to television and magazines anymore. With the rising demand of instant gratification in which people ditch shopping in favor of convenience, several businesses have turned to the subscription model. A handful of these include:

  • Meal planning services.
  • Farm shares.
  • Beer of the Month clubs.
  • Pet food.
  • Shaving tools.
  • Wedding planning materials.
  • Monthly and weekly consulting.

Every month, more entrepreneurs are adopting this approach. Why? Because nearly every industry you can think of is capable of providing a subscription service. Recurring transactions are a huge plus and customers enjoy receiving a new batch of your product or service at a set interval. Win-win.

However, if you’re thinking about adding subscription services to your business model, or you’re struggling to attract recurring customers, you’ll need to design and implement a direct sales and follow-up marketing plan. Depending on your niche, the competition can be fierce, and you’ll need a strong unique selling proposition, memorable bonus features, and amazing benefits to trigger subscribers and ultimately, revenue.

Direct Sales for Subscription-Based Businesses

Hear the words direct sales, and most people think of pedaling, begging, and pushiness. However, direct sales are mostly information-based and seek to educate the audience on how the product/service will provide a transformative benefit.

Audience-centricity is the key element of direct sales. Without a proper understanding and expression of your clientele’s exact needs and struggles, the marketing will fall flat.

As many subscription businesses are product-centric, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact buyer-focused approach. Dig deep and consider why the average customer purchases in the first place and why they choose to pay a repeating fee.

For example:

Monthly wine clubs send bottles of bubbly to your front door on a set interval. While that is a sexy offer, let’s face it: you can head over to a liquor store anytime the mood strikes.

So why bother with a wine subscription? This customer avatar most likely enjoys variety and wants an expert to select the bottle(s) they might like. They might enjoy the surprise element, or they may want to discover wines they can’t buy in their city.

Beauty and makeup supplies keep the vanity (or bathroom counter) stocked with everything you’d need to “put your face on.” Lipsticks, eyeliner, shadow, foundation, and blush will be waiting on your doorstep.

And why wouldn’t you simply pick this stuff up at the store? Because a makeup subscription means you get both convenience and variety. Also, a customer doesn’t necessarily have to make a commitment to one product.

For example, a company such as Glossybox sends small samples of top-tier cosmetics, so customers don’t have to shell out big bucks for a makeup they might not love.

Teas and coffees. There are people who guzzle unjustifiable amounts of caffeine in the morning in the interest of a jolt. And then there are those who actually enjoy the flavor and experience of java—these people generally like to sample different brews to find their favorites.

And the same goes for tea. While some tea drinkers use the beverage to wind down or curb hunger, others drink tea for medicinal or experiential purposes.

There’s nothing better than a subscription service for that.

Pet health supplies. Some pet owners may give their dogs and cats the occasional supplement after their furry companion gets sick. Others take a proactive approach, or they may have an older pet that needs continuous care. Enter subscription plans.

The point: your direct sales must come from a place of understanding—not only about why someone buys, but also why they’d keep buying. If you’re questioning how to do this, look for a professional copywriter with a track record of results.

Follow-Up CRM Creates Subscription Renewals

Even if the fine print reads that the product or service is a contractual agreement, you still need to provide follow up. In truth, customer relationship management (CRM) is all about the user experience, without which you’ll see a ton of cancelled subscriptions.

These follow-up marketing initiatives enable your people to enjoy the product more and troubleshoot. In a sense, you’re teaching someone how to use a product, and helping them gain the most benefits.

Your follow-up CRM should:

  • Highlight how to get started using a product, so that customers experience immediate wins.
  • Emphasize individual features, so that people learn how to use a product step by step.
  • Ask if any help is needed, so that you streamline the user experience.
  • Add social proof, so that you project how others use the product and enable customers to achieve similar results.

Every industry is different, and no two follow-up CRM plans are identical. Your customers are your customers—and they came to you for a reason.