Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches

Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches

Subscription models are crazy powerful. Savvy small companies can easily deploy them to knock huge Goliaths off kilter. We’ve seen it in entertainment, software, hardware, news, retail, hospitality—the list goes on. In her podcast series, Robbie Kellman Baxter interviews the leaders of this revolution about how they’re using subscription pricing and membership models to redefine the biggest industries and generate predictable recurring revenue along the way.

Episodes

May 4, 2022 30 min

My final guest of Season Three, Joanna Strober, was the very first guest on the Subscription Stories podcast. Back then, we were talking about Kurbo, the children’s service for WW (that’s Weight Watchers new name). Today, she’s back to talk about her latest venture in direct-to-consumer healthcare, Midi Health. While Kurbo focused on helping kids get to and maintain a healthy weight, Midi is for women at midlife, helping them get b...

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Not all customers are created equal. The best subscription businesses know the power of customer lifetime value (CLV). They optimize around understanding who their best subscribers are, and then deepening the relationship with those best subscribers over time. Neil Hoyne is an expert at this. As the Chief Measurement Strategist at Google, as well as a Senior Fellow at The Wharton School, Neil helps people use data to win their cust...

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The first wave of the Membership Economy was mostly digital-- software, content, and services. But increasingly we’re seeing subscriptions around physical products. Challenges abound when manufacturing comes into play, especially with the pricing model. Many companies are selling the physical product and then offering subscriptions as an add-on. Examples include Peloton, where much of the value is in the subscription, but also prod...

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Most subscription-based businesses focus too much on acquisition and not enough on retention. But actually retention improvements are usually more effective, both for total revenue AND profitability. Today’s guest Patrick Campbell couldn’t understand why so many organizations weren’t doing the math, and so he started his company Profitwell to help companies better manage churn. Patrick says you have more churn levers than you think...

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Nearly every industry can benefit from joining the Membership Economy, and most industries have great examples of subscription-based organizations. One of the slowest movers has been the healthcare industry and for good reason. There's so much complexity to delivering health outcomes—as well as great risk. And that's why I'm so excited about this episode of Subscription Stories. Today's guest, Matthew Mengerink, is ...

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Even though people think of me as a subscription person, I always say that for me, subscriptions are simply a tactic. Subscriptions force companies to better align their pricing with performance. If the subscriber doesn’t perceive ongoing value, they cancel the subscription…so it becomes the organization’s responsibility to ensure that the customer is achieving the desired outcome. That’s the real goal of subscriptions—to better al...

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Bob Baxley is a design executive who lives and works in Silicon Valley. He currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Design & Experience at ThoughtSpot, a business intelligence and data analytics platform. Prior to ThoughtSpot, Bob was Head of Product Design at Pinterest where he built, led, and managed a multifaceted design team responsible for both the consumer and business facing elements of Pinterest.

Starting in 200...

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Mayur Gupta is the Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Gannett – USA Today Network. He is responsible for leading the transformation of Gannett into a subscription platform that is obsessed with user value and not just site traffic.

 

Mayur is responsible to actualize Gannett’s mission to build trusted local communities where people thrive. This is not his first time driving growth among subscribers. Prior to Gannett, he was CM...

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In March of 2020, travel as we knew it abruptly ground to a near standstill. First cruise ships were docked, and then air travel quickly became limited to very special cases. Hotels stood empty except for those that held people in quarantine and the health care workers who cared for them. I think it’s fair to say that no industry has changed more as a result of COVID than travel. Today’s guest, Rafat Ali, has been at the forefront ...

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Customer-centricity is essential in the world of subscriptions. To succeed you have to understand who your most valuable customers are, and invest your resources in those relationships. But measuring the value of each customer over an extended period of time, and understanding which metrics matter most, can be tricky. Peter Fader, the Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsy...

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Bundles are a hot topic right now and Outside+ is a fascinating example. A few months ago, the Outside Magazine organization announced they were welcoming 20 new publications including Trail Runner, Velo News and Yoga Journal to their family. More recently, they launched a suite of new features such as training plans & workouts, access to the Gaia GPS Premium app and discounts for outdoor events available with the new Outsi...

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There is no bigger topic when it comes to consumer sentiment than the rising demand and focus on Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance related issues. Today we’re looking at this challenge from the perspective of a leading VC who has invested in some of the most iconic consumer focused, mission driven businesses.

 

Ira Ehrenpreis has been investing in companies that are committed to making a positive impact on the world f...

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The ability to tell a good story is valuable—and not only when the story is the product, as it is in journalism. Stories can build understanding, trust and connection with members, prospects and investors alike. Storytelling is an important skill in the Membership Economy, and GoodTrust Co-founder Daniel Sieberg is a fantastic storyteller.

 

Daniel Sieberg started his career as a journalist, and writer, working for the likes of CNN...

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Mindful.org is dedicated to a very specific goal--sharing the gifts of mindfulness through content, training, courses, and directories— and helping people enjoy better health, foster more caring relationships, and cultivate a more compassionate society.

 

Because of that core focus, Mindful has been able to develop deep expertise about how people want to engage in mindfulness--expertise which has provided a launching pad for a rang...

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Since The Membership Puzzle Project (MPP) launch in May 2017, they have studied, advised, and supported more than 100 newsrooms around the world, from Akron, Ohio, to New Delhi, India as they make the transition to a member-driven newsroom. In this conversation I’m talking with Ariel Zirulnick, who runs MPP's Membership In News Fund, which supports these exceptional experiments with.

 

I recently interviewed Ariel for the inaug...

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Just over 10 years ago, I had my first conversation about the idea that would become Strava with serial entrepreneurs Mark Gainey and Michael Horvath. They talked to me about their bold objective of building the world's largest community of athletes.

 

Since then, they've achieved that goal, touching over 90 million athletes and logging over five billion activities across more than 30 sports in virtually every country in th...

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As we wrap up Season 2, we’re reflecting on the amazing guests we had, and all of the wisdom that was shared.   We covered best practices in pricing, scaling and supporting your subscription offering, and did deep dives on what membership means at organizations including CrossFit, Nike and YPO.   Take a listen to this 5 minute short, to hear about them all.  We’ll be back with new episodes this fall!   Love the show? Subscribe, ra...
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    Much has been written about the so-called "Streaming Wars." The market for streaming video content is crowded with players, each with unique strengths - from Netflix's digital native, early adopter status, the platform power of Apple and Amazon, to the highly specific and valuable content of niche players like Crunchy Roll or the History Channel, whom we recently profiled on this show. Anyone interested in subscription ...

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    Pricing is one of the trickiest parts of building a successful subscription model. You want to make the model simple, transparent and easy-to-understand, but you also want it to be optimized for each customer, and of course to maximize revenue and profitability. It can be tempting to offer multiple tiers for different use cases, as well as promotions and add-ons. Before you know it, you have a complex mess.

    Today’s guest, Xiaohe Li...

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    Launching something new is always tricky. It can be especially challenging be entrepreneurial inside a global brand like Nike. You want to align with the broader goals of the organization while also staying nimble and creative. When you’re also introducing subscription models into a transactionally oriented organization, the stakes are even higher.

    Dave Cobban spent over 12 years at Nike, many working with the innovation team. A f...

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