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A Business Subscription Service

Recently, I’ve been researching and meditating about a subscription service. We spend most days trying to be of service to family, friends, and business associates. Most of our services are personal and we try to keep them between you and us. Business is all about service. We teach our salesmen that without customers and customer service, we are nothing. The way we distinguish ourselves, and give our customers the Total User Experience (TUX) is to innovate, go outside the box, and distinguish our business model from the competitors with service. Service in business has changed and this blog is my attempt to document a few facts about subscription services and how they are playing a huge part in today’s e-commerce and new age economy.

Let’s take this apple one bite at a time. Wikipedia does a good job of giving us the basic definition; “subscription business model- a business model where a customer must pay a subscription price to have access to a product or service. The model was pioneered by magazines and newspapers, but is now used by many businesses and websites.” I can remember my first experience with a subscription service. Record clubs! Does anyone remember the Columbia House Record Club and how they would entice you with twelve top albums for only $.01?

The albums arrived, I cranked them in my bedroom, and then my parents were stuck footing the bill for an arbitrary album of the month. If you didn’t take the time to mail (postage at your expense) a card, the albums were truly arbitrary. I can still dig through my old record collection and find Jethro Tull, Mott the Hoople, and Poco. Albums that went un-played in my four chord rock days and are still in mint condition. The $.01 deal required a signed contract to purchase a $15 record album plus $6 shipping each month for a year. Working families like ours didn’t want trouble so we paid the money and my mother complained until the final payment. Then the mail solicitations started coming (addressed to me if they didn’t hit the trash) and I would try to do it all over again! Twelve for $.01, etc… Read Fred Mills blog about the death of record clubs.

Today, Subscription services have changed. The key concept itself has even changed so e-commerce lends itself perfectly because of credit cards and online banking. Cancel anytime! How huge is this? Providers are banking that the benefits will outweigh the monthly subscription price. This spring, my old Windows 7 2008 tower died due to a hard drive failure. I’m still upset with myself that I didn’t catch on sooner because every other day for a month, my system locked up but I had too many other things on my plate to mess with my home computer. I was pleasantly surprised with the price point of Windows PC towers (I still love towers at home because I can work on them) and Windows 10 is a fantastic OS. As I was bringing my computer back to life, I noticed how subscriptions have become huge in the software world. No longer could I hi-jack a copy of Office software. No, I had to pay Microsoft a few hundred dollars for the latest versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Where was Outlook? Well, I found it. A monthly $69 subscription to keep using the email program I had migrated to in the late 1990s and was still at complete ease using. I was close to purchasing it, but in the end, followed the lead of my millennial sons and business partners and migrated everything to Google Gmail. (I had already made the switch from Internet Explorer to Chrome so the migration was simple and free.) As our business develops and grows, we are faced with cost subscription decisions every day. As a business start, ALTru Solutions is spending 90% of it’s time selling and marketing so subscription service expenses are delayed. We will be evaluating name brands like Intuit’s Quick Books, Adobe Photo Shop, and Avid’s Pro Tools in the future. (P.S. Cloud based storage is our new thing because of the earlier content. They are safe, secure, and offer great value to business!)

A close family member of mine started Wow! What a great business! They saw a demand for products designed for women with curly hair and went for it. Rather than slap up an E-store and wait for customers to find their business, they started a subscription service in early 2018, and grew a customer base using their network of family, friends, and business associates. Through word of mouth and social media, the business was an instant success gaining subscribers in the first month. Today, some eight months after launch, has a base in Canada and is adding customers monthly. The owners are already forming a strategy to move to the next level and yes, sales are not only happening with a monthly cancel anytime subscription, but they also come directly from the E-store with products their customers can’t live without! See features and benefits using a (USP).

As we continue to grow ALTru Solution, this LLC manager and writer listens to podcasts about small business daily. My favorite is Henry Lopez’s The How of business. I’m engaged with Henry’s guests in the some 200 plus available episodes. Each of these guests brings expertise from a variety of business experiences and provide real knowledge to our business by sharing their success story and early struggles. What is their actionable item? Yep, you guessed it, a monthly paid subscription that will add value to small business. I just love the concept. Give customers value by offering something free, then generate income with a cancel anytime subscription! (Take what you want and leave the rest.) No criticism from this author, only praise for offering great products at a fair price. The next generation of subscription services are already here. How about sites that add value by cataloging and marketing subscription services? Patreon is just that. The basic model? Sell something for $1 per month, something for $15 per month, and something for $99 per month. Marketers encourage site listers to offer something at a completely ridiculous price. (Ex. “For $25K you can join the band backstage for the upcoming show in Nashville , sit in on their latest recording session, and enjoy the nightlife of downtown Nashville for 10 days.”) The subscription models are endless.

Finally, this brings us to ALTru Solution and our business model. We receive so much good feedback from our Cooking with Kelbob and Grill Dog Sherman feature on Facebook and YouTube. This is a concept I created during my last W2 job as an Executive Director of Marketing. When we were marketing a hardware store, I thought, “How would I market this if I owned the business?” I reasoned that I would find a local character that many people in the community recognized and respected. I would then shoot a series of short videos featuring products, very similar to Tim the Tool man from the old sitcom Home Improvement. I would use humor and provide insight with an unboxing of various products. The team I was privileged to work with couldn’t grasp the concept so we moved to other strategies. I still liked the idea so I started test-driving Cooking with Kelbob on my personal Facebook page, never using my employer’s business name. I was getting many LIKES – FOLLOWS – SHARES and people from around town kept stopping me and commenting on how much fun they were having watching our episodes.

Recently while mowing the grass, I made the decision to move Cooking with Kelbob to our business page. I have been explaining an RCDD title for 20 years and few people really understand what we do. They do understand fun, dogs, foods, and good-natured humor. Cooking with Kelbob is our passion and a somewhat disruptive marketing strategy that is drawing customers to our business. However, Grill Dog Sherman requires a lot of food monthly, and the additional revenue he receives (treats) is not the best. Will customers subscribe to a monthly subscription to receive more content? We would love to hear your feedback.

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