High-value membership vs low-priced subscription: the changing landscape

Something quite special is happening in the world of B2B memberships and subscriptions. We’re seeing a big shift in customer expectations, which has led many of these businesses to rethink their subscription model and how they provide ROI to their customers.


The changing landscape

In the past, creating a lower value offering was expected to lead to high volumes of transactional sales, and a funnel for upselling and cross-selling. Transactional, mainly automated subscriptions were an expected expense for a B2B audience.

Customers are now demanding tangible outcomes, wanting real business solutions. They’re willing to pay greater fees for this kind of service, the level of scrutiny required to invest is leading to better renewal rates, and happy customers are helping to grow sustainable revenue.


The shift for subscription players

Now that customer expectations have changed, legacy media businesses are living with the consequences of the low-priced subscription approach.

When cheaper options are offered, it’s hard to charge higher fees later on. Feeding the beast by adding more and more products and features dilutes, confuses and gives little focus to the proposition.


The Product Value Matrix

The solution

  • Be clear about your purpose and align it to your organisation, partners and customers
  • Naturally you think your products are in the “Must Have” quadrant, but what do your customers think?
  • Refine who your customers are, and listen to them to understand their priorities
  • Present your offering as a high value membership to improve your quality of relationships
  • Know your customers’ expected outcomes and ensure they are achieved


Defining a Membership

We see a ‘membership’ as being something far more valuable than a ‘subscription’. We define it as a high value trusted service that actively delivers ambitious outcomes to trigger a sense of ownership and belonging.

Retention is optimised by providing your customers and your teams with a compelling purpose, a great product, and strategically building capabilities across people, systems and product (investing in retention efforts without these foundations will not provide sustainable ROI).

There will be transition periods to plan for, where transformation of the business is required to continue to provide ROI for the customer. Planning for these periods well ahead of time will prepare you for change.


Andy Burden and Steve Budd are Co-Founders of Substribe, which helps media and information firms to scope, launch, grow and optimise recurring revenues.

Substribe directors have a combined 40 years’ experience in subscription success within companies such as Emap, Datamonitor, Wilmington, Procurement Leaders and Informa. In the six months since launch, Substribe delivered projects for Incisive Media, Clarion Events, Contentive, CRU and Media Business Insight.