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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 better as they get older. You may have noticed my interest in how the way we stay healthy is changing—with guests from Whoop, 30 Madison, Strava, just this season alone. I am fascinated by all of the transformation in the space, as healthcare embraces the concept of a forever transaction. After all, what forever promise is more compelling than more happy, healthy minutes. Healthcare is just embarking on a massive rethinking of how to better align their business models with patient outcomes. Midi is a great example of this. In today’s talk, we cover the consumerization of healthcare and how COVID accelerated the move to digital patient-centric health, the importance of “forever transaction” in treating patients, and the challenges of developing a clear business model in a highly complex environment.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 range of additional offerings, including a very successful corporate training business, which has become a larger source of revenue than the subscription itself.   In other words, their niche focus has allowed them to be more impactful, while generating multiple revenue streams to support their mission.   In this conversation with Mindful.org CEO Bryan Welch, we’ll discuss how you can build multiple revenue streams around a strong vertical with a small number of passionate members. This conversation was recorded as part of the D2C (Direct to Consumer) Summit that I coproduced with FIPP, the Global Media Association, so you’ll hear a couple of references to the conference.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 the world. While subscriptions have always been a part of Strava, in the past year, they've moved some of their most popular features behind the paywall and an introduced a bunch of new features for paying subscribers.   I recently interviewed David Lorsch, Strava’s CRO for the inaugural D2C Summit, a new conference I co-created with Global Media Association FIPP, and want to share that conversation with you here on the podcast. We discussed how Strava determined what should be free and what should be paid as they build a subscription business around a social platform, and how to guide members to make the most of their membership.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 inaugural D2C Summit, a new conference I co-created with Global Media Association FIPP and want to share that conversation with you here on the podcast.   In our conversation, we discuss the original goals of the MPP as this public research project nears its end, explore how the project has fared since launching four years ago, and share key lessons from the Project that can help any membership organization to thrive.    Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 customer’s hearts. He’s written a new book Converted: The Data Driven Way to Win Customers’ Hearts on this topic, which I read on the beach while on vacation. It’s a book about data that’s entertaining and engaging enough to read on holiday, if you can believe it. We recently spoke about how to measure the full value of each relationship, engage in an ongoing conversation with your best subscribers, and perhaps most importantly, how to find and win new subscribers just like the ones you find most valuable. Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 products like Tile, Ring and Tesla where the subscription is truly optional. One company that’s getting a lot of attention for its innovative model is WHOOP. WHOOP offers a subscription-based service that combines a wearable fitness tracker with software to achieve its mission of “Unlocking human performance”. Today I talk to WHOOP’s Chief Product Officer, Ben Foster. Ben has literally written the book on Product Management along with his co-author Rajesh Nirlikar—Build What Matters, Delivering Key Outcomes with Vision Led Product Management. In this wide-ranging conversation, Ben and I discuss the best metrics for tracking customer value, the unique challenges of a subscription that includes hardware and software and why scrappiness is a key attribute of the best product managers.    Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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. They include how you target prospects, onboard subscribers, support engagement, and of course what you say when they are getting ready to leave. And did you know that one of the best places to look for new subscribers is in your list of former subscribers? In today’s episode, we’ll show you how to optimize your subscription for fewer and softer Goodbyes… from the moment you say Hello. Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 the Chief Technology Officer at Thirty Madison. The company describes itself as "the human-first health company bringing specialized care and treatment to everyone." One by one, they are tackling some of the most challenging chronic health issues, like allergies, migraines, and hair loss, using a combination of digital and real-world services through "forever transactions" with the people they serve. In this conversation, Matthew and I talk about Thirty Madison's uniquely scalable approach to healthcare, the challenges of balancing personalization with systems and protocols, and what subscriptions might mean for the future of medicine.  Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 align payment with outcome.   Professor Marco Bertini is a professor at both Esade in Spain and the Harvard Business School here in the US. He is an expert on performance-based pricing—not just subscriptions, but pay-for-consumption models and even outcome-based pricing.   Marco’s new book, The Ends Game: How Smart Companies Stop Selling Products and Start Delivering Value, which he cowrote with Oded Koenigsberg of the London Business School is one of the best pricing books I’ve read in a long time. In today’s conversation,  we talk about how to optimize your pricing model to ensure that your customers can access the value you provide, use your offering well, and most importantly get the performance outcomes they need. Welcome to the show marco.  
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 2006, Bob spent over eight years at Apple, where he served in senior leadership roles for Apple’s retail and e-commerce teams. As a Director of Design, Bob hired and led the creative team responsible for a broad variety of applications including the Apple Online Store, the Apple Store app, and the transactional areas of iPhoto and GarageBand. As Director of Design for Yahoo! Search, Bob built and led the design team that created Yahoo! Answers and designed other search-centric properties. Bob’s career as a designer began at Claris Corporation where he was Lead UI Designer for the initial releases of ClarisWorks and MacProject Pro. The author of Making the Web Work, Bob is also a sought-after public speaker sharing his experiences and observations about a range of topics related to design, technology, innovation, and the culture of Silicon Valley. Bob holds a B.A. in History and a B.S in Radio/Television/Film from the University of Texas at Austin as well as a Master of Liberal Arts from Stanford University.
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 CMO of the subscription meal company Freshly and before that, Mayur was Global VP for Growth & Marketing at Spotify.   Mayur was recently named to Forbes’ list of the World’s most influential CMOs of 2021.    In this conversation, we talk about the kind of teams needed for sustainable long-term subscription success, the role of “growth” as an emerging discipline and his formula for creating a flywheel for growth that can work at any kind of company.  
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 of understanding these changes, and the massive impact they are having on the entire industry. He is the founder and CEO of Skift, “the daily homepage for the world’s largest industry”, and perhaps the leading news source for travel executives. In today’s conversation, we’ll talk about the key changes happening in the world of travel that affect us all; why he believes in a reader-centric model optimized for travel professionals, rather than advertisers, and Skift’s recent decision to “debrand” their site.
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 Pennsylvania, is perhaps the leading expert in the world on how to assess the value of a business by understanding the value of the customer over their entire relationship with an organization from source to completion. Peter has literally written the book on customer centricity. Well, actually, two books: Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage and The Customer Centricity Playbook which he co-authored with Sarah Toms. In this episode, we discuss customer-centricity, customer lifetime value and how to use available public data to evaluate a company--using D2C prescription glasses retailer Warby Parker as an example. We also talk about why current accounting standards don't always tell the full story--and how this needs to change.
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 Outside+ membership.   By bundling together content, discounts and other benefits, Outside is building a membership that more fully delivers on their promise to inspire active participation in the world outside   I recently interviewed Tommy O’Hare, SVP Business Development and Licensing for Outside for the inaugural D2C Summit, a new conference I co-created with Global Media Association, FIPP, and want to share that conversation with you here on the podcast. In this conversation, he shared the journey of rolling up this bundle of benefits to support the goals and challenges of Outside’s most engaged members. I hope you enjoy it.
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 for more than 20 years. A double bottom line investor, even before impact investing was cool, Ira has helped build the category and the discipline in venture capital. He currently serves as president of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists and co-chair of the VC Network. He's a founder at DBL Partners, which is perhaps the largest and most well-known impact investing and sustainability focused firm in the venture asset class. An early investor in companies like Tesla, The RealReal, SpaceX and Bellweather Coffee, Ira is a real visionary. He's also a longtime friend, and always inspiring.   I recently interviewed Ira for the inaugural D2C Summit, a new conference I cocreated with Global Media Association FIPP, and want to share that conversation with you here on the podcast. In it, he talks about bold innovation across sectors and D2C business models, and shares several examples of how companies are using a focus on impact as a strategic advantage. Welcome, Ira.
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 and CBS News. He went on to work at the intersection of news and technology at Google, where he was a senior leader in the Google Newslab.   As a journalist and a technologist, Daniel knows how to tell and share stories—he has used these skills well at GoodTrust, the subscription-based company he cofounded to help people safeguard their digital assets and share them with loved ones today or after they pass away. Daniel has an interesting title-- he currently serves as Chief Storyteller. He uses his experience in journalism to build trust, understanding and connection with GoodTrust stakeholders—members, investors and partners alike. I recently interviewed Daniel for the inaugural D2C Summit, a new conference I cocreated with Global Media Association FIPP, and want to share that conversation with you here on the podcast. In our conversation, we talk about how to launch a new company in an undefined space, the power of transparency in storytelling, and how to use a journalistic lens to turbocharge your market research strategy.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 models can learn a lot from understanding the diverging strategies of streaming players, many of whom number among the most powerful companies in the world. Today's guest, Molly O'Connor leads Business Planning Strategy for WarnerMedia Sales Distribution, HBO Max, Cinemax and Turner Networks, all US distribution partners. That means she's responsible for managing the (sometimes competing) demands of the consumers, cable and satellite partners, and the app stores, weaving these disparate products and partners into a single cohesive strategy. In our conversation, we discuss how to think about balancing direct and indirect channels, how a subscription offering can achieve strategic and/or financial objectives and the nerdy world of subscription math.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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, is an expert on subscription pricing, with experience at organizations including Apple, VMWare and now GitLab. In our conversation, we cover what Xiaohe learned about pricing in the Membership Economy at three dramatically different organizations, how to balance the “art” and the “science” of good pricing strategy, and what Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has to teach us about pricing innovation.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
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 few years ago, as a result of his work as part of a team looking at driving exponential growth at Nike, Dave identified an opportunity for subscription commerce as a potential way to achieve several key Nike objectives. Dave incubated and developed what has come to be known as “Nike Adventure Club,” a shoe subscription for children.  Today, Dave is a co-founder of Unbrkble, an organization that helps start-ups and scaling businesses stay close to their customers as they launch and scale their own businesses. In this interview, Dave and I talk about how to start small with your subscription offering while thinking big, incorporating sustainability into an eCommerce strategy, and best practices for defining your subscription MVP.   Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share! Here’s How » Join the Subscription Stories Community today: robbiekellmanbaxter.com Twitter Facebook
Comments (1)

ID21427321

I strongly recommend Robbie Kellman books and podcasts to increase your knowledge about The Membership Economy and subscription businesses. Particularly, the one featuring Renate Nyborg from Tinder is very insightful for NA companies trying to go global.

Mar 8th
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