When I started Live it Love it Sell it almost 4 years ago now, my only vision was to help as many people as I could to fall in love with sales. I knew that so many people had fear around selling, and that I had a way to help them see sales in a different way.

The fact is you can’t be everything to everyone, and I teach my customers that too!

Because of the type of person I am I suppose I never stopped there, and with Dad’s words always ringing in my ears, ‘There’s no such word as can’t’ I always knew that I would be searching for a way to help more people, even if it wasn’t everyone.

During the pandemic many people switched their businesses to the online space and in turn they created a membership strategy. We are definitely a species who love subscriptions, and so it makes sense, however there is so much more to it than that. Many may feel that this is a get rich quick solution and it’s easy…I don’t believe that is true.

I want to share how I have built my high street in the Live it Love it Sell it experience; my past experience and how it has helped, and also the considerations of how to build it in a way that creates a community, rather than a revenue stream. Of course, with my business head on, one leads to another, but if the latter drives the strategy then you may be travelling down the wrong path, and sadly I see many experts leading with this as the main reason to create this model in your business.

Let’s start with what I learnt from my first business.

Truly Madly Baby

Some of you who follow me will know my Dragons’ Den story (you can watch the best bits of the pitch here) but you may not know so much about my first business. It was a party plan business. Yes, we loved having parties back in the noughties, and when I had my son Sam I realised that I could buy Tupperware, underwear, make up, clothes and actually most things you can think of at parties, but no-one was selling baby products as a party plan model. So when Sam was 3 months old I started Truly Madly Baby.

I created a few things with this model…

  • A place for Mum’s to get together and experience fabulous mother and baby products that weren’t on the high street, with expert advice on these products.
  • A way for Mums to have their own business and still be Mum, a very inspiring combination.
  • A way to build a community of shared experience and support.

The business grew from 6 consultants at the point I pitched in the den, to 432 consultants 3 years later in our most successful year. We also had global enquiries. I had, without maybe realising back then, created a community.

So what has this to do with the membership model. Well a lot really, because in any model where people can join and be part of a community, and maybe pay an upfront fee or a monthly subscription, there is inevitable churn.

The experts on memberships don’t talk much about this, so as always I like to talk about the big picture. In order to have 432 consultants working I actually had over 900 signed up on my books. These had all joined, paid a fee and received a kit to start their parties, but less than half – and this was exceptional figures for the market back then – were actually working and earning.

Why does churn happen?

A few reasons, including human nature. Some people stick at things when they decide to do them and others get bored quicker and then move on to something else. That’s not all, it depends on the interaction and the content in an offering. It is impossible to just start something and then expect it to run itself. However much people say you can automate it all and have a passive income, you can guarantee that it will be costing you in terms of constant marketing to get people in because they are pouring out of the bottom due to lack of engagement.

The numbers game vs organic growth

You can opt for the numbers game strategy but personally I’m not convinced it’s smart way to build a community.

The other option is a more organic approach where you not only attract the right people, but you spend time to build a community that is engaging, value driven, fun, and have access to you. It takes longer, but your members are then your advocates and they will bring like minded people to the community themselves.

Truly Madly Baby was a case in point. Whilst you will always have churn, my levels were exceptional because my message was consistent, everyone knew what the mission of Truly Madly Baby was, and I understood that people needed different things, and so I ensured there was flexibility for them.

I trained every consultant personally and yes in groups as we got bigger, but it was me and I was accessible and I showed up and I was the face of the business and so the one that people aspired to listen to and learn from.

Building my high street

In order to do this the most important thing to me was that I created a place where people wanted to come. That was fun, simple to be part of, not overwhelming, and huge value. Simply put it needs to make sense.

Everything I learnt in Truly Madly Baby suddenly came back to help me create my very own membership and it started with my Dad. Yes, him again!

Where did I fall in love with sales? Whilst watching my Dad run the local newsagent and seeing him build his own community around the shop.

What was Truly Madly Baby? A retail business that built a community of like minded people who all wanted similar outcomes – connection, learning and belonging.

The Live it Love it Sell it experience was born in the form of a high street of shops. Each shop would represent an area to  Connect- Learn- Belong.

It was exhilarating seeing this take shape. Everything I knew to be true about building a community. Learning from my Dad and from Truly Madly Baby – we are built from every mistake we make.

Knowing what to put where?

When you create a community you own it. You drive and shape it. This is the only place you can start. The logical thing for me was that the Sweet Shop would be the hub for the learning.

I already had a product called ‘Pick ’n’ Mix’ and that was exactly how I wanted to deliver the learning. Bite size lessons that are evergreen and you can go back to any time. No forced order, no prescriptive way you have to learn – we are all unique!

  • Coffee Shop was always going to be where we meet up, share ideas and get to know each other.
  • Box Office – the place to see what LIVE events are coming and book your seat. Those would always be a mix of Love to Learn with guest experts about other additional subjects we need in business, Open Mic sessions for members to show off, and Live it Love it Ask it for interactive and inspiring sessions with me and the members.
  • Optician – where you start to see clearly your UHP® – another learning hub.
  • Newsagent – all the latest news of course!
  • Stationary Shop – Inspirational quotes in a format that you can download and use for your posts or even your screen savers.
  • Music Shop – the music behind the brand – from SMILEY 🙂
  • Bank – where all your lovely points that you earn from being a fantastic member are stored.

What do the members really need?

I made some polls to find out what people really needed to be a happy member. Here is one where I asked them, ’what interests you most,  if you are a member of a community?’, and these  were the results…

We are hungry to learn and I love that about people. Interestingly, just 2 weeks into my membership, it’s clear that the learning is important, but equally almost all of the members have signed up for the live events and are keen to network with each other. They have very quickly created a community and a sense of belonging for all of us, and here’s the gold…they are all showing their competitive streaks by collecting lots of reward points!

Doesn’t quite match the survey does it…but it tells us something even more interesting.   

A community is what you create it to be. Here’s what I know…

The magic is already happening

We had our first welcome get together on Thursday and I took a virtual walk around the high street with the members. They asked any questions and gave feedback and we created together phase 2 – I know phase 2 already!

The thing is, when you have a theme like the high street,  you can create incredible shops, and those shops become the centre of the community.  That community starts to thrive, just like years ago when my Dad ran the shops. Everyone shopped at the local shopping parade and we had a wonderful community.

The exciting new things in phase 2 are already launching and taking shape…

  • Our ‘Window Shopping’ area where members can advertise what they bring to the community. New shops opening soon…
  • Health Shop – Looking after our mental health as businesses
  • Tech Shop – The latest apps and tech to take a look at
  • Book Shop – Full of lovely business books
  • Swap Shop – A chance to exchange business
  • Pet Shop – It seems we are already a community of animal lovers! So here we will introduce our pets.

Honestly, it feels amazing to open my high street up to the world, quite literally!

My big top tips to you if you feel you’d like to create your own community are…

  • Create something you will always be passionate about
  • Keep it simple
  • Always give people choice
  • Don’t overwhelm people – let them take what they need when they need it
  • Communication is key
  • Be present and accessible
  • Your community will grow and evolve because you have the right people in it

The Live it Love it Sell it experience has allowed me to potentially reach more people, and I wasn’t convinced I could. Creating my high street has not only taught me loads already, but it has helped me to realise that I truly love what I do.

I hope, if you choose to create a membership in your business, first and foremost you feel this way too.

If you would like to take a walk down the high street with me – you can do right here

If you want to join my community then I would love to see you on the high street.

Check out everything Live it Love it Sell it – www.linktr.ee/livelovesellit

Jules White

Jules White is a professional sales coach whose business allows her to do what she loves, helping entrepreneurs and businesses to succeed at sales and to fall in love with selling. She has over 30 years' experience of business and sales, including winning investment from Peter Jones on Dragons' Den, making her a real dragon slayer. She is a regular public speaker and hosts the podcast 'The Human Conversation' on iTunes.

    Work with Jules

    Sell with your heart and soul, free from fear or worry!

    Programmes

    Work with Jules

    Podcast

    The Human Conversation

    My Book

    Live it, Love it, Sell it