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, ...more

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6

August 26, 2020 00:40:11
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HP Instant Ink’s Anthony Napolitano: Reinventing the Razor & Razorblades Model by Focusing on Subscriber Outcomes

Anthony Napolitano, VP and General Manager of HP’s Instant Ink Subscription Service, joins Robbie to discuss his role as an intrapreneur, and what it’s like to be the subscription guy in a transactional business. They cover running a physical subscription business, ensuring customers get full value from their subscriptions, and managing a business in times of change. Highlights from this episode: 1:40 -- Anthony’s journey at HP 4:13 -- The birth of Instant Ink 6:42 -- Additional challenges of being a physical product subscription 10:57 -- The metrics used to diagnose problems or anticipate opportunities within the business 13:05 -- Addressing and solving Instant Ink’s key consumer issues 18:43 -- How Instant Ink caters to its superusers 21:54 -- The importance of a company continuing to evolve with the needs of the customers 23:21 -- Onboarding to ensure a customer gets the value they are paying for 28:26 -- Anthony’s contribution to HP as a whole 30:26 -- Advice for fellow intrapreneurs who are leading subscription in businesses that don’t typically do subscriptions 34:37 -- Anthony’s lessons learned and business approach during the COVID-19 pandemic 38:20 -- Robbie’s Speed Round Links: Anthony’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anthonynapolitano/ Hewlett-Packard’s Instant Ink: https://instantink.hpconnected.com/us/en/l/ Podcast Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/ Anthony's Bio: Anthony Napolitano specializes in profitably scaling subscription businesses. Anthony joined Hewlett-Packard in 1997 as a financial analyst in the Notebook Computer Division. Over the next 23 years he progressed through various levels of management in the areas of Finance, Global Supply Chain, Procurement, Quality and General Management. For the past five years, he has served as the Vice President, General Manager of HP’s Instant Ink Subscription Service. Anthony earned a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MBA from the University of Southern California Marshall ...

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5

August 19, 2020 00:29:10
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A+E Networks' Piper Rosenshein on Standing Out as a Niche Player in the Streaming Wars

Piper Rosenshein, VP Subscription Video Services at A+E Networks, shares her tips for creating a customer-centric approach and a lasting digital subscription model. Join Robbie and Piper as they discuss how to operationalize a digital subscription businesses, how to minimize cannibalization in a business that already has a successful model, and how to manage a recurring revenue business in a time of change. Piper's Bio: Piper Rosenshein is Vice President, Subscription Video Services (SVOD) at A+E Networks. In this role, she is the general manager of A&E Crime Central, Lifetime Movie Club and HISTORY Vault, and she oversees all aspects of the business. Prior to joining A+E Networks in 2017, Piper was the Executive Director of Customer Experience at The New York Times. She has deep expertise in CRM, email marketing, direct marketing and eCommerce garnered through previous professional roles at American Express, Barnes & Noble, Coach, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Piper received a BA from Tulane University and an MBA from New York University. Highlights from this episode: 1:50 -- Piper describes her career path and experience with subscription businesses 4:08 -- Why Piper chooses to work at companies with a membership mindset 5:40 -- Subscription vs. retail business models 6:53 -- The start of subscription at A&E (Lifetime Movie Club and HISTORY Vault) 10:23 -- The metrics used to measure success within the new subscription products 13:21 -- Linear audience vs. Subscribing audience 15:53 -- The importance of data and customer feedback 17:42 -- The role of A&E’s “vault” in building their subscription 19:37 -- The challenges and opportunities brought by COVID-19 21:04 -- Balancing caring for the community and making smart marketing moves 23:16 -- How A&E onboards for engagement in response to a spike in usage 25:21 -- Financial ...

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4

August 12, 2020 00:29:12
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Peak Prosperity’s Adam Taggart

“Everybody gets the free. But if you want the really good stuff, you cross the velvet rope and subscribe.” Adam Taggart, President and Co-Founder of Peak Prosperity, joins Robbie to talk about his tips for building a community of subscribers that will grow into superusers who generate content of their own. They discuss how to handle a spike in acquisition, building a lifestyle subscription business with no outside capital, and how to create a “tribe” of highly engaged members. Adam's Bio: Adam Taggart is the President and Co-Founder of Peak Prosperity, a website that helps millions of people prudently prepare for the future. In his partnership with Chris Martenson, Adam handles the business and subscription side of the company. Adam began his career as an investment banking analyst for Merrill Lynch. He then went on to work in startups before starting at Yahoo!, where he worked for nine years and served as a Vice President. Adam earned a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Stanford University. Highlights from this episode: 2:16 -- Adam discusses his journey from Wall Street to beekeeper 7:00 -- Peak Prosperity’s business and subscription model 10:25 -- The “eight forms of capital” 11:20 -- Peak Prosperity’s efficient marketing and outreach technique 13:30 -- Turning viewers into members 14:20 -- Building community expectations and guidelines to promote quality engagement 16:04 -- The “tribe” within Peak Prosperity 16:30 -- How Peak Prosperity creates and maintains “superusers” 18:11 -- Managing a spike in acquisition 20:00 -- Making sure customers who come for coronavirus advice choose stay for other content 22:38 -- Adam’s advice for “working stiffs” 25:01 -- Building a subscription business with no outside capital Links: Adam’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/adamtaggart/ Peak Prosperity: https://www.peakprosperity.com/ Robbie’s ...

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3

August 05, 2020 00:33:58
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Thrive Global’s Jennifer Mazzon: Building a Forever Transaction through Subscription Products

A good product manager “meets customer needs and solves customer problems and fuels the business”. Jennifer Mazzon, Chief Product Officer at Thrive Global, joins Robbie to discuss her experience as a product expert. They cover finding the right team, how to build digital subscription products, and the importance of customer-centricity and knowing who your superusers are. Jennifer’s Bio: Jennifer Mazzon is a product management expert who specializes in subscription-based products. Throughout her career she has led product teams for organizations including Google Docs, Coursera for Business, Apigee, Colibri Group, Education.com, and Rocket Lawyer. Jen recently joined Thrive Global as Chief Product Officer, where she works with Arianna Huffington to unlock human potential. Jen received a Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University and an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Highlights from this episode: 3:38 – Jennifer talks about the different product cultures of companies she’s seen 5:30 – Thrive Global’s mission 7:45 – Jennifer shares her experience of managing a product team under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 and the changes that Thrive Global has made in light of the pandemic 10:49 – Why Thrive Global has made content more accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the power of partnerships with companies such as Snapchat 11:58 – Robbie asks Jennifer about the most important metrics she uses to gauge success 15:25 – Jennifer explains the role of a product manager, and how Thrive Global attracts in-demand product managers 21:42 – The differences between what makes a product manager good in a subscription business and what makes a product manager good in a transaction business 23:50 – Jennifer explains her process of understanding and hearing customer needs 26:36 – How to convince traditionally non-subscription companies about the importance of customer ...

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1

July 27, 2020 00:42:17
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Kurbo’s Joanna Strober on a Digital Program to Make Kids Healthier

“Our goal is to teach forever habits.” Joanna Strober has reimagined the youth weight loss industry through her wellness program, Kurbo. Tune in to hear Joanna talk with Robbie about the role of a human coach in a digital program, how to communicate with both parents and kids, and instilling habits in customers for the long term. Highlights from this episode: 7:00 – Joanna talks about what triggers people to enroll in subscriptions and what motivates people to make subscription a habit 9:52 – Robbie and Joanna talk about the 7 key areas of competence in a subscription business, and about why WW is more passionate about their subscription mission than their subscription product 16:40 – Joanna talks about Kurbo’s FOREVER PROMISE 17:24 – Kurbo’s “reverse freemium” model, and the power of breaking the mold when it comes to adopting a subscription model 19:50 — Robbie and Joanna talk about customer success, its importance, and what it looks like 23:50 – Joanna explains why human connection is essential and hints at Kurbo’s “Secret Sauce” 27:00 – Weathering negative social media storms 34:40 – The challenges of the launch, scale, and lead phases of growing a business 37:00 – Joanna gives advice to entrepreneurs who want to start a business in THE MEMBERSHIP ECONOMY and investors who want to fund a business in THE MEMBERSHIP ECONOMY 39:22 – Joanna gives advice to smaller companies undergoing acquisition by a larger company 40:20 – Robbie’s speed round Joanna’s Bio: Joanna Strober is an entrepreneur and investor who founded Kurbo, the first digital weight loss platform for kids. Joanna grew Kurbo into a subscription business so successful that it caught the interest of WW (Weight Watchers reimagined), one of the biggest names in wellness. She is ...

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2

July 27, 2020 00:44:40
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Inspirato’s Brad Handler on Revamping a Thousand-Year-Old Industry

“Life is too short to play vacation roulette”. Brad Handler and his brother Brent are vacation entrepreneurs who incorporate membership and subscription into their luxury travel service, Inspirato. Brad joins Robbie to discuss the importance of “celebrating failure” when innovating, how a strategic approach to real estate and data give Inspirato a unique advantage, and the power of a “people-as-a-service” structure to create strong member relationships. Highlights from this episode: 2:08 – Brad introduces Inspirato’s affordable business model 5: 49 – Brad explains the two travel products and services offered: Inspirato Membership, and Inspirato Pass 10:04 – Hospitality vs. real estate in the vacation business, why Brad chose to focus on hospitality, and the importance of specialization in a company 11:03 – Brad and Robbie discuss subscription vs membership business models 12:25 – Inspirato’s forever promise, and why a membership mindset is so important 14:03 – Brad highlights the importance of planning for success in the entrepreneurial world 16:07 – How Inspirato uses technology to pull ahead of its competitors 16:65 – Brad and Robbie get into the “nitty-gritty” of Inspirato’s business model, and talk about Robbie’s 7 steps for optimizing subscription business models 18:45 – Brad introduces his philosophy of “celebrating failure” to promote innovation 21:03 – Inspirato’s most important metrics, and how data collection can transform and improve customer experience 26:30 – Brad and Robbie discuss Inspirato’s key to lasting members: a personalized onboarding process 31:08 – Why Inspirato has decided not to make any services “free” 32:31 – How Inspirato is structured for profitability 34:12 – Brad and Robbie talk about the importance of customer satisfaction and success 37:01 – Brad and Robbie discuss how human relationships are a part of Inspirato’s success 37:55 – Brad offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and ...

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