10 episodes

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, Robbie Kellman Baxter interviews the leaders of this revolution about how they’re using subscription pricing and membership models to redefine the biggest industries and generate predictable recurring revenue along the way.

Subscription Stories: True Tales from the Trenches Robbie Kellman Baxter

    • Entrepreneurship
    • 4.9 • 67 Ratings

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, Robbie Kellman Baxter interviews the leaders of this revolution about how they’re using subscription pricing and membership models to redefine the biggest industries and generate predictable recurring revenue along the way.

    charity: water’s MZ Goodman on Bringing Subscriptions to the Nonprofit World

    charity: water’s MZ Goodman on Bringing Subscriptions to the Nonprofit World

    Charity: water’s MZ Goodman joins Robbie to share how she is applying subscription model best practices to a nonprofit. They discuss how MZ leverages content marketing and digital community strategies developed in her work at The New York Times, Glossier and goop to build a donation-based subscription model, how they’ve leveraged a single 20-minute video to raise millions, and how to think about a Forever Promise in the context of engaging donors.
    Highlights from this episode:

    2:00 - The birth of The Spring, charity: water’s subscription program
    5:44 - Why a mission is the most important factor for attracting subscribers
    7:15 - The importance of building a brand based on quality over charisma
    11:00 - How to lure customers in with emotion, and make them stay through strong relationships
    15:00 - Why charity: water is allowing subscribers to press “pause” during the COVID-19 pandemic to combat high churn rates
    17:26 - Ways for nonprofits to allow members to remain active without opening their checkbooks
    19:00 - MZ’s advice for product leaders who want to transition to the nonprofit world
    20:24 - the differences between building a community at a news company, a make-up company, and a nonprofit
    24:20 - Robbie’s Speed Round

    MZ's Bio:
    MZ Goodman is a product and marketing executive with expertise in digital products and subscriptions. MZ began as the Product Management Executive Director for The New York Times in 2007, managing the digital product team as the company first created its online subscription product. From there, MZ joined Ralph Lauren as Product Management Senior Director and was then recruited to join the leadership team at goop. After goop, MZ joined Glossier as Vice President of Digital and Business Insights. She now serves as Senior Vice President of Subscription at charity: water where she oversees consumer and subscriber revenue. MZ earned a BA in journalism from Boston University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.
    Links:

    MZ’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mz-goodman/
    Charity: water’s The Spring: https://www.charitywater.org/donate/the-spring?utm_medium=ppc&utm_source=adwords&utm_content=spring_sitelink&utm_campaign=sitelinks_paid&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8qfi24rl6wIVzMDACh0cdQYdEAAYASABEgJ_KfD_BwE
    Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/
    Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/

    • 29 min
    Emory University’s Dan McCarthy on a New Approach to Valuing Companies

    Emory University’s Dan McCarthy on a New Approach to Valuing Companies

    Dan McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, joins Robbie to share his expertise on the intersection of marketing and finance. They discuss why customer lifetime value is such an important and misunderstood metric, how to rethink the way companies are valued by the public markets, and what all of this means for subscription businesses.
    Highlights from this episode:

    2:50 - Dan introduces Customer Based Corporate Valuation (CBCV)
    4:08 - The importance of knowing your customer data
    8:46 - Dan’s time working with CBCV at Blue Apron
    12:17 - The importance of focusing on the right metrics
    15:18 - The challenges of a physical subscription
    17:28 - The cycle of Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
    24:11 - How COVID-19 has impacted customer behavior
    27:44 - Dan’s advice for entrepreneurs
    28:36 - Dan’s Advice for academics at the intersection of research and commercial
    30:00 - Robbie’s Speed Round

    Dan's Bio:
    DANIEL MCCARTHY is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University's Goizueta School of Business. Among other things, he’s an expert on valuing companies by focusing on the lifetime value of their customers—a novel approach at the intersection of marketing and finance. His approach, which has won him many accolades, is known as “customer-based corporate valuation” (CBCV). His research has been accepted and published in top-tier academic journals, as well as nearly every major financial publication, from HBR to the Financial Times to CFO Magazine. In 2015, he co-founded a predictive analytics company, Zodiac, which was acquired by Nike in March 2018. Dan subsequently co-founded Theta Equity Partners to commercialize his work on customer-based corporate valuation. He earned a BSc, a BS, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.
    Links:

    Dan’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/danielmcc/
    Dan’s Website: http://danielminhmccarthy.com/
    Dan at Emory University: https://goizueta.emory.edu/faculty/profiles/daniel-mccarthy
    Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
    Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/

    • 33 min
    INMA’s Greg Piechota on the News Industry’s Big Bet on Reader Revenue

    INMA’s Greg Piechota on the News Industry’s Big Bet on Reader Revenue

    Greg Piechota, Researcher-In-Residence at the International News Media Association, joins Robbie to discuss the increasing importance of subscriptions and reader revenue in a world of declining ad sales. They talk about the value of studying one industry to gain insight for another, new models for advertisers, and the importance of customer-centricity in any subscription business.
    Highlights from this episode:
    2:20 -- How Greg’s career took him from Poland to Massachusetts to Oxford
    3:40 -- The importance of looking across industries to develop insights
    6:13 -- How data causes companies from different industries to start competing with each other
    9:41 -- Greg’s advice for companies dealing with competitors who come from different spaces but target the same customer
    10:37 -- Advertisers that take on new business models in retail, media, and e-commerce
    17:38 -- The importance of customer centricity, especially in a subscription business
    24:20 -- Greg’s advice for companies that want to move to a subscription model but are worried about the cannibalization risk and leaving money on the table during while they are in between models
    28:05 -- Subscriptions as a way to stabilize a business model
    30:20 -- Greg’s advice for entrepreneurs and executives, in any industry, who are trying to build robust subscription businesses
    31:00 -- Robbie’s Speed Round
    Greg's Bio:
    Grzegorz "Greg" Piechota studies technology-enabled disruption patterns across industries, with a focus on business model innovation in news media. Greg is a former media executive with 20+ years of industry experience. He began his career at Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza in 1996 as a reporter in one of the smallest local offices, and then rising to a news editor and a vice-president of Agora Foundation. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University from 2015-2016 and continued as a Research Associate at Harvard Business School for three more years. Following his time at Harvard, he moved to Oxford where he conducted research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. He now serves as a Researcher-In-Residence at the International News Media Association (INMA), and a board member at various media, software, and e-commerce companies.
    Links:

    Greg’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/grzegorzpiechota/
    Greg at the INMA: https://www.inma.org/modules/event/2019ReaderRevenue/about-greg.cfm
    Robbie’s Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/
    Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/

    • 34 min
    HP Instant Ink’s Anthony Napolitano: Reinventing the Razor & Razorblades Model by Focusing on Subscriber Outcomes

    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 School of Business.

    • 40 min
    A+E Networks' Piper Rosenshein on Standing Out as a Niche Player in the Streaming Wars

    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 vs. non-financial goals
    26:10 -- Robbie’s Speed Round
    Links:

    Piper’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/piperrosenshein/
    A&E Networks: https://www.aenetworks.com/
    Lifetime Movie Club:https://www.lifetimemovieclub.com/
    HISTORY Vault: https://www.historyvault.com/
    Podcast Website: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/podcast
    Robbie’s Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/

    • 29 min
    Peak Prosperity’s Adam Taggart

    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 Book THE FOREVER TRANSACTION : https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/the-forever-transaction/
    Get Robbie's free ebook on how to launch your own subscription business : https://pages.robbiekellmanbaxter.com/launch
    Podcast website and transcript: https://robbiekellmanbaxter.com/peak-prosperity-adam-taggart/

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
67 Ratings

67 Ratings

Arnold Walter ,

Great Podcast

Great insights & takeaways. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

HughDT ,

Great Podcast!

Robbie Kellman Baxter is a top expert on subscriptions and memberships and has some amazing insights and great guests. Even if you are only on the periphery of this business, you'll find something interesting and entertaining. I am looking forward to more!

KarenAnn W. ,

Love this podcast!

Whether you are personally involved in a subscription business or not, Subscription Stories is a invaluable podcast. Robbie does a great job asking thoughtful questions that uncover pertinent information while also making it easy-listening. This podcast is recommended for anyone that has customers that they value and wants to advance their business mindset.

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