Mastermind groups have gained a lot of popularity in recent years.They are particularly effective for coaching businesses and entrepreneurial communities.
Masterminds generally offer an exclusive group of people private access to information, knowledge and other people (connections). Membership platforms are a perfect compliment to your mastermind, whether it’s online or offline.
A well architected membership platform can help with:
- Value perception
- New member onboarding
- Billing and membership payments
- Content and knowledge sharing
- Event calendar and registration
- Private community groups, forums and messaging
- And much more…
In fact, an online portal or members area is becoming a default expectation for most modern day masterminds. As technology continues to evolve, so does the need to give your members robust membership tools.
Normal vs Custom Platforms
There are different ways to build a membership platform. Two common paths include:
Do-it-yourself platforms offer you prebuilt tools and features to build a membership platform. They typically have limited features and a monthly fee for use of their platform. DIY platforms are a great option for people just getting started in the online world.
DIY is ideal if:
- You’re new to online memberships and communities
- Your business is in the early stages
- You are a solo team
Custom platforms offer you a lot of the same tools and features as a DIY platform, but with more flexibility and options. They typically provide more advanced features and variable pricing models. Custom platforms are a great option for more established businesses.
Custom is ideal if:
- You have experience with memberships and communities
- Your business is in the growth stages
- You have a team greater than one
Advantages of Custom Platforms
Building a custom membership platform offers some unique advantages that normal platforms cannot offer. These advantages can create a lot of extra value for mastermind groups and more niche communities.
Below are some of the key selling points.
Unique User Experience
The main selling point is to give your members a unique user experience. Basically, an online experience that represents your brand in a professional and intuitive way. This will set you apart from your competition and help with member retention and engagement.
For example, you might want to offer some unique features around member onboarding that DIY platforms cannot offer. This type of user experience can be vital to your retention and engagement metrics as you grow.
Ownership of Data / Content
The next selling point is having ownership of your data and content. Many DIY platforms control all the data and content that flows through their platform. You are essentially leasing their technology and trusting that they will make the data accessible to you.
On the contrary, a custom platform will give you full access to the data, content and overall ownership rights. This may be a big factor for your mastermind with evolving user privacy concerns and data protection.
A final selling point relates to the customization opportunities with other tools. If you run a growing mastermind you’re probably using different services and apps to accommodate different needs. A custom platform will generally provide you with more flexibility to integrate these tools, and then customize them as needed.
For example, we work with a lot of clients that are actively growing their coaching businesses. These businesses rely on other tools like CRMs, email marketing platforms, Zapier, etc. A custom platform will give you more flexibility to integrate and work with such tools as your needs evolve and become more specific. Basic integrations are very different than custom integrations.
Built for Growth
Ultimately, most custom platforms are built for growth. They are designed with more advanced features that can help growth stage businesses get to 7-figure revenue and beyond. Basically, custom platforms will serve you well if you’re looking to scale.
How to Build a Custom Platform
Now that we understand some of the advantages of a custom platform, the next logical question is how to build one for your mastermind. Here is a general overview of what to expect:
The first step is to establish a solid plan for your project. This typically includes:
- Setting goals and objectives
- Deciding on your different membership levels, which should match a customer journey
- Mapping out all your feature requirements
- Creating a content production plan
- Creating a community management plan
- Deciding on a platform or team to help you
Next, it’s time to bring this new platform to life. Here are some common things to expect when executing a new platform build:
- Member registration, checkout and onboarding
- Core feature development
- Content and community access
- Payment integration
- Email integration
- Other 3rd party integrations (i.e. Zapier)
Finally, it’s time to launch! Here are some guidelines for launch best practices:
- Establish a pre-launch checklist
- Test your membership access and UX
- Create your launch timeline and promotion strategy
- Push the big red “LAUNCH” button! (or make equivalent DNS updates)
- Trigger email marketing campaigns
That’s the abbreviated version at least! There are a lot of factors and decisions that go into building a custom membership platform, but this should point you in the right direction.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, we just so happen to help people plan, develop and launch custom membership platforms. If you’re a coach, educator or thought leader seeking to grow your mastermind get in touch! We’d love to see if our platform and process would be a good fit.