Jonathan Callinan, How to Build a Successful Membership Business – InnovaBuzz 406

Jonathan Callinan

Jonathan Callinan, Course Commander

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Jonathan Callinan of Online Business Accelerator, an Auckland-based marketing company dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and business owners rapidly grow their businesses through the power of online marketing. He is also the founder of Course Commander, an all-inclusive website, landing page, and course builder to save coaches, consultants, authors, and infopreneurs time and remove the typical tech-aches from creating and delivering courses, programs and memberships.

Jonathan is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, and big subscription advocate; having generated over 7 figures for both himself and his clients from membership models across various niches, including the natural health and digital marketing spaces.

In our discussion, Jonathan talked to me about:

  • Intent-based marketing that is heart-centered and focused on customer lifetime value
  • The subscription economy and how to provide value with a subscription model
  • The power of community

George Bryant in in episode 226 and episode 300 introduced us to Jonathan.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Your clients' lifetime value is the lifeblood of your business. Your value proposition as a business owner is your ability to create more lifetime value quickly than any big brand can. – Jonathan Callinan on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with Jonathan Callinan, Founder of Course Commander

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • When you are a free-spirited entrepreneur, you play by your own rules. You are your own boss. You are responsible for the reality that you are shaping and what you want to leave behind.
  • Entrepreneurs have a massive responsibility to learn and educate themselves and implement the knowledge that they gain.
  • No Fluff Marketing is intent-based and heart-centered marketing. 
  • Micro-influencers are people that connect with their audience in an intimate, selfless, and vulnerable way.
  • No Fluff Marketing is a community for people to network and provides value and support for others.
  • As business owners, we are a family. Small businesses are the backbone of most economies across the world. We have to look after one another and genuinely help each other. 
  • Your clients’ lifetime value is the lifeblood of your business. Your value proposition as a business owner is your ability to create more lifetime value quickly than any big brand can.
  • Forget about customers being at the bottom of the funnel and start putting them at the center of a flywheel. Put them at the center of what will make them the power broker in your business and have your layers of support, services, and community outside of that wheel.
  • Make your customers the center of your business and then build a community around it. 
  • It takes 7x more marketing to generate a new customer than it does to keep existing ones.
  • Customers are not just transactions. They are relationships. They are the power brokers in our business and we are the facilitators. Our job is to make them the star in the business and make them a success story. 
  • When we take care of our existing customers, we create more brand ambassadors, advocates, and referral evangelists of our business. 
  • There is no such thing as a B2B or B2C business. We are all in a human to human (H2H) business.
  • The best piece of content that you can come up with is the people inside your community.
  • We have to start embracing the subscription economy just as customers and prospects are embracing it every single day.
  • Customers are willing to pay for monthly subscriptions so we have to be mindful of their behaviours and purchasing habits online.
  • You can use a subscription model to leverage your business, but you can also use it to build your business and community.
  • The most important step in building a membership business is to serve your audience. Ask them whether your idea is viable or not and if they are willing to pay for that type of subscription model or community, and how much they are willing to pay. 
  • Empower your audience by sending them a survey. It makes them a part of your marketing or your next step in business. Customers love it when you invite them to be a part of your actual business journey and growth.
  • There’s a number of ways to incentivize people but don’t underestimate the value of being a founding member because customers love that. Founding customers or members can become coaches in your membership business and provide support for other members. That is really important when you are building a community online.
  • You can leverage more by broadening the bottom of the pyramid and allowing customers to come up and really be indoctrinated to the way you work and the way you help other businesses climb higher up the ladder.
  • Course Commander is a modern, flexible, all-in-one website, landing page, and course builder solution that is perfect for any service-based business that is looking to launch and deliver a membership solution.
  • People learn a lot more when other businesses are being educators in their space.
  • Memberships create real convenient solutions by having people in the network. By having actual in-person types of networking where business owners get together, you can effectively showcase your business to others and thrive off their feedback. Having access to other people and having the ability to interact in a way that supports one another is where the real value lies.
  • Engagement and retention are the 2 KPIs of a membership business. 
  • There is no such thing as a passive income. There is recurring income, and recurring income comes from recurring value.
  • Finding the balance between automation and human interaction is important. You need to have human interactions but not at the cost of losing out on high-level services.
  • A membership model allows you to leverage your community. You have a mix of people that are your existing as well as warm prospects. It makes it easy to convert those prospects when you have people who are already paying for your high-ticket service and that prospects can listen to and have conversations about your service.
  • A membership model leverages a lot of things together. It leverages your marketing efforts by being able to communicate to people in a live setting. It leverages your brand and intimacy with your audience by bringing people together. It leverages your referral network, brand authority, and authenticity by showing people who you really are as a person. It allows you to rise up in your niche as a leader.
There is no such thing as a B2B or B2C business. We are all in a human to human (H2H) business. – Jonathan Callinan on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Jonathan’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Take time out of your business and structure that into your calendar. Do something different from your usual scenario. 
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Morning run. Ask a question before going to sleep at night. Don’t pressure yourself to be creative. Innovation comes naturally when you’re not trying.
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Videos. 
  4. Keep project/client on track – User check-ins. Have different kinds of touchpoints and be consistent with those touchpoints.
  5. Differentiate – Be authentic. Be unique and embrace live technology. Be vulnerable. Be an educator and an expert. Have those live touchpoints with your audience. Be human and lead by example. You are a human leader first and foremost, then business educator second. 

To Be a Leader

Feel the fear and do it anyway. Embrace what you know is right.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Jonathan through their website.

Suggested Guest

Jonathan suggested we have a conversation with Steve Brossman, author of The Authority Client Attraction System. So Steve, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Jonathan Callinan.


Cool Things About Jonathan

  • He has launched and managed several successful online ventures over the past 9 years, including The Wellness Directory; one of NZ’s most popular health sites.
  • He holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Hull.
  • He used to be a fitness coach. 
The best piece of content that you can come up with is the people inside your community. – Jonathan Callinan on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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