How To Launch A Membership Site – Part 5: Triggers

Read previous articles in this series:

TriggersI’d like to tell you that your hard work is done, but really you have only just laid the foundation for a successful membership site and now the real work begins. Everything you learned so far in this series – building and demonstrating preeminence, finding ways to market, bringing together the right technology components, deciding on the content you will provide and how much you charge – all come together during the prelaunch and launch phase. This is the make or break time for your membership site – it’s the money time.


Before discussing what you do during the prelaunch and launch phases in the next article I want to briefly relate to you some of the major triggers you are attempting to elicit in people. It’s these triggers that create the right conditions for people to feel comfortable making the decision to join your membership site – in fact they should feel an overwhelming compulsion to join if you use these triggers well.

Note that many of these elements are going to feel like you are “tricking” people, that you are attempting to force them into a decision that isn’t necessarily in their best interest by manipulating their emotions. Guess what – it’s true!

I don’t want to jump into a deep philosophical debate over the current state of our capitalist driven, self-serving, environmentally destructive, self-esteem crushing society in this article, but I can’t lie to you – everything you are about to learn is designed to make people desire something they don’t need (in most circumstances anyway).

Marketing is a social science – it’s the study of human behavior – and everything you are learning in this series relates to human behavior. Remember that marketing and these triggers are not inherently wrong, they are simply understandings we have come to as a result of testing. It’s what the knowledge is used for that the potential for abuse arises.

The problem is – and this is where the agitation many people feel towards marketing arises from – that we use our understanding of human behavior to manipulate people into making purchasing decisions for things they don’t need, purely in the interest of profit. It’s a self destructive formula that we feel the negative effects of every day, no person is immune to it and most of the problems in western society are at least somewhat related to it.

It’s not my job to present alternatives to these methods and frankly, I don’t have any good answers anyway. I personally make the decision every day to be a marketer and use these triggers when I run my business and I don’t think I could argue that anything I sell or recommend are necessities in life. I offer “wants”, not “needs”, chances are you do too.

What I can say to you is when you use these triggers that you attempt to be as “honest” as you can, which is the philosophy I apply. Don’t say anything you can’t back up, don’t make promises you can’t keep and use your own internal compass as a guide.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at these triggers.

Social Proof

I’ve discussed this concept many times in this blog (here’s the article I wrote when I first learned about Social Proof).

Social proof is absolutely critical and you must demonstrate it in as many ways as possible during your launching phases. Here are three powerful ways you can demonstrate social proof –

  1. Use a prelaunch blog and a JV partners blog to communicate with potential customers and affiliate partners. The ability to leave comments allows people to help you demonstrate social proof, since if there are comments in response to your posts, you demonstrate that you have the “active” attention of other people.
  2. When sending emails use examples and language that demonstrates people are engaged with what you are doing. This could be as simple as using a feedback email or customer question as a topic for your next prelaunch email broadcast. For example – “One of my customers, George, recently asked the following question…”. This demonstrates that you have customers and that they are participating in what you do. Even if you don’t have customers, any feedback communication you receive from people can be used as a tool for demonstrating social proof.
  3. Testimonials are some of the best social proof and preeminence building tools you have available. Include as many testimonials as you can, whenever possible, and not just in your final sales page. You can include testimonials in the emails you send to people during your prelaunch phase and in information you give away (like in free reports or videos). If you can, get audio or video testimonials to go with your text testimonials and if you have the backing of other well known and preeminent experts, make sure they give you a testimonial too.


Social proof is about demonstrating that other people trust you and have benefited from what you do. Proof is similar, but instead you have to show that you have done what you offer to teach people how to do, or show proof of the outcome of what your membership site offers.

Demonstrating proof of results is one of the favorite techniques Internet marketers use to build buzz during prelaunch. I’ve seen so many prelaunch videos showing how much money people are making using some proven system. I often find them ridiculous, since the videos offer no content or insights into how the system works, all they show are pictures of bank accounts or affiliate commissions or clickbank earning balances or traffic statistics – the “amazing” results other people are achieving. I do have to admit that I get excited and intrigued to learn more about an offer when watching a video showing how much money someone is making, so the marketing psychology is sound.

Proof videos showing income statements have proven to work time and time again. I think it’s very important to show proof of results, but what I like to do is demonstrate proof and include a little explanation of how it was achieved too. Just a few insights so it’s not ONLY about results – it’s also about how the results were achieved without giving away absolutely everything. Showing mostly proof is a deliberate curiosity play (you can add curiosity to the list of triggers), creating interest and anticipation – all crucial elements of a successful launch.

Make sure you provide some form of income statement or similar proof element related to what your membership site is about in your sales letter and/or in other communication tools you use to convince potential customers.


Reciprocity is a fantastically simple idea a based on a wonderful human condition. If you do something for someone else, they tend to want to do something for you. It’s human nature to want to return the favor.

The area I often experience reciprocity is when dealing with strategic partners, or as I prefer to call them – friends. If you mention someone else on stage or in an email, or promote their product in a blog post or email, or record an interview for them or just do anything helpful, they are more inclined to help you when it comes time to launch your site. In most cases it’s not about money, it’s the act of helping for nothing that makes people want to help in return for nothing.

Here’s a tip if you want to convince someone to promote your membership site – promote their product or service first, or do something for them and ask for nothing in return. I guarantee, when you come to them and ask if they would mention your membership site launch to their readers, there’s a very good chance they will do so, possibly even without wanting an affiliate commission.

Risk Reversal

People want to know that making a purchasing decision has zero risk and the best way to do that is offer a money back guarantee. On the surface this might seem simple enough, but you have to understand that it is not just the fact that they can ask for their money back that is comforting, it’s also because they feel more confident that they are purchasing a good product if you are confident enough to offer a money back guarantee.

I’ve read strategies where marketers attempt to differentiate by offering unusual guarantees. The stock-standard 30-day money back guarantee is seen as not having as much power since everybody offers it, so to combat complacency, some marketers now offer 150% money back guarantees so customers can potentially make a profit if they return the product. Obviously the marketer makes this offer confident their refund rate will be low, so they rarely have to act on the guarantee.

Other unusual guarantees include having longer terms, like 90 day guarantees, or even strange numbers, usually ending in the magical number seven, for example a 67-day money back guarantee. There’s even a group of marketers working the contrary offer, explicitly stating there is NO guarantee because they have so much confidence that the customer will love it.

In my opinion it really doesn’t matter what guarantee you use, as long as you have some form of risk reversal, making the decision to join your membership site a no-brainer. If you believe in what you offer, you should have confidence that by offering a money back guarantee most people won’t act on it, and the piece of mind for your customers is often the final swaying factor leading to a purchase of membership.


Have you ever noticed how every product has some form of limited time offer? Yes, that’s urgency in action and it should be clear to you why this trigger works. If you only have a limited amount of time to take advantage of something, then you are more inclined to make the choice to buy now rather than later. Many people who decide to buy later never buy at all, hence some form of urgency, often combined with risk reversal, create the conditions necessary to make the sale.

Urgency can be played out in many ways, but the most common are by using a limited time discount price, or by including a limited number of copies or a certain bonus that is only available in limited quantity or for a certain timeframe.

What’s important when using urgency is to ensure your justification is authentic and that you actually follow through with what you claim. You can’t make something urgent just for the sake of it, you need to provide a reason why to make the urgency realistic. Thanks to the proliferation of “closing down sales” from stores that never close down, people are extremely critical of any urgency play that isn’t backed up with a reason. If you want to maintain your credibility and for urgency to work in the first place, you have to justify it realistically and be firm with your offer.

Possible justification for urgency include a limited quantity of stock, a reward for acting quickly, a limited number of memberships so as to not “flood the market” with insider strategies/content thus weakening the strategies/content value, a limited number of spots due to limited resources (for example only a certain number of people can be provided with private coaching time with you) or any of these methods applied to a special added bonus rather than the product itself.

Product Launch Formula

If you want to really explore the triggers and how they impact the success of an online launch, Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula is a must have. It’s the definitive course on what I’m teaching in this article and a lot of credit must go to Jeff for helping to enhance my understanding of how the prelaunch and launch processes work.

You can read my review of Product Launch Formula and check out for more details.

Tried and Tested

The triggers aren’t ideas I came up with myself, they are tried and tested techniques that work and have worked millions of times for millions of products. If you have studied copywriting then you will know most of the triggers well and I encourage further study of these elements if you want to become a better marketer. Be sure to make use of any or all of the triggers during your prelaunch and launch phases.

In the next part of this series we will look at what you need to do during your launch and prelaunch and how you can implement these triggers to achieve a successful membership site launch.

Yaro Starak

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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  • Yaro, in the first part of your post, it almost seems like you feel guilty for using these triggers. In my opinion, you don’t need to feel guilty, as long as you are providing a quality product and the product fulfills what you describe. People may not “need” your products like they “need” food, water, and shelter, but people “want” more than the basic necessities. You are helping people learn to make money online. The fact that you use these triggers is helping them to come to a decision. As you said, otherwise they would waffle and never do anything. Your products are saving your customers a lot of time where otherwise they would be floundering. You are doing your customers a great service. Don’t forget that!
    – Pat

  • Thanks Pat – I appreciate your comments and of course, most of us have wants that motivate us and there is nothing wrong selling to people’s wants using triggers.

    I just want to be very clear with my interpretation of sales triggers and how they are often abused to make people purchase things they don’t need.

    I particularly dislike the beauty industry which uses tactics to reduce people’s self esteem in order to get them to buy a product.

    I think marketing is a great industry to work in, but we do have a responsibility to use it ethically and I wanted to get that across in this article given the nature of the topic.

  • But we have been doing this for centuries – Machiavelli’s talked about this 500 years ago in The Prince. ‘The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and comment thing’.

    I think the greatest marketing line is history is from the movie Harry met Sally “I want what she’s having”…Hence the title of my book. I want what she is having

  • Isn’t it a strange feeling though Yaro, you know you are actually one of the few (considering the masses) who has the intention to at least promote something which has a true value and still you sometimes feel heavy harted about your actions.

    That probably is the main difference between those of us who truly try to help people with, perhaps not their basic needs, but with forfilling thier desires, and those who absolutely don’t give a sh** and just try to make as much money as possible.

    It probably are the latter who are really cashing in i’m afraid.


  • Yaro

    I think that most marketers would agree that triggers work, are, in fact, an essential part of any good marketing message.

    How and when they should be used is not, to me, so much an ethical question, but one of maintaining an on-going relationship with both the customer and the wider community.

    If someone feels that they have been “tricked” by psychological triggers (although they would seldom recognise them as such!), they will either ask for a refund and / or never buy anything from that person again.

    So unless “promise” and “proof” are maintained by the quality of the product, the marketer in question is going to suffer in the long term.


    Ian Traynor

  • Yaro, thanks for being so “transparent” about marketing methods and tactics. I think it’s admirable to see people like you speak so plainly about the nature of advertising and business in general.

    Even the most life-changing products and services (“The Secret” DVD & Book comes to mind) must fuel success with very targeted and well positioned marketing campaigns.

    As you show, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that approach – it’s necessary!

    Marketers wield a powerful tool if they’re good at what they do. I think you’re right to point out some of the potentially harmful uses of such power.

    Great post, and a fantastic addition to your series!



  • I was sent to this site by Ian Trayner and as usual he’s right on about the quality of the work you’ve created.
    This is really great and I’m hooked as an ongoing reader and user.
    Bob Cotto

  • Looking good Yaro. Great series of posts so far, looking forward to see the next. Wish you more success with your own membership site.

  • Yaro,

    This is an excellent bit of advice. It is clear from others’ comments that you have a good following and it is well deserved, in my humble opinion.

    Keep up the great work. I will be back to read more of your posts.


  • Yaro, I appreciate your honesty in regard to marketing and selling. I’m a marketer myself, and I know the line between “influencing” and “manipulating” can appear quite blurred.

    I firmly believe that we as marketers ARE manipulating people. But in a GOOD way, because I also believe in what I sell, and I’m sure you do too.

    I think you’re a bit harsh on yourself, Yaro. For instance, your blog product may not – strictly speaking – be a NEED, like food or water. But if it can help someone to become a much better and more profitable blogger, it IS a valuable asset to the buyer.

    If you can help them earn more from their blogging efforts, you’ve helped them to PAY for the food and water 🙂

    Paul Hancox
    Author, “Internet Influence Magic”

    P.S: Remember that personalization you talked about with Darren Rowse on your podcast? I wonder if you’ll notice…

  • Wow, amazing free info you’re giving away here Yaro!

    I don’t think anyone has to feel bad about influencing people to buy things. As long as you are not *lying* … and since it is virtually impossible to *force* or *coerce* anyone into buying something, then no one can say it’s unethical to market your product with conviction using any sales technique you can.
    With a membership site, you will soon see whether people actually want / appreciate the information or service according to how many remain in their subscriptions.

  • […] Yaro Starak has been producing a wonderful series of in-depth posts titled: How to Launch a Membership Site. […]

  • […] people in with dreams of an easy working life for a high financial return? Am I using some kind of trigger to convince you that my program is the answer you have been looking […]

  • […] over exposed to all the techniques we love so much, such as – namesqueeze pages, email marketing, sales copy, testimonials, etc. That’s not to say there is no money to be made, but you really need to be […]

  • […] powerful marketing lessons. For those of you paying attention, leave a comment and tell me what triggers I’m attempting to elicit with this blog […]

  • I just started a private label rights membership site. I have a few free members, but no paying ones (yet).

    I really like what you said about social proof. The first time I heard about social proof was from neil strauss (the author of the game). Not only is social proof a marketing tactic, it is something we look for when choosing friends, and lovers.

    You have alot of great info in your blog. Thanks, and keep it coming

  • Yaro, I found the information you published to be very helpful and I can believe it was free to read. I have been using a number of different tactics when stating a membership site and I found that I was making a couple of mistakes now that I have read you blog posts I don’t thing I’ll be have these problems any more and I just wanted to say thanks and keep up the good work.


  • Good piece, I’m right in the middle of a membership blog site for myself and also trying to increase the sign-up rate for a client on his blog.

  • […] some kind of stamp of authority is a classic marketing psychology trigger. Flashing your PhD credentials, mentioning awards, and calling yourself a qualified expert from […]

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