Meet Paul M. Sutter, Astrophysicist
Three years in, Paul M. Sutter was feeling good about his Patreon page. An astrophysicist by trade, Paul had been making videos and podcasts to share his love for and knowledge about science with as many people as possible.
“Want to know how to make a black hole? I’ll send you instructions.Want to know if a comet will kill us all? I’ll calm you down.Want to know how big the universe is? I’ll measure it for you.”
On his Patreon page, Paul has always been super clear about his intentions, goals, rewards and benefits. Each tier level has a specific name which offers clarity and also can foster community and connectivity among patrons.
“Shows like Ask a Spaceman, Space Radio, Song of the Stars, and more wouldn’t be possible without your kind-souled support.”
His Previous Pattern of Slow and Steady Growth on Patreon
Paul was enjoying a slow but steady growth, and figured that rhythm was the norm, thinking “this will be the way it is.” He was committed to his craft, heck, he was even writing a book! And while he was dedicated to supporting and promoting his book, podcasts, and videos, Paul wasn’t expecting any massive shifts in his Patreon universe. Patreon was a pretty passive side business for him; he fulfilled rewards and benefits, but he wasn’t actively engaging his patrons since his focus was on social marketing and other outreach.
Enter: Special Offers
Paul realized that he could turn his impending book release into a Special Offer in and of itself. Leveraging the special offer feature, Paul launched a campaign encouraging fans and patrons to join his membership program at the Interplanetary Traveler level (the $10 group) or higher within the month of October, and maintain that membership through December. In exchange, patrons would receive a signed copy of his book, plus the benefits that come with their chosen tier level. This was a deal since the book will retail for $25+ and without his personal touch. And it makes Paul happy to know his fans are truly eager and interested in his work.
With an initial announcement post on his Patreon page, Paul took his message to his audience. Since he’s already creating podcasts and videos, it was easy to know where to talk about this campaign. Plus, he had been talking up his book for weeks already, so the question of how to talk about the campaign was solved, too. This was just a new spin on an existing and authentic topic of conversation; instead of “my book’s coming out soon, please plan on buying it at any of these retailers” the message became “sign-up or level-up with my Patreon program now, and I’ll send you a free, signed copy of my book AND you’ll get more awesome benefits.”
Plus, he could leverage an emotional connection and talk about what this book means to him, what his patrons mean to him, and how thankful he is to have such passionate superfans, which gave him even more conversation points.
“I did all the things I’m already doing, but I focused the message on the book offer. And I told my patrons, ‘hey, in December, I’ll be carving out time for you as I sign your book, to thank you for joining me on this mission.’ Which offered an even stronger connection for my fans who are emotionally motivated.”
Pro Tip: Use what you have. Patreon isn’t about reinventing the wheel and neither are special offer campaigns. Do you have an event or release coming up? Can you maximize that event with a limited-time or special offer, and then talk about it as you normally engage with your audience?
Paul saw an increase bigger than anything before. He garnered 40 new patrons during the Special Offer window, earning $553 more per month. While Paul had promoted his $10 tier level, he also had new and existing patrons up-level to the $20 level, and even got a couple $50 and $100 level patrons. He noted about half of the growth came from new patrons, and half came from existing patrons bumping up a tier level or two. When asked why, the patrons said they needed the nudge to make a move, and the anticipation of Paul’s book did just that.
“I found out I can have a quantum leap! Growth doesn’t have to be slow and steady, my audience is willing to grow and participate; the Special Offer campaign gave me a source of proof for that. I learned this kind of marketing strategy works for me and my audience.”
Paul’s experience with Special Offers has changed his outlook on Patreon as well as marketing in general. He’s looking at his business model and recognizing where he could insert a limited-time or special offer to spark growth and engagement from his greater audience.
“Before running this campaign and seeing how clearly it works, Patreon was just a small piece of my work, but now it’s a much more substantial part of my business. I’m excited about what this will enable me to do, and can’t wait to see where this goes.”
Same, Paul. Same.