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How to Implement a Pro Program: Your Step-by-Step Guide

by | Dec 13, 2023 | Ultimate Special Offers

The outdoor gear industry is becoming more and more competitive, and staying ahead requires creative thinking and a proactive approach. Boost your brand’s visibility and profitability by creating a pro program. It’s easier than you think!

Pro programs go beyond discounts; they attract and retain VIP customers by fostering long-standing relationships and building a community around your brand. In this post, we’ll show you how to implement a pro program, and how using Alliance Pro can make this process easier than ever before. 

How to Implement a Pro Program in 6 Steps

How to implement a pro program: woman using a paddle

Whether your clients are first responders or rock climbers, live in the USA, Canada, or halfway across the world, the process for implementing a pro discount program is the same. Let’s take a step-by-step look.

Step 1: Build, Refresh, or Revisit Your Brand

Before you decide whether you want to partner with industry professionals or if you should do a tiered rewards program, you should start this journey by focusing on your own business. If you don’t have a brand guide or if it’s been a few years since you’ve established your mission and vision statements, now’s the time to create or revisit them. If you cannot clearly convey your company’s messaging to others, why would they believe that you can do what you say you’ll do?

Work with your team or with the guidance of a messaging agency to create your brand. You should be able to answer:

  1. Why you exist and why others should care
  2. What you do
  3. How you’re different in your industry and why that matters
  4. Who your target audience is
  5. Both the benefits and features of your products

The answers to these questions should be reflected on all of your major copy, including your website, elevator pitch, social media profiles, email campaigns, and other marketing materials.

Step 2: Survey Your Audience

Now that you can clearly and concisely express what you do, you need to align these goals with what your audience is looking for in a membership program. The best way to do that is to ask.

After all, if you’re selling snowboards, wouldn’t it make sense to ask professional snowboarders what’s on their wish lists rather than blindly structuring your loyalty program?

Reach out to your current audience and ideal clients to see what interests them and what they like and dislike about other membership programs.

Step 3: Research Your Competitors

While you’re surveying your audience, check out what other outdoor gear brands are doing. Reviewing outfitters like The North Face and Patagonia can inspire you and help you figure out how to be competitively differentiated in the outdoor industry

For example, there may be unique industry partners you can team up with, or you can offer extra discounts for retail store employees who can provide proof of employment (e.g., a pay stub or W2). You might also discover customer segments that haven’t been tapped into yet, like college students, active duty members, or law enforcement professionals.

Analyze the membership programs of at least three of your closest competitors. Odds are, you’ll find gaps in what they offer, and where there are gaps, there are opportunities.

Step 4: Decide on a Pro Program

Now that you’re set on your brand’s messaging, know what your audience wants, and what your competitors offer, it’s time to determine which type of pro program best fits the needs of you and your customers.

You can offer:

  • Discounts for qualified outdoor professionals
  • Tiered programs where members earn loyalty points
  • Early access to new gear
  • Referral programs
  • Extended warranties

You can even run multiple pro programs based on customer types, like industry partners, outdoor professionals, and store employees.

Step 5: Weigh Your Return on Investment

Your pro program could be the best membership program anyone’s ever seen, but if you’re losing money on it, it’s not worth it. Discount programs require you to strike a delicate balance between offering your customers a great deal while still making money off that deal.

If you’re selling an item for $100 and it costs you $60 to make it, then offering the item for $50 means you’ll lose $10 with each sale.

When pricing your items, you also have to think about visibility and volume. If you lose $10 on a sale, but the outdoor professional who bought it convinces 10 of their friends to buy the product at full price, then losing a little on one sale becomes worth it. By selling 10 products for $100, you’ll make $400 in profit. 

However, if you partner with another brand that promises to buy 30 products at 20% off, you’ll make $600. These are just a few things to consider when running the numbers for your pro program.

Step 6: Create a Marketing Plan

Now that you know how to implement a pro program, it’s time to market it. Here are some marketing strategies you can use:

  • Website: Create an engaging, responsive website that’s easy to navigate and drives visitors to fill out a pro application, make a purchase at checkout, and/or subscribe to your newsletter.
  • Social media: Determine what social channels you’re going to use and what types of content to post on them. It’s important to place your focus on meeting your new and existing customers where they are. If they’re on Instagram and TikTok, you should be too!
  • Email: Create an email campaign that converts readers into customers and customers into repeat purchasers.
  • Incentivize customers: Encourage your existing clients to become brand ambassadors by offering them rewards that are worth their while.
  • Foster partnerships: Partner up with other brands to expand your reach and credibility. It’s one thing for you to promote your product. But if REI recommends it, that’s a whole different story!
  • Ensure alignment: Every aspect of your marketing endeavors must be aligned with your brand messaging and your audiences’ needs. If one of your company values is protecting the environment, you shouldn’t partner with a company that isn’t.
  • Set your key performance indicators (KPIs): How are you going to measure the success of your marketing campaign? KPIs have a numeric value, so you’ll have quantifiable data that’ll evaluate your success. KPIs can include customer acquisition costs, click-through rates, email open rates, and more. You should have KPIs for every aspect of your campaign. This will tell you where inefficiencies are.
  • Review and repeat: Analyze your KPIs at the end of your campaign. What went well? What didn’t? Where can improvements be made? In addition to KPIs, collect customer feedback to see what they think. Then, take all of this data, and use it as a benchmark when planning your next campaign.

And that’s how to implement a pro program!

How to Implement a Pro Program With Alliance Pro

Couple doing the high five

Deciding on and then managing a pro program can be tricky. You have to know your audience and how your product(s) are competitively differentiated. Then, you have to create a pro program that aligns with both.

At OrbitApps, we’ve made finding that alignment easier with an Alliance Pro account. Alliance Pro lets you power your pro programs all in one place. You’ll have control over your eligibility requirements, applications, discounts, specialty group memberships, and more. By simplifying these processes, you can focus more on what’s working and optimizing your pro program.

Now that you know how to implement a pro program, install the Alliance Pro app for your Shopify store!

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