The Secret to Subscription Business Models is to Think About Your Customers, Says Zuora CEO

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“The secret of these business models or products is not just going beyond on products. Think about your customers,” says Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo. Zuora helps companies implement subscription business models into their existing products and services using their cloud-based software. They help their customers which include OTT (Over the Top) content providers, tech companies, and even traditional consumer brands like Fender Guitars enter the subscription economy.

Tien Tzuo, Founder and CEO of Zuora, discusses how even the most traditional of companies can successfully implement a subscription business model in an interview on Fox Business:

This is the Early Days of OTT

It seems to easy as an end user. You just pick up your phone, fire up your browser, and you start using these (subscription) services. A lot of things have to happen behind the scenes. You have to check your credit card, remember to send out the monthly bill, figure out how much revenue you should recognize, or allow your customers to upgrade to a family plan or a better bundle. We take on all that so that companies can focus on what they do best which is providing a great service and a great experience for their customers.

I think people are missing the big picture which that OTT really today only represents 5% of the $500 billion spent on TV. This is really the very early days and there is probably room for many vendors to thrive. If you think about the cell phone market there’s AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. It’s true that they use pricing packaging to compete with each other but they also have differentiated products in the marketplace.

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Think About Your Customers

The secret of these business models or products is not just going beyond (and reinventing) products. Think about your customers. The great story about Fender (Guitars) is that Fender realized their customers obviously wanted to be musicians, but it was hard. Over 90% of their customers actually stopped playing the guitar after 90 days. So they asked, “How do we help our customers over the hump?”

How to Play Guitar, by Fender

If they are playing them well they are going to play for life and they’re going to buy a lot more guitars, a lot more amps, a lot more picks. They launched Fender Play to really teach their customers for a simple $20 a month how to play the guitar. They are seeing enormous success in the customers that actually sign up for Fender Play in sticking with it. So stick with the guitar and you can become really good. It’s never too late.

The Secret to Subscription Business Models is to Think About Your Customers – Zuora CEO


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