My first subscription was to Boy’s Life magazine. I got it from the moment I was registered as a Cub Scout back in the 70’s, and I kept it active through my experience in Varsity Scouting into the 80’s. It came month in and month out, showing me a world that I could scarce imagine, big and exciting and full of amazing things!
To that I added a youth magazine geared at helping me grow in my chosen faith and a comic book subscription to the original Star Wars comic book produced by Marvel comics and the magazine that came as part of being a member of the original Star Wars Fan Club. (Yes, I’m one of those kind of fans!) I loved all of those subscriptions, though if I were honest, I think I read the comic books the most devotedly.
Today there are all kinds of subscription services available to the gentleman, more than perhaps ever before. Shaving clubs, clothing clubs, accessory clubs, grooming clubs, survivalist gear clubs, adventure gear clubs, the list goes on and on. All of the clubs offer something interesting, sometimes important, to deepening a gentleman’s demonstration of style and substance. And, as all things, services like these come at a price.
Like many of you, I have to be careful and responsible with my expenditures. I have spent money frivolously in the past, and those expenditures have left me in financial difficulty. As a result, I have learned that I must make my money work hard for me, perhaps harder than others. I must make sure that I don’t find myself hemorrhaging cash.
Unfortunately, unwisely using subscription services is one way that any individual can find himself hemorrhaging cash in short order.
Over the years I have subscribed to many of these services. In this post, I will share with you my standard for judging a subscription service. Next week, I will share with you some of the boxes that I have subscribed to, my scoring on the matrix associated with each, and my overall grade for the service. I will also mention some that I am looking at, what keeps me from joining them, and what I hope to gain from them when I take the plunge!
First, the criteria: Value, Service and Customization.
Value – This is a perceived cost/benefit relationship. The higher the cost, the better the value must be to be positive. A value of 5 is the best, meaning the benefits far surpass the investment. A Value of 1 is obviously something that should be ended or avoided. A score of 3 means the costs and benefits are in perfect balance, based on my perception.
Service – do they communicate outside of just sending stuff? Do they inform their users where they are going or what is coming in the future? Is it easy to return unwanted items? What about making it easy to discontinue the service? After all, if the subscription no longer meets the needs of the subscriber, it should be easy to discontinue, yes? Well, some don’t see it that way. The best service is represented by a 5, the worst by a 1. You get the idea.
Customization – Can I tailor the subscription to what I want? Do I fill out a survey and then let a designer take over? What about additional items that can be purchased directly from the service provider? Customization is the current gold standard of customer service and sales. The ease of customization gets a higher score, with less customization options and a more difficult process earning a lower score.
Next week, we look at some boxes. In the meantime, are there dimensions to my evaluation that I should add? Let me know in the comments!
Go forth and conquer!