I’ve been a fan of Zoom for awhile. I pay for their highest tier subscription, which includes cloud-based transcripts, 500 participants in a call, and a bunch of other cool features. It’s allowed me to stay connected to clients, colleagues and family even when I’m traveling, which is often.

Zoom is a subscription business and has always been a good example of a company focused on building a forever transaction with the people they serve. I have pointed out before the many powerful features of their business model. Here are a few:

  • Freemium to enable behavior change. You can use Zoom for free, forever, as long as you don’t need the premium features (transcription, dedicated support) and as long as your calls aren’t too long or too large. This allows people to try the service and begin to make it a habit, before making the big decision to pay.
  • Designed for viral growth. If I am a subscriber (free or paid), I can invite you to a call, and it’s easy for you to experience the value. And once you experience it, you’re more likely to sign up yourself. In that situation, I’m the marketing channel responsible for bringing you in, even though I’m the one paying already.
  • Easy to get started. It’s very easy for you to go from signing up to using the platform–not a lot of setup is required, and it’s pretty self-explanatory. Their onboarding system gets you on a call fast, reinforces the wisdom of your decision and organically shows you how to get even more value in the future.

When the Covid-19 Pandemic made social distancing a must for friends, colleagues and students, we all knew Zoom was going to be a big winner, even as most of the global economy took a nose dive.

And they are. Their stock (ZM) price has shot up from the mid $60s in December to above $100 in March.* But what makes me love Zoom the most isn’t their soaring valuation or even the features and benefits of their platform.

It’s their membership mindset.

There are lots of subscription businesses, but only a few have a membership mindset. And it’s that long-term focus on the members’ wellbeing that separates the true winners in the Membership Economy from the many that are causing a bad case of Subscription Fatigue.

Last week, CEO Eric S. Yuan announced that all K-12 schools in the US, China and Japan would receive unlimited minutes of videoconferencing at no charge.

According to Forbes, Yuan “instructed staff not to ramp up sales or marketing due to the coronavirus crisis. ‘If you leverage this opportunity for money, I think that’s a horrible culture.'”

You might be cynical and point out that he is going to get tons of media coverage for this offer. Or that Zoom is playing the long-game, giving the whole world an opportunity to familiarize themselves with his platform, and begin making it part of their daily habits…a lead generation tool.

Both of these things might be true. But it’s important to note that very few companies have acted as generously and decisively. And it’s this kind of focus on building trust and engagement that is at the heart of any forever transaction.

Bonus: Tips for Great Presentations

I have been reaching out to friends who have been using Zoom for webinars and teaching more heavily in the past few weeks. Here are some of their tips:

  1. Open Mind. This is the most important tip. It’s super disappointing (believe me, as a professional speaker who was planning to be in 8 cities next month to launch her book, I am feeling this disappointment) to go to plan B. You might be thinking “but I don’t want to learn a digital platform” or “but I am trained to present in a classroom” or “but in person collaboration is how our company innovates”. I get it. But this is a perfect time for a growth mindset. My 82 year old neighbor, who retired many years ago as the Math Department Chair at our high school, and affectionately known as “Granny Margo” by our kids, is getting a second camera for her blackboard so her tutoring clients can continue to learn from her. If she can learn, so can you!
  2. Team. Have a presenter, a tech “backup” lead, and a moderator to manage questions and chat. If you’re doing a big talk, it’s great to have more than one person managing the meeting. Consider bringing in a student to help…it might be a learning opportunity or even an internship, and in any case, it’s a great way for someone more junior to connect with you.
  3. Inclusion. Make sure all participants feel included. Welcome them by name as they join, ask participants for their thoughts (if cold calling is a fit), and use polling to get quick feedback.
  4. Breakouts. Zoom Webinar has a feature that allows you to create and program small groups in advance of your webinar. Then at the right slide, you can press a button and send all of your participants into small breakouts where they can collaborate. Then you can bring everyone back together to share out with another push of a button.
  5. Handouts. Give participants copies of the materials immediately following the event (or before if you want them to take notes as they go)
  6. Record & Transcribe. Some accounts allow you to record and transcribe meetings, which can be very helpful for people who attend to fully understand–they may want to review these assets after the initial presentation.
  7. Check In. Consider setting time an hour a day for short “check ins” with individuals or small groups, for conversation and feedback. This might be a great opportunity to get to know people in a new way. And maybe you can make time in your day by having them watch recordings of your content on their own time, and using your time together for discussion.
  8. Be Creative. You might find that for some things, a digital platform is actually a more powerful teaching tool, collaboration tool, or personal connection tool than the way you’ve “always done it”. Good luck!

Are you using Zoom during this Pandemic? If so, are you using it for personal, educational and/or professional reasons?

Please share YOUR best tips (and feature requests) in the comments.

*Fun fact: There’s another company with ticker sign ZOOM that has enjoyed a bump too, from people who bought the stock without confirming that it was actually THE Zoom Video Communications and not a penny stock of an old company that had voluntarily delisted in 2014 after failing to meet the exchange desk’s requirements