Scott had been turning a problem around in his head, over and over. It had ruined his afternoon walk. He couldn’t have told you what he saw on the walk because he was, mentally at least, still at the office.

He had just purchased an ice-cream when a powerful idea hit him. He almost dropped his cone. As the person at the ice-cream shop handed over his vanilla and raspberry (two scoops) Scott realized in a flash that he was not at all in the ice-cream business.

That would have been obvious to anyone who knew him, of course. But what Scott understood in that moment was that he was not in the business of simple, one-off transactions. His business was almost entirely different.

Scott’s business was subscriptions. “What makes the subscription model so successful today is that it isn’t only about ownership vs. usage. It’s also about how things get consumed,” thought Scott, “In an ownership model, the interaction between the provider and the consumer is entirely different compared to a model where the provider needs to establish a relationship with the member.”

“In fact, a provider that sells a product doesn’t need to know his customers in the same way. To succeed with subscriptions I need to have an ongoing relationship with continuous feedback from members to the service provider (me) and transform the product into an experience,” Scott reasoned.

Scott licked his ice-cream as he walked away from the shop. “The ice-cream maker isn’t in a relationship with me. We are not changing and adapting to each other in a way that creates value for both of us,” reflected Scott.  “Buying the ice-cream was a one-off purchase. But with my customers I’m entering into an ongoing relationship. How can I further change what I’m doing based on this way of looking at my business? Where have I been treating the transaction as one-off?” asked Scott as he continued walking and working on his problem.


  • What’s your site’s “Experience”? How are you integrating user behavior into your development of the experience?
  • What are you doing that makes more sense for a “one-off” model?
  • Is there room for a paysite hybrid model? What would it look like?