Subscribed Book Summary By Tien Tzuo with Gabe Weisert

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Subscribed is a 2018 book that takes an in-depth look at the world of subscription services.

From Netflix, to Spotify and Uber, the book examines how companies are shifting away from direct ownership models and towards services for customers.

It delves into how this insight is not only worth billions, but is also crucial for success in today’s competitive market.

Subscribed explores what it means to provide people with the experiences they want instead of just the goods they can buy, and gives detailed advice on benefiting from such an approach.

Subscribed Book Summary

Book Name: Subscribed (Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It)

Author(s): Tien Tzuo with Gabe Weisert

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 30 Minutes

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Author Bio

Tien Tzuo is a renowned expert in the subscription-based business model, having cofounded and served as CEO for Zuora - a leading cloud-based software provider.

Before his time with Zuora, Tzuo had been working since 1999 with Salesforce where he held various positions including chief marketing officer and chief strategist.

He's well known internationally through his hosting of the Subscribed Conference, a platform that brings together experts from around the world for conferences about using technology to create new customer relationships.

With an impressive career like this, it's no wonder why Tien Tzuo is one of today's foremost experts in subscription-based services!

The Subscription Economy: Exploring A Revolution In How We Buy, Sell And Consume


The subscription model is the business model of the future, and Tien Tzuo’s Subscribed Book Summary gives you a comprehensive overview of what it has to offer.

Using data, IoT applications and practical advice, this book dives deep into a fascinating study of subscription-based business models.

Beginning with an exploration of how advancements in technology — such as data revolution and the Internet of Things (IoT) — power this new economic landscape, it then moves to discuss how we consume everyday products, like food, travel, entertainment and more.

Finally, it provides insight into transitioning companies over to a subscription model while discussing various strategies that will promote success.

This is an absolutely scintillating look into some powerful trends that are transforming businesses today: The subscription-based economy.

Readers will gain invaluable skills from reading through these sections!

The Rise Of The Subscription Model: Why Adaptability Is Key For Business Success

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that in order to survive in today’s business world, companies must be able to adapt to their customers’ changing needs.

More and more companies are switching to subscription models to properly reflect these changes.

This change is made clear when looking at the Fortune 500 list from 1955 compared with that of 2017 – only 12 percent of the companies from 1955 are still on the list today.

Of those remaining, most have been completely renovated due to their switching over to subscription models for success.

For example, General Electric went from selling light bulbs and fixtures in mid-20th century to digital services through subscriptions today; IBM switched from selling equipment like scales and measuring tools,to IT and business subscription services.

Although physical products still hold some appeal, customers clearly value services more – they don’t care as much about owning something as they do accessing it whenever they need it.

Companies such as Spotify, Uber and Netflix have tapped into this sense of accessibilty by offering streaming subscriptions instead of traditional ownership models , provingl that focusing on what your customers actually want is key.

The message is loud and clear: if a company wants to survive it must keep up with the times by being flexible enough to switch over to a customer-oriented subscription model when necessary.

How Subscription Services And Ecommerce Have Revolutionized Shopping And Entertainment

It’s no secret that subscription services have revolutionized the way we consume media today.

From streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, to ecommerce juggernauts like Amazon Prime, subscription services are everywhere.

In fact, they’ve become so popular and ubiquitous that they’ve actually dominated the video, music and even retail industries.

Netlfix was one of the first companies to stream films in 2007, and within a decade had amassed 100 million subscribers worldwide!

Likewise, Spotify grew from zero to 500 million subscribers in under nine years – making up around 20% of global music industry revenue too!

It’s not just streaming either: as subscription-based services get more popular, so does ecommerce.

With estimated annual expansion at around 15%, it now accounts for a whopping 13 percent of the total retail market – quite a contrast to just three percent growth for physical stores.

Companies like Amazon have taken advantage of this by offering personalized shopping solutions through their 90 million US Prime members who total $9 billion annually in subscription fees and $117 billion in sales!

Clearly, subscription services are here to stay – dominating both the media and retail landscapes today with no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Subscription Models Revolutionizing Travel And News Markets

The way we move around, and the way we get our news is being revolutionized.

Ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, along with private car makers such as Porsche offer discounted rates and ride subscriptions that allow customers to experience on-demand travel services at a fraction of the cost and commitment traditionally needed for owning a car.

Similarly, Surf Air offers all you can fly private aviation services for one monthly fee, and digital newspapers are continuing to grow in popularity due to their ability to offer both traditional print news content as well as timely coverage of culture, business and Breaking News stories not typically seen elsewhere in journalism.

This revolution has made it possible for people to access transportation from door-to-door, enjoy flexible travelling options and patronize high quality news sources free from clickbait articles created solely with advertising revenue in mind.

How Manufacturers Can Learn From Adobe’S Successful Swallow Of The Fish To Embrace Subscription Services And The Internet Of Things

When tech companies began to shift their business models to subscription services, such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud in 2011, they experienced a dip in stocks.

This caused some anxiety amongst the investing communities but it was necessary for a successful transition and those companies were willing to swallow this “fish” of decrease in stocks.

Fortunately, the move paid off.

After just 3 years, many of these companies had transitioned completely away from physical products and were seeing huge profits and stock increases.

Other industries followed suit and today, manufacturing is taking its turn at embracing subscription-based services.

With the Internet of Things technology now available, it’s estimated that billions of smart devices will be able to digitally monitor performance and provide improvements for customers on a subscription basis by 2020.

This has the potential to be incredibly profitable for manufacturing companies who are willing to make the switch!

How The Subscription Business Model Is Changing The Way Companies Innovate

Innovation for companies hasn’t been about creating new products that come out of a linear process from research, design and manufacture to eventually become on the market.

Nowadays, it’s all about adapting services to customers’ needs in a way that reflects their wants.

This approach is called agile development, where customer feedback leads the way to create continuous improvement and changes when needed.

With subscription models providing the constant data stream of customers’ needs, companies can quickly identify those needs and create relevant solutions with much more speed than before.

Google’s Gmail service has famously kept their “beta” logo five years after its launch in 2004 as a symbol of how they were always working on improvements.

Musician Kanye West even used this approach when releasing his album The Life of Pablo in 2016—continually making tweaks to lyrics that reflected his fans’ feedback.

All of this goes to show how innovation isn’t about creating new products anymore; it’s about tailoring services to customers’ needs and expectations at every stage.

How Subscription-Based Business Models Need Different Strategies For Product Promotion, Place And Pricing

Subscribed models have drastically altered the components of successful marketing.

Instead of updating the “four Ps” of product, price, promotion, and placement; subscription-based models are all about delivering a service and creating a connection with customers.

This means that instead of pushing products through various channels, companies prioritize customer service so that there’s no disconnect between producer and consumer.

Promotion for subscription models isn’t just about advertising either.

Instead, storytelling is key to building customer loyalty – by highlighting why the product exists, who it serves and how it will benefit them.

The pricing structure has changed too, as companies focus on creating multi-tiered services where prices increase depending on the level of personal service offered.

In conclusion, traditional marketing’s ‘four Ps’ are no longer relevant when talking about subscription-based models – today customer satisfaction is prioritized in this niche industry with more attention being given to meaningful stories and convenience pricing schemes.

Subscription-Based Firms: Strategies For Growth, Reducing Churn And Going International


The sales strategies of the 21st century focus on one key ideal: building stable relationships with subscribers.

Companies must strive to maintain close relationships with their customers in order to ensure longevity and growth.

That’s why many organizations are turning away from the traditional “sell and run” mentality of past decades and instead implementing subscription-based models.

Subscription-based firms understand that it takes more than just offering a high quality product to keep customers happy.

Instead, they must create a sense of connection and trust between the company and their subscribers.

This is done by highlighting the concept of growth and promising continued development in services over time, often backed up by user contracts that ensure customer satisfaction.

Zuora, as an example, devised several strategies for maintaining this relationship which concentrate on acquiring initial customers, reducing churn rates, increasing value through cross-selling/upselling, and extending into international markets.

Doing so has allowed them to properly take advantage of all aspects offered by the subscription model without sacrificing quality or service for their clients.

This new sales ethos emphasizes building stable relationships with subscribers who can be sure that any contract made comes with additional guarantees from the company – maximizing customer satisfaction while also securing income for long-term success.

It’S Time To Rethink Financial Accounting For Subscription Companies

Traditional bookkeeping does not accurately reflect the potential of subscription services.

According to classic double-entry bookkeeping, you are to Balance Credits against Debits, which works well when it comes to measuring revenue and outgoings but is highly inadequate when it comes to more forward-looking revenues like those from subscriptions.

When author and CFO of Zuora realized this, they devised a new system known as Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR).

It starts with gross ARR, going on to subtract churn (losses from forfeited subscriptions) and other recurring costs like administrative fees/ overheads – presenting a clear picture of recurrent profit.

Sales and marketing costs are then deducted from the recurring profit but also added to future revenues; this being that these costs are spent on growth which ultimately increases the ARR in next period.

In other words, they can be considered directly as future income while ensuring accurate estimation across all periods with budgeted growth!

Therefore, traditional bookkeeping isn’t well suited to estimate the real potential of subscription services despite its use for different types of finance evaluation – proving that there is significant room for improvement which is provided by Zuora’s new accounting method discussed above.

It Must Do More Than Manage Productivity–It Must Adapt To Subscriber Behaviors

In the past, IT departments worked in an old-fashioned way.

They kept everything running as smoothly as possible by using marketing and management apps from other software providers.

However, this traditional way of managing IT is no longer suitable for the times of cloud-based services and subscriptions.

Our modern world relies heavily on subscription based services.

Subscriber experiences need to be constantly edited and adjusted in order to meet the needs of users, which is made much more difficult when you have multiple systems that weren’t designed to work together.

This stops us from gleaning useful insights about businesses as a whole since there’s no compatibility between all these different programs.

For instance, if a customer hit a usage threshold or was abroad then it requires a system that can automatically trigger usage checks and enable roaming services without fail.

The same applies to renewals, suspensions, upgrades and downgrades – you need something more dynamic than counting units of production from factory to customer if you want your business models to run effortlessly and successfully.

Old strategies may have been enough in the past, but they’re far too clunky for our fast-paced digital age – and subscription service businesses are no exception!

Transforming Your Business Into A Successful Customer-Oriented Subscription Service With Zuora’s Padre Framework And Ppm Principles


Creating a successful customer-oriented service can be a daunting task, but Zuora has come up with a solution to make it easier: the PADRE system.

PADRE stands for pipeline, acquire, deploy, run and expand – five stages that will systematically transform your business into an effective customer-oriented service.

The “Pipeline” stage is all about marketing your product in order to generate demand and increase awareness of your company.

The “Acquire” stage is focused on understanding customers’ needs in order to promote subscriptions and complete purchases.

During the “Deployment” stage, you’ll ensure that customers are getting set-up quickly and efficiently so they stay with you rather than choosing another company.

Next comes the “Run” stage which involves active management of the day-to-day running of your service and responding rapidly to changing customer needs.

Then “Expand” by innovating; adding extra functionality or different aspects (such as UberPool) to keep customers interested and subscribing.

Lastly, Zuora suggests three additional factors: people (Hiring top talent), product (Continuous improvement) and money (Allocating resources).

By using PADRE as a tool for implementing customer-oriented business strategies, everyone involved can understand how their work fits into the larger picture while solving problems that arise along the way.

Through PADRE’s common language, cross-functional teams are also encouraged to cooperate more effectively in order to collectively achieve success.

Wrap Up

The main takeaway from Subscribed: The Key to Unlocking Your Subscription Business is that, if you want to succeed in transforming your business into a successful subscription model, you need to begin with the customer.

This means going above and beyond what is cheapest or easiest for yourself and focusing instead on providing the best service and products possible for your customer base.

Understanding how traditional strategies like innovation, marketing, sales, finance, and IT can benefit from a subscription-based model is key in making this transformation.

Moreover, having systems like those used by the book’s author’s own company can help you along the way.

Ultimately, as long as your focus is on keeping customers happy with good service and value for their money, then you should be set for success in the world of subscription-based businesses.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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