When To Ask For Help

37811536 - young confident woman in red cape and mask

“I think I’ll try to handle this and figure it out on my own.”

Well, hey . . . Amen.

This is how I’ve done most of my business. I’ve bootstrapped it and, for the most part, not spent money I couldn’t afford to spend. Sure. If you can figure your business out on your own and not spend the money, I would urge you to do that.

But, what if you can’t?

For years, I had a website I was embarrassed by. I kept meaning to fix it but I didn’t know how. Finally, one day, my friend Jaime Almond made me get on the phone with her and, together, over the phone, we built a wordpress website together. And it’s basically the website you see today.

I kept meaning to do it on my own.

But I never did.

I needed help.

Should we be able to do it all ourselves?

I have no idea.

Are we able to do it all ourselves?

It doesn’t seem so.

Modern culture is all about this Lone Ranger, self-sufficiency thing where everyone is an island. It’s the American Dream of everyone pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. And I see that approach keeping so many entrepreneurs stuck at whatever level they are currently at – even if what they offer is really compelling and excellent.

One of the simplest ways to get unstuck is to ask for help by doing a five minute support asking blitz. It sounds too simple but I’ve seen it utterly change the fate of people’s businesses. 

However, asking for help and ideas on marketing from friends doesn’t always cut it because your friends likely aren’t marketing experts or anything close. 

Worse, they might give you terrible advice that can hurt your business.

The following truisms are so burned out these days that I even hesitate to state them, but they’re still accurate:

if you are a singer, you’d hire a vocal coach.

If you were an athlete you’d hire a coach.

If you were serious about learning any craft, you’d apprentice.

If you were serious about just about anything you would find a mentor or a coach; and yet in marketing our businesses, we often get the impression that this model no longer applies.

You may have heard the theory that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master something. And for many entrepreneurs, they’ve invested many hours in master their craft but very few, if any, hours on learning about marketing. In other words, they’re an expert in what they do. They’re not an expert in how to market what they do.

These are two distinct skill sets.

And, in business, unless you’re extraordinary at what you do and good fortune introduces you to the right people who talk you up in the right circles in the right moment so that everything grows from word-of-mouth alone . . . Marketing is something you likely need to learn.

If your business is more of a hobby? No need to even think about marketing.

But if it’s a business? Well . . . Of course you need to think, and perhaps even more important, learn about marketing.

It’s not indulgent to get help. It’s not indulgent to get a coach or a mentor in business. It’s important.

I can’t tell you how many people I meet who struggle in marketing their business because they try to figure it out on their own. It’s most of the people I see. I see the difference even a one day workshop with myself or others makes in their marketing approach. Huge blunders are avoided. Thousands of dollars are saved that would have been spent on the wrong thing (or even the right thing at the wrong time).

If you want to grow, you need help.

A good mentor or coach can shave years off your learning curve. 

But, how do you know when it’s the right moment?

First of all, it’s important to know which of the four stages of business you’re at. If you’re at Stage One then it’s natural and important to be experimental in your approach. Sometimes you need some time to just noodle around and figure some things out on your own (such as, “Do I even want to be in business?”). Unless you’ve got a very deep clarity inside that this business is the one you want to grow, it’s a fine thing to give yourself time to test out your ideas in small, low risk ways. Before you start a business, you might just host a workshop in your living room. You don’t need a marketing coach for this.

Second of all, some of your issues can be handled by doing a five minute support asking blitz. Truly. Just doing a Facebook shout out can handle more issues than not. 

But, if you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve asked for as much help as you can think to ask for an you’re still stuck? If you’ve been plateauing for months if not years? It might be time to spend the money to hire someone you trust or invest in your marketing education in other ways.

But, even so, it’s vital to get the right kind of support. In my experience, there are a series of steps that need to be achieved and it’s important to know where you are so that you get a support that meets you there. I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars on workshops that were three steps ahead of where they were and so they weren’t able to apply it.

Here’s what I see.

What Kind of Help To Get When: The Three Phases of Growing Your Business

Phase One: Marketing feels gross. This seems to be the primary place people feel stuck. Even the idea of marketing is abhorrent. As long as this is true, I don’t care what they try to learn, they likely won’t do it. They’ll avoid it. This is what I cover in my Marketing for Hippies 101 workshop.

Phase Two: Niche. Once you’re okay with the idea of marketing yourself, then the next question becomes, “What am I marketing? And to whom?” or, “What is the role I want to be known for in the marketplace?” I see so many people skip this step to try to learn how to ‘get clients’ but, ironically, this makes everything ten times harder. 99% of the problems I see in marketing have to do with a fuzzy niche. True story. It’s so central to growing a sustainable and resilient business that I created a whole website about it, wrote a book on it and launched a home study course about it. 

Phase Three: Getting found. Once you’ve got a clear niche, then you’re ready for what most people think of as marketing coaching. This is when you’re ready to learn about social media marketing, networking, public speaking, writing guest posts, blogging etc. But, if you try to skip the first two phases it’s not unlike flushing your money down the toilet. The best approach I know to getting found I’ve written up in my eBook Hub Marketing.

Don’t try to do it all on your own. Get the help you need. 

*

If you’re interested in getting my help, I encourage you to check out my Mentorship Program but, whether or not you get it from me, if you’re serious about growing your business in the next year, I urge you to invest in some help (at whatever level makes sense to you). 

The 1000+ Small Dreams Project

19800699_10154606493405671_8906803628215049469_oA few weeks ago, I saw that my old friend and colleague Alex Baisley (pictured here) had launched a new program when I read the following words in an email from him:

“Have you been wanting to horse-back ride? Scuba dive? Take a weekend road trip? Get a tattoo? Play the song you wrote in front of people? Go canoeing or camping with your family or friends? Host a dinner party for your neighbours? Try bringing improv or acting into your life? Do a life-drawing class?

Maybe you’ve thought about writing poetry, or taking a Mediterranean cooking workshop in your community, or martial arts? Learn what opera or bluegrass is all about? What about an instrument, a language?

Just that… you haven’t got round to it. Could you use a nudge?

Would you be willing to listen to my project about: The 1000 Small Dreams Challenge?

My goal here is to inspire 1000 good salt-of-the-earth people across Canada (and in a few other countries – wherever you are!) to pursue a small dream that rocks them”

Small dreams are so important in business.

I see so many people going for something big and huge. 

But business growth comes from small, little projects. In fact, most impressive, large and profitable businesses I know of come from this. Most non-profits start like this. They start small. I speak about this at length in my Niching Spiral Home Study Program: the need to create small, niche projects or experiments. 

And so, I thought I’d interview him on this subject that he has a great deal of experience with.

1000 small dreams

*

What’s the story of this project? where’d it come from? what did you see was missing?

I’ve had the unusual opportunity to be on the ground of a lot of big dreams and new businesses for a long time. And I see ONE THING missing that would help folks bring them to realization a little or a lot sooner.

I’ve had the Big Dream Program for something over 15yrs now and I spend my days talking with folks – a lot of them – about Big Dreams they’ve had for years & businesses or lifestyles they so want to create for themselves – if ‘life’ didn’t keep getting in the way for them. Jobs, responsibilities, feeling paralyzed by too many possibilities… Maverick people who feel in their bones they are meant to be doing something more in this world, for this world. And living day-to-day in the way they dream of – such as more spiritual practice, leaving a soul-sucking job, more family time, or traveling.

And… though there are many reasons for these challenges, I have found that manifesting ’the dream’ depends on one capability that most of us are not nourishing well:

If this sounds like you, and if you’re anything like me… you have about eight journals-full of ideas and schemings, hundreds of hours spent brainstorming and daydreaming, you have taken classes on this sort of thing, but… for some of us (me included)… months slip the hell by. And then years. And still… it ain’t happening. Eff. This hurts.

My, and my clients’, hard-earned point of view: I don’t think in most cases we are ‘wanting’ for genius or a more finely tuned idea.

I think the problem is usually that our Big Dreams are so big – at least emotionally – that we don’t know where or how to start, OR get ourselves to ‘do it’.

Enter the Small Dreams muscle. (you can see what happened with Lisa and her showers project below, for instance)

If we want to make ‘anything’ happen – like making a sandwich, there is a base-line capability at play. Let’s call this the ‘I can do this muscle’.

The stronger and more ‘you’ this muscle is, the more you can create for yourself. Period.

How to work your Capability muscle? And quickly?

Make dreams happen. Now. Small Dreams. Have a blast working THAT muscle, and watch what can happen. Examples below.

How?

Start a Small Dream. This week. Doesn’t matter if it’s related to your Big Dreams or not. The muscle doesn’t care. It. Will. Grow.

instagramWhat is a ‘small dream’?

A Small Dream is this:

  • Something you’ve been wanting to do, or explore for a long time, and not getting around to. Life is busy.
  • Requires no extra time or money than you have already – meaning there is nothing ‘outside you’ standing in the way, except perhaps for lack of the beauty of more social encouragement ;)
  • You give yourself a 3wk (21 day) window in which to do it.

In the Small Dreams Challenge, folks start with a workbook to help them decide what they’d like to do.

Why do small dreams matter? What’s the potential impact of people following them?

Small Dreams matter to a lot of us, because it’s SUCH A GREAT WAY to get started on something you care about, without turning it into some big thing we never get ‘round to. People are accomplishing things (examples below) that they’ve been thinking about for FOREVER. It develops the very muscle we may have been needing to accomplish our bigger dreams – such as starting that business!

Moreso: Small Dreams also matter for a much bigger ‘world reason’ which is 50% of why we are doing this, and publicly talking about it:

“You may not heal the whole planet with your small dream. But… you will contribute greatly to the ONE THING, I believe, that if anything is going to do it WILL heal our planet…

You become more sunshine, earth, and life-giving rain for the garden of the ideas in human hearts around you.

In other words, you help you and others unlock ideas and interests that WILL evolve our world further…

Here’s what I mean:

When we look around us at the world, or accidentally listen to the news, we can be taken out at the knees by the challenges in our world. At the same time… check this out…

  • Someone, somewhere was Small Dreaming of ditching the car and bicycling to work, not realizing that it would inspire his neighbours and children to do the same. It ended up resulting in a career change to someplace closer – and WAY better job.
  • Someone, somewhere is Small Dreaming of joining a pilates class. Little does she know she will meet Eshru there who will become her best friend, and change her life incomparably.
  • Someone, somewhere is Small Dreaming of learning to ride a horse, and it’s about to make her feel so, so, so lovely and authentic inside. It’s going to feel like she found a piece of herself she didn’t know was missing until she found it. And her kids TOTALLY notice, and love the new Mom in the house. Her twinkle is back.”

Can you give ten examples of small dreams?

Lisa had been wanting to provide showers for the homeless community in her home-city. She and her team had been working on this idea for many months. It was a Big Dream. When she adopted the ‘what could I do within 3 weeks’ Small Dream idea… they wound up giving showers, and more to homeless folks in exactly 3.5 weeks. Success.

natashaNatasha started and completed her first Small Dream: She and her hubby had been dreaming for a long time of doing a honeymoon camping trip. They did it! From Natasha: “I LOVE camping! So does my husband, Patrick, except he also loves his hairdryer (he does have REALLY nice hair!!) Finding a minute to sneak away is hard so we opted out of a big ticket honeymoon. After being together in 1990 for 1yr9months, finding each other again after 21years to be together, I finally married the love of my life this summer. Sneaking away just the 2 of us is extra special w 4 amazing kids, 2 dogs & 2 rabbits & busy jobs! It isn’t where you go; it’s who you’re with that makes any moment special.”

michelleMichelle took new look at a small ‘storage’ room in her apartment. She went to work a few days ago in the Challenge, and here’s what happened:
from Michelle as a poem: “storage room goes from stagnating, boxes and bags of clutter, to beautiful oasis meant for, relaxing, reading and marvellous meals, homemade hamburgers with pickles and coleslaw on a pretzel bun” Well done Michelle! She’s now working on her book of poetry.

michaelMichael started a Small Dream some time ago, and here’s what he said about where it LED to: “I always wanted to be on stage in front of alot of people and so i started telling stories to youngsters. 10 yrs later i met Alex, and started to tell at an open mic in front of a storytelling community. And now I not only tell, but am paid to PERFORM (with my whole spirit and body) in front of dozens of kids – who are a tough and most rewarding audience. I’m not quite at my full dream yet, but its coming!” 

cathyCathy had been reading and salivating over the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” and dreaming of transforming her home. She joined the 1000 Small Dreams Challenge. From Cathy when she started: “My small dreams challenge is to purge my home… I’ve been wanting to do this FOREVER and I keep putting it off. So for the next 21 days I am tackling a different aspect of the house (ie. clothes or a particular room).” Well she’s half-way through now, posting pictures every day, and just wrote this beautiful blog post called ‘My Suitcase and Letting Go ‘about her experience. (http://www.fortheloveofmommy.ca

Me, Alex, I founded this challenge, and I’m the same as every other leader in there. I picked a Small Dream for myself. EFT is SO helpful for me – it changes my life. AND I seem to avoid it like the plague. Armed with the beautiful encouragement in the group, I’m now on Day 7 of doing 20mins of EFT every day. And it’s making SUCH a difference, my god. 

Nicole has been writing poetry for years. And she loves it. After some deliberation in our challenge, she decided she was going to do something about this. She’s now compiling her book of poetry. Accountability for her (and many of us) in the group has been key for her now being at least a third of the way through completing her dream project.

jillFrom Jill in the Challenge: “Hi all. I’m glad to be in the group! I’ve been thinking all week about what I want to challenge myself with and … I wanted to commit to making 2-3 new recipes each week. I love buying beautiful cookbooks and never end up using them… My first recipe tackled last night …Baked Brie with candied pecans, raisins, brown sugar and phyllo pastry. The guests gobbled it up!” 

From Sarah: “Hi everyone – my small dream is to organize my time / activities better…so I can enjoy what I do…and also enjoy my down-time (because I won’t be over-thinking about what it is that I think I should be doing….). When I do this (set a schedule) my mind feels free, my stress lessens, I sleep better, eat better (who knew planning my food would actually help?) So – I’ve ordered a School year planner from a company called Passion Planner – and I’m looking forward to using it. I’ve also created a month envelope system for collecting all receipts, etc.” And Sarah has motored ahead with these things since.

Others: Gerri is finishing her book, Heather has designed and begun a 21-day self-love practice, Carol is taking a horseback riding lesson, Anne is doing an abstract art 21-day challenge for herself, Olivia has launched a workshop in her hometown, and Bill is finalizing his plans for a permaculture-based Challenge for himself. And there are piles more stories happening in here as I write this. Two posts just came up in our group with new Small Dreams while I write this. Yay!

What are the top three mistakes you see people making when tackling their small dreams?

  • Not starting one.
  • Too big. Choosing something that requires something they don’t yet have. (money, time, resources) – the essential point of a Small Dream is to evolve our accomplishment muscle. Ergo, I suggest choosing something with who you are, and what you have NOW.
  • Going it alone. In my personal experience – I’m doing 21 days of EFT and I’d have NOT done it several days now due to ‘busy-ness’, but knowing I can post my daily ‘accomplishment’ in the group – and get pats on the back to be honest – is the ONLY thing that got me through the times I didn’t want to do it. I see the same echoed over and over again in our group. Bottom line – try not to do it alone. Join us in our group OR get yourself a buddy to do your Small Dream with. Judging by our members so far, 90% of these small dreams would not have left the gate or got past day 5 were we not excited to post about our developments each day.

What are the top three tips you’d give people?

Choosing a Small Dream? Well aside from the pitfalls to avoid above, here’s what I recommend after YEARS of experience:

  • Fun Over Duty: Choose something fun or meaningful rather than something you just think you SHOULD do and honestly are just not caring about right now. Work your Small Dreams muscle first – and then you may find more energy or inspiration for some of the should-dos.
  • Share the heck out of your accomplishments, and even your challenges: Small Dreams are wickedly contagious. When you talk about them with other people, or share on social media, we have found a PILE of folks pick up on the energy of it. You can absolutely help others who might be feeling very stuck, or alone, with your Small Dream.
  • Re-consider the ‘I’m too busy thing’: A Small Dream doesn’t take more time or energy or money than you already have – I know you’re busy. My wife says that even when she’s quite full, she has a whole other stomach for a nice dessert. I believe she is right. Such is true also of small dreams and busy-ness. You’ve got a whole other ‘schedule’ for a bit of gorgeous Small Dream-ness, I reckon.

Can you offer up some Small Dream ideas to get people started thinking?

  • Design your very own daily spiritual or fitness practise based on activities that light you up – that you would like to commit to for 21 days.
  • Take a class on some topic that interests you: art, economics, permaculture, growing your own food, history…
  • Design you own educational experience for yourself for 3 weeks to explore something.
  • Pick a little doable goal for learning a new language, an instrument… Committing to a couple of lessons for instance, or getting yourself to the point you can order a simple meal or ask directions in Japanese.

What I think you’ll get, and not get, from a Small Dream Challenge whether with us, or on your own:

You may not suddenly become a perfectly-together buddha of a human being from doing a Small Dream. Didn’t work for me at any rate. It would seem, alas, I’m still imperfect (according to my teenagers anyway). But… you will become a lot more YOU in doing a small dream. This is the #BestGoalEver

Your ‘Small-dream-into-reality’ muscle will get stronger, and that means your more-buff muscle is available for another Small Dream, or a full-on Big Dream, or something for your family or career… you can start making new moves in your daily life, open up doors you couldn’t before because the doors were too heavy.

And… I think doing Small Dreams also, quite simply, makes our lives, and US, more interesting :)

Where can people learn more about your project?

If you would like to find out more about joining our 1000+ Small Dreams Challenge:

Here is the way in to our Challenge: 

bigdreamprogram.mykajabi.com/p/1000-Small-Dreams 

Here is our Private Facebook workgroup – The Small Dreams Forge – though you’ll need to register before coming in.

We are open for the summer – or maybe longer, and the price is a whopping $23 Can. You can do as many Small Dreams as you wish. There is also an optional (low-priced) Advanced Keener Club coming down the road for folks who want to turn Small Dreams into a life or WORK change. :)

Ongoing updates on my personal FB profile

Personal note from Alex:

I would love, for many reasons, to persuade you to join the 1000 Small Dreams Challenge and let me post about your accomplishments. And to give you the power of our beautiful social group. But… sales pitch aside…

I just really want you to start a Small Dream. Or a new one.

And if you do so, but prefer not to do it in our challenge, I would love one thing SO MUCH:

Would you write to me and tell me about it. I would like to hear if this post influenced you to try something new you’ve been wanting to do. And let me inspire others with your example. I’m talking to people every single day about what people are getting up to with their Small Dreams, and it makes a difference to them when I do. It is contagious. Inspiring. If you get up to something, tell me about it!

Big hug,
Alex

Guest Post: How to Teach a Rockin’ Intro Class That Isn’t a Scripted, Sales-y, Cheesy, Waste-of-Time Webinar

By Julie Wolk

Oops, you caught me . . .  I’m a webinar voyeur.

I love watching what other business coaches are doing . . .  both to learn what to do and, of course, what NOT to do (and then write lengthy blog posts about it).

So I saw an ad this morning on Facebook that enticed coaches into creating a consistent flow of clients into their practice (resulting, of course, in a 6-figure coaching business, because well, what would an FB ad be without a 6-figure promise?).

It was actually a decent ad . . .  casually written, not too sales-y, and it named very clearly the challenges that new coaches face when attempting to grow a business.

So I clicked (I mean, I was going to click anyways, cuz I’m a voyeur, but whatever).

There was a nice, simple landing page that told me that I was going to learn a 3-step system to generate 2, 5 or even 10 more clients each month.

Still ok. Clear, if totally unoriginal.

I signed up.

And . . .  It went downhill from there.

When I hopped on the (pre-recorded) webinar, I was immediately talked at for 15 minutes about my problems.

Wait.

Don’t I know my problems already? Didn’t your ad very clearly identify them and didn’t I already click on it and sign up?

If I weren’t just being a webinar voyeur, I would have shut the thing off after 3 minutes of that crap.

(But instead, I suffered through it, because I really wanted to dramatize this blog post).

And then there was the power point – with the exact words he was saying. Super engaging (not).

And of course, the script. And we all know it’s a script, because there are all these other coaches out there selling the “exact webinar script I used to earn 5 million dollars in 5 weeks.”

It honestly makes me want to scream:

“DO YOU TAKE ME FOR AN IDIOT?”

I know, calm down, Julie.

Finally I got approximately 5 minutes on the actual 3-step system to get 2, 5 or even 10 more clients each month, and was then subjected to 20 minutes of, wait for it . . .

The Sales Pitch.

Can we say waste of time?

Ok, so we know what we don’t like.

But here’s the thing.

Intro classes (whether you teach them live, on the phone, or as a webinar) can be an incredibly effective, authentic and FUN way to get new clients and fill your workshops and programs.

But if even the word “webinar” makes you roll your eyes, then keep reading for a different way to do it.

A Natural, Non-salesy Approach to Intro Classes that Relies on Your Wisdom, Not on Gimmicks, Scripts, or Ridiculous Sales Pitches.

You’ve got wisdom to share. Yes?

You’ve got a niche and a great package, retreat or group program. And now you want to sell it to people. To sell it, you need to market it first (I think you already know that).

But people don’t usually just jump in and buy a high-level program, package or retreat when they know nothing about you.

I can tell you from direct experience that if you just post on Facebook about your amazing 6-month coaching package, people won’t buy it. They probably won’t even get on the phone with you for a free consult most of the time.

But if they get an hour or two live with you?

And you share your wisdom, your analysis, your vision, your approach, your method . . .  if you show them the possibility of change and you stir up excitement and answer burning questions and bring your full, passionate self?

Well then . . .  they might sign up for that 6-month coaching engagement (or at least hop on the phone for that free consultation).

An intro class is the perfect low-risk, low-cost, low-commitment marketing strategy to help people get to know, like and trust you and what you do so they feel comfortable buying your higher-value program.

*

When Do I Create An Intro Class?

If you have clarified your niche, established your point of view, and created a package or program, then you are ripe to create a rockin,’ high-value, intro class.

And remember, the point of your intro isn’t to make loads of money, it’s to introduce people to your work so they might eventually purchase your services. They are usually low-cost ($15-$25).

In other words, your intro class is the top of your sales funnel (or client pathway if you prefer). Simply put, here it is:

Low-Cost Intro Class –> Free Private Consultation –> Purchase of Package/Program

Seriously. That’s it. This could be your entire business.

And the best part is, you can teach this same class over and over again to different people (you really don’t need to create a bunch of different classes).

Your business could literally be one two-hour class, free consultations, and a high-value package. That’s ALL YOU NEED. Imagine that.

(I know, you have 20 other things you want to offer. But just consider it . . .  especially if you’re into growing a financially sustainable business in an organic, streamlined way, and not burning out. You can always add more stuff later).

I filled my 1-1 coaching practice in a little over a year teaching intro classes every couple months, plus doing some strategic hub marketing (aka networking).

When you need new clients, instead of just praying those referrals come through, all you do is teach your intro class (and I’m all about praying, but peeps, you gotta take action too).

*

So What Do I Teach In Said Intro Class?

If you want in-depth instructions on how to design the entire intro class based on the cycles of nature (yep, it’s super cool), check out my previous post here. But here, I’ll focus on the content you’re teaching specifically.

First, here are three general tips:

  • Be transparent in your marketing for this class. There is no need to fool people into joining your class so you can sell them something. Heck, you can even tell people beforehand on your sales page, like I do, “In addition to being a content-rich, value-packed class, this is also a great way to get to know me and see if private coaching/my fall course/my cool retreat is right for you.”
  • Let your wisdom sell itself. This is an opportunity for you to provide real value to people and for people to see that you’ve got some street cred. Don’t worry about selling your program. If you design the content of your intro class to naturally lead people to want to explore working more deeply with you, then you don’t need to spend 30 minutes on a sales pitch. Intrigued people will want more.
  • Be real. People want to know YOU. Use an outline and bullet points, not a word-for-word script. Take deep breaths and don’t worry about being perfect.

*

How Do I Structure My Intro Class?

In your intro class, you’re basically going to give people a map or overview of what you do to help them solve the problems they have. You’re going to give them great information and useful tips they could take home and start to implement – but they’re not going to figure out all their issues and solve all their problems at this class (that happens in the in-depth workshop or coaching program you’re selling).

You’re simply going to tell them why things are the way they are and how to make them work better according to your point of view and methodology. You’re going to show them what’s possible.

People worry about giving away too much. Here’s what I think: Give it away.

If your students are super smart and precocious, they’ll try to do it themselves (and could probably make some decent progress if they’re disciplined, because after all, you’re going to give them a really good map). Take this as a compliment.

But for most people, they’re going to need some additional help actually implementing. And that’s the point.

If you’re a healer, they’re not going to get healed during this class. If you’re a business coach, they’re not going to start making more money on this call.

They’re going to get a map, and if they dig your map, then they can hire you to help them implement it.

Here’s a format you can use for the main content of your class:

1. Define the Presenting Problem. This is a brief section to acknowledge the problems or challenges the people in your class have and to energetically bring everyone together. It can be just a couple minutes (not like the guy this morning that told me about how awful my life was for 15 minutes). You’re basically saying, “Here’s what I see as the challenge you’re facing. Do y’all vibe with this? Well, OK, glad we’re on the same page here, let’s dive in and figure this out.” One key here is that at this point, you are not analyzing the problem nor telling them what YOU think their real problem is, you’re acknowledging the outward problems or symptoms they are presenting (you’ll get to that analysis later!).

2. Offer the Alternative Possibility. This is another brief couple minutes to clarify that in fact, things can be different, and you’ll be teaching them just how they can be different starting very shortly, yay! This is also known as the “big promise” of your class, or you could also call it an intention. What do you hope people receive by the end of this class? Announce it here so they know where you’re going with all this and can get excited about it (people like to be told what’s gonna happen).

3. Explain Your Point of View on the Situation. Now we get to the meat of it. This section is all about context and credibility. They need to understand where you’re coming from and that you have an important analysis or diagnosis of their situation and challenges and what to do about it. Now you start to tell them what you see as the true cause of their problems.

Your point of view tells people how you see the world, how you see their problems, and how just maybe, they’ve been going about solving them in a way that might not be working so well for them (and this is not to shame and blame them, it’s to help them). Perhaps they’re challenged because society’s set up in a screwy way that doesn’t support it. Or maybe it’s because everyone else in the industry seems to think there’s a simple band-aid approach. Or maybe it’s because they’re getting in their own way. Of course your point of view will be unique.

After you’ve analyzed the problem, it’s a good moment to offer your unique take on the solution, which is different from everyone else’s way of solving the problem. Because if the problem is actually about X (as you stated above), then you’re going to need a different approach to solve it: “Well here’s my approach . . .”

4. Lay Out Your Methodology. This is the heart of your intro class. In this section, you’re going to lay out your map to the solution. This is where you get to share those 3 tips or 5 steps or whatever it is your solution consists of. And I do recommend numbering and naming them, because it’s way easier for people to grasp and remember. In my intro class, I teach the definition of a Natural Business, the 4 Principles of a Natural Business, and the 8 Stages of the Natural Business Cycle in my intro class.

This is likely the longest part of your class. Each of your points may have several sub-points. If you’re doing the class live, you might have people do an exercise, a dyad, or journal. Just make sure your thoughts are organized into an outline in advance. Make a goal for what 3-5 things you most want people to walk away remembering.

5. Weave in Some Stories.  Include a few real-life client stories, examples, or case studies. They should be about people in your target audience specifically. This will help your students relate in a more real way to your work and show them what’s possible. 

After all this, for those who feel a resonance with you, your point of view and methodology, there will be a natural inclination to want to go further and to create this for themselves.

The natural next step is to offer that to them.

*

How to Make an Offer (Not a Sales Pitch)

Offer. Just like it sounds. I’m offering you something. You don’t have to take it. I’m just offering it.

With a pitch, you literally need to catch it or jump out of the way so you don’t get hit.

But you do need to let people know what you have available for them; they won’t magically just get in touch because they think you’re cool (well a couple really eager ones might actually, but don’t bank on this).

If you’ve given over solid information, the offer is simple,  all you need to say is something like this:

If this all sounds resonant/compelling/fun/exciting to you, and you want help actually implementing it and making these kinds of changes in your own life, then I’d love to talk to you about it.

I’m sending around a sign-up sheet now so you can choose a time to talk to me if you’d like.

It’s simply a 30-minute, no-pressure consultation call to see if you’re a good fit for my program/retreat/course.

And, I believe you’ll find the call itself very clarifying/powerful/insightful/inspiring, whether or not we end up working together.

Thanks so much!

That’s not so bad, right? You can do that!

So take a crack at your first intro class. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Teach it to 5 people. Just give it a shot.

Want some help? Get in touch.

JulieWolk_Hollyhock15Julie Wolk helps coaches, consultants, and healers grow niche-rooted, burnout-free, blossoming businesses by modeling them after the way nature works. She’s a firm believer that if we step off the hamster wheel, and tune into nature’s rhythms, we can grow more sustainable lives, businesses and even — gasp! — a better world. A lifelong nature freak, she has over 15 years of experience turning vision into reality, and would love to help you create a simpler, more enjoyable, nature-led life and business. You can find her at www.juliewolkcoaching.com.

The real reason to do intro workshops (and what this can teach you about the rest of your marketing).

52128490 - speaker giving a talk at business meeting. audience in the conference hall. business and entrepreneurship.

I’m a big fan of the intro workshop – that two to three hour experience that gives people a good taste of who you are and what you do.

In the first seven or so years of my business, these kinds of workshops were my bread and butter. I did them for free and used them as a way to fill up my weekend workshops (which I offered on a Pay What You Can basis). Sometimes I still do them.

The model, though lean, worked well enough and I toured happily for years.

Of course, in the first few years, I was still sorting out what exactly it was that I had to say about marketing. It took me five years for things to really gel. And then I felt it. It all came together. My intros felt more clear, coherent and solid.

Right around that time, people started paying me money for these free workshops.

I would look up surprised as they were filling out a $50 cheque to me, “This is a free workshop.” I’d tell them.

They’d look at me, nod and say, “Uh huh…” and then finish filling out the cheque.

After that point, I began to charge for the intros.

I’ve led dozens if not hundreds of these kinds of intro sessions over the years and so I’m well acquainted with them. Of course, I never went to a workshop on how to do them or structure them. I just mucked about until I landed on something I liked and that made sense.

But it wasn’t until a few months ago when it really clicked for me as to why we even do these intro workshops in the first place.

It’s a good question to ask:

Why bother? What’s the point of doing an intro workshop? How would you know if they were successful? What are we trying to accomplish in doing them?

Well, it’s good to contextualize all of this in a bigger picture of marketing.

I imagine you want to have a sustainable business and fill up your workshops and coaching programs and so you’re doing intro workshops to support that. The intro workshops are a way of getting more clients.

Fair enough.

So let’s step back a bit. There are three things that must be established in your marketing for it to work: relevance, credibility and value.

Relevance means that they see a fit for them.

Credibility means that they trust you.

Value means that they see what you’re offering as a good deal.

In an intro workshop, your workshop title, poster, sales letter etc. is what will establish the relevance. People will look at it and say, “Aha! Yes! A workshop for people with fibromyalgia! That’s for me!” Relevance comes from a clear niche.

If you do your marketing right, they walk into the room with relevance established.

This is why it feels so off when you show up at a live, intro workshop and the first half hour is spent establishing relevance. Or the whole event. I remember I went to one workshop about, in a nutshell, how to make more money.

And the first thing the presenter asked when he came out was, “Who here wants to make more money?” And then proceeded, in a variety of ways to ask that question over the first few minutes and to tell us a lot of stories about how making more money was a really important thing. I sat there baffled. I looked down at the handout which had the name of the workshop written on it and thought, “Why the hell would I be here if it wasn’t because I wanted to learn how to make more money?”

So, the content of your intro workshop is not there to establish relevance primarily.

Some people would suggest that the whole point of an intro workshop is to establish the value of your offer (e.g. “Come to my weekend workshop!”, “Come to my retreat!” or “Sign up for my coaching package.”).

And certainly I’ve been to some of these and you might have too. The intro workshop (or teleseminar) promises a lot but delivers on very little. It’s frustrating. By the end, you realize it’s been a long pitch. You kept thinking the substance and content was about to appear but it never did.

I once hosted a colleague and realized part way through that he was, literally, reading out his sales letter. The same colleague was offering a free eBook in the lead up to a program of his and the eBook, despite having a lovely cover, was, very literally, a sales letter for his program. Even formatted as a sales letter. I shook my head at the bait and switch.

When people come for content but get a commercial they’re bound to feel tricked and upset.

So, no, I don’t think that our intro workshops are primarily about establishing the value of our offers. Who wants to sit through a two hour, covert pitch.

So, what is the point? Well, if it’s not relevance or value, then it must be credibility.

And this is the freeing realization: your intro workshops are there to help people get to know, like and trust you. Your intro workshops are there for people to get a sense of your vibe. They are there for people to see if there’s an alignment between the way they see things and the way you see things. They are there for people to decide if you’re a fit for them. They are there for people to learn about your point of view and see if that makes sense for them.

That’s really about it.

If they like you and resonate with your point of view and then you make a good offer of a program, product or package that is high value, they are likely going to say ‘yes’ to it.

If they do not like you or resonate with your point of view and then you make a good offer of a program, product or package that is high value, they are likely going to say ‘no’ to it.

It’s that simple.

Perhaps this is why so many people in their intro workshops, tele seminars, and sales letters skip this credibility piece (beyond testimonials). They skip sharing their point of view entirely.

I’ve read sales letters that, basically, say,

“Are you struggling with _________ problem? Doesn’t it hurt? Let me tell you my story about how bad it was and then some stories of clients. And shit… doesn’t it cost you a lot to have this unresolved? Here’s how it cost me. And don’t you want _________ result? I mean imagine your life without it! Imagine you died without getting this result. Wouldn’t you feel like an asshole on your death bed. But this result can be yours when you sign up for my package and learn my top secret method.”

The whole sales letter is heavy on relevance and value but there’s so little credibility in it. It’s big on hitting the pain points and painting a picture of how it might be and very low on offering any meaningful take on how that might happen.

Your intro workshops are a form of marketing, that’s true. But the next marketing, in my mind, is educational. It teaches them something.

Am I saying that you should give away all of your content for free?

No.

You couldn’t fit it all into an intro workshop.

I am saying to give all of the context away for free.

Now, ‘all’ might be overstatement.

But you can give people the 30,000 foot view. You can let them know how you see the big picture of it all. You can give them a chance to ask you questions for the 100 foot or 10 foot view on places they’re struggling. You give show them your overall map to help them make sense of why they’re so damned stuck.

If they want to sail from Island A to Island B, you don’t teach them how to build and sail a boat in your intro. You bust out your map and show them the route you’d suggest and make your case for that route instead of others. You first make the case for your point of view, not your programs, products or packages. You don’t market yourself. You market your message.

If you do this, you will engender more trust.

If you do this, people will want to know about your offers.

If you do this, people will be more likely to spend more money with you.

If you do this, people will feel confident in your approach to these issues.

And this doesn’t mean that you need to make massive changes in your marketing.

But consider the subtle difference between these two approaches.

Approach #1: Selling Your Workshop – “If you come to my weekend workshop you’ll learn the following seven things!”

Approach #2: Sharing Your Point of View – “If you want to get ______ result, here are seven things you need to understand.” and then at the end of the workshop, “If that approach and those seven things make sense to you, you might enjoy my weekend workshop because we go deeper into all of those things.” Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life fame has done a brilliant job of this with a free checklist she offers of eight things you need to have in place to get more clients. “The checklist itself,” she says, “is a simple list of all the steps we complete in our Uncage Your Business program, with a note at the end that they can work on this with me live and a link to get on the UYB waitlist.”

It’s a subtle shift in framing but the impact is powerful.

To take it back to my friend who was offering the eBook that was, actually, a sales letter. It was selling his course about how to get more clients through offering discovery sessions. That was the orientation of the ‘eBook’ – making the case for them to spend a lot of money in his program.

I emailed them and suggested that they might make a subtle shift and reorientation towards making the case for his point of view. The whole eBook could have been making the case for a business model in which all of the marketing led people to a one hour ‘discovery session’. That’s a solid point of view. There is a strong case to be made for that. Once he had convinced people of this approach, then he might find them very open to signing up for his program.

I was met with a frosty response.

Ah well.

To sum it up: Make the case for your point of view first (credibility). Make the case for your services, programs, packages and products second (value).

Additional Free Resources:

Video Interview on Point of View Marketing (70 min)

Point of View Marketing Primer Video (10 min)

Products to Consider:

The Workshop Package: A collection of my best resources on filling up your workshops and events.

The Art of the Full House

Point of View Marketing

Don’t Market Yourself. Market Your Message.

Getting Off The Fence: Hobby vs. Business

20260629 - grunge wooden fence isolated on white, clipping path

Is what you do a hobby or is it a business?

This is an important question to answer because most entrepreneurs I know are on the fence about it.

There’s no right or wrong answer to it. But I know a lot of people who say it’s one and do it like the other.

My friend Theo drives for UPS. He loves his job. It’s his meditation. He offers massage for free on the side as his gift to the community. It’s a hobby for him.

But I know a lot of people who are baffled by why their business isn’t growing and, when I look at it, it’s clear. They aren’t treating it like a business. They don’t invest in it. They don’t work on it as well as in it. They don’t make systems. They do everything on their own. They haven’t sorted out their niche. None of which would matter if it were a hobby.

If you treat it like a hobby, it will never grow like a business might (and, to be frank, even if you treat it like a business, there are no guarantees it will grow at all).

But it can be a huge relief to jump off of the fence in one direction or the other.

If it’s a hobby, get a full time job and just enjoy doing it when you have the space and feel the urge to share it or work on it.

If it’s a business, then focus, hustle, work on it every day.

Which way do you want to jump?

*

Note: If you’re clear that you’re wanting to really jump off the fence on the side of building your business, I invite you to get on the email list for my more in-depth, mentorship program. You can sign up here to be the first to hear when spaces open up.

Eight Business Building Thoughts from Rebecca Tracey

Rebecca_9202_Cropped_SmallRebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life (pictured right) is one of my dearest colleagues. She’s produced solid, reliable content with an attitude and personality that is unique to her.

She’s getting ready to launch her program Uncage Your Business in a few days and I wanted to do the best possible job at introducing her and her content.

So here are eight, big business-building thoughts from her.

The first six are quick, straight-to-the-bottom-line blog posts (I’ve included some teaser text for each of them but you can click on the links to read more).

The last two are videos that require (and are worth) an email opt-in.

Thought #1: Don’t Make A Website for Your Business Until Your Read This

“Unless your business is super solid and you are crystal clear on what you do, who you work with, and how you do it, any efforts to build a website or come up with a great logo are a massive waste of your time.”

Thought #2: 3 Reason You Need to Be Selling Packages

“If you’re a coach or any other kind of solopreneur who wants to be able to work online, you might have heard me bang on and on about how to create your packages for your business. But after chatting with some people in my free Facebook community, I realized that the idea of packages may be new to you, and not entirely clear.”

Thought #3: Why Choosing A Niche is So Hard (and how to make it easier)

“My take on niche is simple. Forget avatars. Forget ideal client. Forget age ranges and demographics. Focus on PROBLEMS.”

Thought #4: Your Message And Why It Matters

“The only way you will get clients is if they can understand what you do and see that it’s something they need. If you can’t describe it or get all wordy and stay with the higher level stuff, no one will get it and their eyes will gloss over and they will head for the drink table before you even finish your 5 min rambling elevator pitch.”

Thought #5: The Best Way to Get More Clients Quickly

“I’m all about the slow build and taking the time to build something solid and sustainable – but I’m also all about paying your rent and being able to eat and stuff. So here’s what I recommend for getting clients right NOW in your business, while you work on the more sustainable methods in the meantime.”

Thought #6: 3 Ways to Sell More

“We have all seen it (and let’s be honest, we’re all sick of it). The vague, wishy washy, “sounds nice but I’d never buy it” kind of offers. The ones promising you authenticity, your best life and business, that promise to help you thrive, or raise your vibration, or find vitality, or claiming they will help you leap over the hurdles in your business (and life!), help give you energy for new possibilities. And so on. Hell, you might even be sick of your OWN packages and descriptions of your services (you wouldn’t be the only person reading this who feels that way). And being sick of your own work is NOT good for business. So how to we clear away all the clutter and actually create packages that offer results, and then sell those packages in a way that actually speaks to people?”

Thought #7 (12-min video): Why you’re not making any money in your business

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 8.26.30 AM

Thought #8 (20 min video): How I Grew My Business Quickly

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 1.25.22 PM

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out her Uncage Your Business program.

What if the people I most want to help are broke?

5416785_s

There are three main criteria of a viable target market.

First, it needs to be clear. As a prospective client, I should know immediately if I’m in that group or not.

Second, we need to be able to find those clients. There should be hubs.

Third, there need to be enough of those clients who can afford to pay you full price.

Ah.

That third one.

What if the people you most want to help don’t have much money?

If that’s true, hand over my heart, what you have is a non-profit-profit. I suggest you legally structure yourself as such and generate your salary through fundraising. Stop making yourself and your clients suffer by pressuring yourself and them to pay you with money they don’t have.

But what if there might be more possibilities here?

They’re broke.

There’s a big question as to whether or not that’s true.

Sometimes it’s not that clients don’t have money but that your marketing is terrible and they don’t see the value in what you offer; and you are terrified to talk to them about working with you and you utterly collapse when a conversation about money comes up.

It really could be that. Or it might be that your current business model will never be profitable. It could be that too.

Or it might be that your current business model will never be profitable. It could be that too.

Years ago, I met with the good people running Green Enterprise Toronto, an independent, green business network that would, eventually, become Green Enterprise Ontario. The business is still around, now known as Green Enterprise Movement. As I sat at their Spadina Street office in Toronto, they told me that their business model wasn’t working. They were trying to sustain themselves on dues from their members and it wasn’t nearly enough. They needed more money but their members weren’t able or willing to pay more. It wasn’t until they had a conversation with the Toronto City Council that headway was made. The city saw they were providing a service that properly should have been the domain of the city – supporting local businesses – and so the city was able to put some funding towards it. Without the funding from the city at that point, the Green Enterprise Toronto project would have utterly collapsed.

Edmonton had a similar group for years called Live Local, of which I was a founding board member. Same issue but, in this case, the Edmonton City Council didn’t step up and the organization folded.

My friend Robindra Runsan incredible project called It’s Time to Bloom. They throw a weekend event for local yogis that has yoga classes and workshops, inspiring talks from big name speakers and sweet, classy dance parties.

Every year, it lost money.

“Did you make any money this year?” I asked him, full of hope that this might have been the year it turned around for him.

“We only lost about $5000 this year!”

Cities need more people like Robindra who do what they do for the love and not the money and bring such fine things in.

But he was stuck. He couldn’t raise ticket prices and he couldn’t guarantee that his events would sell out. It was always so close to the wire.

“I’m sorry to hear that man.” I said, commiserating with him.

“But we’ve got it figured out for next year!” he said.

My ears perked up.

“Festival grants!” he smiled. “We realized we’re a great fit for a lot of these grants and, with them, everyone can get paid and we don’t lose money.” He told me that they were also deepening their exploration of corporate sponsorship.

What he had on his hands was a social enterprise. His project was a mix of business and non-profit. It took him five years to see it. Some people never see it.

Now, with a different business model, It’s Time to Bloom might not have needed grants. For example, if they came up with a “Bloom Yoga Teacher Training” or a “Bloom School of Yogi Business” or “Bloom Life Coaching Program for Yogis” then maybe they could have afforded to lose on the big event if it was an effective marketing tool to fill their higher-end programs.

If your people can’t afford to pay you what you need to sustain yourself then you have four options:

  1. Change nothing, try to get water from a stone and burn out in an ashen pit of poverty, bitterness and resentment.
  2. Drop that target market for a more profitable one and simply volunteer your time to help those people who can’t pay.
  3. Focus most of your efforts on a more profitable target market and give the work or service to the people you most love at a discounted rate (e.g. gift economy, pay-what-you-can, sliding scale, or barter).
  4. Shift into a social enterprise or non-profit model and raise money through grants, sponsorship or individual giving.

Which option would you choose?

The Israeli Dutch Man’s Amazing Shrinking Business Workshop

m2q4sAxFA few weeks ago, I had lunch with the good Govert van Ginkel, a fine facilitator and practitioner of goodwill amongst people through his workshops and one on one work.

He told me the story of a Business Bootcamp he attended in Holland last year.

It was led by an Israeli man who had moved to Holland twenty years before.

Holland has about 16 million people and a full million of them have had to become independent contractors, without pensions or benefits, due to the economy and layoffs.

Seeing this, this fellow decided this might be a group of people in need of help from the kind of business workshops he did.

And so Govert saw this workshop flash across his Facebook over and over again until he finally decided to sign up. It was a full weekend workshop, including lunch and snacks. He was charging $65. Govert knew that this would barely make the man anything.

In the end, the man got 1,000 people signed up. So that’s $65,000. But, once you take out the cost of the venue, materials, food and time put into it… it’s money but it’s not as much as it might seem at first glance.

By the end of the weekend, there were only about 400 people left. This might seem like a story of an embarrassing failure but it’s actually the story of a strange kind of business success.

Govert told me that, when they’d come back from every break, there would be fewer chairs. Numbers were being tracked and paid attention to. So, it never felt like the numbers were dwindling. There was never that deflating feeling even though it was clear there were fewer people.

The trainer pointed out that a big mistake people made in sales were to meet strangers and try to sell them, but that this missed two steps. That the first step was, yes, to meet strangers but then to become friends with them, to foster some kind of trust between you and then to sell to them and then, finally, to invite them to be ambassadors of your work. He was advocating a sort of slow marketing of the kind Robert Middleton outlines in his Marketing Ball metaphor.

At one point, he was challenged as to why he was leading the workshop in English and not Dutch. Hadn’t he learned the language? He expressed that he had but that, when he spoke Dutch, because of his accent, people thought it was ‘cute’ and he felt like that diminished his stature and authority as a professional. I imagine some people didn’t like that answer and others of his answers.

But he wasn’t there asking for people’s vote.

He wasn’t going for approval from anyone.

He was sharing himself and giving every bit of value he could that weekend knowing that his style and approach wouldn’t be for everyone. He was willing to have his personality and content get a polarized response. He was willing to be rejected. He knew that the 400 people left at the end of his workshop would be there because they liked him and what he had to say. He knew that they would be the most likely people to say ‘yes’ to his offer of coaching packages at the end of the workshop.

It’s a different way of looking at things. Most people would look at more than half the people leaving the workshop early as a sign of failure. But what if it was a strange sort of success?

He realized that marketing is about filtering, not seduction.

And so he began with generosity. He offered a full weekend to people at a bargain price. He did it knowing he might lose money on the front end. He did that instead of trying to sell a bunch of strangers into an expensive weekend workshop. He allowed for slowness by creating a space for people to get to know him and see if it was a fit for them.

NOTE: This blog post is not an endorsement for this man or his content (neither of which I know). I am not suggesting I would be aligned with the marketing approaches he teaches in his workshops or his style. I am not suggesting I wouldn’t be either. 

Blog for Clients: An Interview with Corrina Gordon-Barnes

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.21.53 PMI’ve known Corrina Gordon-Barnes for a few years now and my respect and affection for her have only deepened. She coaches, consults and runs a very fine blog for conscious service providers. She’s got a lot of thoughts worth hearing about how to create a blog for yourself and how to do it in such a way that it actually gets you clients rather than wasting your time (In fact, she’s made her popular Blog for Clients course available as a self-study training course).

Blogging is something I know a bit about, having written 600+ blog posts myself. However, I can tell you that I’ve written precisely zero of them with any sense of strategy. It’s been a way for me to get clear on my own thoughts. What Corrina is offering here is a far more strategic, wise and profitable investment of time than anything I’ve done.

So, I thought I would invite her to share her thoughts on the matter.

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.27.36 PMTad: What is the difference between blogging and blogging for clients?

Corrina: I like to use the analogy of cooking.

Scenario one: I’m by myself. I’m cooking a soup. Yum, I’m going to really enjoy this soup. I’ll just cook according to my taste, I won’t consider quantities, I’ll just focus completely for myself; my and my soup is what I’m all about.

Scenario two: I want to feed my friends. They’re hungry. They’re coming over in two hours. I think about their allergies, their taste preferences. I plan out my cooking so I have enough provision for all of them and so that it’s ready on time for them.

This is the difference. Blogging is for me; blogging for clients is when I focus on others, think about their needs, think about how I can serve them, and then work backwards, getting strategic? about how to meet their needs through what I’m offering.

When we’re blogging for clients, we blog in such a way that it gives potential clients a taste of our approach, plus – importantly – what we have to offer through our paid-for products and services. When we blog, we give our potential clients an opportunity to fall in love with us, to feel safe with us, to feel that somehow we’re aligned and belong together. We’re in the same resonance.

Blogging might be fun in and of itself, but blogging for clients actually leads to clients, increased credibility and increased income. Blogging for clients is not about writing as a hobby; it’s about blogging as your key marketing activity. It actually works for you, supporting your business to grow and flourish and become profitable. AND it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

Why do most people’s blogs get so little engagement and no clients for them? What are they missing?

They don’t first decide what they’re selling and then work backwards from there. They don’t reverse engineer their blogs. In my self-study training course, Blog for Clients, we start with the product or service you want to sell more of, or have people hire you more frequently for, and then we choose blog topics and structure the blogs with this end in mind.

Wow. That’s so simple. Totally.

People at first worry about being strategic or having structure, they worry it’s going to limit their freedom or creativity, but here’s the truth: the writing of the blog actually can be more creative and free-flowing, once you’re writing from strategy and structure.

Another thing people miss is that they don’t give blogging enough of a chance. They give up too soon. And they don’t learn how to do it properly, from people who’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t. They stumble along, trying to figure it out themselves, rather than giving themselves the chance to invest in a learning journey with this incredible marketing approach.

Blogging is the #1 way I built my business over the decade I’ve been self-employed. People look at the word “blogging” and think it looks like something teenagers do, or people who have too much time on their hands. They don’t realize the power at their finger-tips!

What are the top three blunders people make when blogging for clients? And what should they be doing differently?

Blunder #1: They try to speak to everyone, a “spray and pray” kind of approach, rather than honing in on ONE ideal client and writing every blog for them.

Solution: Write each blog to ONE person. I actually start my blogs, “Hey Hannah”, picture my ideal client, write the blog, and then delete the greeting at the end!

Blunder #2: They don’t blog consistently. It’s sporadic, impulsive; they’ll write a flurry and then go awol for months. Think about your favourite TV show or magazine; we love that feeling of regularity, of being able to expect something will show up in our inbox or letter box or screen. We come to trust the producers.

Solution: Commit to an editorial calendar; hold yourself accountable for contributing great value regularly to your community. Be in it for the long-game.

Blunder #3: They forget that a blog is a conversation. We have a whole module in Blog for Clients about how to inspire more comments and what to do about them (because people worry about spam and trolls and negative comments).

Solution: In the way you write, and in your encouragement of comments, remember that a blog is powerful because it’s a heart-to-heart two-way conversation.

Any last advice of thoughts to people who are building their blogs to get clients?

We’re not born knowing how to do marketing.

Likewise, we’re not born knowing how to do blogging.

I often hear from people after they’ve taken Blog for Clients, they say something like: “I nearly didn’t take this course. I knew how to write. I liked writing. I didn’t realize there was actually an art and science to blogging; I thought I could just figure it out” – and they’re so grateful that they learned how to do it so it actually WORKS for them, business-wise. Otherwise, we can enjoy blogging but we won’t see the fruits of our labour. And our business won’t reach the level it can go to, with blogging as the catalyst.

About Corrina:

Corrina Gordon-Barnes wants to live in a world where marketing is fun, clients turn up easily, and money flows to those who do work that helps and heals.

As a certified coach, marketing teacher and self-employment champion, she’s been featured on MindBodyGreen, The Daily Muse, LifeByMe and MarketingForHippies and published in The Ecologist, OM Yoga, Diva, and The London Paper. She’s author of Turn Your Passion to Profit: a step-by-step guide to getting your business off the ground.

When she’s not writing blogs and teaching courses, you can find her reading chick-lit, making vegan blueberry cheesecake, and trying to catch her niece and nephew on the monkey bars.

Take her self-study training course – Blog for Clients – and read her book – Turn Your Passion to Profit – to discover how to stay happy and profitable on the self-employment path at http://youinspireme.co.uk

Guest Post: Marketing is Building Trust

bait-and-switchby Tamar Henry

I am in the coaching/personal development industry.

I’m a coach and I’m also a consumer of the industry via other coaches and healers. So are most of my colleagues. While we don’t have to be consumers of this industry, per se, many of us believe that in order to learn the things we want to learn and become the leaders and business owners we want to be, investing in ourselves through other coaches and programs, trainings and certifications is not just preferable, it’s necessary.

We spend thousands of dollars investing in ourselves. A lot of that money is well-spent.

But some of it isn’t.

One of the reasons that trust between practitioners and consumers gets eroded within the personal development industry is that it’s commonplace to market one thing and deliver something else, skimp on value or simply leave out important details. I wonder what the breaking point is. When will coaches, who are here to make a difference, but get burned over and over, exit the industry altogether?

Recently, I signed up for a free session with a representative of a successful coaching business. The session was described to me ahead of time. A coach would help me uncover a subconscious issue that I’m having. Even though I sometimes take issue with the entire idea of “blocks”, I resonated with the owner of the coaching company’s story and what she had to say. I asked the owner if the session would include solutions or ways to address these issues once they had been identified. She assured me that solutions would be provided during the session.

I had the session with a perfectly nice coach who worked for the company. At the top of the call, as is standard procedure, she explained to me how the session would proceed and that she’d invite me to invest in a program – if I was interested – at the end of the call. Later, the block that she identified, and the metaphors she used to illustrate it, did not resonate with me. After that portion of our call, when I asked how I might address the block, she simply invited me to listen to the pitch. In other words, there was no solution to be provided on the call. I’d have to pay for that.

There are a few things that got me quite frustrated as a result of this call:

1) When I signed up for the call, there was no indication that I would only receive a solution in the form of being invited to invest in a program. In fact, an invitation to invest was not even mentioned.

This is what marketing strategist Beth Grant calls failing to set a “covenant.” You set a covenant with someone when you are clear with them that you intend to invite them to invest with you (possibly further if they have already invested) during a portion of a call, talk, webinar, or workshop. I’ve had dozens of free calls with people in this industry and I strongly believe this is a necessary step that establishes trust.

I don’t mind if you invite me to invest with you. In fact, I expect you to invite me to your program (and in many cases I’m excited to hear about it!) but you need to tell me that you are going to invite me.

2) The coach who called me, while personable and sweet, had a method that I ended up being extremely skeptical of. She didn’t really explain whether she was channelling someone or something, using her own intuition or applying a system based on my written answers that I had supplied before the session. The insight and story she came up with just seemed like – I’ll just say it – bullshit.

It didn’t resonate with me.

It didn’t remind me of anything from my life. It just seemed arbitrary and inauthentic. I am not anti-woo, by any means. I believe in past lives. I channel my unborn baby’s spirit frequently. I trust my vedic astrologer 110%. I think the metaphysical world has lots to offer. But there is authenticity and there is fluff. And all I can say is if you subscribe to any of this stuff, you know in your bones which is which. There was a shakiness in this portion of session that I just couldn’t ignore, as much as I wanted to (because any time I am investing my time in something that I think could help me, I want it to work!)

3) Because I only had my “block” diagnosed, but literally no suggestions as to how I might address the block other than pay money to invest in a program (which I was not intending to do as a result of this call), I hung up the phone feeling like crap about myself.

Yes, I didn’t need to believe this was my block (and I don’t), and I didn’t need to subscribe to any of the things this person told me since they didn’t resonate with me. But even though I’m a little embarrassed to admit it – given my experience in this industry – for at least an hour after the call, I felt worse off than before I had the call.

What a waste of an afternoon!

Or maybe not a waste, because I certainly learned something from it and have these insights which I’m writing about right now. That said, how can this be considered responsible or ethical? How, in this industry, can it be considered standard to use a marketing strategy that, in many cases, leaves someone worse off than they were before you talked to them?

I know that many of the leaders in this field think differently or, at least, frame this issue differently. They say that you can’t solve someone’s problem on an introductory/marketing/sales call because then they won’t invest.

I disagree.

While I understand that I want to leave something to be desired so that someone will buy my product or service, I also believe that in every interaction I have with a prospective client (or even current client), it’s my responsibility to leave someone better off than they were before.

Many leaders, I’m happy to say, do subscribe to the idea that it’s not just okay, but necessary to be generous with solutions, to give away your best stuff. And I would say it’s even more necessary today to do just that because the levels of trust in this industry have reached a level akin to California’s water reserve – rapidly diminishing. It’s absolutely possible to provide value in the form of SOLUTIONS to someone, even if they have not yet paid you. You are not reducing your ability to make a sale. You are establishing trust.

Moreover, I would go a bit further: in a field where we are supposed to be helping people help themselves, helping guide people to better lives, highlighting problems to be fixed, without giving at least some airtime (and I would argue more than half the airtime) to solutions is dirty. It feels manipulative and completely out of alignment with the healing work we are trying to illuminate and get out into the world in a way that catches on with multitudes of people.

So, how do you bypass the dirt? First and foremost, I’m going to assume that mostly everyone in this industry means well and they may just not be considering how their marketing is landing with their potential clients.

With that said, if you are a practitioner offering a free session, there are a couple things that build trust and credibility right off the bat:

1) Think about your session as not just marketing, but an offering. You got into this business to help other people solve some sort of a problem, right? You want to offer a solution. So, begin by offering some sort of solution during your free session. It’s okay if your solution includes an invitation where you are able to more fully address the client’s problem, but be upfront about that. When I’m describing my consult to prospective clients, I say something to them like “After I get a sense of your situation, I’ll make some suggestions, one of which may be working with me.” Can I solve their problem in one 45 minute call? Probably not, which is why, if it turns out they are the right match to work with me, one of the most helpful suggestions I can make is the invitation to work with me. Don’t be afraid of offering up some gems during your initial consult that you know would help them immediately. If you give value, even if the person doesn’t buy from you on the spot, you are establishing your expertise and starting off a relationship by creating trust. The more value you can give in a “free call,” the more likely someone is going to buy something from you either right away, or in the future.

2) Creating a form or application for your session gives you a chance to weed out freeloaders who are never going to buy from you or aren’t the right fit AND it allows the people who are genuinely curious about what you offer to get a better sense of who you are and what you’ll cover. You can even use the form to describe the session so that it’s transparently clear how the session will proceed.

Finally, the consumer also has some responsibility in this equation. If you’re looking to take advantage of some free offers, ask yourself if the person is a good fit for you or if you have genuine curiosity about the service they provide. Your time is too precious to be taking advantage of all the free stuff that people offer. Not only is it not a good use of your time, but filling your schedule with free offers could be detrimental to your own productivity and forward movement in your life or business. Tune in to your inner guidance about who really speaks to you and only then, take advantage of a free offer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the sign-up process. If there is something you want to get from the session, ask! Treat these free offers as an investment you’re making, because the truth is, you are investing your time and energy, and maybe even possibly, the belief that there are people who truly can offer you the exact support you desire.

A Bit About the Author:

Tamar-008Tamar Henry, “The Curveball Coach,” supports women to navigate the unexpected curveballs of life in their relationships, health, career and fertility. Through neural-repatterning, somatic methods and more, she guides her clients to find peace, relief and joy. Find out more at www.curveballcoaching.com.