Guest Post: Ten Basic Pieces of Tech Worth Tackling by Molly Mandelberg

Coming from a long line of teachers, preachers, artists and writers, the tech world never sang to me. At least not until I started my own business and realized what was available, if I were to master a few key ingredients.

This is where my nerdy researching took flight. I dove head first into studying all the tools I could find to make running my business (hypnotherapy at the time) easier in any way I could. I started launching online courses, building out elaborate sales funnels and futzing around with email sequences until I finally found my calling. Turns out my writer background and engineering brain LOVES to build and connect these valuable strategic business systems laced with boatloads of content.

I’m talking about automation: for some it’s passive income, for others it’s a lighter load in their email inbox. Whatever it looks like, the point is that technology can make life a heck of a lot easier, if we just take the time to set it up.

“We are the Jetson’s!” We are living in a time where it couldn’t be easier to share your message on a large scale.

But Where the F do we start?

NOTE: These are useful tools to implement, but by NO means necessary to the growth of your business. You can always go without, it just gets easier when you have some systems to support you.

# 1 Online Scheduler – (and a digital personal Calendar to sync with)

This one can be the biggest immediate game-changer. Imagine how things are to begin with: Someone makes it to your website, they realize they want to learn more, and you have them ‘contact’ you in a simple form which leads to an email correspondence. That leads to three or four more emails to find a mutually good time to meet and after a good 30-45 minutes of your life has been spent organizing, you eventually have the appointment.

What if instead, a person made it to your website, and decided they wanted to talk to you and (with or without the filtration step of an application or survey of some kind) they book themselves directly onto your calendar for a consultation. !!!! Time saved. Potential client relationship starting off with a bang.

My favorite tool for this is Acuity Scheduling as it does custom appointments, allows for automated email reminders, syncs with your personal calendar, takes payment, and even allows you to host classes and sell packages. Here’s my affiliate link: bit.ly/wildheartsacuity or a direct link: https://acuityscheduling.com/

Online scheduler’s can be a hassle so I made a quick checklist to help people set Acuity up, if you’d like a copy of that you can find it here: https://wildheartsriseup.mykajabi.com/p/acuity-checklist

The added step of syncing this calendar with your personal appointments depends on your use of a digital calendar such as Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook or the like. Not necessary, but really nice for avoiding the dreaded ’double-booking’.

Look for: Payment processing, calendar syncing, email reminders and a nice user interface. Free is not always better in this case.

#2 Autoresponder –

I LOOOOOVE this tool. This might be my nerdiest love affair of them all. This is what people refer to when they ask about your ‘list’. Basically, an autoresponder allows you to automatically, or manually, email your entire following of subscribers (I hate that term too) anytime you like.

I’ll set the scene again: (Although this has likely happened to you on the receiving end, many times.)

Imagine you invite someone to a workshop, or to partake in your free gift, or someone makes it to your website and wants to receive updates from your blog or something… They plug their email into a little box, click submit, and KAPOW! They get a message right away! That immediate delivery happens from an autoresponder. Again, lots of amazing tools out there, but in my nerdy poking around on the inter-webs, and after trying out at least 3 for myself, my hands-down favorite is Active Campaign.

I get a little heart flutter excited every time I share about it.

Affiliate link: bit.ly/wildactive or direct link: https://www.activecampaign.com

Here’s what you want to look for: (and what Active Campaign of course excels at)

  • Does it include automation for the introductory price?” Mailchimp is a great introductory tool, but won’t take you as far as other programs that allow for tagging and better organization of your list.
  • Is it easy to segment the list? This may not come into play for you at first, but at some point you are going to want to send a message to your whole following except for your current clients and your moon circle friends (maybe that’s just me?) and that is NOT simple, segmentation I mean, on some of the platforms out there. Active Campaign uses tags and it may sound fancy but you get the hang of it pretty quick. i.e. Send to everyone except ‘x’ tag, and… done.
  • Can the user experience be catered to their interactions with your emails? In AC, you can actually tag someone when they click a link, or become a client and they will immediately stop receiving a series of emails encouraging them to schedule with you or ‘check out this thing’. I find that when we only send messages to people based on their interests, we not only hit the nail on the head for them offering-wise, but we can feel a whole lot better about what we’re sending because we know it actually applies to who it’s going out to.

PRO TIP: Always, always, ALWAYS write emails in a document first and copy them into your autoresponder later. This is to minimize loss and frustration in the writing and sending phase as well as the migration to a new system phase. Keep that stuff organized for extra brownie points. You will thank you later.

#3 A Business Building Website –

WTF is that? There are two kinds of small biz sites out there:

1. A Brochure Website: Gives information, talks a lot about your services, links to a bunch of things, maybe has a contact form.

2. A Business Building Website: Builds a relationship with your people, speaks directly to their heart, offers value up front and allows the visitor many ways to get in touch or receive more from you. Free gifts, opt in forms, scheduling links etc. Brings them down the path from viewer to friend.

My favorite tool for this: WordPress.org

PRO TIP: This process begins with purchasing a ‘hosting’ package through one of the many Hosting companies out there. SKIP GoDaddy, they suck for more than one reason. I use Bluehost, and also recommend HostGator as a trusted source with good customer service. Once you purchase hosting, they will help you ‘install’ WordPress onto your fancy new domain name.

(Note: .com is highly recommended over .org or .biz if possible when choosing your domain)

I hate seeing people get stuck on this step. The truth is you DO NOT need a website to get your business up and running.

But, I know for some there is a feeling of legitimacy that comes with a website, so if you want to go the WordPress route and want some help setting it up, reach out. Someone in your network, or Tad or I can recommend someone. I even built a mini course to walk people through building sites on WordPress because I was tired of seeing my friends spend $5k on a website they didn’t like.

#4 Surveys, Questionnaires, Quizzes –

One of the greatest ways to know what your people want is to….. ASK THEM! Yep, to actually get their input on how they think about their issues, what they desire most and what kinds of solutions they are looking for. (There’s a great book on how to do this called “Ask” by Ryan Levesque.)

You can use a free system like Google Forms or Typeform and create a quick survey that asks them a couple key things.

  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now?
  • What have you already tried?
  • What do you want instead?
  • What kind of support are you looking for?

….and so on.

PRO TIPS on this: Keep the number of questions low and make most of them multiple choice. The one you really want their exact words on is how they’d describe their biggest challenge when it comes to (the problem you solve). Surveys work better when you make their personal info optional, or don’t ask for it at all. This is an info-gathering phase, not a list-building phase.

Quizzes are awesome ways to both get to know your people and add some value. It’s human nature to want to know about ourselves, if we can provide insights like that, while also learning about the needs of our audience, awesome! I use Thrive Quiz Builder on WordPress, but have heard good things about Qzzr as well.

#5 Content Delivery Platform –

Do you have a Blog? Podcast? Youtube Channel? Meetup Group?

Are you sending out emails, pdf’s, checklists and blueprints? There are countless platforms to assist you in delivering your message to your people. My recommendation matches Tad’s, start where you feel like starting. Play to your strengths.

Whatever you do, start doing it and sharing it with your people. Your unique point of view is what sets you apart from every other practitioner.

Yes, the world needs your message.

There are people out there literally waiting for your refreshing take on this wild ride called life.

Share it.

Ring the bell.

Shake the dust.

#6 Social Media Biz Presence –

This could be a Business Page on Facebook, a Professional Profile on LinkedIn or even an Instagram account, the point is to figure out where your people are hanging out and show up there. Many kinds of people hang out on Facebook, but sometimes it’s easier for a jeweller or photographer to get found on Instagram, as it’s more imagery based. Likewise, corporate or traditional business folks might be more inclined to seek resources on LinkedIn.

I encourage people to begin with a media presences that feels light to you. If you are a writer, write. If you are a speaker, live stream some videos. If you are better in some other format, start there. I have personally gained a lot by pushing myself to expand to new frontiers of visibility, but I started with words on a page. That’s what I knew how to do.

#7 Social Media Scheduler –

One of the biggest game changers in my business growth was when I started batching my creative output. Rather than worry about how I was going to be ‘visible’ on social media, or to my list, or in the world on a daily basis, I started tackling that stuff in big batches.

So I’d sit down and write 20 inspiring posts, or a months worth of Blog entries, or pull a bunch of quotes from past talks and videos. I started mining past articles I’d written for what I like to call ‘nuggets of glory’ and then using those quotes on an amazing website called Canva.com where you can easily put images and text together in a fancy way. (Without having to learn the ins and outs of photoshop.)

Then, I would, and still do, take this chunk of juicy content bits and use Hootsuite.com to schedule them out into the future on my various social media pages. Don’t put it off forever, it goes quicker than you expect.

#8 CRM or Follow Up System –

I don’t personally use a CRM (Client Relationship Management Software) but the idea is that with a good tracking system, following up is easier to do. When you meet someone and they express interest in your work, or you do a consult and someone says “Yes, but let’s start next month.” You want to have a solid way to track that information so you don’t forget to follow up because when you follow up, you generally end up with more clients.

I use a project management tool called Trello.com which syncs to my phone and allows me to set due dates and make notes about people I’ve spoken to. (More on this below.) You can also set a reminder in your actual calendar to call them back. Whatever you use, make sure you’ll keep up with it. The best plan of action is one you will actually take action on.

#9 Content/Project Management –

Tad talks (“TadTalks”) about tracking things like the ‘Hubs’ for your niche, and organizing your brilliant ideas as they come to you. I found after a few years of great ideas and personal connections, I was overwhelmed with pieces of paper and ‘important notes’. So this tech tool tip is to find a project management, or idea organization system that works for you and USE it!

Here are my favorites:

Trello.com: I use this to create new projects, to organize what I delegate to my VA’s, to track my work with my clients, what they’re working on, how many sessions they have left etc. I even use it to keep all my To Do lists organized in one place. FREE I have like 30 separate project boards and still haven’t paid a dime.

Evernote.com: This is where my brilliant strikes of inspiration go first, into special organized note folders until I know what they’re for or what project they associate with in Trello. Lists like Books to read, Links to remember, Groceries to buy, and Gift Ideas for Mom and Dad usually end up in Evernote. FREE

Scrivener: This one is really more for writers, but I’m mentioning it here because I love it. I’m actually writing this in Scrivener right now. Easily create folders and subfolders for different parts of a project. Great for keeping good track of ALL your content without going hunting for it, or for managing the development of a book. $40 software.

#10 Shopping Cart –

This is a key element when it comes time to sell a product, course, program or service. If it’s a class or appointment, you can use Acuity, or whatever scheduler you chose that hopefully takes payment. If it’s something larger, you can get started on PayPal, Stripe or Square. All charge roughly 3% to process payments. When you move into an online learning platform, they will often include secure checkout pages also linked to you via PayPal, Stripe or Square. Don’t feel like you need to go out and get a “Shopping Cart,” you’ll know there’s a need when the time comes.

The fact that you’re reading this means you are on to big things. I love that about you!

I’ll leave you with two last reminders:

1. You do not need all of this, especially not all at once.

2. You do not have to do it alone. If you need support, get it. If not me or Tad, someone else you have access to. It can be daunting to take new systems on but I promise you it is worth it in the long run.

To infinity and beyond!

Xo Molly Mandelberg

About Molly:

Having studied with masters, traveled the world and applied the great teachings to her own life, Molly Mandelberg is uniquely qualified to help launch you from where you are now, to the next level of your business. Molly has an unusual combination of spiritual/visionary and high tech/practical/business savvy. She is an artist, a globe trotter, a writer, a speaker, a facilitator and a leader.

Whether you are stuck in procrastination, confusion or things just aren’t moving fast enough for you toward your goals, having empowering, kickass support may be just what you need. From content and design through streamlined global delivery systems, Molly Mandelberg may be the answer you’ve been looking for. You can learn more about her at: www.WildHeartsRiseUp.com 

When To Ask For Help

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“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. 

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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). 

Good Hands

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Your clients want to know they’re in good hands with you.

I’m thinking about this because I just came back from a mediocre massage.

The style wasn’t one I liked. A bit too abrupt. Not as flowing and as intuitive as I like.

But that wasn’t the big issue.

In fact, there were no big issues.

There was her walking in on me while I was undressing. The bolster being positioned wrong when I lay down and her not noticing. Her cold hands at the start of the massage. When I flipped over she didn’t readjust the bolster. In other massages, it’s been something different: finger nails not trimmed, going way too hard, not checking in on how it’s going, the room being too hot or too cold. There are lot of tiny things that can add up to a massage not being great.

At the end of this massage, I lay there, face up, with an eye pillow over my eyes, relaxing. Rather than saying, “Ok. It’s over. Take your time getting up. I’ll bring you some water.” and leaving, she abruptly pulled the eye pillow off and me out of what little reverie and relaxation had been achieved. “How was it?”

“It was alright.” I said feeling a bit jarred. This was a question I was wishing she would have saved until after I was up and dressed.

“Oh no!” she said. “I’m sorry. What could I have done better?”

And so I shared my experience with her. She seemed to take it in. It’s how we all learn.

She asked me if I wanted a glass of water. I nodded and said, “yes.” And then lay there waiting for five minutes until I realized she wasn’t coming back. I got up and got dressed. She was waiting outside the door for me having misheard me to say that, “No,” I didn’t want a glass of water. Her English was not very good. She was sweet. It happens.

That she asked me so sincerely for feedback saved the whole thing for me. Without that, it would have been a write-off. That’s good to remember. People are so incredibly forgiving when they feel valued and that their issues have really been heard.

None of those things are big. And yet, put together, they add up to the person on the table not being able to relax, always feeling like they need to manage the experience or be on guard a little, not being able to trust the hands they’re in.

Perhaps you’ve had this with a life coach, business coach, contractor, consultant or therapist. You can’t seem to relax because you don’t trust them.

This all matters so profoundly for marketing.

Remember: word of mouth is based on their experience of working with us (or what they hear about the experience from others) so, if the experience is off (due to big things or a dozen smaller things) the word of mouth will wither up and dry or, worse, become a downward spiral instead.

It’s like that.

Remember: people can be petty. People have a hard time saying, ‘No’. People rarely ever give feedback unless asked. They just volunteer. Your clients are not enlightened sages with impeccable communication and boundaries.

This dynamic of people craving to be able to relax and trust in your guidance is true for any business you can think of. People come in full of stress and pain. They want our help. They want to know they are in good hands and that they can relax those muscles that have been clenched too long.

This doesn’t mean you don’t ask things of them. It means they trust what you’re asking of them.

It doesn’t mean you don’t get them to do some work too. It means they trust this work has a chance of paying off.

It means that, when they’re around you, they can just relax and open to your help.

We all crave to find some good hands into which we can collapse sometimes.

Imagine yourself as your own client: are you relaxed or slightly vigilant?

Imagine yourself as your own client: what kinds of hands are you in?

Additional Reading: 

I Don’t Care How Good You Are At What You Do

Getting Off The Fence: Hobby vs. Business

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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?

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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.

Intake Forms & Earning Trust

Trust

I went to see a therapist the other day.

It was my first time making an appointment with her.

I arrived early to the old house, renovated to be a clinic where my naturopath is also housed, and was offered some tea while I filled out the intake form.

Some of the questions were straight forward but some of them were incredibly personal, asking about addictions and relationship status. Neither of which, to my knowledge, have anything to do with what I was there for. I left them both blank for the most part and gave only partial answers to other questions. They felt immensely assumptive.

Never assume that your clients should trust you. Trust is earned. 

I realized that, aside from the basics, I only wanted one question on the intake form, “What brings you to see me today?”

“Can you pay before the session? I’ll be on my lunch break when you get out.”

“Sure,” I said and then caught my breath at the $180 price tag for the hour. Shit. I had not realized it was going to be that much. Rule #1 of Pricing: never surprise people unless it’s with a discount. Sighing, I paid and followed the receptionist upstairs.

The therapist came out a few minutes later and invited me into her office. She had a good vibe and I liked her right away.

“So, this first session is mostly to go over the intake form, the policies and to answer any questions you have and then to maybe do a bit of work.”

I hate this.

This happened to me a few months ago when, on a friend’s suggestion, I went to see a therapist who spent the entire session talking about the theory of the treatment and the ethics of the whole thing.

In both cases, I sat there thinking, “What the fuck? Why am I paying $180 to have her go over things she could have emailed me in advance?”

“Did you read up the technique we’ll be using?” she asked.

I shook my head. It would have been a good idea. “I wasn’t given anything on it to read.”

“You didn’t take any of the flyers at the front desk?”

I shook my head.

From a marketing and business standpoint, this is such a gap.

When I booked the appointment, the therapist sent me the following email:

I am sending you an email to welcome you and also to pass along some information prior to our first session. If you have had counseling before, this may be familiar. In general, the first appointment is primarily a paperwork, history-taking and get-to-know-you session.
 
However, if there is something that you want to make sure we address specifically in that first session, please let me know either ahead of time via email or at the start of the session so that we can budget enough time.The first session is also an opportunity to clarify your goals for coming for counseling. Sometimes a good way to frame this is to ask yourself how you will know you’re done with counseling? How will you feel? What will your life be like?
 
It is best to approach counseling as a process and to allow sufficient time for you to work through what you need to work through. This time-frame varies from person to person, depending on issue(s), personality, and history. In general, however, you should notice some positive change in the first 3 sessions and more substantive change in 8-10 sessions.
 
My job is to support you in your process, offering expertise and feedback. If you are finding that my approach is not working for you, I welcome your feedback, as a means to learn and grow myself, and to see if I can better address your needs.
 
I look forward to meeting you.
Warm regards,

 

It was a fine email to get and set the context well and, I would have loved it if she had added a link to a 10-15 minute video about the modality and asked that I make sure I watch it before the session. It would have been wonderful if it was a video of herself explaining it. I might have watched the video and decided that due to her vibe or her description of the modality that it wasn’t a fit. I might also have gotten even more excited to see her. And there could have been another video that would go over all of the ethics and other typical things discussed in a first session.

And then, two days before, if she’d sent me a reminder email with those two links asking me to make sure I set aside thirty minutes to go over these before the session but that, if I didn’t have him, it was alright, we’d just go over the content together in the session – then I would have had the choice.

As a client, I deeply resent paying money to sit through something I could do better at home.

She began to go through my intake form which had me wonder why I bothered writing it down in the first place. Couldn’t she have just had it and written it down as we talked?

Stop being cranky I told myself.

“So it says here your last relationship…” and she begins to ask me about whether I’m dating or if that’s something I’m looking for.

I narrow my eyes.

“I am confused by this line of questioning.” I say. I’m not particularly trying to be nice about this.

I’m paying her $180 for this time and she hasn’t even asked me why I’m there. It’s reminding me of the pulse reader from last week. But it’s also different. These are issues that seem to, in no way, relate to why I’m there. They are immensely personal issues to be divulging to someone I’ve just met. Perhaps most therapists assume that they are trustworthy. Maybe they’ve lost touch with how vulnerable these issues are for people and it’s become rote for them.

I don’t know why.

But I sat there resenting her questions wondering, “Who do you think you are to ask me such questions with no context of why you’re asking them or how they relate to why I’m here? And why haven’t you asked me why I’m here?”

Never assume that your clients should trust you. Trust is earned. 

She is thrown off for a second but seems to collect herself quickly, “Oh, it’s just taking your history for what we’re going to be working on.”

“Why don’t we skip to that?” I say.

“Sure.” And, to her credit, we do.

The good Bill Baren suggests starting off your first session with a client with two questions: “Why me? Why now?”

I wish all sessions would start this way.

If she’d asked, “Why me?” I would have said, “Well, I’ve heard good things about the modality you use and my naturopath recommended you as someone who could help me with some things I’ve been struggling with.”

If she’d said, “Why now?” it would have been a doorway into my symptoms and struggles.

She didn’t ask those questions but I took the opening in her conversation to lay it all out for her. She listened well and I immediately relax to not be sitting there and waiting or regretting having shared something so personal.

If there are other issues related to this that come up, I think to myself, I’ll be happy to share them. But I didn’t walk into this room with an agreement to share every secret I have.

Trust is such a precious thing. And it’s earned. Our unwillingness to go slowly, in the beginning, is so much of what kills trust in both a therapist-client relationship or a customer-business relationship. You are rarely done much harm by going slowly.

By the end of the session, I really liked her and she had earned some portion of my trust.

But it lifts up questions for all of us: where in our business or helping processes are we assuming trust? Where are we asking questions we have not yet earned the right to ask? Where could we give more context into the reasons for our asking the questions we ask. Can we trust the process in that the right information will come up at the right time?

Never assume that your clients should trust you. Trust is earned. 

Additional Reading:

Marketing for Psychotherapists

Slow Marketing

Case Study: Hidden Gems (good thoughts on personalizing intake forms here)

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: Planning Your 2016 Year

Aligning with the Energy of Winter to Create the 2016 You Want

Intentions -> Goals -> Actions -> New Reality

Winter is Closing In… Are You Listening?

We’re in a time of darkness; short days and long, cold nights, the moment when seeds lay dormant beneath the earth, animals hibernate, and the weather makes you want to curl up with a blanket and cocoa, go inward and sloooooow down.

The problem is that we tend to ignore these natural cues that remind us we are actually humans of the earth (as opposed to robots). We go quickly from event to event, powering through the work we need to complete, forgetting about the necessary ebb to our flow.

But in fact, archetypally, winter is the perfect time for rest, reflection, taking stock of our lives and businesses, visioning and planning.

This post is an invitation to capitalize on this annual opportunity by carving out time both for the deep rest and rejuvenation of your body and mind, and for the reflecting, visioning, and goal-setting that can help make 2016 your best year yet.

(At the bottom of this post, you can download a guide that will help you do the latter).

Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

Take a look at the Natural Business Cycle diagram (or go here for a more detailed explanation). It is based upon the fundamental natural cycle, which includes that of a tree or plant, as well as the cycle of the day, the cycle of a year, and the cardinal directions.

NBC Diagram Rev. 11_15Dormancy, at the top, is where we are at now. All parts of the cycle are essential… the times of producing, hustling, and offering, as well as the times of learning, reflecting, and planning. 

Observing our bodies’ – and our businesses’ – needs for the Dormancy stage is necessary for our own personal growth and development as well as the growth and development of our businesses.

In fact, it is actually our responsibility; in order to feed the fire of our vision and have the impact we desire and that the world desperately needs, we must feed ourselves first. You know how they say on the airplane to put your own oxygen mask on before you help others? Same thing.

We have to fill our own cups in order to serve.

Why Plan Anyways?

When we pause on a regular basis, we not only find new inspiration and energy, we can see where we’ve gotten off course and get back into alignment. Why? Because it’s easy to chase what feels urgent in the day-to-day of our business and life activities, but it’s not always what’s most important or most aligned.

If we don’t mindfully go back to our vision, strategy and goals again and again, we can end up with a business, and a life, that looks and feels nothing like the one we actually want to be in.

But when we regular create space
in our lives to come to know our values, desires, visions, and gifts, we can then adjust our work to align with them and be of the utmost service to the world.

And, business is an iterative process… we continue to cycle around the wheel. If we are conscious about it, it is a spiral that deepens and clarifies over time.

By taking a step back, we get the big picture view essential for evaluating, realigning, and making conscious changes for the future — one of the most important factors in building a successful business and creating a fulfilling life.

Not only that, but setting clear intentions and goals sends a powerful message to the Universe, (if you believe in that kind of thing). There’s something about owning what it is we want to create that encourages all the right things to fall into place to support us.

Planning is a gift that will carry you through the year. And this is the perfect moment to take advantage of it.

How to Do It

1. Carve Out Time

The first thing to do is to commit. Get out your calendar now and block out anywhere from two hours to two days for your annual reflection and planning process.

Each year, I take two weeks in the winter for this stage (I’m aiming for four next year). I spend one week completely unplugged. I spend the second week doing big picture dreaming, creating, writing, visioning, goal setting and work planning.

When you schedule this annual rest and reflection time, also put a quarterly reflection time in your calendar. A couple hours every three months will do. You will use this time to reflect back on the intentions and goals you set in the winter, see how you’re progressing, and make the necessary and inevitable adaptations.

2. Create a Retreat For Yourself

You may know exactly what to do with this time. If so… go for it. If you need some support, you can download Retreat Yourself: Winter Reflection and Planning Guide (a Self-Guided Mini Retreat to Help You Create Your Most Powerful Year Yet). 

In the guide, you will find a series of reflection and planning exercises intended to help you tie the bundle on the last phase and get a fresh start on the new one. Simple instructions on how to create a retreat experience in your home are also inside.  

In the first half, you’ll reflect back, celebrate, let go, and set intentions for next year (you’ll also learn the difference between intentions and goals and why you need both). In the second half, you’ll be asked to take those intentions and put them into action:

Intentions -> Goals -> Actions -> New Reality

Take a stand this year for slowing down, creating space, and listening for what’s important.

It is something we lack greatly in our modern society, and this lack has led to much of the environmental destruction and other devastating events that we see on the news each day.

Peace begins within.

With blessings for a nourishing winter and a miraculous 2016… personally, professionally, and for the world.

Retreat Yourself COVER IMAGE FINAL

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Website Bio Page (1)Julie Wolk, Business Coach, CPCC, helps purposeful entrepreneurs (coaches, consultants, teachers, healers) who are excellent at their craft but struggling on the business side, get super clear on their vision, strategy, and action plan so they can make more money and a bigger impact. She developed the Natural Business Cycle, a unique and overwhelm-reducing business development model based on the natural world.

Farmers Market Marketing Series #2: Six Overarching Ideas for Success

booth

IDEA #1: Quality. 

First of all, obviously the bottom line is that you must have fresh and good quality products. And secondly, I’m assuming you’re not an asshole. If you don’t offer the former and are the latter, this blog post won’t help you. You need quality control and years of therapy. This is usually a non-issue but I’ve heard a few horror stories from people about their experiences at Farmer’s Markets. If these two are handled (and in 90% of cases they are) then you’re well on your way.

IDEA #2: Decide what you want to do yourself and what you want to outsource.

It’s important to remember that, just because marketing needs to happen, doesn’t mean that you need to do it all. You’re in control of that. Some you’ll want to do yourself and some you’ll want to outsource. Once you’ve sorted out how you want to market yourself, it’s wise to sit down and look at how much time and money each option would cost if you did it yourself vs. hiring someone else to do it. Do you want to do your own book keeping? Your newsletter? Running the Farmer’s Market stand? Your photography and web designer? Or would it be better to bring someone else in? Sometimes hiring someone else to do it is actually the more profitable thing to do.

IDEA #3: Get more support. 

Farmer’s are profoundly overworked and constantly in need of more hands on deck to pull everything together. Getting seasonal interns (in exchange for boarding or on the farm experience through the WWOOF, local agriculture students, local permaculturists who are thinking of getting into farming, market patrons or your local community) or volunteers for workbees can be a godsend and free up a lot of time.

IDEA #4: Do more of what works.

If you’re a farmer and have vended at a farmer’s market even once, you’ll have already learned something. You’ll have tried some things that seems to work. Do more of those things. This seems obvious but I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs I’ve met who, when I asked, “How did you built your business in the beginning?“, tell me a brilliant strategy that they no longer do. When I ask them why they stopped doing it, I get blank looks and they finally say something like, “Huh. I don’t even know!” This is often the easiest thing to do. Go back to what worked when you were getting started and full of hustle.

IDEA #5: Educate and tell your story.

This is, perhaps, the biggest overarching theme. Every chance you get, tell your story. This idea overlaps with many of the others to come in this series. People love to hear the stories behind what they are buying. It’s easy to assume that people know more than they do about your farm and your food.

Marketing is about establishing the value beyond the immediately apparent.

I can promise you that 99% of the most compelling parts of the story of your business and your products are not clear to your customers. You’d be amazed at what they don’t know. Don’t assume that everything you put into your farm and your products is immediately apparent to anyone. Marketing is fundamentally about story telling and educating.

You can tell the story of:

  • how your farm started
  • why you choose to grow one type of produce vs. another
  • why you choose x method over y?
  • why do you grow the food you do?
  • what’s the story of the land you’re on?
  • what’s the history of farming in your area?
  • why do you charge what you charge? why does it cost what it does? what are your margins and how much do you need to even break even (very few people will understand this).
  • what are the extra things you do to make sure the quality stays high?
  • does your farm have an ethnic heritage?
  • what sets you apart and makes you different from other farms?
  • always confirm what is thought to be known (fresh, organic, local)
  • the specifics about crop varieties. Why did you choose it? Where is it from originally and how did it get to be here? What are the traditional uses of it and stories about it?

How do you tell your story? There are so many ways. It might be bit by bit, in conversations with your customers. It might be through social media or your email newsletter. It might be at talks you give or in newspaper articles about you. There are so many ways and you’ll learn more as you keep reading.

IDEA #6: Specialize in something.

This is another big one.

Figuring our your niche might just be one of the toughest nuts to crack in the business world. Tough enough that I created a whole website, The Niching Spiral, dedicated to it.

It’s a bit overwhelming going to a Farmer’s Market and seeing everyone offering all of the same things. If every table has beets, squash, lettuce and carrots, for example, then how do I choose from which table to shop? At that point, the answer might just be, which one is closest to where I am standing but it also might be some combination of the other things.

If you offer something that no one else at the market is offering, you will become known for that. If you’re the only one who makes mango lhasis, sells honey, has the best heirloom tomatoes, grows your food bio-dynamically it will be a big help in people remembering you and make it easier for other patrons and vendors to direct people to you.

Consider all of the different ways people have created niches in the field of permaculture.

Lisa Kivirist of Hobby Farms writes, “How is what you’re selling different than other vendors at the farmers’ market? Sometimes it helps to specialize in selling varietals of one distinct item, such as garlic. Another route is to creatively package your items. Sure, a lot of farmers may be selling red, ripe tomatoes, but what if you sold green tomatoes, along with your recipe for fried green tomatoes?

Shayla Mihaly says, “I know where to get the best greens (Star Route Farm) and the best Peaches (Frog Hollow). Then there is the wheatgrass and sprout guy, the place to get lavender, the organic non gmo soy, the honey people….. and Cap’n Mike’s smoked fish. So, what are they known for?

Brian Parsons adds, “Also, you have to remember that if you have 10 farmers stands, all selling eggs and potatoes, then you basically have 10 competitors… so you can have potential conflicts, tensions within the farmers market itself… in fact, that is the same with any market environment. And so it is not just a question of how you differentiate yourself from the large supermarket, but also from the stand next door selling the same stuff as you.”

Deb Vail shares her experiences of  having her farm in NC which outgrew her and her family in nine years, “We sold it two years ago because we got too big too quickly and couldn’t keep up at our age. We did no advertising at all… but I will pass on one thing that helped us tremendously – We divided out our CSA for only veggies and then sold only flowers at market. I suppose that’s niching. It worked well to be the only farmer at market that only sold flowers – we were the experts.”

Daleen Adele Thomas sums it up, “Only grow/farm what you love/are good at. If you grow great lettuce but small turnips, why grow turnips?

Please leave any thoughts, tips, resources or ideas that could help farmers grow their businesses in the comments section below. After a few weeks, I promise to read through them all and weave anything relevant and useful into the blog itself so that they can be of the most use to the most farmers.

Exactly What To Say If Someone Asks for a Refund

refund (1)

Years ago, I got an email from a client that said something to the effect of, “I feel like the sales letter kind of hyped this up and it wasn’t what you said it was. I went back and read the sales letter and there was nothing inaccurate but . . . it just felt like it wasn’t what was promised. I need a refund.”

Those aren’t the kinds of words I’d wanted to wake up to in my email that morning for my newly launched ebook on niching. It was a slim 30 pager, nowhere near as large or comprehensive as it would eventually become in the form of my book The Niching Nest, and she just wasn’t impressed with it.

And I had to wonder if I should refund her or not.

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Once you’ve been in business for a while, eventually, someone is going to ask you for a refund.

And how you respond to that moment has everything to do with the growth of your business.

On one hand, you may have been on the receiving end of a stingy refund policy and felt terrible about it or had the refund freely given and felt incredible relief and gratitude. On the other hand, does it make sense to have no boundaries on when and where refunds will be given? Probably not.

But it’s an important thing to figure out because word of mouth is the dominant force in the marketing word. And enough upset customers venting about the terrible experience they had with you because you refused to give them your money and that you’re a big, unfair meanie can do serious damage to your marketing.

But it’s also true that developing a reputation of being a push-over who they can use and then disregard once they’ve received the benefit is also unfair.

So, what you say in the moment (and I promise I will give you some words) is actually the least important part of the conversation.

The first thing is to make sure you’ve got a clear and fair refund policy spelled out and that the customer knows this policy when they buy. This is crucial.

It’s a similar dynamic to the “no shows” I wrote about in my blog post Don’t Mess With Their Rice Bowl in that it’s crucial to have standards that protect yourself as a business.

Simply having a clear policy will handle 90% of the upset. You’ll never handle the remaining 10% because there’s no policy to handle crazy.

The second thing is to understand why they’re even asking for a refund in the first place.

It might be that they’re in crisis or sudden financial desperation. They had the money when they signed up but they don’t now.

It could be that they’ve had a change in what matters. They signed up for a workshop on dating and then met the woman of their dreams. They no longer need it. They signed up to learn how to make money from Donald Trump but then became an anarchist.

But, often, it’s that what they bought isn’t giving them the benefits they’d hoped it would (or they don’t trust that it will).

This is the one I want to focus on.

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Back to the woman wanting a refund on the niching ebook.

I immediately refunded her money (as I think we should if there’s any chance that the fault was in a lack of clarity in our marketing).

I sat with her words for a while. I felt awful. Here I am, teaching authentic marketing and she felt mislead. Ugh. Worst. 

So, I went to look at the sales page to see just how wrong she was and to be able to point out that she hadn’t really read the sales letter. I mean, sure she had. But not really really. 

But, as I read it, I began to see what she was saying. It was a bit hyped up. I could see that I’d given the impression that it did more than it could actually do and was for a broader group than it actually was. It was humbling to see it. I’d put a list of “This ebook could be for you if . . .” but I’d not made a similar list of, “This ebook might not be for you if . . .” 

I realized that this ebook was actually not for people who already knew niching was crucial and the ebook was making the case for it. It also wasn’t for people who wanted a nuts and bolts how-to guide on niching. It was a primer for people who were considering niching but feeling hesitant about it. 

I took an hour, rewrote the sales page so it felt more true to what it was and sent her an email asking what she thought.

“This is great!” she replied. “I wouldn’t have bought it!”

If we see the role of marketing as being about getting people to say “yes” then the result of someone saying, “perfect! I wouldn’t have bought!” is a failure. This is how so many people view marketing. Even in writing emails they try to write a sexy subject line that gets people to open an email that might not even be of any use to them. 

But if we know that one of the main roles of marketing is about filtering people so that only the right people buy, it’s a huge success. We can actually tone down the hype in our sales copy and get more sales to the right people. 

But what do you do when, despite your best efforts, they’re asking for a refund because it wasn’t what they thought it would be?

But, what exactly do you say?

I suggest the first thing you say is, “I’ll absolutely refund your order.”

If there’s any chance that your marketing was to blame for them buying something that wasn’t a fit, refund the money and consider it a business expenses in market research. Because it is.

The second thing you say is something along the lines of, “Thank you for letting me know my marketing wasn’t as clear as I would like it to be.”

Honestly, when people tell us this, we should be getting down on the ground and bowing to them in gratitude. 

The second thing we should say is something like, “Would you be willing to let me know what I could change on the sales page so that you would have known for sure it wasn’t a fit for you?”

That question might seem simple, but it’s actually huge, it will, over time help you hone and refine your sales copy until no one who isn’t a fit buys at all. That’s the goal. And, often, the feedback won’t even be that big. Just a little change here and there but a small change in wording or emphasis or order can make a huge difference. 

If the refund request is for some other reason, I don’t have much advice other than to have clear policies, sit with it, do what feels right to you and always err on the side of generosity, not stinginess. And, regardless of the reason, see if there’s something you can learn, some business system that would make it less likely that it would ever happen again.

Years ago, a woman attended a pay what you can, weekend workshop I was running. She paid a $100 deposit to attend and then she paid $500 at the end of the workshop based on the value she’d received. A month or so later she sent me an email saying she’d received no value at all and demanding her money back. She was also someone I’d give two hours of free coaching to because she’d gotten locked out of the building by accident. There’s more to the story, but the whole thing felt off. I didn’t feel like I wanted to refund her money but eventually gave back half just to get her out of my hair. If I’d had more money at the time, I might have just given it all back. Who needs the drama?

Refunds can also help you hone your niche . . .

One of the beautiful benefits of people asking for refunds is that you start to see who is a fit for you and who isn’t. Your sense of who your ideal client is comes into clearer relief. Your sense of what you want to do and how becomes more focused. If you will choose to over-respond (vs. over-reacting) to each request for a refund and use it as a chance to narrow in on your role in the community and the niche you want to fill you might be amazed at how much faster your business becomes what it wanted to become all along.

Bonus Thought: Check Boxes

If there are certain catches and conditions of buying from you, it can also be good to list them as boxes to check in the order form. For example, for a weekend, pay what you want, marketing course I might have one for:

DEPOSIT: I understand that my space is not confirmed until I’ve paid my non-refundable $100 deposit. 

PYWY: I understand that the deposit is just to hold my space and, at the very end of the workshop, I’ll be given a chance to contribute more based on a mix of what the workshop was worth and what I can afford. 

Having these as boxes they have to check off help to ensure that important conditions are not accidentally missed by someone skimming over your sales letter (which 95% of people will). 

 

Guest Post: What Packages Are, Why They Matter, Three Big Mistakes People Make With Them (and what you can do instead)

2417_2by Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life

This blog post is about the three big mistakes you might be making with your packages.

Of course, this assumes you know what I mean by the word ‘package’ and, if you do, that you are currently offering packages.

But let’s start with this…

Since I started my business 3 years ago, I have worked with hundreds of holistic practitioners (particularly service-based folks like life coaches and nutritionists) in the online space, and I have noticed that one commonality between most of them that really holds them back in business –  They are fantastic at what they do, but they aren’t offering it in a way that is best suited to help them grow their business.

Of course, this isn’t their fault.

They went to school, learned how to master their craft, and then were sent out into the world to figure out this whole business thing on their own. No one taught them how to sell, or how to market. If you’ve been reading Tad’s blog for a while, you know the story.

Chapter One – Excitement: They get into business and hang up their shingle. They make a website, list their hourly rates, and they are off to the races.

Chapter Two – Vanishing: They get clients, and work with them for a while, and things go ok, but eventually those clients start to drop off. This can happen for a number of reasons – people get busy. Budget becomes an issue. People start to make your work together less of a priority. They need more clients.

Chapter Three – Stress: They stress out, because the income they thought they could count on is up in the air with each client who drops off, so they have to constantly hustle for new clients.? But how many do they need? What if all their other clients drop off soon too?  It’s all a guessing game at this point – income isn’t consistent, there is no way to know how many people you will be working with at any given time, and it feels like a constant hustle.

Chapter Four – Exhaustion: Soon they are exhausted trying to find new clients. Will things ever even out? Will this ever feel sustainable?

Chapter Five – Realization: They realize they need to ask clients to come back. Or they need to find a better way to make sure clients stay committed to the work they are doing. But again – how?

Chapter Six – Asking: They ask. And then they ask some more. And they keep asking with every client they get. But they wonder if there might be a better way than asking individual clients to come back for individual sessions. Something better than will help clients commit to longer term work together, wihtout constantly having to awkwardly ask them if they want to keep going.

Chapter Seven – Packages: Maybe they hear about the idea of creating ‘packages’. Aha! They could ask their clients to come back for not only one session but a series of sessions. They invite clients to book three massages. Or to sign up for a monthly membership thing. They do this but they find the response to be underwhelming. Getting clients to commit to ongoing work together proves challenging, and the result sis till the same – people drop off and they are left back where they started.  They never know whether they will have enough clients to fill their roster, or enough money to pay the bills.

 At the end of this all they feel deflated, like giving up and like their business will never be sustainable (for their energy or their bank account)

 

 They know they need a better way, but what?

 

The solution is to create results-based packages for their services.

A package is a way of putting your services together that allows you to create some consistency in your business.

 

A Package Has Four Qualities: 

  1. a defined length of time
  2. defined results
  3. a defined price
  4. serves as a direct response to your clients needs.

It’s created to help give your client understand the full value of your services, and often includes more than just  your time (ie. you may include worksheets, or email support, or weekly homework – something that happens outside of the time they spend with you). It could be just a one-time session, or it could be a six month agreement – the key factor is that it is creating an experience for your client that is based on getting them a defined result.

YOU are the expert in your business, and it is up to you to tell a client how long they will need to get the results they want. Afterall – if a client drops off midway through your work together, they won’t get the full benefit of your service. Similarly if you are selling one-time sessions and billing by the hour. if a client doesn’t see results right away, they may not come back.

Packages ensure that clients are on board for the full experience with you.

 

Three Reasons That Creating Packages is a Fantastic Business Model: 

Reason #1: Packages are easier to sell. Like ten times easier to sell. Packages are results-based, which means instead of selling your time, you are selling results. Clients love this, because it helps them trust that they will get the help they need.

Reason #2: Having packages lets you predict your income. By charging clients the package price instead of an hourly rate, clients sign up to commit to the whole package, which means they are less likely to change their mind of drop off midway through your work, because they have already committed to a set amount of time and set price.

Reason #3: Packages can be a part of your sales funnel, and can encourage repeat business. Once a client has gone through one package with you, they will have (ideally) achieved the results they want. But that doesn’t mean ALL their problems are solved. You can have different packages that cater to different parts of their problem, which means that after they finish working with you (assuming they loved it – which they will!), you are able to make sure you have something else to offer them.

Creating packages is a great next step if you have been dabbling for a while and are ready to create consistent income and streamline your processes.

But not all packages are created equal, and there are ways that you can tailor your packages to make them unique in your marketplace, and easier to sell.

After seeing so many failed packages (and having created a few myself in the past in my business) I started paying more attention to what works and what doesn’t, and experimenting with my own packages. As it started to become obvious that there are common mistakes that many practitioners make with their attempt at packaging, I decided to do something about it, and developed my own system for helping people stop making these same mistakes, and learn to put together their offerings in ways that will sell. It’s called Hey, Nice Package!  – because every good package needs a good name, right?

 

Three Big Package Making Mistakes (and what you can do instead):

Mistake #1. Having open-ended packages with no defined end date.

This happens a lot with life coaches in particular (ie. Work with me 3 times a month, for a minimum of 3 months, and we’ll go from there). Creating packages that have no defined scope is like waiting for your partner to propose when he keeps saying it will happen “someday” – it leaves your clients wondering if they will ever get what they want.

Imagine going to the dentist for a filling, and him telling you that it will take minimum 3 appointments to complete, but that you’ll continue to come in once a week after that, for an undetermined amount of time, because the results really depend on YOU… oh, and each month you’ll pay him a fee. No thanks.

Then imagine going for a second opinion, and having the dentist tell you “Yep – I can fix that in 3 appointments, and it’ll cost ya $500”.

Which dentist are you going to? That’s what I thought.

It’s the same with selling services online. No matter what you do, whether it’s tangible or super vague, you need to outline a timeline for your clients

What to do instead: Create packages that are just that – the whole package. Tell your client how long it will take them to get the results they want, and the total price. Yes, this can be scary, and of course, there are never any guarantees, but YOU are the expert, and people want you to take charge and let them know what they need to do.

One of my clients Sarah made this small change, and it has done wonders for her confidence in selling her services. She was offering really long-term coaching packages (6+ months) helping people who are dealing with grief, because she thought that’s what she was supposed to do as a life coach. But it never felt right to her. After working through Hey, Nice Package! she realized she could have the same impact in a shorter amount of time, so she created her Good Grief 4 week package and has never looked back at the old model. You can check out her package here to see how she did it.

Mistake #2: Having a zillion different package options available.

A confused mind is a non-buying mind. If you have so many options for ways to work with you that people can’t even keep track, or don’t know which one they need, they will turn away, never come back, and shake their fists at you from afar. This would look something like giving your clients the option of a one hour session, or 2 sessions a month, or 4 sessions a month, or one session every 3 weeks, or, or or… Confusing, right? If a client doesn’t know which one they should buy, they might just click away. The easier you make it for them to say yes, the more likely they will do just that.

What to do instead: Start with 1 or 2 focused packages and take your time to fully market those. When you offer something super specific and unique, people pay attention, and it’s much easier to sell! Once you’ve built up an audience and have become known as an expert in one specific area, it gives you some traction to be able to expand your business down the line.

My client Joanna, an intuitive healer, took this approach and it helped her create a waiting list for the first time ever! Her biggest struggle was that she didn’t know how everything she did fit together into a whole. She was offering channelled readings, past life readings, intuitive art workshops, soul messages – all kinds of things, and it was all feeling disjointed and overwhelming not just to her, but to her clients too. Once she figured out how these things work together as a coherent whole, she was able to create a really targeted package called Magic By Email and focused on marketing just that one package – and it continues to sell out weeks in advance!  You can see how she has structured her package here.

Mistake #3: Selling intangible results

This is typically a life coaching problem, but it can show up in other industries too (read: no one is safe.) As holistic practitioners, we tend to be shy about guaranteeing anything for our clients, and really taking a stand with confidence in what we are offering. This problem usually arises for anyone who does work that is more intangible and has somewhat vague, undefined results. Telling someone that you will help them “realize their dreams” isn’t tangible enough of a result. Neither is telling them “You will get out what you put in”. That’s all well and good – but assuming they put in 100%  – what will they get? If you can’t tell them, they won’t buy.

What to do instead: You need to determine what exactly the tangible results are that you’re offering. And those results have to be something they want. Doing some market research and really tapping into your client’s language is the best way to make sure that you are speaking in terms of RESULTS in your packages. This is pretty easy to do too! Simply find 5-10 of your ideal clients and ask them if you can hop on the phone with them and ask them a few questions. Dig into what they are struggling with, and what they want that they don’t currently have – and be sure to record the call so you can listen back to their exact words, and then use those words in your marketing. Voila – copywriting done for you, and a WAY clearer picture of the tangibles of what you are actually selling.

For example, a client of mine Makenzie is a career coach who was working with people to help them “find their life purpose”. The problem was, most of her clients weren’t really looking for life purpose – they just wanted to quit their jobs and find work they loved. They kept saying they wanted to stop hating their Mondays!

As you can see, there was a disconnect in what Makenzie was selling, and what her clients really wanted. Once she got clear on the tangible, real world results of finding one’s life purpose (that finding life purpose, to most people, really means finding a new career they LOVE), she was able to create a unique system for working with her clients, so she now has an effective system and a streamlined way of working, AND people are clear on what they will get when they hire her, which saves so much time emailing back and forth about what they can gain by working with her. If you haven’t made your packages tangible yet, this is a small tweak that could start bringing in new clients immediately. Check out Makenzie’s package here to see how she did it.

If you’re a service-based business and you’re selling packages online, avoiding these 3 mistakes will go a long way in helping you attract the right clients and stand out in a sea of sameness in the online market.

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If you’re still struggling to figure out how to create packages, or want a deeper dive into how to create packages in a way that will help you build a solid, sustainable business model, check out Hey, Nice Package! – an online course that will give you a step by step system to creating your packages, getting clear on your pricing, and learning everything you do fits together so that you’re never left guessing what to create next – you will always have a system to come back to so you never run out of new ideas. Grab it here.

Bio: Rebecca Tracey is the head/only honcho at The Uncaged Life where she works with clients from all over the world who want to have the freedom of working from anywhere by running their own online business. She helps people figure out what their true business message is, helps them create packages that sell, and helps them actually take action on the things they want to do. Rebecca runs an online community of over 2500 solopreneurs. She started her business while living in a van, loves rock climbing and riding her bike around Toronto, and is genuinely obsessed with helping people live their version of Uncaged.