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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

  • Steve

    Hi Julie … appreciate your POV – I so agree with the five elements re: “main content of your class” … and I would highlight this sentence “If you’re doing the class live, you might have people do an exercise, a dyad, or journal.” That is, find ways to incorporate combinations of visual, auditory, and kinaesthetic activities – for me, I attempt to find ways to use my hand(s) to emphasize points that I can demonstrate and then, have the participants do it. Again – so appreciate your post – breathe of fresh air this morning ))smiles

  • Hils Crisp

    Thanks again Julie, I signed up to your newsletter after getting so much value from your last guest post here, on the above topic. I used it and it worked, simple. I love your approach and what you share. Thanks x

  • SueKearney

    Great article, Julie! I appreciate the breakdown as I look at my next attempt at a course. Thanks.

  • I love how straightforward, transparent, and generous you are with your knowledge, Julie. Thank you for sharing this. Super helpful as I contemplate creating my first online workshop.

  • Julie Wolk

    Yes, yes! Thanks for highlighting that. If this were longer, or I were teaching a course, we’d have a whole section about live facilitation and how to engage people (and how it’s different on the phone/webinar). So glad this landed for you. :)

  • Julie Wolk

    Thank you Hils! <3

  • Julie Wolk

    You’re so welcome, Sue!! :)

  • Julie Wolk

    I’m so glad it’s helpful. Thanks for saying so, and good luck!

  • Lisa Baker

    Julie, I love this! Tad emailed this post out this morning and it was so timely for me because I was teaching an intro class this afternoon! :) I was pleased to discover I was already doing most of what you recommend here, but it was so validating to read this right before I was about to do it since I hadn’t done the online version before and I was a little nervous! Also, I read your other post about intro classes that follow the cycles of nature and OMG, so good. Changed a couple of things in my class based on that! <3

  • Julie Wolk

    Oh yay! I’m so glad to hear that Lisa. I hope your class went great!!

  • Lisa Baker

    It did, thank you!!!! And actually – the thing I added, inspired by your cycles of nature post, was a little more info at the beginning about my intro and my big why for doing this…the seed part…and my friend who I’d asked to come to the class to give me feedback told me that her only feedback was that I should say more about that because it was awesome and really set the tone for the class. ?????? And that was 100% from your advice, I wasn’t even going to mention it because the class was so short!

  • Julie Wolk

    <3