In our previous podcast episode – Part 1 of the Forget Traffic! mini-series – Shane and Hanne introduced the Customer First Approach and why it's so important to avoid chasing more traffic – which is ultimately a 'customer last' approach!
In this episode, Part 2 of the Forget Traffic! series, Shane puts the customer first approach into action by demonstrating how to bootstrap it through an online coaching business right away.
Listen in to discover that getting your first customer takes less tech and a lot less budget than you would have probably guessed.
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Bonus Content: Checklist to Get Customer #1
Episode 2 Show Notes:
Some points covered in this episode:
- The step-by-step process Shane uses to launch a Customer First online coaching business in the Productivity niche using nothing more than a text-only landing page, word-of-mouth referrals and a Skype account.
- The simple toolkit you need to get your first customer using the "Free Trial Coaching" method.
- How to get over the fear of selling and turn free trial coaching clients into paying customers.
- What insights you need to be looking for to scale your hands-on coaching business into a products-based, passive income revenue stream.
- How and where to find the right clients for your niche and tailor your coaching to address the actual needs of your clients that will fuel the creation of your content, product ideas and marketing very soon!
Hello and welcome to this episode. I'm Shane Melaugh.
And I'm Hanne Vervaeck.
And welcome to the ActiveGrowth podcast. Today we're going to talk about how to actually apply this customer first approach. We talk a lot about why you should get customers first and why you should have a customer first business, essentially, instead of focusing on getting traffic first.
As we promised, we want the ActiveGrowth podcast to be practical. We want this to be practical and actionable. So, I'm going to introduce, and we're going to talk about, a method you can use to get your first customer or your first customers, plural.
We'll call this the Free Trial Coaching Method. Let me say right away, I actually did this. That's what I mean by this is very practical and actionable, right? We're not talking about theory here.
I did this once a few years ago to actually launch one of my products, but I also did it just last week. I did this, I went through this process last week just to prove that it's possible and to prove that it's something you can do. It didn't take me a lot of time. I'll also play some clips of this experiment I did last week.
So, let's get into it. We have this Free Trial Coaching Method, and the example I'm going to use is a productivity business. I'll use this example because that's what I did in my previous business and also in this experiment last week.
Because productivity, like personal productivity, getting stuff done, is one of my personal interests and something I've studied and worked on a lot. Now, let me give you kind of a vision of what the end goal here would be of this business, right?
Let's say I want to start a business around productivity, and then end goal is that I have a business that is somewhat passive income-ish, meaning that I don't directly exchange my time for money. I'm not a personal productivity coach. Instead, I would have a website that has content on it about how to be more productive and get traffic to this website.
I'd have a mailing list of people, a growing mailing list of people interested in this. I would see a book, or maybe several books, on this topic. That will be one part of how I make money in this business. I would certainly have at least one course, an online course, how to get more stuff done type course, right?
That would be probably my main money maker. People sign up for this course, they pay me for it, and, of course, it is an online course with videos and stuff so that, again, it's not my time investment directly. Like 1000 people can take that course and it doesn't take me more time.
And I have a growing audience of people interested in productivity, and productivity books, and productivity tools, and so on. I'd probably also be able to monetize that with some affiliate offers. Maybe every once in a while I can link to some interesting tool that has an affiliate program, or promote some related stuff on Amazon or something like that and make a bit of money.
So that would be the end goal. Kind of envision that, right? That will be the end goal of the business, is this business about productivity that centers around a website on how to become more productive with various products and offers and so on, that make money.
So, how do we start? Here's how we apply the customer first principle to this business. I start by offering a free trial of productivity coaching. I basically make an offer saying get on a phone call with me, or get on a Skype call with me, for half an hour.
I'm going to figure out how to make you more productive. I'm going to give you the insider tips that will help you become more productive, and it's free. So first session is free. Now, I did this, like I said, I did this last week as an experiment.
What I did is I set up a simple landing page, just a very, very simple landing page. In the show notes, I'll add an image of that so you can see what that looked like. I made that landing page in about 10 minutes, it's just a landing page advertising this offer saying do you want to get super productive, some bullet points, click here to schedule a call with me.
Very simple. It took me about 10 minutes to make this landing page.
There's two caveats there. First of all, I have a lot of practice making landing pages, so if you're new to that it might take you a bit longer just to write the copy and so on. Secondly, I did use Thrive landing pages, so our own landing page building plugin from Thrive Themes. That makes a big difference.
If you try to make a landing page ... You know, the landing page is super simple. There's almost nothing there except text and a button. But, yeah, if you try to make something like that using just WordPress ... Basically if you don't have some kind of visual editor, that's, again, going to cost you more time.
But, I think even for a beginner it should be possible to build a landing page like that. I don't know, in an hour or so. I don't know. What do you think Hanne? How long would it take someone, like a beginner, to make a landing page like that?
If you start from a template and you know what you're offering, I would say yeah, less than an hour should be completely possible.
Right. I think that's also important, you know, because you're not trying to make an amazing page here. Like I said, you can go to the show notes and check that out. It's really, really simple. And it should be, I think. You don't want to go too far here.
I think there is one thing that's very interesting on that landing page. Because even though it's super simple, people might notice that as soon as they read it, in their head they are saying, "Yes, I want to do this."
I think that's probably more important than the whole difficulty about images or colors or whatever, right? It's like you want people to sign up for your free offer, so you want them to say yes to your free offer. I think that's something that this page is doing really, really well.
Yeah, which is also a good point. You mention images and graphics and stuff, of which I used none. I literally have a white page with text on it as my landing page. And yeah, I made an offer that ... I mean, that's a good point. Hopefully people read that and go, "Yes, I want."
So then there's a button on the landing page that says 'Click here to schedule a call with me.' That button simply links to Calendly.
Now, I'll also link to a post about Calendly. It's a scheduling app that we use. It's a very nice, you know, it's very simple. Basically people click on that button, they see a list of available times in their timezone of when they can schedule a call with me, they select one, they enter their Skype ID, and then they can automatically enter that into their calendar. It's just a really easy way for people to schedule these calls. So that's Calendly, the tool that I used for that.
And then I used Skype and a Skype recording app. I will also link to the app I used to record the Skype calls in the show notes.
You want to record your calls, because that's going to be important and useful information, your actual coaching calls. You probably want to refer back to those. All right, so those are basically ... That's what I used to set up this free trial productivity coaching.
Now you want to get some people to sign up to this. What I did is I was very, very, very lazy about this. I simply asked someone I know, who works with entrepreneurs, you know, someone who's fairly well connected, and I told them, "Listen, I know that a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with productivity ..."
You know, as soon as you're your own boss, it becomes really important that you're productive and a lot of people struggle with that. So I told him, "Listen, do you think some people are interested in this?
I only want like two or three people, so if you know some people just send them to this page," and he said, "Sure." Next day, pretty much, I had two people sign up for this call.
Now, important, right, I don't actually want to build this business, so I wasn't trying to get 20 people onto this call and I didn't do anything other than ask this friend of mine to get people to sign up for this.
Because I don't actually want to be doing 20 coaching calls, and I don't actually want to build this business. This was just an experiment. But, still, this is one valid way in which you can get your first coaching clients like is, is you can ask people to ... You know, you can ask people who are well connected, you can ask your friends to refer their friends, and so on.
You can simply put the offer out there in your existing social circles. That's one way to get people there. We'll talk a bit more about how to get more people a bit later on. For now, I just want to continue with this method.
So, I got two people to sign up for this. I got on these calls with them and I did like 30 to 40 minute long coaching sessions with each of them, Now, here's a really important part.
Coaching someone about anything, in my case about productivity, but about anything, is a lot about asking questions anyway, right? If you want to be able to effectively coach someone, effectively help someone, then you need to really find out who they are.
You need to find out exactly who you're talking to, you need to find out exactly what their problem is, what exactly they're struggling with, and what they want to accomplish before you can really help them effectively.
And, this kind of insight that you have to gain about a coachee is also valuable market research. So, really, at the same time you're doing market research that's going to be extremely valuable for every further step in this business.
Now, what I did specifically is I wanted to identify the number one thing that my coachee could implement right now, like right after the call, to become more productive. So, this is something that is kind of a principle we use in many areas of the business, or internally in our teams, we call this the greatest leverage point. We try to find the greatest leverage point.
So, the difference here is, or what we're not doing is, I don't want to give someone 15 tips to be more productive and then they go and do nothing. Because everybody can do dozens of things to be more productive, but I want to find out the greatest leverage point out of all the possible things you can be doing to become more productive.
What is the one thing that will have the greatest impact right away? That's my goal on this coaching call. I give them that one piece of advice, explain what they should do, why they should do it, and then I schedule a follow up call with them a week later.
During the coaching calls I had, I asked questions like, "On average, how much time do you spend working every day? and, "How fixed are your daily rituals?" and, "If you start working, how long do you typically work before you get distracted?"
And from my coachees, I learned that they struggled with problems like,
"My biggest bottleneck is that I get too overwhelmed with working for clients that I am right now and I'm not putting time, because I don't have time, or because I'm juggling other priorities, whatever the reasons are, I'm not prioritizing something of my own offering, essentially.
It happened, usually, when I come across something that I'm learning new, which happens often but less often now that I'm becoming more experienced with it. It's estimating, "Oh, I'm going to dedicate 10 hours to this week," but as I'm doing it, this one thing wasn't successful and so I feel that I have to spend more time on it until it is successful.
And then the 10 hour commitment turned into 15 hours, and then that just has a trickle down effect to all the other things that I work on," and, "Basically, putting ... You're forming, building, however you want to call it, a team, as a higher priority than actually solving smaller fires," and, "I'm doing the digital nomad kind of thing, so I'm constantly traveling as well.
I kind of do slow travel though, at least one place one month, but try to do a little bit longer otherwise I won't get into any rhythm and that really hurts my productivity."
So I tell them, "I want you to apply this thing, this one strategy I've given you, and I want to follow up with you next week, and I want you to tell me how did it work, if it failed, if it broke down somewhere, why did it break down, what was the difficulty, what was the resistance."
So, I want them to treat it as an experiment as well. I'm not just saying, "Oh, this is the fix. There you go," I'm saying, "This is the strategy I want you to experiment with and I want you to find out where this breaks down if it breaks down." That's what I specifically did with my coachees. We can take a step back from that and we can say, okay, you can apply this same thing, so whatever your end goal of a business is, you are helping people get a result.
You can apply the same thing. You can do coaching to help people get this result, and you can apply this in a short coaching session. You can do exactly that.
You can try to identify the greatest leverage point for whatever it is that you're helping these people with, for whatever it is that you're trying to help them accomplish, and try to give them this one thing to do and schedule a follow up call.
I think one thing that's very important here, Shane, is that actually when you say you want them to get like results and whatever, like this is not a pitching fest, right?
This is not like half an hour trying to get them with fluff into paying you for your services, or paying you for more coaching. This is actually really providing value and proving that you can deliver on your promise, right, so that people-
... like they actually already experience a little bit how it would be to work with you. 'Cause I think that's a-
Yeah. I think that's something that's so important to keep in mind, that this is not something where you just try to convince ... to buy your carpet for 30 minutes, right?
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. That's really important. I didn't do any selling on this call. What I want to do is I basically want to demonstrate two things.
I want to demonstrate that by talking to me, and by getting my coaching, that they can arrive at something that they wouldn't have done by themselves.
Because, again, if I just said, "Okay, here are 15 things you can do to become more productive," then even if those are 15 really useful things, that leaves you feeling like, well, I could have Googled how to become more productive and I could have learned the same thing, right?
Because any day I can read an article about how to become more productive, that isn't tailored to me. I can read the 15 tips, then do none of them and just go back to what my life was like before, right?
Most people I talk to are basically everyone. Everyone I talk to about productivity has done exactly that many times over. So I want to demonstrate to them that by talking to me, and through my coaching, through the questions I ask, and with this method of finding the greatest leverage point, they are getting something that they cannot get by Googling.
The second thing is I want them to have the experience of, "Holy crap, this works," right? I want them to, the week following my call, I want them to have the experience like, "Oh my God, I've never gotten so much stuff done." And then I start selling.
So now we're like really talking about coaching and about where ... And also the service will be coaching, right? But this same method can actually apply, if you change it a little bit, where it would be more if you're a consultant.
So, for example, if you have SEO services, or that type of stuff, where you're not really coaching people on something in their life, but in a free session you could still tell people what the biggest leverage point would be for their website.
So, again, it wouldn't be like how to rank in Google, it would be something very specific that makes them notice that you actually took the time to look at their website, to look at their specific business, and that you know what you're talking about.
And then when they see that you actually know what you're talking about, and if they implement that one thing and they can ...
Maybe it's a bit more difficult with SEO to see results in one week, but still, if they can feel that you know your business, then this will also help you to sell your consultancy services afterwards, right?
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. That would also be, you know, an example where definitely, in the first session, you want to really provide value and you basically want to impress your future clients, right?
So, you know, you'd be sharing your screen, you pull up their analytics, and you build a customer port in front of their eyes that they've never seen before, and you're like, "Look here, I've identified the thing that you have to do next using data and science."
They're like, "Oh my God, I can't do that, and I can't just Google that either." So, yeah, it's the same kind of principle that ... I think it's a great example. If you think about whatever your business is, you can apply this same principle to really almost anything, because whatever you end up selling, you are always selling a result, right?
You're helping people get the result that they want, and you can turn that into some kind of coaching or consultancy to apply this method.
And as long as you make sure that it's very personal to the person that you're actually having the one-on-one call with, so that they feel that it's not like the same thing you're telling everybody, I think that's like the key to make it work.
Now, on this follow up call that I have a week later with my coachees, this is where, again, I want to find out what was it like for them, and I want to find out what kind of resistance they had. One of the interesting things about giving advice is there's always this difference between theory and practice, right?
So someone may want to implement the advice you gave them, but there's just like psychological resistance or laziness or something that makes them not do it. I want to find out about that.
And, again, this, first of all, helps me give my coachees some more advice about what to do next, and it also doubles as market research again, right?
So, again, I'm getting ideas of ... that, eventually, when I start creating information products and writing books and so on, this kind of insight of what happens when I give someone this piece of advice here, what actually happens in their lives and how do I maybe have to modify the advice I give to make it more practical and to make it more implementable, this kind of stuff will make a product, an information product or book, so much better.
So, that's what I'm trying to do. I'm also giving some further advice based on what they tell me, and then I make an offer. And I make a very simple offer.
I simply go, "Okay, so we've had one coaching session and a follow up. Here's what I can offer you if you're interested to keep working with me, because I see there's way more potential for you to become much, much more productive than you are now.
What I can offer you is we can do one session like this, one hour a week ..." roughly one hour right? Can be a bit longer, I'm not a stickler for that. "Roughly one hour once every week. We'll always follow up, I'll hold you accountable, and I'll tell you what to do next.
I'll always find your next greatest leverage point, and it's going to cost you $50 per session. That's the offer I can make right now, and if you're interested then I'll send you the PayPal link ..." or whatever it is to sign up for this.
And here's what happened. As it turned out, my coachee already was working with a coach, and he didn't want to take on another kind of commitment to another coach, which I think is a reasonable decision.
But here's what he had to say about my offer:
So right here I wanted to play you a clip from this follow up call that I had with one of the coachees, so that you could hear how I made the pitch and what reply I got. I was really proud of having done this call and having gotten such a good piece of audio for you, but of course, the recording failed and I don't actually have that audio file, as it turned out. But it's pretty simple.
Here's what happened. The pitch I made was simply, at the end of the follow up call, I said something like, "All right, I hope this was useful for you. What would you feel like if I told you we could keep doing this on a weekly basis, and I would simply charge you $50 per hour?
I would hold you accountable, I would give you new tasks, new objectives and challenges every week. I would hold you accountable, follow up with you just like we've done in the two calls we've had. $50 an hour to keep going." That's all I did. My pitch was literally, you know, I didn't like do a long winded thing.
I didn't have a long list of benefits, or whatever, that I rattled on about. I simply said, "Would you be willing to continue this and here's a price." And the price I basically grabbed out of thin air.
The answer I got was that ... Well, he was already working with a coach, and he told me that he wouldn't want to be working with two coaches at the same time, being like torn between two masters kind of thing, which I totally understand.
But he also said that, yeah, if he wasn't already working with a coach, that that would be totally something he would agree to. And, basically, the fact that he's already working with a coach, with someone else, meant he kind of just wanted to get another perspective from the calls with me, shows that what I was offering is a sellable product, right?
He was already a customer of what I was offering, it's just that the competition got there first.
And this is really all I was looking for anyway. Of course, you're not going to close every single coachee you have, but this is already validation. Someone telling you that, yeah, the offer you just made me is reasonable, and, you know, maybe, whatever, I'm too busy right now, I don't have enough money, something like that, that's fine, right? You're not going to close everyone.
But I think the fear we often have is that the coachee will go, "Oh mo God, no. No, that's ridiculous. I would never pay this," or something like that. That's kind of the fear we have, and if you do these calls and you get these positive signals back, even if you don't close every one, that helps get over that fear.
And of course, if you don't close anyone, that shows you that maybe you have to adjust your offer. If you do close a few people, that is validation.
And so there you go. The result of this is that this is how you could potentially close your first client. Now, obviously not everyone who does the free trial coaching is going to say yes to this, but you'll have some kind of a conversion rate. Maybe one in two, one in three or so will say yes to this kind of offer. And that's how you get your first clients.
I've done this also in my business. I was doing this free coaching calls, and actually I had a really big trouble with making the offer at the end. I was always afraid to sell. I wasn't sure how to do the transition, and I thought that people wouldn't be interested.
And the thing is, I had people actually asking me how they could continue working with me. So, when somebody actually signs up for a free coaching call, and they are happy about how it's going, they are actually expecting an offer, and they are hoping that they will be able to continue to work with you.
And so that's, for me, that was a switch that I needed to make, where it was like the third time that somebody was like, "Oh, but how can you help me?" or, "How can we do this?" I was like, okay, I really have to start making an offer at the end of these coaching calls because now I'm just ...
Yeah, I'm spending this 30 minutes, I'm giving value, everybody's happy, but I'm not having my clients, right? And going from this, well, we've just spent 30 minutes or one hour together to this is how you can continue working with me, I think it's a good thing to actually like really prepare for this, and do it in front of the mirror or in front of a friend, so that it sounds super natural, right, where you don't have to be afraid to make that offer.
Yeah. I think, also, it's an important point to make ... So, it's quite natural to feel resistance towards selling. Basically, very few people feel comfortable selling, especially if they haven't done it before. But it's important that you don't let this devolve into just free coaching.
You don't want to end up with just a whole bunch of free coaching that you're doing and telling yourself, oh, but it's, you know, it's good for market research or something. It's like no, no, no, no. You want to actually get customers, it's very important.
One of the reasons it's important is because if you want to eventually make products that people pay you for, you need that interaction with people who pay you. The needs of paying customers are different from free customers, or whatever we call them, free leads.
And also the way paying customers respond to things like your coaching input is different from the way free leads respond, because they're not committed, right? They don't take it very seriously. So, if you want to be able to build a product for people who pay you money, you have to work with people who pay you money.
Yeah. The commitment thing is, I think, very important. But, yeah.
Yeah. And, so yeah, I think that's something you should plan for. Like Hanne said, you should plan for this, and I think it helps to just have a script.
Just have a simple script where you remind yourself, you know, make a sticky on your ... a post it note on your screen that's like 'Don't forget this.' Even if it's just like two sentences of how you're going to present this offer.
And, yeah, I think you'll find that most people are very receptive to it if you've done a good job of coaching them.
So by doing these free coaching sessions, this free trial coaching, and closing at the end of the follow up call, like I said, you'll get some kind of a conversion rate, right? My goal here would be to get about 10 clients.
I think this can ... You know, let's do a very rough back of the napkin kind of math. I think in one week of hustling I could get about 10 paying clients. So, very rough math, if we take 10 clients, each client four sessions a week, $50 per session, that gives me about $2000 a month.
And I'm saying 'about' because, well, they won't all stay, right? Some of them will drop out, some of them ... I might offer them like referral discounts or something, where I say, "Refer a friend and I'll give it to you cheaper." Or maybe some of them will negotiate and we'll negotiate a lower price, or something like that.
Some of them might do a session every other week. In any case, if I get 10 clients, and then some of them drop off after a few weeks, I will still be earning something over $1000 a month, and that's a pretty good start.
So first of all, I can go to Thailand or somewhere and live on that, if I already want to live on this, but I could do this next to my job.
I'm already earning income while I'm working with these people, which is fueling all of my ideas for what kind of content to create, what kind of opt in offers to create, what kind of books to write, what kind of courses to create, and so on.
So that is basically my free trial coaching strategy. This is how you then start scaling it up to reach more people. Let's talk about that next. Like how do you reach more people? How do we get more people in to this system?
So one of the ways to get more people is to talk to more people, right? But if you're having like one-on-one coaching calls, it takes half an hour per one-on-one coaching call, it might be difficult.
When I started out in my business, I actually decided to do one too many. Instead of doing one-on-one coaching calls, I decided to do a real event where I actually got a group of people together, so that during the two hours that I would talk, I could actually talk to 20, 30 people, rather than talking to one or two people at the same time.
This was actually one of the things that brought in the most leads and the most sales in the least amount of time.
So I would like to go over it very quickly, how I set this up, because it's not very difficult if you keep it simple. I think that will be like the red line through the discussion. It's like with the free coaching calls, keep it simple, keep the landing page simple, and with this type of physical events, you can also keep it very simple.
So, what I did was I identified the target market with whom I wanted to work. I was offering online communication technique strategies for coaches, so for coaches and consultants. My event that I wanted to give, the talk that I decided to give, was how to communicate online to get more coaching clients.
So that the people who would come to that event were actually people that I really wanted to work with. And then I advertised that free event just about everywhere I could think of.
So it was on my personal Facebook, I talked to friends about it, I asked them to share it. I also contacted groups of coaches and consultants, and I asked if they wanted to talk about it.
And the biggest advantage of doing a free talk like this - that's actually very, again, very valuable for the people who are interested in this topic - is that people are okay with sharing it, and are okay with talking about it in their community, and so on.
So to sign up for this event, I didn't even make a landing page at the time. I didn't set up Wizevents, or whatever. I just told them to send me their email address and their name.
I had like an Excel spreadsheet and I was just like writing down first name and email address. Because at the time that I started promoting the event, I actually didn't even have the venue yet, like I didn't know where I was going to give that event.
So I just decided to take the email address and to promise them to mail out with the address a few days before.
This is great. Can I just ... This is great because ... I really love this and this is an attitude that I think is really valuable, and a lot of entrepreneurs could benefit from having more of this attitude.
Because we can get bogged down in the tools and tech and details, right, where you're like, "Okay, I want to do a live event. I need a live event scheduling app, and I need the venue, and I need the landing page, and I need ..." and you're like three months in before you've told anyone about your live event, right?
I think it's really important to remind yourself that you can often just do it, you can just ghetto it, right? You can just ghetto it and it's going to be fine.
Yeah. And, again, the only time that I spent between deciding that I was going to do this event and actually like starting to hustle to get people to sign up, so send me their email for this event, was I wrote down the bullet points of what I was going to teach people.
So what were they going to learn when they came to this event. That goes back to the most important thing on the landing page, right? It's like, okay, they just have to read this text and say yes, and then send over their email.
So I think I started advertising this about three weeks in advance, because most people, their agenda, they don't know too far in advance.
Instead of thinking about like renting a nice venue or doing some fancy stuff, I went to a bar. That bar actually had like a room downstairs in the basement, and that room, I knew that was available for like private events such as private drinks.
They also had a video projector, that was what I actually needed to give my event. So I asked them if I could use that room to host my event, and I told them that it was going to be on the Tuesday because, like, Tuesdays are a time when a bar isn't very busy, and that I would have around 20 people showing up, and I promised them that everybody would buy a drink.
So for them it was 20 people discovering their bar, having a drink on a day that usually they would have almost nobody in the bar.
It was win/win, and I could use it for free. So at that point I knew the venue and I knew that I needed about 20 people, and I started hustling. One of the things that I did was I also hosted it on free event websites, because this event was held in Paris and so there are a lot of websites like, okay, what's going on in Paris, and like agendas, and that type of stuff.
I'm sure that for just about any city you can find this type of website that's actually advertising everything that's going on in the city. I had about 30 people sending me their email address, and about 20 people actually showed up.
That's also important to keep in mind, like for a free talk like this, like you will always have people saying that they are going to come, but then at the last moment it's raining and they don't want to go outside, or whatever. So you can actually have like more people sign up. But, yeah, I managed to get about 20 people together.
I also asked a friend to film the event. Now, again, this was not somebody with video experience, or whatever, it was just a friend of mine and she had like a camiscope. Yeah, I asked her to come and to film that so that I could then use that content later on on my website, so that would double up as content creation. Now, I delivered the talk.
I really prepared. I did about two hours of talking, so it was a bit of preparation in front. I had a break in between so that everybody could buy their drinks so that the bar would be happy and that they would allow me to come back later.
At the end of the talk there were two things that I did. The first one was I made an offer. So I told people that if they wanted to continue working with me, they could sign up for this workshop.
I also did a survey at the end of the presentation. I actually asks everybody who came, I printed out a survey that I made beforehand, and I asked them to fill out and to tell me what they found interesting, what they didn't like that much about the talk, and I also asked them if they wanted to keep on getting information from me, and so they could leave me their email address.
About 18 people out of the 20 gave me their email address. So for a business just starting out, getting 18 leads of very targeted people that were actually already interested in the topic, that was already very good. I thought that was good result.
Plus these people have a personal relationship with you almost at that point, right?
They've seen you in person. That's quite different than just signing up on an opt in form on a website.
Yeah, and they talked to me over the break. That was also one of the reasons to have that break later, and they stayed after the event to ask me their questions. And, yeah, those people actually became like my fans, right, because they have that personal connection to you.
Out of those 20 people, actually three of them signed up for a paid workshop immediately.
That was like a very good conversion rate for me, for a free event getting 18 leads of very targeted, interested people, plus signing three new clients, and having the survey results to get information, and also to get testimonials.
So, I think, overall, this was a very nice way to get a lot of results in just one evening.
Yeah, that's badass. I think that's a great way to scale it up, right, like you said, instead of doing 20 calls you had 20 people in a room.
I think it's also really good to give a talk like that, it just instantly makes you an expert. If you're the one standing in front of a group of people, you're instantly the expert, so I think that's also a benefit you get from doing this.
And that's one of the reasons why I asked somebody to film and to take pictures, because then, like you said, it just gives this expert status.
So if then you post the video or a clip of the video on your Facebook, and a picture of you in front of people talking, on your Facebook, it immediately shows that you know what you're talking about, right?
Yeah. That's good stuff.
I want to show that this is really not only working with marketing stuff. Like I happen to talk about how to get more clients online, but I have the example of a friend of mine who's a sports coach.
She's actually specialized in helping women to move during and after their pregnancy. She has a very specific target audience, right? She used the same technique. She went even further than I did, because she organized a full day of a free event around wellbeing for parents. So for pregnant women but also for the dad.
This was also, again, like a free event, but she got a lot of benefits out of organizing that event. It took a lot more time because she had different speakers and so on, but she got the local press to talk about her, to talk about her business.
She got to connect with those experts that she asked to talk on her event, and she became an industry expert simply by organizing this event.
Yeah, that's brilliant.
Yeah. Because it's one of those things that most people don't do it because it's a lot of effort.
Exactly. And also, I think it's another thing that ... A lot of people would maybe think that, well, you know, that works for productivity coaching and for whatever, you know ... whatever the three examples that you named, it works for those, but for nothing else, right?
It doesn't work for my business, basically. And I think this is a great example because it's not the first thing that comes to mind for this type of business - oh, I could do an event and establish myself as an expert and so on - but it works. You can make this kind of thing work.
In fact, if you're right now listening to this thinking this doesn't work for my niche, that's a strong sign that probably it would work extremely well for your niche, because all your competitors are thinking that as well.
So you can really set yourself apart by doing something like this.
All right, to close off, let's talk about some more examples of how to get more people into this funnel. So whether you're going the free trial coaching or a live event, we've talked about some of the ways we've gotten more people into this funnel, right, to get these coachees, or the attendees.
Let's talk about a couple more things you can do. We've already mentioned, basically, talk to your connections, ask your friends and family, things like that. You should definitely use your own social network to spread the word.
Now with the coaching, what you can also do is you can ask your coachees for referrals. So, when you've gotten a few coachees and you have the follow up call with them and you make your offer, you can talk to them about this and you can say, "Okay ..." To follow my example, right, you say, "Okay, it's going to be $50 a session, but here's the deal.
If you have a friend who you think could benefit from this, refer that friend to me. If they sign up, I'm going to give it to you for half price," let's say. So first of all, you should ask your coachees to refer other people to you, either way.
You should do that anyway. But, offering some incentive could just make them work a bit harder to send people your way.
But even if you don't close them, right, even if they don't sign up, you can still ask them, "Hey, if you know someone who you think could benefit from this, send them my way." So you should do that anyway.
Then another thing what I did back in the day, a few years ago when I did this for one of my products, is I looked through forums, through online forums, and I posted in the forums.
I contacted people on the forums who I could see were talking about the kinds of problems that I could help them solve. Now, I think forums are a bit old school, people don't really do that anymore, but what you can do is you can go to Quora, for example ... Quora is great.
People ask questions, right, and you can find people who are asking very specifically the kinds of questions that you can help answer. What you can do is, first of all, when you're looking at a question on Quora, you can go to the URL of that question and add to the end of the URL /log.
That will give you a change log of everything that happened on that question. You scroll all the way to the bottom and you'll see who asked the question.
So then you can go to that person's profile and you might see their Facebook or their Twitter or something, so you can actually send them a message and say, hey, listen, I can help you with this.
Another thing you can do is you can create answers to questions on Quora. You get a decent amount of exposure on Quora these days, so people will see that answer you wrote.
You can put a link in your bio, maybe you can also drop a cheeky link in the answer. If the thing you can link to is relevant enough, you can link directly in an answer and that will also help you get leads.
Yeah. I think you talked about forums that are not that used any more, one of the ways that you can easily contact people now is through Facebook groups, right? For me, there are like two big ways that you can use Facebook groups.
The first one being you're part of a group, and if somebody asks questions around your topic, you're always the first one to answer. This will, again, this will help you establish your authority.
At one point, people will actually like tag you in the question about that specific topic, and then people will seek you out. Make sure that in your profile you have your website linked, of course.
Another way that you can use Facebook groups, and that kind of goes together with these questions, but you can even do it without answering questions that much, is that once you're part of a group you can actually see other people in that group.
You can message them. And, of course, like you shouldn't spam people and you shouldn't just like, hey, here's my free coaching call, because nobody likes to get that type of messages.
But you can send a message to them saying like, hey, we're both part of this entrepreneur group, whats your business about? And then, if people answer, they will probably ask you the same question.
Like, oh, and what are you doing, which then gives you an opportunity to talk about, right?
Ha ha, sneaky.
It actually, it works very well.
No, that's brilliant. I would have totally fallen for that. I would have totally fallen for that. I think that's great.
It actually, it works on LinkedIn the same way. Because on LinkedIn you need to have a certain connection with the person in order to be able to contact them. If you're in the same group, that's actually enough of a connection for LinkedIn to be able to send them a message.
One point, I was really doing this very systematically, where just every morning I would send five Facebook messages and five LinkedIn messages. That was the way that I got the 30 minutes coaching calls.
Cool. All right. So there you go. We've got a bunch more ways in which you can get your first leads and turn them into your first clients. This is what you should be doing instead of trying to get more traffic.
Now, in the next episode, we will talk more about the next step. So if you follow this system, you get your first clients ... how do you go from here to that kind of information product empire that I described at the beginning, right, where you have much more passive income, you don't have to do these calls and presentations and so on yourself, and you have like a website that's actually a revenue engine for you and it's no longer a one-on-one exchange of time for money?
How do you get from something like this to that end goal? That's what the next episode is going to be about.
Thank you very much for spending your time listening to us, and we hope you'll tune in for the next episode.
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
The minimum viable toolkit we mentioned in this episode to get your first coaching client this week is below:
- A RAPID Landing Page solution – of course we're biased, but Shane used the Thrive Landing Pages WordPress plugin to build his free-trial coaching session page in 10 minutes. Like Hanne mentioned, don't invest much more than 1 hour to get your landing page up and running.
- Calendly – an online scheduling automation app. Read our post about how to set up calendly for your new coaching business here.
- Skype and a microphone – to conduct your online coaching sessions.
- Free MP3 Skype Call Recorder - to record your Skype coaching sessions.
- Shane's text-only landing page example used for word-of-mouth referrals.
Below is the landing page Shane used to get his coaching clients in all its (lack of) glory. As you can see, the landing page is stupid simple. It basically doesn't contain any design elements and instead relies on simple words to get the visitor's attention:
Shane's Free-Trial Productivity Coaching Landing Page. Time investment: 10 minutes!
Next Up: Forget Traffic! Part 3
If you've had the chance to listen to this episode of Forget Traffic! already, what did you think of Shane's customer first online coaching approach? Can you take what you've learned and land your first free trial client in the next few days?
In Part 3, of the mini-series, Shane and Hanne will show you exactly how to scale up from the hands-on coaching (discussed in this episode) to your first product launch and beyond.
But before you start the next episode, what questions and comments do have for us about setting up your own customer first, online coaching business? Join the conversation in the comments below to help us get the feedback loop rolling!
Remember, your feedback fuels our insights about how to produce better episodes to address your actual online business needs!
You can leave a comment below or record a voice message here:
See you in the next episode,
The ActiveGrowth Team
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I see how this system works for you. I used to coach and really do not want to do any more coaching. I sell books, audios and videos. My niche is Relationship Intelligence – so I focus on saving marriages AND creating and maintaining relationships with oneself, other people, and a Higher Power. The complete picture of how people “do” relationships – out of their awareness.
How do you recommend I move forward using your method?
Since you already have your products, the coaching-first approach may not be needed. It depends on whether you also have customers for those products, or not.
Two things that come to mind, from what you wrote:
1) It sounds like you’re trying to make your product too generically appealing. Saving marriages, creating relationships with others, maintaining relationships with others, relationships with oneself, higher power… that’s a lot of stuff. It’s easier to sell something more focused. That focus can come from simplifying and focusing a product or from focusing your message.
A product may be comprehensive, but the message about what it’s about and whom it’s for needs to be very simple.
2) We will talk about this more in the future: once you have your products and some customers, my recommendation is to pick a marketing channel and specialize in it, to some degree.
Many business owners do too little of too many things. A bit of Facebook ads, a bit of SEO, a few guest posts here and there… and the end result is nothing much.
It’s much better to pick one thing and really get into it until you get some results.
I’ve used the exact same method to pre-sell and got 9 coaching clients at $200 each then used that $$ to fund the creation of my course.
So yeah this stuff works :D
Thanks, Tung! Glad to see that you’ve applied this strategy successfully as well!
I have a question about this “Customer First Approach”…
The point is that I like the idea of starting a coaching business, but I’m not an expert in the niche I chose to work in (even though I know plenty of big players in the same niche who are much better than me at teaching)…
So the question is:
How could I “model” the approach described in these first podcast episodes in order to leverage these people’s expertise?
Do you think it’s possible to “coach” (help) people in my Community by collecting their problems/obstacles and then having other experts respond to them via some sort of interviews?
I like this idea. You’re applying some creative problem solving to this question, which is great.
I think your idea could work for creating content. It depends on how you frame it and what form that content will take. But for sure you’ll learn a lot from talking to people in your audience and learning about their specific issues and that will arm you with good, highly specific questions to ask when you talk to the experts. I say go for it!
I keep asking the question, “This seems to be geared for digital products – how can it apply to physical products?” For instance, in my business and job:
– breeding high-pedigree puppies (my home business)
– floor covering (my job to work on marketing)
I would love to hear more discussion on higher ticket physical items. BTW: I enjoy hearing the “stand the status quo on its head; here’s what really works” from you all.
Thank you for your comment, Lee!
We specialize in digital products, so that’s what we usually talk about as well. I’m probably not the best person to ask about dog breeds or floor covers. :)
Having said that, some marketing principles apply offline as well as online and we will also cover other entrepreneurial skills in future episodes that are less specialized.
Thanks for this brilliant idea! This really will get me started!
I have a practical question though. As soon as I start charging for my coaching calls, how can I implement that? How can I let people pay? I mean I can say of course, Paypal me the money upfront. Or afterwards? And what about VAT? Because every country has it’s own VAT standards, so how do you know how many VAT you have to calculate and more important, how do I pay the VAT to country X, Y, or Z? There are probably already all kinds of services out there to solve my questions, but I don’t know them. I reckon you do, so, maybe you can give me advice on this?
The complications with VAT arise in the EU, where one has to pay VAT rate of the customer’s country, rather then the VAT rate of the seller’s country. This is madness, of course, but that’s what we have to contend with, right now.
However, this applies to digital products only. If you sell a coaching service, that doesn’t fall under this VAT law. For coaching, what I recommend is just sending people a PayPal invoice and have them pay in advance.
For the VAT stuff with digital products, I’m working on finding the best solution and teaching how to implement it. If you need something in a hurry, check out SendOwl.
Thanks, Shane! This is very helpful!
By the way: is there a way that I can get an email message as soon as you or anybody else have replied to one of my comment on ActiveGrowth? Because now I had to check after a couple of days if you would have answered my question or not. And you what happens when life gets in the way … ;-)
We’re working on that, yes. We’re using Thrive Comments here, as an early test. A comment subscription feature is in the works, but not finished yet.
Thanks for this Shane and Hanne! It was the shot in the arm I’ve been needing. I put together a simple landing page going to my Calendly link and have my ads set to start Monday morning so I’m looking forward to the response.
It was actually refreshing keeping it simple. I understand the importance of lead generation and have got too caught up in the usual opt-in page to checklist/guide to then hope visitors actually open my emails to then hope they click on the links/offers, etc.
You presented such an obvious concept – TALK TO PEOPLE – that has become forgotten in the new age of artificial intelligence. I’m all for doing things others aren’t and literally every ad in my fb feed is directing me to your typical opt-in offer, of which I’ve been doing myself for the past several years, so when I listened to these first few episodes it clicked for me.
I can’t wait for future episodes and to report back with some positive results of my own!
Thanks for sharing Andrew and it’s really great to read that you’re taking action on this! Can’t wait to hear your results.
Just when I thought I didn’t need another Podcast, you guys come along and blow all the others out the water! Great work. But what else would I expect from the Thrive Team!
(P.S. Hanne – I’m looking for a venue in Paris to do exactly the kind of talk that you recommend. Would you be able to email me and give me any recommendations you might have? This has been holding me back a little.)
Thank you very much! Very happy to hear that our podcast delivers value to you. :)
OK, listened to the podcast, taken action, used Thrive in all its glory! What do you think? https://xquadrant.com/leverage/
(I’m waiting until September before launching due to the holiday season – hence the long ‘ultimatum’ deadline).
Hi Shane, quick question: using this approach, would (did) you charge monthly or per session?
Loved the article, thanks!
I think charging per session makes sense, but I’d also insist on a specific schedule of sessions. However, other approaches might work too. You could try offering a flat rate and let the coachee pick how many sessions they want, for example.
What an eyeopener this podcast was!
You’re both providing simple (exactly what I’ve wish for) ways to bring forth what’s within. I have gifts to give yet I have not know how-to put them out, and with you help the pieces are coming together. I love your sincere, down-to-earth, humble and bullshit-free way to enrich the world of business with heart-centered action.
Thank you Hanne and Shane.
I am forever changed. The world is never the same after your giving, my action and everyone’s involvement in it. Such a beautiful circle of giving and receiving.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I appreciate you both.
Hi Shane / Hanne,
I tried following the steps you talked about. The most difficult thing was finding clients to sign up for my free coaching call. It would be good to provide detailed step by step guidance on what you talked about (Quora, FB groups, Live events etc.) for those just starting out. Thanks!
This podcast was terrific!! It was immensely informative and insightful. The tips were actionable and straight to the point. Listening to the podcast I was able to put an action plan together!