How to Get Your First Customer (Without Needing Any Traffic)

June 26, 2017 , 23 Comments

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.


Podcast Audio

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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!

Episode Transcript

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

The minimum viable toolkit we mentioned in this episode to get your first coaching client this week is below:

  1. ​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.
  2. Calendly – an online scheduling automation app. Read our post about how to set up calendly for your new coaching business here.
  3. Skype and a microphone – to conduct your online coaching sessions.
  4. Free MP3 Skype Call Recorder  - to record your Skype coaching sessions.
  5. 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

P.S.: If you're a fan of the podcast so far, please subscribe and leave a review for us on iTunes. Your social proof really helps promote the podcast to potential listeners in your region! 

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About ​Matt Totten

Matt's a geologist turned online marketer and digital nomad. He's a Modern Manimal on a mission to cultivate a high-tech, hunter-gatherer lifestyle within our exceedingly domesticated world. When away from his tech, you can find him studying complex human movement through random play or practices like Aikido, AcroYoga and Barefoot Running.

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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?

    • Hello Ali,

      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

      • Hi Shane,
        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?

        Thank you!

      • 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.

  • Hi Shane,
    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?

    Regards, Harry

    • Good question.

      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!

    • Hanne Vervaeck says:

      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.)

  • OK, listened to the podcast, taken action, used Thrive in all its glory! What do you think?

    (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!

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