Have you ever launched a coaching program that didn’t sell?
When I work with a client and we’re talking about one of these ‘failed’ launches, my first question is always, “Did you involve your ideal client in the process?” The answer is almost always no.
Designing and creating an engaging coaching program takes a lot of time, energy, and effort. As a result, you are going to be more successful if you build something that you know your clients will actually want. Not what you THINK they want or what you know they NEED, but what they themselves actually want.
The first step to figuring out what they want is to listen.
It sounds so simple: listen to what the client says they want and then give it to her. Yet, so many business owners don’t make an effort to listen.
In any conversation you have with your ideal client – in person, by phone, or even by email – pay attention to how they describe their problems. Where do they see that their challenges lie? What language do they use to describe both the problem and their ideal solution?
Once you know what your ideal client is struggling with, not only can you craft your coaching program to fit, but you can use that information to write a compelling sales page for your finished program as well.
When you talk to your students in the language they use, understand, and jive with, they will feel that you are the best person to help them with their problem.
The second step to creating a coaching program that sells is involving your clients in the process.
One of my favorite ways to try out a new idea is to play with it with my clients. I’m upfront with them that this is something that I’m trying out and ask if it would be okay to use it. Most of the time, they agree. With their buy-in, I find it easier to send them drafts of worksheets and let the messiness of the process show. I believe that nothing is final, that everything is a pilot.
Involving your current clients allows for mutual lean in and is a reason for creating opportunities for meaningful dialog with your ideal clients on a regular basis. Involving your clients can also spark interest along the way, so you end up with a list of people ready to buy when you do launch the new program.
Third, do a small test of your idea first.
As mentioned earlier, creating a big coaching program is a huge undertaking. So, before you invest all of that time and energy, try out your idea in a small way first. If you put it out there in the world and all you get in response is crickets, you know you need to rethink your plans.
Here are a few formats you can use to put your idea out there and gather feedback:
- eBook. Long or short, free or paid, write it, create a sales page (or optin page) for it and see if your community responds.
- Webinar If you promote a free webinar on the same topic and you have a ton of participants who love it, you know you’re on to something. You can also leverage your list of attendees to gather more in depth data: simply send them a survey asking about their challenges and what/where they need support to help bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be.
- Video. Take a short piece of the content from your program and create a video. Post it to Youtube and see if it sparks any interaction. If it’s very popular, you can leverage it by including it in your finished program.
If your first try doesn’t generate the response you want, don’t despair. It can often take a few iterations to come up with a winning combination that truly resonates with your ideal client, so pick a few small things to change and try again. Or package your content into a different format. The problem could be as simple as your ideal client would rather watch a video than read an ebook. That’s why starting with one of these small launch formats is so valuable: they are all fairly easy to produce, so you can make as many as feels right to you.
The goal is to adjust your coaching program so it fits the needs of your intended audience.
However, along the way you may learn something that is even more valuable: what they want isn’t something you want to deliver. As an example, I’ve had several career coach clients who got feedback that their prospects wanted more content and support around resume writing and interview preparation, but this wasn’t something they wanted to provide. Remember, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! Only offer programs that are a powerful yes for you, no matter how often clients might ask you for them.
With that said, if it’s something your ideal clients really want, this could be a great opportunity to partner with a Strategic Alliance to support them in areas that aren’t resonant to you but would be a great fit for your Strategic Alliance and a clear need for the client. In the end, you want to be doing programs that are in your sweet spot – where your expertise and interests overlap with what your client wants.
And remember, only GOOD comes out of being in dialogue with your prospects, current and former clients, and other Centers of Influence.
I’m curious if you’ve launched a coaching program before and what worked or didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear!
Tara Butler Floch