The big question that comes up for many of you looking to attract more clients into their business is this: is creating a group program worth it?
Quite often, when we’re looking at ways to create leverage in a business, it’s easy to jump to a group program as an alternative to 1:1 work with clients. And the truth is, many people actually prefer a group program. But what else do you need to consider.
PREFER TO LISTEN?
Reframing the ‘Is It Worth It’ Question
What my clients are really asking is in the questions beneath the main question: Is a group program the right strategy for me? Is this something I can do? Is it a load of work? And isn’t it just something else to market, so what will change?
So in this article, I’m going to answer those questions about strategy and why offering a group program might be worth it for you.
Quite often, when we’re looking at ways to create leverage in a business, it’s easy to jump to a group program as an alternative to 1:1 work with clients. And let’s be clear there’s a big upfront investment to design a great group program that blends content, activities, resources and feedback, as well as possibly building a community for your participants. The leverage comes later, but to put everything into play can be a lot of work.
So let’s look at why you might want to do this. First, we’ll look at it from the perspective of your target market and talk about why people love group programs. And then we’ll dive into what you need to get in place and work on to get the marketing piece working.
And then next week and the one after, I’m doing a two-parter on How to Create a Group Program and Sell it Fast where we’ll go into the practicalities.
Sound good? Hope so, now let’s get started here with the benefits of group programs to attract more clients.
Why Your Clients Love Group Programs
While you might think your clients see one-on-one working with a consultant, coach or expert as the best way to guarantee getting results, the truth is, many people actually prefer a group program. If you want to attract more clients, it can be really important to offer a group version of how you work with clients individually.
With one-on-one consulting or coaching, whether it’s an individual or a whole team, your client just gets you. In other words, the work is all done in a bit of a vacuum.
A group program, on the other hand, has much more capacity to incorporate both a wider brainstorming element and a social dynamic. And what’s super interesting is when you realise your clients actually prefer that.
If you find that’s the case, you can attract more clients to work with you because a group program offers a sense of community that’s not found when it’s just you and your client on the phone, on zoom or if we ever get back to it, across the table.
With a group program, there’s usually some kind of discussion forum, often a Facebook group or a community space where people can support one another, gain insight into the challenges they’re working on, and get advice in real time from peers who have insights, expertise and experiences to offer.
Need a shoulder to cry on about your launch flop? How about a few cheerleaders as you prepare to step outside your comfort zone for your first keynote address or new initiative? A group program offers all that, and best of all, with a community of like-minded members, the help and support is actually incredibly helpful and valuable.
Here’s another win for group programs: the price.
While it might be nice to work with that high-profile consulting firm one-to-one, or that in-demand coach on a VIP day, the fact is that many people won’t be able to afford that kind of investment.
A group program gives them many of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost. And that means a lot more people are going to be interested and be in a position to say yes to working with you. It’s a win:win.
Lastly, you can design a group program based on your expert system, the process you go through when you’re working with your one-on-one clients. Because your expert way of looking at things and helping people is usually something that comes naturally to you, and other people find difficult.
So you can help them get clarity, help them decide what they need to do, and break down the process into manageable, achievable steps. That way you can usually guarantee a successful outcome for your participant – especially if you’ve been doing this kind of work or delivering results for a while.
Established group programs such as Marie Forleo’s incredibly successful “B School” which helps businesses new to online marketing has long been proven to change the lives of those who take the course.
Likewise for Rebecca Tracey, my fabulous guest in February, her Uncage Your Business group program makes such a huge difference for getting entrepreneurs who are stuck at the first hurdle of crafting their offer so they can overcome that initial inertia when starting a business.
And Becca has since gone on to offer a self-study version that even more leveraged for those who are happy to work through the tasks on their own and don’t need as much hand-holding and feedback. But there’s still a community on Facebook where participants can get support and feel part of something bigger than just working on their own or with their coach.
A few other ‘famous’ group programs spring to mind, Stu McLaren’s Tribe and Business by Design with James Wedmore. I’m a big fan of both Stu and James, yet I get the impression these programs have got so big now. They only run once a year and the community discussion can feel overwhelming, hindering rather than helping.
Naturally, participants must actually do the work, but the fact is, group programs as a business model is solid to attract more clients.
Are you thinking of creating a group coaching program?
Keep these points in mind. You might just find out your potential clients have been waiting for you to take this step for a long time.
How to Attract More Clients that Want Your Program
Your market is out there, and they are looking for you!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a health coach for seniors, a dating coach for middle-aged women, or a business coach for entrepreneurs. You have a large audience, and they are eagerly anticipating the help only you can provide.
But you’re missing the mark in some important areas, and it’s causing them to turn away in favour of another coach.
#1 Make it Easy for Them
When you’re selling your products and services online, the one rule you must abide by is to make it easy for your customers to buy. It sounds simple, right? Yet you might be shocked how often coaches (and others) break this rule.
- They don’t make the “buy” buttons obvious.
- They don’t make contact information easy to find.
- They don’t provide clear calls to action on their website.
- They don’t create easy website navigation so readers can quickly find what they need.
- They don’t offer the next logical product via a well-planned funnel.
The list goes on, but the bottom line is this: make it easy for your customers to buy from you, and not only will you make more money, but your clients will be singing your praises.
#2 Court the Newbies
Even if your ideal market is established business owners, don’t forget the up-and-comers. While they might not be ready for you yet, they will be in the future, and they’ll remember you if you treat them well today.
Some ideas for helping the newbies out might be:
- Low-cost self-study products
- eBooks or guides
- Email courses
- Membership sites and forums
- Facebook groups
I’ve seen people doing all of these, but really you just need to pick one that creates a good stepping stone between meeting you and your high-end consulting service.
#3 Get Personal
Every niche is crowded, and the only thing that sets you apart from every other coach out there is your personality, so don’t be afraid to let it shine. That’s how your potential customers will get to know, like and trust you.
- Share personal updates on social media, so potential customers can see the “real” you.
- Post photos of your life outside of business on Instagram and Facebook.
- Take a stand for what you believe in—even if it’s controversial and unpopular.
Will you maybe turn some potential clients off with your personality? It’s possible. But ask yourself this: Do you really want those people as your customer?
3 Ways to Drive Sales of Your Online Group Program
Ok, so you’re a consultant, coach, or other expert practitioner. You have a private practice and enough clients to keep you busy and give you a nice income? TICK!
You probably have a decent-looking website? TICK!
Maybe you’ve worked hard to create great sales copy? TICK!
And you’ve decided to create a group program so you have a variety of offers for how people can work with you? TICK!
Now all you need is steady flow of potential clients who look at what your group program is all about and sign up with you.
Hmm, yes well – now maybe you’re stuck, you’re still in the same boat – how to attract more clients to work with you, that’s marketing – that’s where you’ve struggled.
And maybe we’ve sweetened the deal for people who find you, visit your website, read your sales copy, because it’s more affordable to join your group program than to work with you one-to-one.
Offering a group program is a great way to help them say yes to working with you, for all the reasons we talked about here.
But marketing it, that’s still the bottleneck? The truth is, whether it’s 1:1 or group based offer, marketing is the one thing that holds consulting and coaching business owners back from success. Maybe you don’t know where to begin, or perhaps you’re afraid of putting yourself out there, or maybe consistency is your biggest problem.
Whatever the case, if you want to grow your business, you must master marketing. I often talk of content strategies to engage and educate your ideal clients so they’re magnetically drawn to you.
There’s much more on the fundamentals you need in place to attract more clients in chapters 3 and 4 in my book, Leveraged Consulting in the Digital Age – available on Amazon in print, kindle or audio if you prefer to listen rather than read.
You want to become the hunted not the hunter.
And to do that, you need to be distinctly valuable and slightly famous.
Start I’m going to give you three proven strategies, for leveraging you and your expertise, and getting people interested in your group program. When you nail these steps, you’ll be well on your way to a great group program that attracts more clients to you as the authority.
Step 1 – Claim Your Expert Status
Your expert positioning is the single most important part of any marketing plan—and that brand clarity is one of the most difficult elements in your business to pin down. Your brand is more than just a logo and the colors on your site. It’s more than your font choices or even your “ideal customer avatar”, your “message pillars” or your “voice”. Even though those things are super important.
But it IS about all of those things taken together that creates the appeal, credibility and authority your target audience needs to see and hear and feel.
And listen, I’ll give you a heads up that in the episode at the end of this month, episode 32 – that’s Friday the 28th May, I have a ‘stand with your mouth open’ shockingly good interview with brand strategy expert Danny Matthews who talk in more depth about these matters and why they’re critical to anything you try to get people’s attention on in today’s competitive digital marketplace.
Branding encompasses everything from who you are to who your ideal client is. A solid brand will instantly identify you no matter where you are. The way you write and speak and the language you use will resonate only with your ideal client. Your personal style will shine through, and make it impossible for anyone to mistake your content, graphics, ads and other materials for anyone else’s.
Step 2 – Host a Free Webinar
Before a potential client becomes a paying customer, they must “know, like and trust” you. There are lots of ways to get there (solid branding helps) but one of the fastest is by creating and hosting free webinars.
These training-focused events help you show off your skills with real, actionable content. Attendees will know in just a short time that you really do know what you’re talking about, and they’ll want to learn more from you.
Not only that, but live webinars give you the opportunity to show off your personality, too.
Step 3 – Drive Registrations with Paid Traffic
How will you entice people to register for your event? Through your website and newsletter, of course, but those are people who already know you. If you’re looking to grow your reach, then it’s time to break into paid advertising.
Facebook is one of the easiest and most cost-effective advertising networks. Not only does it have incredible reach (nearly everyone has a Facebook account) but it also allows you to narrowly target your market, so you can reach your perfect customer. Add a retargeting component, and you’ll find that paid traffic is really quite cost effective.
You don’t have to have a degree in marketing to attract more clients and grow your consulting practice, but you do have to take steps to get in front of your audience.
Start with the basics, and build from there. It’s up to you how fast you want your business to grow and how much you want to leverage and scale what you do.
Funnels, Touch Points and Value Ladders
If the idea of doing a webinar, live or recorded, feels daunting, fills you with dread, or just isn’t your best platform. Or you’re just not ready for a big leap like that, don’t despair. There are a tonne of alternative strategies to attract more clients into your group program.
Think about how your clients currently find you, how they get to know, like and trust you. At what point in that process do they get to hear or see you, and at what point can they have a conversation with you and buy something from you?
Have you ever mapped your client acquisition process out?
I wrote about just that client acquisition mapping process a couple of week’s ago, and how it can improve workflow efficiencies . And you will have heard me mention the customer journey and my Engage-Educate-Enrol pathway – what I call “client dating” – to build the relationship with your perfect people so they stay with you and move towards a deeper connection and more commitment.
But how do you build the marketing machinery so people move predictably from one ‘touch point’ to the next, and from one offer to the next (i.e. your value ladder) so that you can accurately forecast your expected revenue from month to month?
Not having that kind of process – or marketing funnel – is why many consultants, coaches and solo practitioners experience radical ups and downs in their client list and income, with some months high and others…well, pretty low.
If you’re not able to predict your income each and every month, chances are your funnel is out of whack—or maybe doesn’t even exist. Create alternative touch points and tighten your funnel, and your business will grow on autopilot – that’s leveraged marketing.
So today, we’ve looked here at the benefits to both you and your clients of creating a group program as an additional way people can work with you other than your 1:1 services.
Next week, I’m going to share with you how you can craft an offer and sell it fast. And I’ll be doing it across two articles (and podcast episodes): dividing it into two parts, one next week going through how to create the group program and then the week after, how to build an effective funnel.
So we’ll definitely come back to marketing funnels – great joy – if you know me, you’ll already know, I love mapping out all the steps, so you can literally see and visualise the whole end-to-end journey your customers go on as they enter and experience your world.
And you can track and analyse where the sticking points are as they travel through your funnel. Plus, with some clever little tools, you can use your map to forecast and play around with your numbers!
Until next week – here’s a little activity for you. Imagine a funnel, think about what it does, how to fill it, how to plug leaks, how to collect what flows through it …, we’ll dream of funnels aha! Well, just a little bit.
Ciao ciao for now!