As a career coach and consultant with a global practice and numerous online programs, I hear from hundreds of coaches a year who are struggling, flying through all their money, and feeling desperate for a silver bullet that will help them make money in the field they used to love (but now dread). I’ve been there, and know how scary it can be.
But I’m beginning to hear this one sad confession over and over:
“Kathy, I spent a ton of money this year paying for a well-known marketing expert for coaches to tell me that building my list is the answer to my success, and the key to building a list is to offer a telesummit that features other top coaches. Sounded good, and I tried to do it, but nothing came of it. It didn’t work, and I’m still broke.”
When I hear a problem like this being repeated from all corners of the world, I know there’s a real issue that has to be addressed. I believe it’s a sham to tout the idea that one silver bullet will turn everything around, such as offering a telesummit (a virtual online conference) or any other one-shot program. To dupe failing coaches (or other floundering small business owners) into believing that the answer to their problems is a one-time endeavor is downright unethical.
The reason these marketing “experts” push offering a telesummit is that they claim it will help coaches build a solid, sizable list that will then generate revenue for them because:
1. You’re offering something of great value
2. You’re featuring other coaches with big lists, recognized names, and lots of followers
3. The top coaches you feature will promote you and your telesummit because they’re in it
4. You’ll be able to add great new people to your list because the followers of these coaches will be added to your list, and will automatically enjoy following you
5. Finally, these new folks in your community will love your work, and buy from you immediately
Sounds good, but the problem is – it just doesn’t work this way.
Here are five marketing truths that explain why this tactic simply doesn’t work to save a business:
People follow you because you have fresh, important things to say and because you continually help them in potent ways that address a big problem they’re having.
Once you add a person to your subscriber list, what are you going to do for them, on an ongoing basis? What are you offering that helps them address their most burning problems and challenges? What programs, products and services do you bring to the table that are different and better than what the competition has to offer?
To engage people and keep them as loyal followers for months and years, and to entice them to invest in you, you need to be of service continually, offering expert, proven information, ideas, materials, and resources that will move them forward. If you expect that they’ll just buy your programs the minute they’re on your list, you’ll be sorely disappointed. You need to continually deliver material that will engage and enliven them, often for months before they ever consider buying from you (unless they’re truly ready to pull the trigger, which is rare).
Top coaches who are much farther along in their businesses won’t generally say “yes” to participating in your program.
As in life and relationships, there’s a hierarchy of power and influence at play in the business world. If you’re broke and have only a small list of followers, the top coaches you’re hoping will be a part of your program will decline because there’s nothing in it for them. You need to be playing at the same level as the people you invite to join you. Otherwise, their investment in time and money with you won’t pan out.
The programs you offer aren’t selling for a good reason.
Yes, building a fabulous list of loyal followers is essential to your online business. But so is offering high-quality programs that work, and can address a wide or deep niche. If all you offer is one type of help (private, one-on-one coaching, for instance) you won’t have the success you long for because the vast majority of people on this planet can’t afford your private coaching fees, nor do they want this type of help. What other programs and services do you offer? What do you have that’s free or low-cost (as well as your premium offerings), that people can download and learn from? What can you deliver for free that gives people a great sense of your “process” – your special way of approaching the problem that will guarantee to be a fit for them and their needs? Finally it’s not a HUGE list you need – it’s a list of people who fit well with your style, approach and offerings and who have the will, interest, means, and commitment to invest.
A list is great, but you need to do much more.
People in fields that are highly competitive (like coaching) need a way to stand out from the crowd. They need to build their thought leadership, and devise a unique process and methodology for solving their client’s problems. Then they need to develop advocates, supporters and evangelists who will help them communicate about this special process in powerful ways that reach thousands. Also, they need to understand how to launch programs in such a way that people will be led along a compelling discovery journey.
If you’re a coach or consultant who needs to fill a client pipeline to make a living, this will be virtually impossible if you’re not out there in a bigger way teaching, training, giving workshops, writing and sharing our thought leadership, and collaborating with and supporting other coaches and small business owners as well. In short, you’ve got to cut through all the clutter and become someone who’s making a difference in the field to more than a handful.