How will online coaching get me more clients offline?

Coaching online does not have to be at the expense of coaching more clients in person. These are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they work better in combination and actually help you coach more clients face to face if you want to because it finally gives you leverage to impact more people.

The problem with only coaching people in person is that you are just trading time for money. You only have so much time during the week (168 hours) and so much physical, emotional and mental capacity, so you only have so many clients you can coach during the week.  For most coaches this is around 20 – 30 clients per week.

I’m going to tell you more about how online coaching helps you get more offline clients but first, let’s go through the current strategies successful coaches and personal trainers use to amplify their impact and get more clients (in person):

  1. Marketing your service offline
  2. Promoting your service online
  3. See more clients but less often
  4. Coach groups of clients
  5. Build a community

Marketing offline

You can market your services offline through posters, flyers, business cards, etc.  Sure they can be effective but they cost a lot comparatively.

If they don’t convert well or cost a lot to distribute these, then you won’t make a profit…

Marketing online

You can also promote your services online through google adwords or target more specific groups through facebook advertising. This doesn’t cost nearly as much as physical promotional materials but there’s a lot of competition.

However, the real cost for both online and offline marketing is actually in the time it takes you to deliver your initial promise.  All your promotions are generally going to be about inspiring prospects to take action and usually this means offering a “taste” of your service for free.

Giving your time for free is the most expensive thing you can do. Giving away an ebook or an email newsletter is cheaper but still takes you time if you want to make it valuable.

The best and cheapest marketing in the world is still “word of mouth”. That means people having an experience with you and having those inspired fans referring your service to more people.

If you only coach or train 20 – 30 people a week, that’s only 20 – 30 people that are highly motivated to tell their friends.  Not enough.

So how do you get more people to sing your praises?

You can see more clients less often.  

That means instead of meeting clients once a week for 1 hour, you could meet twice as many clients if you only met them for 1/2 hour each.  Aside from making your business more resilient to no shows, that’s twice as much impact and twice as many people to refer you right?

This sounds great in theory, but doubling the number of clients that can and want to meet you in person is harder that it sounds.

Firstly, you still need to allow unpaid time for chit chat, preparation or lateness so you can’t simply half the session duration and double your reach. You have to leave buffer on the edges of each session which creates another trade-off.

Secondly, the biggest problem is matching your schedule with that of your clients since you have to be there in person, in the same place at the same time.

Even if you could section off 30 hours a week into 60 available half hour slots, will these times work for all 60 clients?

Your clients are likely busy people that are struggling to fit you into their schedule as it is. The more clients you have the more busy people you’re trying to satisfy.

More importantly, you generally want to meet during normal business hours to enjoy a normal lifestyle but your clients often want to meet you just on the edges of the day, outside of work.  This means that you’ll have a lot more demand for morning and evening appointments than you do for client sessions in the middle of the day. So you might try the next strategy…

You can coach groups of clients

While an awesome idea in terms of making your service more accessible, affordable and profitable, it magnifies the schedule matching problem.

In fact, it magnifies this problem of schedule matching. Now that one hour you’ve chosen each week needs to be convenient not just for you and 1 client, but for every member of the group.  It’s harder than you think to get 10 busy individuals to all agree to meet at the same time each week and if you don’t have enough members turn up, you can find you’re getting underpaid.

On top of this, unless you have a strong extra support system in place, it’s hard to provide the personal support and guidance people want.  You become more efficient at delivering your message by coaching a group, but your ability to interact with your clients becomes harder or eats away into extra unpaid time.

So coaching groups is a great idea but not the complete answer if you want to scale your business and impact.

What about  building a community?

The great thing about building a community online through facebook page or private group is you don’t have the calendar matching problem because members join and interact at their leisure.

There will of course be a certain number of members that will upgrade to one of your paying services (like meeting you face to face) but this usually a very, very small number that takes time.

The problem is that while it’s free for you to host a community on facebook, it’s also generally free for your members to join.  Health, fitness and wellness coaches have been training their members not top pay to simply be part of a community so it’s very hard to charge for. Even if you invest hours each week into your social media channels, you might not see a single dollar pop out the other side.

One reason for this is that there is a massive mental chasm for a member to go from free to paying a single cent.  We have almost a limitless appetite for free (because it has no risk) and a very limited appetite for paying (because it creates tradeoffs…if I choose this, I can’t choose something else).

Even when your fans do share your facebook posts and invite their friends to your awesome community, it’s not the same as more people sharing how much they love your awesome service. When people refer your service, people can buy your service. When fans refer and promote your free community on facebook, twitter or instagram, new members are simply entering the first stage of your sales funnel.

And since your community page is probably only one of several million communities trying to engage your users, the referral can feel quite weak with new prospects that have never experienced your service. Maybe 10% of your users will even see your facebook posts, less will read your email newsletter, less again will visit your blog and less again will do engage with you. So it’s only worth investing significant time into community building if there’s a pay off that you’re happy with. Sometimes, this is more about keeping existing clients engaged when you’re not together.

So how is coaching online any different?

Firstly, coaching online is a personalised service rather than a community that you can charge for right from the start.

The difference as I’ve outlined is massive. People pay for services and they’ll pay more, the more personalised you make it. This means you can have a free, standard and premium pricing tier, depending on how personalised you make the service.

Secondly, you don’t have to be there in person so you can use your time more efficiently. You work when it suits you rather than when it suits your clients.

Thirdly, you can employ other people to help you.  It’s not all reliant on you. If you want to coach more clients, you can hire more people to help coach those clients. There’s nothing stopping you from directly helping hundreds, even thousands of clients. That’s a lot more people to sing your praises with a service that’s easy to share and easy scale.

So how is coaching online going to get you more in person clients?

Firstly, it’s much easier to get a paying customer a “paying more” customer than jumping a prospect from free to $200 an hour.

The chasm between Free and Paid is enormous and you can see it every day you visit the App Store or Google Play store…

Alternatively when you coach online, you have a low barrier to entry since you can charge very little (like under $50 per month) for a valuable service that’s personalised, relevant and impactful.

This means it’s easier to get clients into your paid tier and on their way to your premiere service, your in person session.

Secondly, as you can coach so many more clients online, you are massively expanding your reach and capacity to create more referrals.  These referrals are for a paid service that is low risk (low price, comparatively high value) so you can even skip the free trial option,  which is just an expense, start with online coaching and upsell when they’re ready.

Thirdly, since your online coaching service is not reliant on you being there or even providing the support at all (since you can hire help), you can spend more time to do what you want to do.  That might be sitting on your favourite beach or coaching your favourite clients in person.  Online coaching allows you to focus on what you love, and what only you can do.

Fourthly, you can take on clients you’d otherwise exclude.  Many coaches I talk to, explain how they will only take on a client that is going to commit to at least one session a week even though there are a lot of strong logistical, affordability or work reasons for this.

Once a week seems a slightly arbitrary amount since long-standing customers often don’t need as much face time since you’ll already have developed strong rapport and also because meeting once a week is unaffordable for many prospects struggling to balance their finances.

In fact, having more clients meeting once a month is good for business if you can keep them on track online because they will often be more flexible with their times to meet you and make your business more resilient to no-shows.  You can be present, visible and helpful everyday to smooth over the time you’re not together.

Finally, online coaching is a much better customer retention strategy than just a facebook community page.

Online coaching helps you coach more clients, provides better visibility between sessions, enables better between-session support, helps you keep the personal connection with more clients, makes you stand out and enables you to do this more consistently & professionally than ever.

Get leverage. Get Moxiee.

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