Ever get so frustrated with the way things are that you’d like to blow it all up and start over?
Mmm, hmmm. Me, too. Especially lately. (Fair warning: This is gonna include a bit of a rant.)
Why my fuse is lit:
Marketing successfully — whether online or off — requires passion, persistence and patience (among other things).
- Passion to serve in a particular way (a big WHY that you can communicate easily and that will get you through those days when the shit hits the fan)
- Persistence to dig for answers, learn new technologies and adjust strategies when things don’t happen the way you planned
- Patience to stay with it for the long haul and see your vision realized no matter what
But in the online world (more so than offline), there are a LOT of obstacles for the new business to work around. Things like:
- The high cost of quality consulting and mentoring
- Unrealistic expectations of “hitting it big” that are fueled by shady operations and even shadier promises
- Finding the time and space to implementing what you learn (how much free information do you have sitting on your hard drive?)
- Never ending innovations in technology that keep pushing learning curves higher
- Global competition and a vast ocean of online noise
Even for little ‘ol me — the gal with the cool branding, the published book, and the ever-growing email list — it’s freakin’ hard to make a dent in all of that and earn a decent living. Why? Because I refuse to…
- Give people recipes guaranteed to make them money in their sleep
- Make pie-in-the-sky promises about outcomes that can’t be proven
- Sell products and services that folks don’t need, but clearly want
That’s just me. My big Why comes from a desire to help people reach their true potential. To realize their business dreams and make world-changing s*!# happen!
But People Want to Know Things Before They Buy
Look, I know how to write marketing copy. And I know that ultimately, your decision to buy from me is an emotional one. Which emotion? That’s an excellent question! The answer revolves around only one thing: the outcomes you’re looking for. Outcomes are things that can be measured by an objective 3rd party. They’re things like:
- More customers (usually a specific number)
- More money (again, a specific number)
- More time (again…you get the gist)
And when folks look to make a buying decision, they usually fight against their emotions and try to be rational (something I actually recommend that you do, too).
They research their options, do their due diligence, check references and get referrals — all in an effort to gather enough information so that their left brain is satisfied with whatever the right brain decides to do. And that’s usually where businesses get stuck — having real outcomes they can point to so that people will feel secure enough in their decision to buy.
The higher your price tag, the more outcomes you need to showcase
I know this. I know that it’ll be easier to get people to choose me as a marketing coach/mentor, if they can see tangible evidence of my super powers in action. (Just like it will be easier for you to get more clients if you can show evidence of how you help people get what they need.)
So last year, knowing that left-brained statistics might be a good thing for my own marketing efforts — and as a way to investigate what actually works in online education — I set out to capture those outcomes in a project called The Test Kitchen.
I held two 16-week classes: The Alpha and the Beta groups. My hope was that by documenting their progress along the way, I would gather solid evidence that business growth does happen when you learn what you need to learn about marketing online (and then implement that learning!).
Unfortunately, the evidence I was able to gather didn’t show extremely significant jumps for the students in terms of their bottom lines. Yes, site traffic increased in most cases. Yes, email subscriptions and social media fans grew (a little bit). But in general, most people got results that, to me (and to them), were a little disappointing.
Note: My expectations were a bit high as I set goals based on my past success as a small biz educator in the offline world. I’ve since talked to a few of the graduates of the Alpha class who say they’re now experiencing growing pains and need to figure out how to handle all the work. A good problem to have! Yes, they attribute those results to what they learned in my class…but it took them over a year to get there.
Why Folks Didn’t See Drastic + Immediate Growth
Sure, they learned some great strategies and tools — but they only implemented about 20% of what they learned. And that’s typical of online learning. By some accounts, nearly 85% of people never implement anything from an eCourse. (How often have you downloaded something, never read it, just filed it away without taking action? Yep – me, too!) Also, most growth takes TIME — especially online. Very, very few people ever see overnight success. And those that do rise meteorically to “the top” usually need a good 9 months to a year of taking solid action in order to get there.
Time for a Paradigm Shift
So I looked at my syllabus, I looked at the goals for the class, and in the end, I realized that the format would have to change if I was ever going to help my students realize the success they really want (and sometimes desperately need).
I wasn’t quite sure HOW it should change, I just knew there needed to be more…commitment. Commitment to learn AND to implement. To follow through. To take action (and to keep taking action over and over and over again).
Initially, the only way I could see how to do that was to do what’s always been done: to charge an arm and a leg for my courses. We all know that when you have skin in the game, you’re a lot more likely to follow through, right? But what if you don’t have any skin to play with? What about those prospective students who’re trying to bootstrap their little businesses? Who don’t have big bucks to invest in a comprehensive learning program?
What about them?
It’s an important question for me, because I’ve been there. I’ve been the single mom living on food stamps and even welfare because my ex-husband couldn’t make his child support payments.
I’ve been in that space of “Lot’s of desire, but ZERO money or credit to do anything about it.” It was a long time ago, but I remember it like was it just yesterday.
For me, it’s crucial that whatever I do — whatever services or products I offer — they must be accessible. Even (and especially) for those who might be stuck between a rock and a hard place. The flip side? I also need to pay MY rent. It’s a bit of a catch-22, right?
When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears
About a month ago, I got an email from someone out of the blue. It was an invitation from a friend of a friend offering me a free ticket to a local 2-day conference on the topic of social media, search and mobile marketing (produced by The Institute of the same name). One of the presentations there prompted an A-Ha moment.
Yep, there was an honest-to-god epiphany that hit me that day in the back of the room at the Marriott in Palo Alto, CA. And I’ve been working on making it a reality ever since.
So far? I’ve made a presentation to a potential major sponsor and created a partnership with Kim Doyal, aka The WordPress Chick. I’ve started building a new website and reaching out to potential “celebrity” guest experts.
The response has been nothing short of, “Wow!” This? Is going to be BIG. And I can’t wait to tell you more! (I promise to unveil this as soon as I’ve got a few more players on board.)
Until then, please share in a comment below your thoughts, questions and advice about what keeps YOU inspired and committed to learning and implementing something new. And let me know if you’d be interested in helping us develop this new thing as part of a focus group.
Caren! My apologies for the late reply…for some reason your comment plopped into the spam folder and I never saw it. Many thanks for your feedback on this one. You’ve noted something important here about intrinsic rewards and motivations. It’s something I need to keep in mind as I build this new program, so thanks! (p.s. the follow up post to this one was published yesterday: http://thewordchef.com/2012/07/game-changers-wanted-i-need-your-advice)
OMG, YES!!! :>Change the topic from ‘marketing’ to ‘paranormal’ and you’d have my problem to a ‘T’!It can (and has!) been Most Discouraging to see people who are not as ethical make the Big Bucks while the people pass us by.If nothing else, simply hearing that SOMEONE else out there shares my stubbornness on the topic gives me Heart+Hope. :>And yes, I’m in that spot now re: a Big Dream, and working on the means to make it happen, but almost too late, money-wise.How do I stay inspired???Community.A bunch of us pulling together for that long haul, cheerleading & helping & generally doing what we can to make the winning for ‘all of us’ not just the ‘lucky few’.So abso-flocking-lute-ly! :>Like I said, the money, she is not so plentiful yet, but if there’s anything else that I can do for & with, pls let me know! 🙂 :> (To make it Perfectly Plain, that means ‘YES, PLEASE!!!’ to Raising my Hand a.k.a Metaphorical Wingtip. :>)
Okay! Yes, will do!
I’m the queen of getting people to follow-through. Inspiration, learning and implementation are all different things. I could reply to this post all day and if I didn’t have other work to attend to I just might be inclined to. I guess that means I’m curious!! Talk to me, girlfriend!
This Alpha group member has to chime in here and tell you what long term benefits have developed from participating in the 2011 course. Its been one of the best investments in time I’ve ever made. If id had to pay the hundreds of dollars it was worth that wouldn’t have made me work more or less. I was committed from the start. It was an exciting project and getting p at 6am on winter mornings to join the webinar was all part of the bootcamp.My offline business was already successful but I needed to understand the online marketing world. It was hard to keep up with the pace of lessons and the demands of the business at the same time. Some parts of the course i just had to put aside however they have eventually been woven in to the business. Ideas that came from the grou sessions in the early days are developing
LOL – sorry for the torture, Lana! I can guarantee you will love it. 😀
Creating environments for taking action, implementation, and support/accountability has been our core motivation for building ruzuku… we are only a small way towards that vision but it still gets us going every day.Curious to hear more!
You hit so many points right on in this one Tea. One big one is expectations. We have all read about and/or purchased/downloaded the next strategy to take us everywhere we want to go. Yet, we struggle to move forward let alone hit those goals we set. Very very few people (though there are a few more recently) will tell you how slow a process this really is for most, not a whole lot different than growing a brick/mortar business. We’ve all just been told over and over that it is. Also totally agree with you that some of the most important features, the ability to ask questions of a coach, is often so far out of reach for those who really need it. And truth be told, even if you save up for it, it doesn’t even always work out as promised or envisioned. And while I fully agree the seller needs to pay his/her rent, if they’re charging a lot, the results better be better than average and somehow concrete. Which brings up another wrinkle in selling many services like coaching/consulting, sometimes what worked for one person, will not work again or for someone else in a slightly different situation. The coach sincerely believes it will, but luck and being in the right place, right time, meeting just the right people is a part of someone’s success and that can’t be duplicated exactly. In those cases, the point needs to be made that your actual mileage may vary and so often it is not. Things are shifting a bit here and there though, so I think we may see less of the hype in the future. I guess all this is mainly to say good for you for being honest and open and for aiming for better :-). Also definitely keep me in touch with this new thing. Happy to help if I can.
I can’t wait to see what you are cooking up! 🙂
Hi Tea, I think the secret is consolidation. Let insight crystallize a great actionable idea and then trust yourself to create a simple plan to implement it… and see where it goes. Much of my resistance to action is getting caught up in the many variables that must “fall into place,” forgetting that the project itself has its own gravity that will attract the variables it needs to succeed. Yes, we have to work and put ourselves out there for the project to gain steam and profile, but much, if not most of the energy is generated interactively, not in our solitary heads. We are not used to trusting this interactive energy and framework of efficaciousness, but it does, in fact, work when it comes together.
Wow, sounds like you’ve got something BIG cooking!I’d be happy to help you any way I can on your new adventure (focus group or whatever). You know where to find me…Sheryl
I remember you already mentioned that you would work on something revolving and it sounded quite mysterious! Now you are lifting the curtain – but only a bit (so you are a writer, you know how to produce a cliffhanger, ha). This is a great announcement and amassive post – 1418 words if my counter is right! – for your new big baby. Lookingforward to the launch. Good luck!
Hi Tea. As a Test Kitchen participant I have picked up a lot ofthings that I had hoped to get my head around. Did I implement everything? No,like many other participants in online learning I’ve only initially picked upthose items that were immediately useful and effective. There is a lot to bedone yet to reach the goal that I set myself at the start of the Test Kitchenbut the most important thing that I’ve taken away from it is a structure thatneeds to be followed. A good example is that simply by following the first twosteps, identifying your ideal customer and writing an intro letter, I landed anew customer. Working with my buddy on homework reviews was a great help andI would suggest that you continue this with any new approach that you’replanning. I know you have the forums and that is a great platform forexchanging ideas but the one on one with a study buddy did clearly get my headaround a specific subject. So what keeps me inspired and committed to learning? Putsimply, the challenge of learning something new with everything that I do andfinding that even small bits of knowledge can be put to use to help otherpeople. This helps me to build trust and I know that if I keep on chipping awayat it, I’ll get where I want to be.Having said that, this is probably also where a big part of the problem is with building an online business. Working on your own, often from home, it is too easy to get distracted and be off topic before you know it. This is where your personal calls and the buddy system were the bets parts of the Test Kitchen for me.I’m looking forward to finding out what you’re up to and I’llbe happy to help out if I can.
Great post Tea and I can see myself in there as I read it. I have the commitment and passion for sure. The challenge is making sure I can pay my rent! I know I am less than a year into my business and trying to make a dent here in Japan, but I am often faced with that ultimate question “Should I be doing this? Should I just give up and go back to the corporate job I hated? At least I had a steady pay check!” Believe me when I say that these questions creep in often! But then I read posts such as this one and it reminds me I am not alone and other like-minded peeps have been there and are there now. It gives me inspiration to move forward. Thanks Tea and I look forward to what is coming up for you!
Good evening Tea!Thanks to someone out in the blogosphere intervening in a timely way, I have managed to avoid getting too big a heap of stuff to plough through. The only reason I have any at all still to consume is because Mr Iny is too bloomin’ prolific – but I’ve asked him to slow down a bit whilst I catch up!My ‘saviour’ from this obsession is a gentleman who has recently been acclaimed as the UK’s most helpful and informative online marketer (or something like that) – I understand it would be ‘spammy’ to identify Jim Connolly here, so I won’t. By investing in mentoring (or as I call it ‘tormentoring’) it has not only saved me a load of wasted time and got me going in ways I wouldn’t have imagined less than a year ago, but also helped keep the memory functioning of my poor old computer from having a seizure!I think putting a price tag on what you offer is only right and sensible. I know what it’s like to be one of those ‘strapped for cash’ businesses (truth be known I’m still there), but having fleeced Granny’s funeral fund in order to secure the help and advice, I know I’m much more committed to ‘sticking with it’ had this not been the case.Kind regards,Lps – it also helps that it was only an arm and half a leg… we should be able to bury the rest of Granny!
I am working really hard on this, too, Tea — not signing up for anything more — committing to work my way through all the free, and paid, information I’ve already collected…. But then I signed up for the free webinar you promoted in your newsletter, right beneath the teaser for this post 😛 I’m afraid I’m a tough case.
Hi Tea, Wow, it seems like you wrote this just for me. I am just starting my own online business and feel like I am bombarded with information at every turn. I am so guilty of “I’ll read that later” I bet I could speed up my computer if I just deleted them all. I am one of those less than a shoe string budget individuals that you can relate to and it sure would be nice to be a part of a group that wouldn’t cost. I have had the opportunity to join the RBBP group and they have been so helpful and encouraging to me at times I think that I would have quit if it hadn’t been for their support. Thank you for being a part of that group too. I look forward to your unveiling! Thanks, Lori
It seems like no coincidence that your dynamite is a bunch of carrots, Ms. Chef. Whatever you’re doing, I want to play! I’m with you 100% on your philosophy – there’s no free/quick/easy way to do anything. Sometimes there’s blind luck but that’s not enough to hang your cabbage on. And sometimes results are mediocre and plodding and it doesn’t feel like success until you look back at your past 2 or 3 or 5 years and go, “huh… look where I am.”Unlike Annie, I have no idea what you’re doing and if she ever spoils Survivor for me I will punch her with a banana. In the meantime if you need help, opinions, ideas or anything at all just let me know.
I used to participate in a website – a group of folks, really, who were keen into spoiling “Survivor.” We cultivated sources within Mark Burnett’s production team, we studied screencaps, we were the MASTERS of Googling to find out all kinds of crap about the contestants, all for the purpose of knowing who got kicked off when, who won the challenges, and who would ultimately win the game. I find myself thinking about that experience now, because here, too, I know what’s about to happen. And here’s the kicker: popular conventions notwithstanding, knowing what’s coming hasn’t spoiled me ONE BIT for it. I will be just as jumping-up-and-down-clapping-with-glee when the Big Reveal comes as if I didn’t know. And I. Cannot. Wait. This is truly revolutionary, Tea. (And I know I’m a bit of a beeyotch for the whole “hee hee, I know something y’all don’t know” tone of this post but … I can’t help it. I’m squee-ing.)
I think you are spot on! Very often, you have to have a *really* obvious problem as a business owner before you go looking for a professional whom you are willing to pay for their help and expertise. Otherwise it is completely opportunistic and you can download “interesting” stuff for free on an endless variety of topics. You don’t implement anything much and you get what you pay for… I think the retail industry started this sub-optimal wave of conditioning consumers to expect a downward spiral of lower prices for *everything* and taught us to wait until the last minute to buy. Now we are down to “free.” This makes the business of services–and especially consulting–a hard one in which to succeed. But the retail space, namely Amazon, did give us one good thing to leverage if you can provide a really good product. Their phenomenal success has a tremendous amount to do with the ratings and reviews feature. People want to see 4-5 star ratings with positive written experiences from real people (not your buddies) before they buy (and the oddball post of someone who doesn’t!). Even Apple needed that initially. It is something of a chicken and egg problem, however, because you need paying customers before you can get those testimonials built up.Your new plan sounds most interesting, and very timely for me. I personally have a lot of marketing experience in my background (inbound more than outbound), but I think that makes me more understanding of the value proposition. I would definitely love to be part of your focus group. Hopefully by my input in your current class (which I love and am finding to be very valuable!) you would see some evidence of my commitment and desire.
Ah, the old “information overload” bug-a-boo! I still struggle with it everyday, but I AM getting a better handle on it the last few months. Now my filter is, before I download some new shiny thing online or sign up for yet another email list is: “Is this PDF/Video/e-newsletter going to teach me something I DON’T already know, and/or is this information essential to what I’m working on now, as is *right now*” — and if the answer is no, I don’t download it or sign up for it.I remind myself that I have plenty to implement as it is, enough, in fact, to keep my busy for the rest of the year!What keeps me inspired to learn and implement something new is seeing the results from what I’ve done in the last few months, and knowing that, strategically, I need to keep doing more of that — at least for now! : )
Looking forward to seeing the next big leap! One thing I’ve learned is that most courses especially for small business focus on what we should do now and do take the time to lay a lasting foundation from growth that is solid enough to support the business and flexible to handle business and market change. Go getta Tea.
Can’t wait to hear more about what’s next.As a Test Kitchen participant, I definitely saw improvements in many areas and accomplished a number of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the class. The accountability of meeting with the group, you and my study partner were key. What could have made it better? Only things that would make it more expensive (but worth it). More individualized feedback, coaching, accountability and direction. 1-1 time is always the most costly part of a program. As a coach, I recognize that. Not everyone can muster up the motivation to succeed in a do it yourself program. The Test Kitchen was a good hybrid model but perhaps choices that included more one on one time for a fee would be helpful.I’m always happy to share my opinion, my dear. Let me know if you need me for your focus group.All the best for great things to come. G
The new project sounds exciting! Can’t wait to see it. I’ve seen a few people talk about this, and I think it’s absolutely true. The most expensive programs, and probably the ones that tend to work out a bit more often, include personal interaction with the coach/consultant/etc. The information provided might be the exact same info that’s in an ebook or video training course. But what sets the coaching programs apart is that there is “forced commitment.” You are interacting with someone that is holding you responsible and making sure that you actually act on the information that is provided. And that is invaluable. I think plenty of people know what they should be doing, but just need someone to hold their feet to the fire. That’s really what people are paying for in high-priced programs. That is unless they’re buying a high priced program from a “guru” that provides the same info they can buy elsewhere for a third of the price :).
Sounds tasty. Looking forward to the sonic boom.