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.