Passionate Students Become Passionate Customers: How to Use Teaching to Grow Your Business

Posted by on Feb 03 2016

It’s getting harder and harder to get your customer’s attention. They are deluged with information, so they scan-click-delete.

Yet they cry out in the night for someone to explain things simply.

The rules of modern marketing have changed, and it’s only going to get worse. You’d better find the most effective, most efficient marketing techniques to nurture your leads and build trust and loyalty with your audience, or you’ll be left behind.

One technique stands out above all the rest – teaching. 

Offering free classes helps you sell your services and products, and fill your mastermind groups and your paid classes and events. But there are tricks to doing is right or you’ll lose your lovely customers in a heartbeat!

Getting to Know You … as a Teacher

Teaching gives your audience the personal interaction with you that’s missing in most marketing techniques. When they get to experience you in a very personal way — whether it’s through a in-person presentation, a video conference or a webinar — it builds a connection that lives on long after the class ends.

Whether at a live event, or through a webinar or teleseminar, teaching helps you be seen as an expert in a very crowded marketplace. It helps you expand your reach — and your revenue. Your students remember you as the person who has the answers.

Best of all, you get to share what you know with your audience, which empowers and inspires them.

You’ve Got to be Well-Prepared

Want to run an excellent class to use as a marketing tool — one that students talk about and share with their friends and colleagues?

Start with a brilliant class plan.

Not only will you cover amazingly helpful content, but you’ll be more relaxed and teach it better if you have a plan.

Here are the six steps to designing a class to use as a marketing tool:

  1. Start with what the audience wants to learn. Students don’t care about what you want to teach. They only care about what they want to learn. So do your market research and ask your audience what challenges they have, then design a class around solving those problems.
  2. Write a sizzling lesson plan. Map out what you’re going to say, in a logical order that simplifies the information. Take the information that’s overloading your audience, and sift it into what’s most important, with usable action steps.
  3. Design a red-hot opening. You’ve been in those “salesinars” where the teacher spends the first 20 minutes talking about themselves. Your eyes roll back in your head and you mumble, “When will this teacher ever get to the important content?” Don’t do that to your students — they deserve better for committing their time to attending your class. Start with a big bang: huge, useful content in the first 5 minutes. Then they’ll be saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to hear what comes next!”
  4. Make it interactive. Create discussion questions, tell stories and create exercises so your students don’t fall asleep halfway through. Adult students need you to change the pace of the class every 10 minutes or so. “All lecture” classes are a thing of the past, and there are dozens of teaching strategies that put some jazz into your class design. Remember that there’s a high ratio of lurkers to participants, so learn how to reach both introverts and extroverts and learn how to engage them in the learning conversation.
  5. Set your marketing goals. Whether you’re offering a free class to build your mailing list or you’re introducing your audience to a new product or service, have specific marketing goals for your class so you can measure if it’s working.
  6. Have a plan for what you’ll do, after the class, to continue the conversation. Your class isn’t a one-off marketing technique, it’s part of a bigger marketing plan. Decide how you’ll follow-up with the participants. Consider a post-class email marketing campaign that provides them with recordings, handouts and resources to cement what they’ve learned and remind them of the products or services you offer.

Choose a Teaching Method

Once you’ve designed your class, it’s time to decide which delivery method to use.

Last year I asked thousands of small business owners, “How do you prefer to learn?” From the results of last year’s Learning Survey, I found that people have strong preferences about how they prefer to consume your educational material. (You can get the results of my Learning Survey here.)

There are several effective teaching methods, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each:

  1. Live event – There’s nothing better than meeting your audience face-to-face. Unless you’re strictly inviting a local crowd, timing, weather, and cost can play a role in attendance. If you’re inviting an out-of-town audience, consider making it a full-day event, even if you have to charge them a small fee to cover your costs.
  2. Webinar – The best part about webinars is that there’s both an audio and a video feed, so participants are engaged on two levels. The worst part is that when the technology fails, the whole thing falls apart. Most interaction happens via text chat unless your participants are either on an accompanying teleconference line or they have microphones in their computers (watch out for the dreaded echo!). Webinar platforms are getting more stable, but it’s good to have a webinar back-up plan just in case.
  3. Teleseminar – Teaching via teleconferences has been around for over a decade and it’s an established way to deliver a class. You can have lots of voice-based interaction, but it may be a little boring for those visual learners unless you have handouts to go with your class. If your participants are on the go, it’s easier to connect to a teleseminar than a webinar.
  4. Video Conference and Live Streaming Events – When your audience can see your bright, shining face on their computer screen, it’s the next best thing to a live event. As with webinars, sometimes the technology doesn’t work as planned (make sure you have enough memory in your computer, and enough internet speed on your service so your video is clear), but it’s definitely a strong contender for building rapport with your audience.

Afraid? Don’t Be! Just Teach

I know that teaching may feel intimidating. Start small and remember: you were put on this planet to help other people, and there’s no better way to help than to teach.

You’ll be surprised how much you love it!

Remember:

  • Capture your audience’s attention, and gain their trust and loyalty.
  • Deliver usable content in a logical way they can use immediately.
  • Teach them what you know in a free class, and create passionate customers.

   

8 comments for now

Category: Creating, Marketing & Teaching Classes, Marketing

Designing Your Perfect Week

Posted by on Jan 11 2016

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week working on my Perfect Week. Have you ever done this exercise?

perfect week large

You map out what you want to be doing during the week, by category, making sure the high-priority items get on your schedule first. It helps you set priorities and creates more productivity in your days.

Then, in the future, when you need to schedule something, you see how it fits into your “perfect” week instead of letting your schedule get away from you.

Some people balk at the idea of structuring their days so completely. That’s okay — just as long as you’re clear on what you want to accomplish each week and you have a plan in place for getting it all done. And it’s important that you also have a plan for saying “no” to tasks and people who take you off track of your goals.

For me, the structure is necessary; if I leave it up to “I’ll do whichever task I feel like doing in the moment,” I don’t get all my tasks done. :)

I created mine in an Excel spreadsheet, but you could use any word processor, or just a paper calendar to map out yours.

Here’s a blank copy of my Excel spreadsheet so you can try this exercise for yourself! (If you don’t have Excel, you can still download the spreadsheet, then open it in a Google Drive spreadsheet.)

Here’s a blank copy in PDF format if you prefer.

I hope you find it helpful…or at least eye-opening.

   

10 comments for now

Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

The REAL Reason Santa is so Jolly – He’s Self-Employed!

Posted by on Dec 22 2015

Believers and non-believers alike know that Santa Claus is a happy person. For that matter, so are Mrs. Claus and all the elves (even the ones who want to be dentists). In a world of trouble and strife, why are these folks so jolly?

The simple answer is that Santa is happy because he is self-employed. He’s doing what he loves to do and he has the freedom to create the business and life of his dreams. While running a family business can be complicated, with Mrs. Claus by his side, they deliver a perfect product to a cheering clientele.

Imagine for a moment that you owned a business where you had to deliver your product or service only one night a year to an audience eagerly awaiting your arrival. The other 364 days a year are spent in product development and listening to your customers. If that doesn’t make you jolly, what will?

But that’s not all. Each year, Santa’s audience of little children (and some not-so-little ones like me) write letters to him, telling him exactly what they want. Getting your customers to be that specific — and to get them to put it in writing — certainly reduces the need for market research.

Marketing is easy. Word-of-mouth referrals blossom among the children who love him, and social media and the Internet only makes it easier to spread the word. He doesn’t use Facebook and Twitter to send out endless “buy my products” posts. Instead, he uses them to create relationships and to listen. Santa is GREAT at listening.

And how does Santa get paid? With love, cookies and milk, which are in constant and unending supply. He has no doubts about abundance or whether his clients will pay on time.

It shouldn’t surprise you that Santa has intricate and extensive leadership skills. He doesn’t make toys himself; he gets the elves to do it for him. He instills in them the passion, meaning and purpose of the corporate mission, and they eagerly make toys all year long, happy and singing. There are no recorded instances of elf employment protests. Santa knows how to respect and motivate the craftspeople who work for him. He puts the “elf” in self-employment.

But Santa doesn’t sit on his laurels (because, in fact, it hurts to sit on laurel shrubs). Every year his strategic team comes up with new products and services sure to delight his audience. Notice I said, “team.” Santa can’t do it alone and he recognizes the need to surround himself with those who are smarter than he is in their specialty field. I think it was Santa who first said, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

To all of you who own your own business, and to those who dream of one day being your own boss, I wish you the brightest of holiday seasons. We can all learn a thing or two from Santa Boss, can’t we?

   

2 comments for now

Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Which Business Model is Right for Your Mastermind Group?

Posted by on Dec 16 2015

Are you curious about all the different ways you can design your mastermind group business model?

In this short video tutorial, let’s discuss three things:

  • How much of your business revenue will come from your mastermind groups
  • How big your mastermind groups will be
  • How much time and energy you’ll put into your mastermind groups as the Facilitator

Answering these three questions for yourself will help you design a mastermind group business model that fits your goals while also serving your members.

Watch the free video tutorial here>>>

   

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Category: Start and Run a Mastermind Group

10 Things To Do When Business Slows Down Over the Holidays

Posted by on Dec 11 2015

I’m sure you’ve seen it happen every year: your business slows down during predictable times, like the summertime months or the holiday period at the end of the year.

For the self-employed who rely upon steady cash flow, this can be a disconcerting time. Should you just take a time off until things naturally pick up again? Or should you try to find the needle-in-the-haystack business that might be out there during slow times?

This year, vow to be different! Instead of languishing in no-business-never-land, get off your butt and do something to build the foundation of your business so that natural business cycles don’t affect you too deeply:

  1. Clean your office. Go through all the piles of papers and magazines that have been sitting around and get rid of them once and for all. Remember the office organizing mantra: do it, ditch it or delegate it. File all your papers, dust and vacuum your office. Reorganize your desk and your office so that you can find everything you need in 60 seconds or less.
  2. Take a mini-break from work. Walk away from your office and enjoy a day or two of renewal and relaxation. Go to a day spa. Take a weekend retreat. Go for a walk in the local park. Breathe.
  3. Get ready for tax season. If your business slows down during December, no worries! Use that time to prepare your tax files so that you can whiz through tax season (it’s coming sooner than you expect!). Tally business-related mileage for year. Estimate your last tax payment for the current year (many self-employed people make quarterly estimated tax payments; the final payment is usually due on January 15). Send your final invoices for the current year.
  4. Send business holiday cards and gifts. If the slow time falls around the holidays, use them to your advantage. Get into the holiday spirit with your clients by mailing holiday cards and gifts to them. Make specially-discounted holiday offers to clients/customers. Offer them gift certificates that they can give to their family and friends for your services and products.
  5. Do your accounting and bookkeeping. Enter all revenue and expenses into your recordkeeping system. Balance your checkbook. Set your budget and revenue goals for next year.
  6. Become goal-oriented. Take this down-time to look at your current goals, to see how you’re doing so far and to write some new goals for the next 12 months. Create an updated marketing plan and budget. Make sure your budget includes a cash reserve to cover you during slow business times. Even if this business slow time falls mid-year, you can still spend time planning for the next 12-24 months.
  7. Go back to school. List the topics you’d like to study, the classes you’d like to take, or the books you’d like to read, to keep you up-to-date with your industry and business skills. Use your quiet business times to read, study and add to your intelligence pool.
  8. Get some personal chores done. Slow business times are ideal to schedule your annual dental and eye exams. It’s also a great time to clean out the attic, garage or basement. Remember, a strong personal foundation helps to propel your business forward.
  9. Go shopping. No, not for personal items (though that’s always fun!), but for business items. Have you been putting off buying a new PC, laptop or tablet? Now’s the time to research what’s out there and determine your next computer purchase. Is your office chair uncomfortable? Spend some time at office furniture stores “butt-testing” for a quality office chair that will support you properly. Stock up your office supplies. Buy some music to play in your office to inspire you. Invest in that software system you’ve been eyeing.
  10. Spend time with family and friends. When business is busy, it’s easy to sequester yourself away to get all that work done. Now that business is slow, come out of your cocoon and visit with family and friends. They’ve been wondering where you’ve disappeared to!

As you can see, slow business times can be used productively to prepare you for the next burst of business coming your way. Renew your business, your office, your Self, and create a firm foundation for the busy business days ahead! Always ask yourself, “How can I use these days wisely?”

Will you be doing anything for your business during the holidays? I’m looking forward to the “quiet” week between Christmas and New Years Day, when I’ll be working on a new class design. :)

 

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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Booting Spammers Out of Your Mailing List

Posted by on Dec 07 2015

I’ve noticed a trend lately: a lot of sign-ups to my mailing list from the same IP address. So I did a little research and lo-and-behold, it’s a “zombie” computer automatically signing up for ezines in order to steal the return address when you send the “thanks for signing up” autoresponder. (Those little stinkers!)

So, what do you do?

  • First, check to see if your ezine software captures the IP (internet protocol) address of people when they sign up.
  • Next, check for repeat IP addresses. I notice that these sign-ups are often in the “waiting for optin” list under, because they have no intention of opting-in.
  • Sometimes, however, there is an army of poorly paid people somewhere in the world who click on the opt-in links in emails for these spammers, so check your newly added email addresses on your list. It’s easy to find them: look for email addresses that don’t match the name they signed up under. For instance, the name is “Mary Jones” but the email address says georgesmith@xxxxxx.com. The email addresses are almost always from live.com, gmail.com, or yahoo.com because these are free email services. Yahoo seems to be the frontrunner in bad/zombie email addresses.
  • When you find a suspicious email address, copy it into Google to see if sites like www.cleantalk.org have blacklisted that email address.
  • Finally, I go back to my mailing system, and look for the place where I can block specific IP addresses or specific email addresses.

Voila! Now that zombie can’t sign up for my mailing list anymore!

It takes a little due diligence to keep your list clean, but it’s well worth it. And if your mailing list system won’t let you ban IP addresses, consider switching to a new one.

   

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing
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