018: How to Scale Your Coaching Business with a Membership Site

Ward chats with Alex Lawless, founder of goalgettersgang.com about transitioning from one-on-one coaching to a membership model, different marketing strategies to build your audience, and the importance of growing an email list.

Show Notes

Show Transcript

Ward: [00:00:00] Hi Alex, thanks for joining me.

Alex: [00:00:02] Thank you so much for having me.

Ward: [00:00:04] Yeah, so let’s start off with our usual question which is if you just give a quick overview of your business for people that are listening.

Alex: [00:00:12] Yeah, absolutely. Well as he mentioned I am Alex Lawless. I am a brand consultant and launch strategist over at lady and Company creative. I teach online service based business owners how to create on brand marketing strategies that feel fun and showcase their expertise to drive sales that they can unlock the next level of freedom and their business and their life. So I started lady and Company in 2017. I had my first 10K month just about five months after going full-time. And so now my mission is really to help other entrepreneurs market and sell their offers through action plans and strategic goal setting mostly through my membership site so that they too can reach those 10K months.

Ward: [00:00:52] Very cool. So give me a quick clarification. So you’re focusing on marketing strategies. Is that is that different than someone who would call themselves a business coach?

Alex: [00:01:04] Yeah. I mean, I think that the really the biggest thing that I focus on is growth strategies, right? So it’s going to be things that are going to help them grow their email list or launch a product. Or you know get as many people into a webinar as possible. It’s really more so like there’s an end goal in mind and we’re really focused on a project and creating an action plan to get them to their end goal of you know, however many sales they want during that launch or however many people they want to convert in that webinar, you know, those sorts of things.

Ward: [00:01:36] Gotcha and these engagements that you’re doing with people are these just one-on-one and it is at a fixed fee or is it like a recurring or how does the business model work?

Alex: [00:01:45] Sure, so, you know lady and company has kind of two different business models. We have our one-on-one which is really launch strategy. It’s going to be those bigger, you know three-month projects that we work on together, but then we have go-getters gang, which is our membership site and that is helping people mainly online business owners to create 90 Day plans and their business to reach whatever that growth strategy is that we’re trying to implement in their business. So that would be a monthly fee. I mean, of course there’s other payment plans where its yearly or they pay a one-time, you know kind of Lifetime access thing, but the launch strategy the one-on-one is a monthly charge as well, but it’s for a fixed amount of time.

Ward: [00:02:28] Understood and when you first started this did you have both one-on-one and the goals go-getters gang or was it just one on one at first?

Alex: [00:02:35] Oh my goodness. No, that’s that’s a whole other story. I actually started out as a graphic designer doing brand design and brand strategy. And so that was strictly one-on-one and man I burnt myself out hard doing that and that’s actually why I kind of Switched gears and decided to go more. So with the membership model.

Ward: [00:02:56] Gotcha. Yeah, that’s something that we hear from a lot of people as they start off with a one-on-one and it goes well and sometimes it goes in a sense to well because you get burnt out or you get so many clients that you get stressed out and you know, a lot of people would be dying to be in that you know it have that good problem. But at the end of the day, it’s still a problem, right? You meet you too. You don’t want your quality to slip you don’t want to get a bad reputation. You want to still be able to you know, make money and make a living but you want to do it in a way that’s sustainable and you know want to pull your hair out every day, so. That’s why we hear a lot of people transitioning to a membership model, which it sounds like you kind of came to the same conclusion.

Alex: [00:03:30] Yeah, well it was one was that I was getting super burnt out, you know, I had clients and I was you know, I couldn’t even work on my business. I couldn’t Market myself, I couldn’t go out and find new clients because I was just so busy, but at the same time the what I was offering my clients one-on-one was so intensive that I couldn’t actually take on very many at a time. So I was in the space where I would get an influx of cash, right? I would get you know my clients for that quarter. And that would be really great for like the first month of the quarter and then it was a three-month plan that we were working on together. And that was I mean that for the next two months, I wasn’t making any money, you know was that first influx? And then that was it and so then I also didn’t have any time to Market myself to get new one-on-one clients and I was like something has got to change. You know, I it was just I needed something that was going to be a little bit more passive. Definitely more able to scale because I could only take on a few clients and and it wasn’t working out for me on I was too busy and not making enough money for the amount of work I was doing for sure.

Ward: [00:04:41] Right and something else you’ve heard from people is they are able to repurpose a lot of the work and what they’ve learned what went right what didn’t go right with the one-on-ones and then use all of that to create the the membership content.

Alex: [00:04:55] Right? Well, it was funny too because I was sitting there with my one-on-one clients being so burnt-out dreading waking up going to my office every single day, right which is so not how you want to feel when you are your own boss, right? That’s why people leave their 9-5 and I was sitting there being so burnt out but then also looking at my audience who I had this. His audience of people that were constantly asking me questions basically begging to work with me, but I didn’t have an offer for them that they could afford and so it was like all of the the Stars aligned when I started thinking of a membership model because it was like, okay I can get time back in my business to Market my business. You know I can scale this thing. I can use everything that I’ve been doing one-on-one and turn it into a membership, you know, take everything that I’ve been using all of the worksheets and I have like all these Trello boards that I give my people in one-on-one that I was able to just put into this membership like all of these things right that I had basically as templates for one-on-one I could put into the membership, but then I also was able to create something that. My other audience members could afford as well. So it was like a win win win win win across the board.

Ward: [00:06:11] Right. Yeah, that makes sense. So when you when you first launch the go-getters gang which is which is the membership side of this, what was the price in and has it always been that price?

Alex: [00:06:22] Right? So when I was first creating go-getters gang my membership site. I wanted to be sure that I could replace my Rebrand intensive income and then some right. How’d it be scalable? And when I was breaking some stuff down my Rebrand intensive for one client was $5,000 for the three months that I worked on them. And so I broke it down. I realized I only needed 24 members paying 67 dollars a month to create a much more passive and scalable business model and I would make the same in that three-month period but then, you know those for recurring payments as well. So it actually would have ended up being more and it being scalable the potential is endless. And so I knew that my end goal was a $67 a month price. But before I launched it at that price, I did a bait around for 47 to get some people in. You know, that way I could send out surveys and make sure that this is actually something that people were going to bite at before I launch it to the public.

Ward: [00:07:21] The beta or like the early bird pricing at that smart. Did you have like a limited number of people you let into that?

Alex: [00:07:27] I didn’t have a limited number of people. I definitely had some goals in mind. I wanted to get you know, somewhere around 20 25 people in at the bait around but I really just had like a cart opencart closed period I had a one-week period where people were able to purchase it beta pricing with a discount code and then beyond that if people purchase later it would have been bumped up to the67.

Ward: [00:07:52] And did you read about that somewhere the idea of doing this beta period or is that just an idea that popped up in your head?

Alex: [00:07:58] Honestly, it was just something that felt right because I knew the whole time that I wanted to sixty seven dollars a month. I knew that that made sense when I broke it down to replace what I was making with my one-on-one clients and so I was like, okay, but that’s, anything that’s still a chunk of change to some people and I want to make sure that this is actually something that people are going to want to purchase later on right and so I wanted to make sure that I had a group of people in in beta that then could kind of be like my cheerleaders when I launched it to the public. So I was like, how can I get some people in and get as many people in as I possibly can so that I have this group of people that can. Basically cheer me on and go tell their friends about it. And I was like, let’s just give him $20 off a month and we’ll keep it at that. It sounded good at the time.

Ward: [00:08:44] Yeah, so have you considered adjusting that price in the future like making it higher or lower? What kind of feedback have you gotten on the pricing?

Alex: [00:08:53] You know right now? I haven’t gotten much feedback, you know with it being negative or positive so I’m kind of waiting to test it out and see you know, we’ve only been live for the public now for a couple of months. And so you mean definitely we got a bigger influx of people in during beta but that’s also because when I was launching beta it was to my warmest leads and I can get into you know, kind of my Beta launch strategy if you want me to but I knew that was going to be the easiest yeses that I was ever going to get right. So when you look at conversion rates for a bait around versus conversion rates to a cold audience, it’s going to be so vastly different.

Ward: [00:09:35] Sure. Yeah, definitely. So yeah, let’s dive into your beta launch strategy or give us some feedback on how that was going.

Alex: [00:09:42] Yeah, absolutely. So really what I did is I just played off of all of the relationships that I had built with the audience that I already had. So, you know previous to me launching go-getters. I was doing all of the things I was doing blog posts. I was on social media. I had my email list like, you know, like everybody tells you to do and so I was really capitalizing on the relationships that I built via those streams and you know, there’s always those people that are going to be in your DMs every single time that you post an Instagram story, right? There’s always the same people that are going to comment on your social media post or read that blog post or open that email and you know, all of those things and analytics are amazing. So you can kind of figure out who those people are. So what I did is I just got my notebook and I wrote out a list of all of the people that I could possibly think that might be a potential customer. And I figured out how I was going to reach out to them. You know, whether that meant in an e-mail or a DM on Instagram or what I actually ended up doing was sending a lot of my my followers voice messages on within the DMS on Instagram. So that way it had that extra Personal Touch right and I told them all about my new membership site told them everything that was included. I gave them the link and the discount code and told them when the beta. Pricing was going to be going away. And then I just kind of like Let it go. It was like, okay, that’s good. I gave that to them on a Monday during my launch week the beta pricing was going to be going away on Friday. And the other things that I did was, you know, just I reached out to people on like I did a regular like email blast to my email list again to my warm leads that are there, you know, I did a Facebook live inside of my Facebook group. So again to my warmest leads that I had and I just let the relationship take the wheel because those people were already if they weren’t warm. They were hot, right? They were hot leads. They already knew who I was they. Been following me for you know, who knows how long and they know what I’m all about. There’s already that know like and Trust Factor there. I didn’t have to do Facebook ads or any sort of AD spend. I didn’t have to create all of these crazy funnels and have a webinar and like all of this stuff because those people didn’t need it. They already had a relationship with me and it was literally just me showing up to them saying hey, I’ve been hearing you have these issues with your business and I’ve created this. Offer that can help solve that problem. Go check it out. Plus here’s a discount code.

Ward: [00:12:24] Right and why we back up a little bit because I still want to get some more context about how you built up the initial audience in the first place. So you mentioned you were doing blogging your active on social media and you had an email list could use kind of breakdown like the very beginning stage of what did you do first? And how did you get each of those?

Alex: [00:12:43] Right. Well, I really believe it’s all about knowing who your dream customer is first and then building an audience like that’s full of them with the Strategic marketing that is made for them because all of the marketing strategies in the world don’t amount to anything if we aren’t Marketing in a way that truly attracts those that we know are perfect for our offer. So. You know like you like we said, you know, you’re constantly being told to be on social media and write the blog post and use Pinterest and blah blah blah like all of the things but what if you’re on what if your audience or your dream customer isn’t reading blog posts? What if they’re listening to podcasts instead of watching video, right? So if you know these things then you know that any blog post or video that you put out actually isn’t helping to grow your audience in a way that is helpful to you because they aren’t actually those people that you are wanting to attract because you know that they need your offer. So first you really need to learn your target market and then use what you know to be true about them and the content that they consume and use content marketing to get in front of them.

Ward: [00:13:50] So for you when you like day one when you said, you know, you had zero audience. Who knows? Okay, I want to start this. What was the first thing you did?

Alex: [00:13:59] Right. So I mean, I think I did everything that everybody else does, you know you you watch all of the the webinars that you can and you read all the blog post that you can and you just kind of throw spaghetti at the wall, right? And I don’t know if is it okay if I plug a free training that I have?

Ward: [00:14:16] Sure.

Alex: [00:14:16] Yeah, so I actually have a free training all about finding and attracting your dream customers. And so it kind of walks you through exactly what I did when I started actually figuring out what you are supposed to do right once I threw spaghetti at the wall and realize that’s not the correct tactic, you know the ways in which you can actually do market research and figure out who these people are based off of their actual real-life likes and interests. Not just oh, you know this imagined. That we have in our head that’s you know, a woman between the ages of 25 and 30 and you know that has blond hair and is wanting to start an online business you like just the fluffy stuff that people create in their minds. It’s how to actually really figure out who they are and then how you can translate that information into marketing strategies. So that way you can you can actually mark it to them in a way that’s helpful to your business.

Ward: [00:15:13] Right, and I’m curious because we’ve heard some debate when I’ve spoken to other guests regarding email lists and their value versus social media followers, right and I know they’re two different things and you can certainly have both but do you in your opinion do you think one of them is more valuable than the other?

Alex: [00:15:31] In my business if I’m being completely honest social media has been more valuable. I think that if you utilize an email list correctly and consistently it can absolutely be far better than social media. If you’re not on social media, you know as consistently as you are in your email list, I think it’s all about you as the business owner and what feels most organic in the way that you want to create those relationships. And if for you you want to get kind of in the trenches with your people and B, you know in the DMS on Instagram and all of those things then that’s what you should lean into and that’s what’s going to work for you because it’s what feels right. But you know for somebody else maybe they want to be a little bit more behind the scenes. They want to create some email sequences and make it a little bit more automated and not have to show up in real time. And that’s what feels better to them. Then of course, that’s what’s going to work better for them because it’s where they feel most like themselves and can show up most like themselves.

Ward: [00:16:35] Right, and there’s also a guess a couple of their factors at least my mind for social media. Obviously, there’s the the privacy concerns that everyone’s that’s in the news everyday. So that’s one factor and the other factor of social media is that at the day, they’re not really your followers right there. People who are using this platform like you who have chosen to follow you but the platform itself at any time can completely change their algorithm and that can change how many people see your content, how often, do you have to start paying now like advertising soda, so at the so in a sense you’re not truly in control of that audience, whereas within email list. It’s pretty straightforward there on our email list or they’re not and it’s a and you can send them emails or you don’t see in the media. Nothing really about that changes. So does that factor into your mind at all or not or there’s not really a problem.

Alex: [00:17:27] Well, I definitely think that there is some truth to that. You know, I don’t think that you know, Facebook is going to up and leave us, you know overnight or anything like that, but I do think that you. You need to have a back-up plan for sure. And so building an email list whether or not you utilize it to its fullest capacity is still an excellent idea just for the sheer fact of security for your business. So that way you do have a backlog of. You know, you’re again your hottest or misleads people that have opted in for a freebie or a free training of yours or you know, whatever it is. And so then that way you are able to reach out to them. If you know doomsday does come and Instagram and Facebook leave us.

Ward: [00:18:11] Let’s transition a little bit. Do you have any other kind of marketing tactics that you would. I think that would be a use for people to know about aside from you know, blog. You should get on social media and you should have an email list. Is there anything specifically you want to dive into any of those or is there something else you’d like to mention?

Alex: [00:18:26] Sure. Yeah, so, you know I was talking about beta launches as like the first thing that you should do. I think that’s like before anybody goes out and does a major launch of a membership site or literally any other offer that they have in their business, you know beta launch first and foremost what you should do just for the sheer fact of figuring out if your offer is worth putting money behind right putting in the ad spend and the work of creating, you know, all of the the giant launch strategies that we can create and sales funnels and yada yada yada. So I think you do that first then I think that something else that’s. You is a definite needed thing to do is a live launch. And so that is where I mean, there’s so many different working pieces that go into a live launch and there’s so many different ways in which you can do it, but you know Bare Bones bare minimum for a live launch would definitely be some sort of a trip wire or a freebie right that you’re pushing out usually via ad spend. So whatever that means. To you that can be Google that could be Facebook that could be on Pinterest or so many different places that you can put you know, some adspend behind a what’s the word that I’m looking for here behind the you know, trying to get that tripwire out in front of people. And then you want that tripwire to funnel into an email sequence, you know something that helps those new cold leads get to know you get to know your business get to know other free content that you have that then leads them down this kind of like rabbit hole of finding what your other free content is that will directly sell whatever your offer is at the end. So usually that is something in the form of like a webinar, or maybe you have a free course that you know, And of your free course you are pitching the. You know, whatever you’re paid offer is at the end. But usually that’s kind of what it looks like. It’s tripwire email sequence that then leads into another piece of free content that sells your thing.

Ward: [00:20:26] Right? So let’s say somebody is super budget constrained right and they really don’t have any money for ad spend. Do you think that’s an absolutely critical part of this or is there a way to do this without buying ads?

Alex: [00:20:39] Absolutely ways you can do it without buying ads is definitely going to be the way that you can get out to the most amount of people the quickest right? But if you do have budget constraints, then there’s tons of ways that you can get in front of new and cold audiences. This is where we look at collaborations joint ventures giveaways, you know something where you are able to get in front of somebody else’s audience and you know, you want to make sure that that person’s audience Is also a dream customer of yours as well. But you know, you can do like joint venture webinars where you’re kind of like helping them with their webinar. You can do giveaways where you are asking people to tag their friends and you know, hoping that that kind of goes viral a little bit by each person that tags, then they have people that tag and you know, it kind of goes down that way. So yeah, I mean you just kind of have to get creative and think about how you can take a piece of content and kind of tag on that virality factor and when I say viral, I mean that could that could mean anything to anyone, you know, that could mean, you know, shared across millions of different news channels or that could mean that you know, you got those 10 people to share it and that’s amazing for your business to it’s all relevant. But but yeah, there’s definitely creative ways that we can get you out in front of new people.

Ward: [00:22:01] Right. Okay. So here’s a fun one for you. What have you tried that has not worked?

Alex: [00:22:08] So it’s actually funny that you bring that up because it’s whenever I have launched without a bait around it hasn’t worked and what I mean by that is I usually launch to people that aren’t as enthused. You know, we talked earlier about conversion rates to a cold versus a warm audience and when. Do a launch without a bait around first and without getting that first initial like group of people in that are so excited that are able to give me feedback and make that thing really awesome before I launch it out to the public It usually Fizzles out way faster when I don’t do that.

Ward: [00:22:47] So if you knew if you know that why have you launched without a beta before?

Alex: [00:22:53] Well, I’m now I don’t um, you know, it was kind of those trial-and-error phases of business where you’re trying to figure out what was it that actually worked what didn’t and you know after going through a couple of rounds and realizing like, okay every time that I don’t beta launch. Something isn’t right here. That’s when I just finally decided like nope we’re just going to always do a beta launch for something new first. Right? And I think it’s important to note that for you when you’re talking about a beta launch and for people listening the one of the key here is that you are charging money, right? So it’s different than doing a free or asking friends. Hey, check this out. Give me your feedback that type of feedback generally is not going to be helpful because your friends your family. Usually are not your customers. And so the feedback they give you can sometimes at worst the you know, misleading and completely wrong or completely off base. And if you then pivot or change parts of the business based on that feedback, you’re actually going down the completely wrong road. Whereas if you do what you’re suggesting which is. Launch it may be at a discount. I’ll probably edit discount and get feedback from your warmest leads and then kind of shape and edit things to make it better. That’s a much more structured and successful path because you’re getting feedback from real people that are paying you money that aren’t just friends are trying to make you feel good, which is very important I think for people to note.

Alex: [00:24:18] Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, they’re definitely been times, you know, when I was first starting my business when I was just trying to get in testimonials and so I offered things for free. And hoping that maybe one of those people that I would offer a free strategy session to would maybe turn into an actual paying customer and a hundred percent of the time It didn’t happen. You know, there’s a different type of audience member 4 that’s going to pay versus that is always going to take the three and DIY route and that’s okay. We all have them in every single one of our audiences. And so you kind of use the beta launch with having you know them pay you as. Get out the ones that that are actually your people and your dreaming is to customers.

Ward: [00:25:03] Right cool. So let’s leave it there Alex. You let everybody know where they can go to learn more about you.

Alex: [00:25:09] Yeah, absolutely. So you guys can head over to ladyandcompany.com and that’s kind of where you can just learn all the things about me. If you want to check out my free my free training all about the dream customers. You can head on over to ladyandcompany.com/crashcourse.

Ward: [00:25:27] Awesome. Thanks for spending time with us Alex.

Alex: [00:25:29] Thank you so much for having me.