016: From One-on-One Coaching to a Membership Site for Parents
🗓 October 02, 2019
Ward chats with MegAnne Ford, founder of Be Kind Coaching about how she turned a one-on-one coaching model into a membership business, what she learned from rushing into a membership model too quickly, and how to make sure your pricing fits your audience.
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Ward: [00:00:00] Hi Meg Anne, thanks for joining me.
Meg Anne: [00:00:02] Hey Ward, thanks for having me on super excited to start this conversation.
Ward: [00:00:06] Yeah, me too. So let's give folks an idea of what your business is. Just give them a quick overview.
Meg Anne: [00:00:12] Yeah quick overview. I am a parent coach and in August transition my business from 101 in person coaching to 100% online coaching.
Ward: [00:00:21] Cool. So for people who either are not parents or don't really know what that is it. What what is a parent coach?
Meg Anne: [00:00:28] Yeah parent coach is someone who helps parents kind of here where they're at learn where they want to go and then help give them the strategies and support and Community needed to get them there. So if you think of like personal training or really any like marketing business coach, it's the same thing just for parents.
Ward: [00:00:45] Gotcha. And do you target a specific type of parent?
Meg Anne: [00:00:49] My favorite type of parent to work with our parents of strong-willed children, so children who are prone to Tantrums meltdown screaming like make you want to pull your hair out and run away. Those are those are my dream clients to work with.
Ward: [00:01:02] Oh boy. So I mean I would imagine if someone's kid is in that state that they're obviously feeling a lot of pain and stress from that. So it would make sense that they would reach out to a coach or a professional help them.
Meg Anne: [00:01:14] Yeah, it's a lot of guilt and shame and overwhelm and a lot of especially on the internet there's a lot of like Perfection modeled. I love to work in marketing my business on Instagram and a lot of Instagram feeds are just so highly curated that a competing this like feeling of insecurity. So I love to meet them where there are where they're at and just be really real and authentic and help them get them to a really solid place like a place where they can say, I really enjoy the weekends now with my family. I don't feel like I'm a prisoner in my house.
Ward: [00:01:47] Yeah, that's a great goal. So so what it was sounds like you were doing one-on-one coaching. So what made you transition to a membership model?
Meg Anne: [00:01:57] Yes, this is a fun story. So I. When I started I can hit traction quickly like once Word of Mouth spread of what I was doing. I was 14 years in a Early Childhood classroom as a teacher and I was already doing this work with my parents. So then I finally was like, oh I'm just going to do it for myself. And there is a week where I had probably 10 one-on-one clients and I realized that I was repeating myself. So often that I was forgetting to say really important things and I would meet with a client and I would say oh, yeah, like the routine chart we built last week and they would like look at me and be like hmm. I don't think that that was me that was like, oh and I just realized that I was getting myself confused and I really wasn't serving my clients the best and realized that there had to be a better way a better way that they could get all the education that they needed before meeting with me when I went to do like the actual coaching piece. So I decided to build an online course and I had never done it before I was super scared. I always thought like oh this is this is a never going to work and actually a year ago when I was looking into member space you and I chatted be a video tracks. I was like, this is never going to work. I'm not a tech person. I remember you were just like really helpful in your. No, there's also many like tutorials and guides and I just had to take some time and slow down andeducate myself.
Ward: [00:03:19] Right yeah. I know that's a that's a big goal for us personally is to really help non-technical entrepreneurs. So happy to hear that you were able to kind of overcome some of your initial you no worries about about doing something online and and kind of shifting a business to to purely online. So just so I know in some more context for people so you were doing one-on-one coaching you realize you know, some things were slipping as far as you know what you had said. To someone previously and maybe mixing it up. So you said okay well, maybe if I create a standard course or or whatever that'll help make sure everyone's on the same page. Was it also though a function of you having too many one-on-one clients and then saying you know what I the only way to keep scaling this is to turn it into a course or platform which is will be from other people in the past.
Meg Anne: [00:04:11] You know, it's funny that you say that because at the time I was thinking so small that I didn't even realize that that was a problem. But now that I'm working with over 30 parents at a time now, I'm like, oh my gosh, I could have never done that. So at the time it was purely functionality of saying like Okay, if I can give like serve my one-on-one client better by building them this course to go through I had no idea like the floodgates that we're going to open from from doing that.
Ward: [00:04:40] Right and when you first launch this membership model, Give people some some more examples, I guess of what it actually is it that the parent would be getting.
Meg Anne: [00:04:50] Yes, so I I've built actually now I'm in so I launched in August and I'm now going into my fourth like launch or reiteration of bringing people into this program, and I've now been able to create like an entire program vote. So I have Master like our long master classes. I have smaller like self-paced courses that they can take and then I have one main course that gets you access to at the entire Vault and lifelong coaching around that specific course. It's a really being able to offer slides videos downloadable PDFs links and tools to just kind of hold perspective from all sides. So that any problem that my client has I can quickly form a solution to.
Ward: [00:05:51] Right I assume this is this is something that you're growing over time and adding to and tweaking?
Meg Anne: [00:05:56] Yes, if like even from August to now it's an entirely different beast and it's and it's growing in like. The most authentic way and that's kind of where I love the flexibility of working from online is that I can make quick pivots in my business so smoothly and quickly that people who are who I'm serving they have no idea what's going on in the background. They just know like oh, I guess something cool. I get something updated. I get something new I get a new coupon code to use and they love it.
Ward: [00:06:26] When it comes to pricing. What's the history you have with your membership model? What did it start at and what is it at now?
Meg Anne: [00:06:33] Yes, and when I started I started with a free offering and it was a five-day less yelling challenge, which just had a video modules and a workbook that led them into the group coaching program and I had no idea what I was doing at first. So I had priced it at seven hundred and forty seven dollars, but then I offered it to challenge members for half off and I threw out the challenge I brought in a hundred and thirty-three parents. I was so excited. I was like this is going to be amazing. I had like a 50 percent open rate a high engagement group emailing me back and forth and then when all was said and done, I only sold one at half off. So at the end of the first launch, I had only sold three hundred and seventy four dollars and I felt so defeated and so like. What went wrong, right and I thought like oh, I'll just give it up. And so then I thought no, you know what? I'm not going to give up. I'm gonna go back. I'm going to Tinker. I'm going to invest in my own coach myself a marketing and strategist and business coach to help me see and grow and she was like, oh girl. This isn't you're not you're not on the wrong path. You're on the right path, like pick yourself up. Like let's look at it again. And let's launch again. So in January I launched it again. With another five day challenge and opened it up and I was able to bring in five parents five families and making just over 4K so I felt like better about myself. I was like, okay awesome. This works. I'm going to to run it through again and the cool part. For me personally was that I did not change anything from the August launch to the January launch. And so it was amazing to me that I was able to resell a product and course that I had already put in effort to build once that was able to sell it again and make even more money. So that leads going into my last launch which was an April and I built another free offering. So this time I done five day challenges before and this time I did a whole month series. And I let it into my group program and I ended up making over five figure five figures. Yeah, it was over a $13,000 launch and what was different about that launches that I actually up the price to a thousand dollars and had offered the entire vault as a bonus. And so I was just like amazing to me that for something that I made in August. I've been able to kind of launch revisit re-tweak launch again revisit we can launch again and now I'm in a in a place where I've had over 30 families go through it. I'm able to look through and see like where they need more information and how to edit and grow and once again.
Ward: [00:09:14] Wow, yes, a lot of things to sort of unpack there. So just let's go back to that first launch. So the price was you said $740. Is that right?
Meg Anne: [00:09:25] Yeah, 747.
Ward: [00:09:25] 747 and and that was a one-time charge.
Meg Anne: [00:09:29] Yes. It was a one-time charge.
Ward: [00:09:31] And when someone signs up for that a family, do they get lifetime access?
Meg Anne: [00:09:36] At the time yes, they had lifetime access to anything. I created I said anything I create and then I realize oh wait, I need to be mindful and not thinking of just where I'm at right now, but where I want to go.
Ward: [00:09:48] Right, so I guess where did that number come from the 747 was that just thin air?
Meg Anne: [00:09:54] Well, that was the cost of the one-on-one private coaching with me for so for six sessions before it was 747. So I just translated it and it was kind of like well this feels good. So, let's see.
Ward: [00:10:09] Yeah, you know that's that's actually a popular strategy I've heard from other folks who had some kind of one-on-one Consulting business and then transition to a membership is they use whatever they used to charge for Consulting some some amount of sessions and that that's like the anchor because at least it gives you something to start from that's reasonable and within the realm of reality.
Meg Anne: [00:10:29] Yeah, and I knew that people were already paying that.
Ward: [00:10:33] So that's something for other folks out there to keep in mind is one that that's that's a good place to start with. I think it will change definitely but it's a good place to start and also for people out there before you start a membership business. It might actually make sense to hold off and to First do one-on-one Consulting for whatever your expertise of the topic is that you're passionate about that you want to help people. Sometimes it makes sense to go slower and just one by one get clients get customers and learn more about what they want what they need and how what you're providing how helpful it is what you could do better at excetera. And then once you've done that for a while, then you can translate that to do it at scale and it membership model.
Meg Anne: [00:11:13] Yeah. I totally agree. I was coaching parents for two years before making that transition.
Ward: [00:11:21] Right and like two years is a lot of time and some people might be like impatient and be like, well, no, I need to have a membership model need to be making a hundred thousand dollars or whatever. It's like no not necessarily you got to kind of crawl walk run with this stuff. If you want to be successful.
Meg Anne: [00:11:35] I love that you say that because I was one of those people I was like, oh that was mean the first launch. I'm going to build this. Oh my God have a hundred and thirty three people. I was like doing the math. I was like, oh my God, this is gonna be amazing. But then when it happened, I only had one person. I actually I think I sold gave it to my friends for free. I was like, can you just come in? Like what am I missing? They're like, no, it's great. But what was funny is that I realized now, I realize now looking back that if all hundred and thirty three people had joined I would have like, yes had a lot of money maybe but I would have had no idea how to like systematically. Make sure that they're getting the desired outcomes and the best customer support because it was just me at the time.
Ward: [00:12:19] Right, and that's another point that I think is real solid and to pay attention to is if you are launching something and somehow you get a large audience or a lot of customers which generally will not happen unless you know what you're doing if you're not able to support them properly and if you're not able to help them how they thought they were going to get helped,you can leave a real bad impression and not just this isn't just a money thing. This could be a reputation thing. Like people start talking about you online and saying oh this is just not good quality course terrible support, etc, etc. And that kind of stuff can live on the internet forever. Unfortunately, so it's really important that when you do this you do it, right and you're not just launching to launch. So I think it sounds like you did this did this well.
Meg Anne: [00:13:03] It's also just another cool point is something a mistake that I made that I would go back and kind of like revision is like think to where you want this to go. I feel like I've been just now being able to position to think like in one three and five years thoughts because at the time I was so reactive so if you're just starting off, what I would tell you to do is like get very clear on what you're like one three and five goals are.
Ward: [00:13:31] Yeah, I think it's a good way to look at it too. So for from that first launched in August to the most recent launch in April, obviously a lot changed monetarily number of customers. It sounds like your thinking changed. How did you actually build up an audience? So how did you get anyone to even know about this in the beginning? And then for the most recent launch what changed?
Meg Anne: [00:13:53] Yeah, I have built. I mean, I've tried it all a coach of mine said like girl, you're like the queen of throwing spaghetti on the wall and I like yeah, I just throw and see what sticks and she's like you're spending so much work doing that. So for me it was Finding like asking myself. What is it that I like to do? For me, what I like to do is I like to be on Instagram. So I started to curate and invest my time. They're being able to use hashtags to find people and connect to other industry Specialists. Like I know now OTS that live in. Idaho I live in Richmond, Virginia. I've been able to connect to so many awesome resources there and then to I thought about what is a skill that I want wanted to build myself and it was public speaking. So I started doing once a month public speaking events at a I mean it's a health food store, but they have like a really great community space and they host talks regularly. So I just started like having kind of that balance of in-person skill building and then networking and then online networking and just showing up.
Ward: [00:14:59] Yeah. So for this in person health food store. I assume it's free to talk. Is it just anyone can sign up?
Meg Anne: [00:15:07] Anyone can sign up at it's actually a paid ticket. So in the end it was kind of a small. I mean, I think the most I've ever made is like maybe just over $100 but $100 for a one-hour talk, which is awesome that I can record and put it into my memberspace site. It's like a win-win but it's just what they do is that it allowed me to tap into a network where they put it out to their Network. So I've had people follow me for probably over two years and they found me through this grocery store. They have like it's kind of like a Whole Foods and they have on their registers. They have like my information and my logo and so any customer going through sees it so really just getting aligned with like-minded Brands like-minded missions to help boost each other's visibility.
Ward: [00:15:56] Yeah, and this is also a Common Thread I've heard talking to other other folks about how they built their membership business is having some kind of in-person type of event or speaking engagement or networking or meet up. There's something about that, especially when you're first starting that allows you to kind of be more, you know, I don't know if Intimates the word but you get to be close to people and actually talk with them and see them in real life and that makes a big difference compared to just throwing something out on the internet and saying hey check out my business like this is a way for you to provide value in person, which is I'd argue more valuable than than providing information online. Even if it's the exact same information just the fact that you're doing them person in there there. There's something to that.
Meg Anne: [00:16:39] Well, yes when you're in person you start to see the body language you start to see like my husband has come to such a couple of my talks. He doesn't he hears it enough from living with me, but. He's come to a couple and he goes my again. There's like a shift in the energy that it's like very palatable. Once like people come in to talk about these things. They're like all very like scared and tense and nervous and she's like by the end of it you're like getting invited to family dinners. So I crave that energy and I thrive off of it, but it's also great. It's like a low-risk area for me to test out maybe a new messaging or maybe a new strategy that I want to present. Without like going through the work of building it recording it editing it putting it up promoting it getting people's eyes on it. I can go and test it and like like take the temperature of the room before I put any more effort into launching.
Ward: [00:17:32] Yeah, it's amazing. So for for Instagram and these in person events, it sounds like Instagrams another big Focus. So is that just you purely following and engaging with people or you also doing advertising on Instagram?
Meg Anne: [00:17:47] I have not but I mean I would say again this is like the spaghetti method. I have not really put a lot of money. I know. Some people say you either pay with time or money on Instagram right now. I'm still like in that like Coal. I like to say like, I'm holding the coal. I'm buffing the coal and then when I get the diamond, I'll put some money behind it. So I have not run paid ads probably outside of like maybe an initial launch. I'll throw like $25 behind it just to people who have already gone to my. But I don't I have not done like a paid ad strategy. It's purely just more organic for me too I think that I get higher quality leads that way because they've already been watching me for a while and something recently talking about getting in front of other people's audiences I have been following someone who had has a very engaged group on Instagram and I was doing a story and I called out this person and I tagged them in it and they re shared it in their insta stories and in the course of a day, I had over a hundred and seventy-five new followers like this huge wave of followers. And what was interesting to me because sometimes especially on Instagram you can like spend some time and work and create something you put something up there and it like launches to crickets and you're like, oh man. I like really worked really hard. It's like such a good message actually had a post yesterday that I was like, really no one no one's going to comment on this. But what happened was when I when this person shared the insta story directing people back to my profile. I had all of those people come over and they started crawling through my entire content. And so it made like they were posting on post from like a year ago and it made me realize like, oh, I need to start thinking of Instagram like again not in the moment, but as like, maybe like a portfolio. So that when people start to come to me, they can instantly know like and trust me just by spending like 10 minutes on my feed.
Ward: [00:19:45] Right, and and I think this is a good message for people to recognize that advertising especially on the social platforms isn't necessarily the best thing to do, especially when you're first starting, you know, privacy issues and all that stuff aside, which I think is important and something people consider if they even want to support these platforms, but if you are going to be using it spending money with them, It can sometimes not work. Especially don't know what you're doing. Especially you don't have traction yet. So you're just kind of throwing money out thinking it's going to work.
Meg Anne: [00:20:16] Well also, I mean I can speak to this just very briefly and quickly that back in August. I did put some money like it was it was like maybe $50 it wasn't a lot of money behind one of these paid ads for the less yelling Challenge and that was the name of it last year only challenge and actually it brought over a lot of bad press because of parents who you know, they follow another person who promotes and like has this belief system and they came over and they started sending me a lot of harassing messages and it like really dinged my confidence. So that's when I was like, I'm going to pull back on this paid ad strategy until again like I have a very clear message, I have myself have a very clear and confident platform in a really know what I'm doing. So I feel like the internet it can go like to some crazy places.
Ward: [00:21:05] Absolutely. Do you also have an email like an email marketing list that you're that you're building up?
Meg Anne: [00:21:12] I do that's a great question. I just recently like maybe four weeks ago. You know, everybody says have an opt-in have an opt-in and for the longest time again, like I don't know there's something when I'm like seeing this it just looks like German to me at first and this opt-in like was so alluding to me. I had no idea what to do for it. And finally a month ago. I was like, oh I should do a quiz and so there's another platform that I used and I built a quiz and I had people like I started to create like a funnel so my website you can take this quiz to find out what how kind is your family. That's the name of the quiz. How kind is your family? It takes you to this quiz the takes you to a free guide. That they have to opt in for then I start building the list and then I send them on Fridays a weekly love note just to keep them warm and keep them encouraged and let them know about what's going on. And that that's something that I've just really kind of position and focused on.
Ward: [00:22:10] Yeah, that's something I always tell people to is to focus on an email list and to some extent more so than social media, you know your it varies for everybody because some people bought more successful social media, but the good thing about an email list is that it's yours, right? Even if you change platforms from MailChimp to convertkit Etc. It's still your email list and that audience can be imported and exported pretty easily whereas with social media, their algorithms could change right some it used to be that when you posted something everyone in your father or saw it and then that's changed now, and now at things need to be promoted via advertising a lot of times for any for the majority of your audience to see it and the problem is that you're not in control right a third parties in control of your audience. So is it even really your audience? Is it really your followers? Right? And so that's that's where I can get a little dicey. Whereas an email list. It's always yours emails email when you send an email it goes to the inbox. And so that's something for a lot of folks to think about is if you're going to spend time on something I generally would recommend in email list.
Meg Anne: [00:23:13] Yeah, I you know wh I do agree to that and I agree that it allows you to keep that audience warm. And so they know you and it's not like oh I need to email them because I'm launching and then like spam their emails because they'll quickly unfollow you and. And making sure something that was like I feel like at the beginning was kind of discouraging to me cuz I would put all this time to this email and I would send it out and then my open rate was like I think as it was like twenty percent now, it's like we really suck like nobody's opening my emails and then it was my business coach you like overall that's a good open rate. So it's also like putting into perspective that even when people are sending an email. Keeping focus on who's opening it trying to strategize to how to maybe play with the subject lines and making sure that you're delivering quality content so that your emails get open.
Ward: [00:24:10] Right focusing on being helpful is really the key here. Right? Not just sales. It really it's kind of like use this analogy before it's kind of like cooking like the the sales is kind of like the salt you want to sprinkle it in and you needs to be there but the majority of the dish is not is not sales. The majority of your emails should not be sales. It should be providing helpful information to your audience and that's it. And then subtly saying and by the way, if you need more help, here's a course or here's here's a whatever that I sell but the focus the lead should be on being helpful because that'll keep people happy that will keep them on the list that will keep that allow them to share your email with other people then that's what you really want. So let's let's dive into what what hasn't worked. It. Sounds like we've talked through some of the progress you've made in terms of building the audience and marketing and work figuring out your pricing. So what have you tried that really hasn't worked?
Meg Anne: [00:25:06] Yeah reflecting on this question manse so much. I like to believe in growth mindset. So every failure is just an opportunity to learn and grow. So at first when I started out I didn't focus on my confidence. I didn't focus on my mindset. I just focused on the action of doing. And really what ended up happening was that I started to pretend to be someone who I wasn't so I was not showing up authentically because I didn't think that that's how like quote-unquote parent coaches showed up because I in doing market research went and looked at other parent coaches and then I'd was trying to mimic how they talked about things. And I just realized I was getting to a point where I was just like frustrated with my business and then I had to look inward to be like, oh just show up and be yourself like people like you so that's kind of something that hadn't worked was pretending not to be myself II would be accepting. Anyone who wanted to give me money that was like another mistake is like really focusing on my brand message my brand messaging on across all platforms so that I'm really like creating that divisive Miss so like that less yelling challenge created like a divided like some people were Pro yelling. Some people were like against yelling creating more content that really did split so that people would opt in and stay in and stay loyal and I would say maybe like the last is like giving my course away for free really diluted my confidence, It diluted the results that I was seeing and it didn't necessarily Help Me Grow any faster.
Ward: [00:26:47] Great. I think we'll leave it there. So Meg Anne, if people want to learn more about you and what you do, where should they go?
Meg Anne: [00:26:55] They can find me on Instagram at bekindcoaching or my website bekindcoaching.com.
Ward: [00:27:05] Great. Thanks for spending time with me.
Meg Anne: [00:27:07] Yeah. Thanks Ward have a good day.