Launch “season” is that time of year when everyone upon everyone upon everyone (!) is launching their product, offering, teleclass series, training, consulting, sessions package, downloadable item, e-course and more.
Launching is not for the faint of heart. It takes stamina. It’s a time when you want to take your vitamins and perhaps have a green smoothie on top of that, just for good measure. Inevitably, tech issue will arise, you’ll have to make last-minute changes, or you’ll find that something that you thought was taken care of was–most definitely–not taken care of.
What you can definitely take care of? You–and you’re your most important asset. Here are seven ways to practice self-care during a launch.
#1: Plan your launch, far far (far!) in advance. Thirty days is not enough time. Sixty days might not even be enough time. Giving yourself only two months to build momentum about a new offering is not likely to give you much room for self-care, especially in the two weeks leading into go-time for your product or offering. Give yourself ample time and space to both get the work done, and get that much-needed massage.
#2: Finish the product, well before you launch. If your deadline is the first of the month to show the product or offering to people, make one week prior to that your personal, hard deadline. It’s inevitable that last-minute tweaks are going to pop up.
#3: Stop and take breaks (consciously!). This seems so obvious, but it’s classic over-achiever syndrome to “try to get just one more thing done” and that’s going to run you into the ground. You’ve got to plan in time for eating, getting laundry done, and plain old down time. If you get so immersed in your work during intense launch periods that you literally disappear into a haze and then look up, six hours later, hungry and irritable and over-worked, employ cognitive-behavioral tools such as a scheduled phone call, or a timer with a bell.
#4: Connect with friends. I’m as guilty of this as anyone–when I’m in full-on launch mode, I disappear. I’m bad about responding to emails or phone calls, and yet time with friends is usually what I need most. Time with friends is your time to vent, recharge, get excited about your project, celebrate, or get out of your head about all of the stuff that you need to do.
#5: Use some kind of system. It doesn’t matter what system, as long as it’s a system that you will use. A legal pad to-do list works, or you can get fancy with a system like Basecamp (my personal favorite for project management). Some people love Evernote, others love Asana, others find their desks covered in post-its, and others keep an ongoing electronic list on their computer’s desktop. Don’t spend a lot of time comparing your system to others, or trying to figure out a better system. Launch time is not that time.
#6: Start saying “no,” early and often. Sometimes it’s necessary to say “no” to something else, in order to say “yes” to yourself. Say “no” to things that will take you away from your launch goal. Note that a “no” can mean “not right now.” If someone needs you to write a guest post, and you’re slammed with other guest posts and interviews, then negotiate a later date. Don’t take on more coaching clients if someone inquires–push the date out to after your launch. This is okay to do!
#7: Set up an incredible reward for launch day. Usually, I book myself a super nice massage and make a reservation at my favorite restaurant (and I don’t skimp on the wine, appetizers, or dessert when I get there). I put on fabulous makeup and my favorite gold shoes. I also make sure that my schedule is clear for a few days after launch time. This ensures that I’m able to have time to go into an introverted hideaway for a few days and just chill out and be alone for a bit after all of the buzz and excitement. Some people recommend that you set up that alone time 3-4 days after launch, rather than immediately after, so that you can respond to any emails or buzz that is generated and take advantage of any immediate offers for interview requests or collaboration that might come up.
“Self-care” is such a buzz word that it’s often tossed around without people really thinking about what it actually means to practice it. The truth is that integrating self-care is a choice and a practice, and it only happens successfully when someone is conscious and consistent about it. Aside from the fact that it leaves you healthier, there’s one other great reason to practice self-care even during harried launches–it’s what integrity looks like, and as life coaches, it’s important that we walk our talk.
Here’s to self-care–and that champagne clink of a successfully completed launch!
One of the things that life coaches bring to their profession is a deep desire to help people. It’s the creative energy of support, strategizing, holding space, asking core questions, and collaboratively creating solutions with clients that is both a skill-set and a calling.
With that said, sometimes coaches can fall into the difficult space of figuring out when to say “no” to working with a client. The desire to help someone, and to have compassion for where they’re at, can conflict with the fact that with some clients, it’s just not a match. Here are the six clients you don’t want to work with:
#1: If you feel the “red flag” feeling during an initial session (or email). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve subverted my own wisdom and intuition on this one, and it never–ever–goes well. If you get an email from someone, and something within you is resistant to responding to set up a session; if you are looking over pre-session questions with someone, and something within you feels a “red flag” feeling; if you get on that first session with someone, and you can’t put your finger on it but something just does not feel right, then…don’t sign on to work with them.
Yes, you’re going to second-guess yourself. Yes, you’re going to say to yourself, “But I can’t pinpoint why I feel this way, so it must be that something’s up with me.” Yes, you’re going to feel awkward saying “no” to working together when there’s no discernible and specific reason “why.”
At first, it might be a good learning experience for you to go ahead and proceed with this client–because you will always (!) eventually figure out why you had that initial “something isn’t quite right, here” feeling. After a few experiences where you have that feeling and don’t trust it, you’ll quickly learn that if it continues, you want to say no, from the beginning.
#2: The client who is so, so (so!) busy. If setting up a session is a nightmare with little availability; if she’s immediately telling you about how she’s got fifteen commitments but she really needs coaching; if the initial session is rescheduled last-minute or she flakes entirely and then sends you an apologetic email; if there’s an edge and a comment about your “lack of availability” or you’re told you weren’t clear enough about the time zone when you were sure to include it in every single email…don’t sign on to work with them.
If this is all about helping people to shift their lives, then a client who has a really over-scheduled life just isn’t in a place to do that–you’re practicing kindness when you let her know that it would be better to start coaching at a different time. They’re best served by coming to coaching when they can make dedicated time each week (at least an hour for the call) and 1-2 hours on their own for practices. Signing on with this over-committed client often means constant rescheduling and not finishing practices between sessions, and that’s not a satisfying experience for either party.
#3: The client who is quitting therapy, to work with you. I polled a few coaching colleagues on this, just to make sure that I wasn’t in the minority, and most shared my sentiments: a client who is quitting therapy to work with you is probably avoiding an issue that’s come up in therapy. While of course this is a blanket statement to make, and couldn’t possibly true in all scenarios, several of my colleagues reported nearly identical experiences: a client quits therapy to work with a coach, and then once the coaching goes deep enough, the client wants to quit coaching.
#4: The client who bashes their last coach. You know how you’ve met those people who gossip or complain about others, and then you start to get a nagging feeling that it’s only a matter of time before that person gossips or complains about you? This is the same scenario. You’ll want to ask: were they letting the coach know what wasn’t working for them, or were they afraid to say anything and then growing silently resentful? There’s a world of difference between an experience that doesn’t go as one hopes and the disappointment that accompanies that, and complaining/bashing/blaming. Listen carefully.
#5: The client who struggles with basic accountability, such as returning the coaching agreement, paying on time, following up with a promised email, coming to sessions on time. You teach your clients how to treat you. If the client shows up late, and then you give extra time at the end to make up for starting late, you’re teaching that client that this is okay. If you don’t say anything when a client pays late, you’re letting that client know that it’s okay to pay late.
We all have places where we forget things or aren’t as accountable as we’d like to be. There are some basic accountability pieces that need to be in place in order for you to work in a professional capacity. They may differ from coach to coach–for instance, perhaps some coaches don’t mind having late payment policies that include a few days’ grace–but whatever yours are, make sure you know them and make it clear that there are boundaries around them.
#6: The client who refuses to move. This is another tricky one. We can all think of those times when we’ve felt afraid of really looking at an issue, and as a defense, we resisted any and all suggestions or ideas for change. Hopefully, as life coaches, we also can look at those times and see that when we’ve done that chronically, it’s okay to admit: “Yeah, I wasn’t in a space to acknowledge that, and that’s my responsibility.”
If a client continually skips the practices you request between sessions, or sessions are sort of used to get her motivated about her life but then this doesn’t translate into actual action–it’s time to ask how productive the relationship is. When it’s not productive, it’s not collaborative or fulfilling for either coach or client.
How do you spot this within the first few sessions? Ask for the client to complete practices, and if they aren’t completed, don’t tell yourself the tale of “Well, we’re just getting started.” Instead, it might be a sign that she’s just not ready (which, of course, hardly means that she’s “bad.” It moreso means that it’s in everyone’s best interest to wait until everyone can come to the table ready to go).
spotting the signs
Yes, we want to be inclusive and meet people wherever they are at, including those spaces when accountability feels big and resistance is high. These are very human issues to work with and through, and we all have them. Part of our job as coaches is to design the coaching relationship so that it can be productive for the client. When you see signs that that isn’t going to happen, it’s the kindest route to let the client know what you see, and release them to work on that issue before returning to coaching.
Jacob Sokol reached out to me because he wanted to interview me for a (pretty massive) coaching offering that he’s putting on, in partnership with Entheos. You can learn more, by clicking here.
Want to watch our full interview, for free? Then sign up using the link above, and you’ll receive information on the full schedule and lineup of contributors, which includes fellow Blueprint Coaches Andrea Owen, Molly Mahar, and Tara Sophia Mohr.
In this video, he chats me up about my approach to life coaching and meeting people where they’re at. I don’t subscribe to three-step processes or use “life coaching techniques” with my clients, and I don’t walk into sessions with preconceived ideas about what the process is supposed to look like. The coaching industry can, at times, look really formulaic–as the industry struggles to establish standards and differentiate itself from psychotherapy, people debate about whether or not there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to coach (and sometimes, they get a little hostile–yikes!).
After watching, consider where it is that you subscribe to any rigidly held beliefs in your own practice. Where do you start thinking that you “have to” coach in a certain way, whether because of your training or because you’re afraid of offering something that doesn’t fit a technical definition of therapy?
I asked the Blueprint Coaches this question: What’s the structure of your business? What does it look like, today? Here’s how Tanya Geisler responded.
This is by no means a perfect science, a prescription or a 101 tutorial. This is simply “What works for me, NOW,” and it’s certainly not what worked for me when I first started out–oh goodness, no.
You see, when I first started out, all I wanted was to coach everyone. EVERYONE. Call it cockiness or straight-up enthusiasm, I was fairly certain there wasn’t a man, woman or child that I couldn’t make magic with. That I couldn’t help SHIFT into their magnificence.
I found out fairly quickly that there were some people I just wasn’t meant to serve. When I worked with people who were in deep resistance about their magnificence (and seemed to prefer it that way), it felt like I was dragging them around the dance floor. They wouldn’t “go there” but they would show up, week after week, happy to have me try something new each time. It was exhausting and not the kind of work I was meant to be doing.
I realized that there were other brilliant coaches who excelled at slowly and carefully moving into those places, and so I would lovingly hand those clients to a better-matched coach colleague. Of course, at that time, I wanted to make myself very wrong for having not been able to help the clients in the way that I wanted to help them.
I’ve come to see the inherent love AND arrogance of that…and have released it long ago.
Feeling into my own way required me to love my own way. Which, of course, was the moment my business started to work for me.
I know work exclusively with women (and a very small number of men) who are ready to step into their magnificence. They’ve been standing on the periphery of the metaphorical dance floor and are truly ready to own it. We work for short periods of time together (usually three months is enough to get them on the right path). In that time, we go deep, we sweat, we laugh, and we work our butts off. And off they go, rooted in their power.
So these days, my practice looks like this::
• No more than six 1:1clients at any one time (consisting of 2 1-hour sessions/month);
• Twice-run annually 3-month Step into Your Starring Role group coaching;
• Approx six Clarity Sessions per month; and,
• A couple of Booster Sessions/ month (these are 20 minutes of coaching that former clients hire me for when they need a shot of mojo to keep on the path we’ve set them on).
I have a program called Board of Your Life that exists as a download kit, and I also aim to speak once per month, but that’s not been as consistent as I’d like. Working on it.
This year, I took July + August off from coaching to travel and write. I may do that again next year–or not. We’ll see.
Because I generally work with clients for short periods of time (they show up with specific and targeted goals), I never have a waiting list of any significance. I prefer it that way.
You will find your way. And then, my hope is that you will love your way. Rooted in your truth, rooted in your gifts and genius, your clients will love it too.
Tanya Geisler is a certified professional business and life coach who helps people who helps people find their THING, get clear about it and then rock it out. She’s also pretty adept at helping people step into their most glorious, radiant, productive, purposeful selves: the starring role of their lives.
3 Ways to Kick Start Your Email List Growth: Your Most Important To-Do (Part 2)
In my last post, I emphasized the importance of email list-building for your growing coaching business. If you ever want to move beyond the time-for-money game and move into impacting more people using less of your time & energy, you must have a vibrant list of prospective clients who are interested in your work.
Maybe you’ve had some success at list-building in the past but things are stalled out now. Maybe you’ve been so busy getting your new coaching business started that list-building has seemed like the least important task on your list. Maybe you’ve been busy coaching, feeling like things are finally getting easier… and then you realize you don’t have any prospects. And your list is no bigger than the last time you made an offer.
So how do you jump-start your list growth? How do you attract new leads after a fallow period?
1) Attract the right people.
Consider the direction you’re taking your business. Are you looking for more of the same? (The answer may be “yes, please!” It’s not a trick question.) Are you moving from 1:1 services to leveraged offers? Are you looking to shift the perception of your brand? Focus on a product you’ve been working on? Honing in on a new market segment?
Trust me, you don’t want anyone & everyone on your list. Even if your goal is scale, it just doesn’t make sense. Having the “wrong” people on your list skews your data, undermines your understanding of what your customers need from your business, and misdirects your marketing. Yes, the “wrong” people will unsubscribe. But if you’re too busy trying to please them, the “right” people will unsubscribe first.
If you’re using an incentive to attract prospects to your list, make sure that incentive is something people who want (and need) to pay for your services actually want. Taking that idea quite literally, I updated my own email list incentive 2 months ago to The Perspective Map. It’s actually the tool that my clients & I use most often, with the greatest impact, in our work together. Since I want more of the same clients, offering this tool as an optin incentive makes a lot of sense.
Since I introduced The Perspective Map as my incentive in July, I’ve added over 1300 subscribers to my list. I know those people are the right people because the landing page for the Map is designed with their specific problems, specific goals, and specific perspective in mind. It’s kind of the point of the whole thing, really…
When I re-launched my coaching program last month, I knew that 650 had not seen that offer because of the list-building I had done between July and August. In addition to people who had been considering it from May, I could count on a certain percentage of new people being interested. The Perspective Map was designed to make the most impact on business owners who were right for this offer, too.
2) Get focused.
At this point, I hope you can see just how important list-building is to your business. Even if your goal isn’t volume, if instead you’re aiming for a steady stream of leads for more 1:1 or specialized services, list-building ensures that you can spend less time and energy on sales.
So is the focus of your website building your list? Do you have a way to focus traffic from interviews, media appearances, and in-person gigs onto your list? Is your call-to-action focused on the story that is growing your business?
No, I didn’t think so.
It takes surprisingly little to redirect the focus of your activities onto list-building. You just need to make the intention to do so.
Start by creating a landing page for your optin form. This is a page that’s one & only focus is getting people on your list. Whether you’re espousing the benefits of receiving your weekly emails or sharing what your prospects will learn in your free optin incentive, this page is designed to “sell” your list. It’s like a sales page where the only cost is an email address.
Therefore, it has a similar format. In a recent podcast with Derek Halpern, Mike Del Ponte shared a great framework for any sales letter. You can use this as a cheat sheet for creating this kind of page. He breaks it down into 4 P’s: Promise, Picture, Proof, Pitch.
Check out my email list landing page and you’ll see this basic framework in action. The Promise is in the headline; I suggest that you really can know exactly what your customers are thinking. I describe the Picture from both the before and the after side of things through a series of bullet points. I offer the proof that this is my “go-to tool,” that my work has been featured in a number of high-profile publications, and that a very satisfied customer had something super nice to say about it. And finally, the Pitch is the call-to-action in the optin form.
But I don’t stop at the landing page, the main “action area” of my website is a graphic that advertises my list. All of my bios have been rewritten to direct people here. And it’s the first thing I talk about when I get a chance to tell people where to find more of my ideas when I do an interview.
You might need to refocus the main action of your site on list-building by moving your optin form from the footer to the header or creating a feature area between your logo and the main content. But there is almost no good reason why making a big play for a prospects email address isn’t the best thing you can do.
3) Pay for leads.
Who pays for advertising in the age of social media?
I’m busy. I don’t like to work all day. I haven’t had the itch to do much in terms of guest posting, telesummits, or even networking lately. So I’ve been driving traffic to my email list landing page through paid advertising.
In the past, I’ve advertised (always free incentives, never paid products) on blogs that fit the audience I’m aiming to attract. But lately, I’ve been buying advertising at Facebook. First, to build up my new Facebook page (I’m late to the party). And second, to gain exposure for my email list incentive.
A hearty portion of the 1300 subscribers I’ve added in the last 4 months has been through this paid campaign.
There’s little point in paying for leads if you don’t have “Attract the right people,” and “Get focused,” down first. But once you do, paying for leads can free up your time, boost your list growth, and bring in the kind of prospects you need to keep your revenue streams humming.
It should also be noted that advertising and social media can work hand in hand. By making sure my optin incentive speaks to my Most Valued Customer and that it’s free training they’re going to want to talk about, I ensure a bigger return on investment through word-of-mouth. I also work in social sharing (like Click to Tweet) to the product page for my incentive.
Bonus: 4) Stick to one thing.
One of the best things you can do for keeping that list growing, getting people to talk about it, and continuing to get open & click rates that drive sales is to stick with one thing per email.
Often, marketers try to jam too much stuff into each email. That decreases the frequency with which they’re willing to send emails, de-incentivizes them toward list-building, and reduces the relative value of each email to their readers. That’s a recipe for disaster, my friends.
When my clients and students switch to one-thing-per-email, they are more excited about emailing their prospects, more focused on building their list, and their readers are happier with each email. And that’s a recipe for success.
As you might have noticed if you’re a subscriber, I send out each & every one of my blog posts as the main focus of the vast majority of my emails. Most of the time it’s the full text of the article and sometimes it’s a teaser or special intro with a link to the article. But the focus is always the article.
I often add a promotional block beneath the article for a workshop, a teleseminar, a program, or a product. I think of those as “reminders,” not the core of my sales process.
When I’m ready to really sell something, I send out a dedicated email.
As an aside, another problem I see with “failed” launches is that the business owner never sent dedicated sales emails to their prospects. You can’t expect to sell if no one knows you have something for sale.
What will you do today?
I trust I’ve made the case for making list-building one of your chief priorities. It’s time to stop saying it’s on your list and time to start doing something about it.
What will you do today to jumpstart your list growth?
Tara Gentile is a business strategist, the creator of the Customer Perspective Process, and the ambassador of the You Economy. Her work has been featured on Forbes, US News & World Report, and in the NY Times bestselling book, The $100 Startup. Get her FREE tool to know exactly what your customers are thinking: The Perspective Map.