As a business building strategy, nothing beats an innovative, properly executed joint venture (JV). They are powerful list-builders, visibility boosters and relationship-creators. My business grew leaps and bounds when I published the first issue of my Going PRO magazine – thanks in large part to the 16 other women who signed on to be part of it and help promote it.
I’m sure you’ve seen any number of joint venture projects in action – from telesummits to digital magazines to collaborative ebooks to virtual conferences. A joint venture is simply when more than one business enters into a temporary partnership.
While a great joint venture includes a number of moving pieces to make it come together powerfully, there’s one variable that will literally make or break your joint venture success:
Clear communication with your joint venture partners.
I’ve witnessed countless new (and even some seasoned) joint venturers either piss off prospective partners or get lacklustre results because of this one factor.
So before you create your first (or next) JV, let’s breakdown the five must-have elements of a great joint venture:
1. Create a win-win-win project
Before you even approach a prospective partner, you’ve got to do your due diligence to come up with an idea that’s a triple win – it benefits your business, your fellow contributors and your shared audience. If it only serves you — you’ve got more planning to do.
Really identify where you can add value to your partners, and what would excite them enough to encourage them to participate. Your potential partners are busy and likely get a lot of requests. Yours has to cut through the noise and actually add value to their business.
2. Query like a PRO
If there’s one place communications fall down, it’s in the initial query. First, as a general rule, do your best to build a relationship ahead of time before you pitch a prospect. Follow them on social media, comment on their blog posts, or simply reach out over email before you make a request. Get on their radar.
Second, put together a proposal request that not only demonstrates the true value of your project and why they should want to be involved, but also respects their time and their audience.
Here are a few big mistakes I see people make when they query:
A quick general email with no details, dates or even any context about the project at all. E.g. “I’d love to have you as an expert in my upcoming Telesummit — would you be part of it? We start interviews soon.” Ummm…no.
The query is all about THEM and why their project is going to be sooo great for your business – without a word of why they think you’d add value to the project. Not convinced.
Not creating a joint venture agreement that all partners sign and commit to. Believe me, get it in writing — be sure your partners are 100% committed to the terms they originally agreed on or your project will suffer. If everyone’s agreed to do a newsletter blast, and only two of the 10 do, your results will reflect it.
Forgetting to build the relationship. Yes, you can likely get partners on board through email, but for a true business relationship to develop, hop on the phone or Skype and connect. Your partnership will be stronger as a result, as will their commitment to the project.
3. Be clear with your rules of engagement
While this falls under point #2, it’s so important that it deserves its own section.
Failure to clearly communicate the terms of engagement will ultimately lead to either a) a lot of no’s right out of the gate, b) pissed off prospective or existing partners, and/or c) mediocre results.
Before you send that first query, be clear on exactly what you expect from your partners – from the details of the project itself right through to the promotional requirements once it launches.
While there are a lot of different perspectives on what’s fair to expect, the bottom line is that as the CEO of your business, you get to decide. But once you do, don’t be coy or vague in your communications. Ask for what you want and trust that the partners that are excited enough about the project (see point #1) will say yes.
For example, if you want them to send a solo broadcast, let them know that right out of the gate versus saving it for after they say yes (big no-no!).
4. Give them the tools they need
When you ask a group of busy entrepreneurs to sign on to your project, the very least you need to do is give them the tools and information to do it well.
This often includes setting up a private joint venture headquarters page on your site where you share key details, deadlines, and all the promotional materials they’ll need to actively share the project.
While I always encourage my JV partners to share the project using their own voice and style, I do supply some templates, examples and swipe copy for them to use as either a baseline or in the event they get really busy.
Make it easy for them to play and you’ll find their willingness to share goes up.
5. Follow up. Thank them. Follow up.
Continue to connect throughout and beyond the initial launch window to share success stories and feedback, or give them a little nudge if they haven’t yet promoted. You’re the steward of the project, and it’s your job to keep them engaged and excited.
As the project wraps, be sure to personally thank each partner for their participation — a little gratitude goes a long way.
And finally, continue to connect with your partners and offer to be of service to them. Great business relationships are worth their weight in gold, so don’t go MIA once the project completes.
Business activator + leadership coach Stephanie Pollock is devoted to helping talented women in business GO PRO with their dreams, stepping into the spotlights — and revenue streams — they so richly deserve.
She’s the publisher of Going Pro Magazine, a Top 40 Under 40 changemaker and creator of Beyond PRO: Claim your place as CEO – a leadership program designed specifically for entrepreneurial women.
You can find her online at Stephanie Pollock Media Inc and on Twitter at @steph_pollock.
While I know adding another social media channel to your marketing plan may be challenging, Instagram is a great way to inject a little more personality into your coaching biz and help draw in clients that will be a perfect match for you.
Since I write mostly about business and blogging on my website, I use Instagram to share photos from my day-to-day life as well as offer my followers blogging or business inspiration throughout the day.
When creating a Instagram strategy, consider your ideal client – what types of posts would appeal to them most? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to do?
Just like Pinterest, Instagram is all about the visuals, so it’s important to be consistent in the style of your photos, stick with one or two filters, and shoot photos in similar lighting and backgrounds.
Here are a few ideas on how to promote your coaching skills on Instagram:
Conquer a challenge
What do your ideal clients struggle with on a daily basis? In any business you’ll receive the same questions and hear the same complaints repeatedly. If your clients are struggling to staying motivated, you could post a series of photos throughout the day to inspire them to keep working. Remind users via your blog or Twitter to check your Instagram for a spark of motivation and include a hashtag to encourage them to participate.
Share a story
Another way to take advantage hashtags is by posting a #tbt (throw back thursday). Share something personal that you’ve learned or an experience that potential clients might benefit from hearing. Instagram is a great way to offer more personal aspects of your life without having to write a whole blog post, and it’s a more intimate space to create a conversation.
A quick tip
What’s one thing you can share to keep your client working toward their goals? Something you’ve added to your life that would work for them too? A habit you’ve stopped that has helped de-stress your life or get more done?
It may seem overly simple, but for someone just getting started it could be extremely helpful. Example: I recently posted a photo showing it’s possible to use your headphone as an iPhone camera remote. (Bet some of you are thinking, “Mind. Blown.”) My readers who take lots of photos for their blogs found it helpful to cut down on blurry selfies. Simple, but effective!
Behind the scenes
Followers who admire you and your work or aspire to become a coach will love to see how you get things done. Show off your messy (clean??) desk, your mid-day break, your workout routine. Share what you’ve got coming up or a sneak peek at secret business plans. Letting followers see a little more of your world than what’s on your website will help build trust and connection.
Whether it’s your own or the success of your clients, remind your followers that what they want to do is possible by celebrating accomplishments. It will not only give current and potential clients a boost in confidence, but help create a community around your business by letting clients relish in each others’ wins.
Instagrammers for inspiration:
Hey Sweet Pea
The Beauty Dept
Sarah Morgan is an award winning web designer, blog and business consultant, circus performer, and aerial instructor from just outside Detroit. She thrives on helping people grow their own websites, make the leap from unfulfilling jobs, and be brave in business and in life. In 2012 she quit her corporate design job to literally run away with the circus and get back to what she loves – working with bloggers and small businesses to create a killer online presence. Through her blog and ebooks, Sarah inspires readers to turn their passion into a job they love and build strong, successful online brands.
The #1 driver of traffic to my website? Facebook. The biggest source of new subscribers? Facebook. (Over 50% according to my analytics!) The place the vast majority of my clients first find me? Facebook.
Facebook is the world’s biggest social network and it’s an excellent place to find, connect and serve your ideal clients. So let’s make sure your Facebook Page is in tip top shape, shall we?
Open up your Facebook Business Page and we’ll go through this five point checklist to make the most of your Facebook page. Make a note of anywhere you can take action to make your Page even better.
A visually appealing–and useful–cover photo
Your cover photo is super valuable real estate — it’s the first thing any visitor to your Page sees and it helps them determine whether they scroll down to see your content and maybe press ‘Like’ to join your Page, or navigate away.
Great cover photos are not only visually appealing but also convey something about who you are and what you do. This could mean including your tagline, highlighting a program or a free call or even spotlighting a client testimonial. (Bonus points if you include a call-to-action that encourages people to click on your cover photo!)
Here’s a great example:
You don’t need to have a graphic designer on staff to make a great cover photo, either. Both Canva and PicMonkey make it a snap to create your own.
Your URL in your cover photo description
Now that you have an enticing cover photo, people are going to click on it! When it pops up in the photo lightbox, don’t miss the opportunity to give them more information and link them to the relevant page on your website in the photo’s description field.
Take a look at what pops up when you click on the cover photo example I shared above:
(Click on the image to see it full size so you can read the description)
Your URL in your profile photo description
It probably won’t get as many clicks as your cover photo (since it doesn’t have a call-to-action) but you should still take full advantage of the description field on your profile picture. I like to put some more info about me specifically and link to my website’s About page.
And speaking of your profile picture, as much as possible, this should be an actual photo of you, not your logo. Social media is about being social and people like to engage with PEOPLE, not logos.
Your URL included predominantly in your About section
There are very few places on your Facebook Page where Facebook lets your audience click directly through to your website. Your Page’s ‘About’ box is the most prominent.
Where exactly this About box displays depends on whether your Page has the new layout (one-column timeline) or the old layout (two-column timeline):
In the old Page layout, the About box was right below your profile picture and included only the contents of your Page Info’s “Short Description” field so you had to include your URL in this description manually.
In the new Page layout, the About box has moved a bit farther down the left column and contains both your “Short Description” AND your website URL (so make sure you’ve filled in your Page Info’s website field). You can still include your URL in your “Short Description” as well.
Consistent sharing of high-quality content
Just like you can’t have a blog without blog posts, you don’t have a Facebook Page without Facebook posts. The content you post to your Page is at the heart of your Facebook presence and it needs to be strong, varied and strategic. But this doesn’t have to feel overwhelming!
The first key is batching most of your Facebook content: setting aside time once a month or once every 2 weeks to write and schedule the next chunk of posts. This will alleviate the daily what-the-heck-do-I-post?! pressure AND you’ll share higher-quality stuff because you are doing it in a purposeful, strategic way (rather than on the fly). Get a block of social media creation time on your schedule if it isn’t already!
The second key is a content framework to make writing those posts easier. There are 4 main pillars (or types) of content you should be sharing on Facebook:
1) Attraction: The goal of this type of content is to attract new fans to your community.
2) Education: The goal of this type of content is to establish yourself as an expert, the go-to person in your field.
3) Engagement: The goal of the content in this pillar is to get your community involved and create conversation.
4) Advertising: The goal here is conversion. Consider what the ‘next step’ you’d like your fans to take in your business. (Listen to your podcast, join your newsletter list, sign up for a webinar, etc.)
(To learn more specifics about the 4 Pillars, check out my bio below for access)
The combination of these two keys (batching & using the 4 Pillars) will give you a very solid foundation to grow–and really connect with–your audience on Facebook. (My own reach & engagement went up over 200% when I implemented this system.)
TAKE ACTION NOW
Make a note of any of the checklist items you need to take action on. If it’s an easy fix, do it now! (No time like the present, right?) If they are going to take a little time, get out to-do list and schedule some time to address them.
Come leave a comment with your Facebook Page URL over on the Coaching Blueprint Facebook Page in the next 2 weeks and I’d be happy to take a quick look-see for you and give you some feedback!
Jackie Johnstone is a social media consultant for passionate entrepreneurs with an important message to share. She’s on a mission to help you banish tech headaches, reach more people, make real connections and change more lives.
Get your social media brimming with brilliant posts your audience will love! Grab Jackie’s free training here and get everything you need to start using the 4 Pillars of Great Social Media Content in your business.
You can find Jackie all over the social web but she’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
Many people become overwhelmed by the massive amount of information on social media: the number of connections, the frequent updates, and the ever increasing choice between social networks. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media, or whether you’re finding it challenging to stand out in the crowd, it may be time to re-think your strategy and to re-organize things.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
1. Are you following the right people? When using social media for business, you need to focus on connecting with two main groups of people: your ideal clients and your ideal joint venture partners. Be focused when connecting, and look to connect with these two groups of people.
2. Are you following the wrong people? Sometimes we build up our online network with people who just aren’t right for us or for our business. Maybe we’ve connected with people who bring us down in some way, or who just don’t feel right anymore. That means it’s time to declutter and detox our networks and disconnect with anyone we no longer want to be following online.
3. Are you on the right social networks? One thing I teach all of my clients is to NOT try to be on every single social networking site. Focus on the top 2-3 sites that you enjoy and where you know your ideal clients are already spending time…and forget all the rest. Yes, just let go of them.
4. Are you separating personal use from business use? Get clear on how much time you can reasonably spend each month on social media for your business, and schedule that time in your calendar. When you’re focusing on social media for business, ignore all the personal stuff. Train your brain to really focus on the business part of social media, and optimize your time.
TOOLS & SOLUTIONS
Be choosy. From now on, connect only with your ideal clients and JV partners, and other people who you truly want to get to know better online. Let go of the idea that you have to follow everyone back, or like their page just because they asked you to.
Use keywords. When searching for new people to follow on social media, be sure to use the most relevant keywords to your business so you can connect with relevant people, rather than just every random person who asks to connect.
Create Twitter lists. Are you following thousands of people on Twitter, and are now overwhelmed by your Twitter feed? Select your top tweeps and add them to lists, which you can categorize around themes. You can create both public and private lists on Twitter.
Create Facebook lists. Have you liked so many Facebook pages that you can’t keep up with them all? Create a list of Facebook of your favorite pages, so you can be sure to stay on top of their activity. You can also create lists for groups of friends, so if you want to separate your business friends from personal friends, you can create separate lists for them.
Use RSS feeds. Do you struggle to stay on top of all the blogs you enjoy reading? Subscribe to them using RSS feeds, and then manage those feeds using an app like Feedly, which will organize them all in a magazine-type setting, so you can scroll through your favorite blogs and then share the links online if you find them interesting.
Do joint ventures. Build a partnership with other coaches who have a similar client base to yours, but who provide a different type of solution. They’ll help you not only build your network with relevant connections, but they will also help you to get more clients.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
1. Choose just three of these tips, and implement them this week. See how it affects your social networking experience, and adjust as needed.
2. Schedule time in your calendar to implement more of these suggestions. It may be easiest to declutter and detox each individual social network at a time, rather than planning a big block of time to do it all at once.
3. Re-evaluate your strategy on a regular basis, and adjust, declutter, and re-focus as needed. Plan to do this on a quarterly basis.
I know that a lot of people struggle with the concept of not being on every single social network, but you may find that once you’ve scaled down your social media activity and re-focused your strategy, your FOMO (fear of missing out) turns to JOMO (joy of missing out). I’ve borrowed that phrase from Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith, who’s a big fan of taking regular time out from her offline activity. The point is that the more focused and organized you make your social media experience, the more effective it will be…and in the process, you’ll have managed to turn down the noise as well.
Holly Worton helps coaches and women in heart-centered businesses go from confusion to confidence with social media, so they can use it to build relationships online and get more clients. As a heart-centered business owner, you do amazing work, and Holly wants to help you help more people. The way to do that is through Connection, and social media is one of the best ways to connect with others and build your tribe. Sign up for her free 90-minute social media training at SociallyHolistic to start building connections online. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, or Instagram.
Sitting down to write this article, the melody of John Mayer’s song, “Say What You Need To Say” floats through my head, and I catch myself singing aloud quietly. Except upon a quick Google of the lyrics, I realize that I’ve been replacing the word ‘need’ in the title lyric with the word ‘mean.’
Say what you mean to say. And so it is.
As a coach with an online presence, your voice is everywhere. And voice is energy. What kind of energy are you aligning yourself with? How is that energy affecting your relationship with your potential clients?
On vocab and voice
The language you use online tells your potential clients everything you believe about them and for them. Every word you commit to pixels carries a certain energy. It’s time to get clear on what energy you’re attaching yourself to, what energy you’re using to attract clients to you.
Too many coaches write their web copy in unintentional (we hope) emulation mode. They don’t realize that by embodying the spirit, the personality, the gestalt of someone else’s way of expressing herself, they’re setting the wrong energy in motion for their business and their brand.
Or they reach for overused metaphors or tired cliches. These habits, too, set the wrong energy in motion.
What’s the ‘wrong energy’ for a brand conversation? It’s the type of energy that you’re not equipped — by nature or by choice — to deal with well. For me, that would be a balls-to-the-wall, highly audacious, fiercely-fixated-on-the-goal type of client. For you, that might be a soft, retiring type who has trouble expressing herself and isn’t clear on what she wants in life.
Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
What words are worth
As a life coach, you have powerful questions that can help unlock your clients’ beliefs, fears, and desires. You’re trained to listen closely for the language your client uses, and you’re curious about the relationship between what she tells herself and what she does.
When writing your own website, the language you use to describe your services, to characterize your ideal client, and even the words that make up your tagline tell your site visitors a LOT about what you believe and how you work.
Let’s compare two different sentences to get a sense of this in action:
I’ll be your cheerleader, your plugged-in accountability partner, your enthusiastic advocate along the road to wholeness.
My role in our relationship? To notice what you’re not saying, to tend to what is faltering, and to befriend the highest part of you, the part you’ve kept locked away from moonlight and grace and birdsong.
Notice the difference in the energy between these two sentences?
Sentence 1 feels electric (“plugged-in”), activated (“cheerleader”), and full of forward momentum (“enthusiastic advocate”). If you didn’t know this coach personally, you’d read this line and expect her to be an extrovert with lots of pep. You might guess that working with her would be an invigorating, pump you up! experience.
But if you’re actually a quieter, gentler sort of coach and you’ve got this line on your website, the clients you attract are going to be mighty surprised at the softness of your breathy whisper over Skype.
Sentence 2, on the other hand, has a moody, restful, intuitive energy about it. Look at the verbs this writer has chosen: “notice,” “tend,” and “befriend.” There’s a caretaking, nurturing, careful quality to this language that would strongly appeal to a certain type of client, and just as strongly repel others. And the bit about moonlight, grace, and birdsong? Straight up poetry. Not for everybody, but just right for some Right People.
Locate your energy on the spectrum
Of course, “high octane” and “poetic nurturer” are two poles on the language energy spectrum, and there’s a huge range of possibilities in between. Your business brand deserves a voice unto itself, a voice that’s a natural extension of you as a coach and a person. That voice isn’t going to sound like anyone else’s — and that’s a good thing.
How to make sure your web copy is aligned with the energy you want to feed — and hey, while you’re at it, your tweets, Facebook posts, and e-newsletters, too?
Here are 3 simple steps:
1) REVIEW YOUR VOCAB :: Review your main web pages, your last 3 blog posts, and your recent social media updates. Scan for language. Watch for verbs (action words, like ‘stoke,’ ‘marvel,’ and ‘wrangling’), adjectives (words that describe other words, like ‘gracious,’ ‘keen,’ and ‘wild’ ) and adverbs (words that describe action words and tend to end in -ly, like ‘lovingly,’ ‘sparingly,’ and ‘radically’). Make a list of words you’ve used that feel right on and words that feel ‘off.’ Bringing an editorial ear to your own writing is the first step to realigning its energy.
2) REWRITE FOR ALIGNMENT :: If you find a troublesome word, line, or passage on your site or in your Twitter bio, experiment with rewriting it, swapping out ‘off’ words for ‘on’ words. For instance, if you’re a plainspoken, tell-it-like-it-is coach but your copy is wrapped in six layers of metaphor at every turn, something’s gotta give. Rewriting to capture the essence of what you really believe, using intentionally chosen verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, will make a world of difference.
3) SCAN FOR LINGUISTIC SYMMETRY & ASYMMETRY :: Notice as you read other coach’s (and non-coaches’) websites and social media streams what language strikes you as like your own and unlike your own. Chances are, people using language that’s ‘on’ for your business may have a brand with similar energy to yours, thus attracting a similar type of Right Person. Do with that observation what you will. (And no, definitely don’t copy it!) Use it for comparative inspiration. Or commit to look away entirely, if comparison leads you to feeling stymied or self-conscious.
Own your voice, own your energy, and own the pathway your Right People take to get to you. It’s all right there in your word choice.
Abby Kerr is Creative Director of The Voice Bureau, a boutique brand voice development and copywriting agency serving solo-owned and small businesses. She is creator of The Voice Values paradigm for branding. Subscribe to her e-letter, Insider Stuff, for your complimentary brand voice self-assessment. Then tweet her to share your Top 3 Voice Values.
Abby lives in the PNW and is a home cook, a dog mom, and a fiction writer.