Learn from my mistakes!
Here's my advice on what NOT to do when designing your program.
1. Don't selectively invite people.
Invite everyone in your world to join the group. That means invite friends, family, acquaintances, your email list, social media followers and ask them to share the invite with their friends. Tell everyone who your group serves and what they'll get from it. I used to hear a judgey voice in my head that said "Oh, they have their stuff together. They couldn't possibly need a group like this" or "I'm not sure they can afford this." Not true! Show them what you offer and let them decide if there's enough value.
2. Don't tell your potential members what the group will do, show them.
Host a free intro group session (live or via video) so potential members can see the value of the group and participate in a format that is similar to what you'll provide in the paid group.
3. Don't ignore that nagging feeling in your gut when a sales tactic feels cringey.
Listen to your body. If something feels salesy or inauthentic, don't do it. For me, that means I invite members to apply for the group, then interview them to make sure they're a good fit. It feels inauthentic to promise that my group is for everyone—I want to ask questions before I take payments, so that I know my group will be a good fit. Sometimes counseling or individual coaching is what a person needs and my group format won't serve them. From a business perspective, this is also a good idea because I reduce the chance of having a dissatisfied member later if pre-qualify them before they join.
4. Don't expect instant results.
There's so much noise and so many distractions in our world—you're going to need to present your offer several times in several different ways before it even gets heard. A face-to-face conversation is best. When that's not possible, pick up the phone and call your contacts with a personal invitation. Send a video message via Skype. Send an invite through the mail (how retro!) Post videos or graphics on social media.
5. Don't focus on the easy. Do one scary thing every day. I dare you!
Take a risk in your business. (And you can start with #4—start by challenging yourself to connect with one person face to face and tell them what you're working on and excited about. It doesn't have to sound salesy.)
6. Don't offer your group for free.
Even if it's a pilot program. Even if you're a brand new coach. Even if your members are not wealthy. Put a price tag on it. There needs to be an energy exchange of some sort—money is easiest, but it could be bartering of some sort. You need member buy-in and that only happens when they have given something in exchange for the value they receive. My first group program was free. Guess what happened? At about the 5th meeting, members got distracted by other opportunities and the group dynamic was disrupted. Make sure they've got skin in the game!
If you're hearing that little voice of doubt, you may have some limiting beliefs around money. That's normal! Many cultures are pretty weird about money. Especially if you're female. I used to review payroll records in high tech companies back in my CPA days. What I noticed was an insidious trend for women to devalue their work. For example, I saw records from two employees with a similar performance review. The male employee asked for a 10% raise and got 5%, while a female asked for 3%, the amount that seemed rational and supportable, and got it. My advice to coaches: Invest in some coaching around money so you can recognize and change the thoughts that are holding you back.
7. Don't sell your program short.
When I was creating Celebrate You™, I wondered if two hours a month could make a difference. "It's only two hours a month." During that first year, members let me know that the Celebrate You™ gatherings were the highlight of their month and inspired them to do amazing things the rest of the month. Two hours can be transformative!
8. Don't hand out lots of worksheets.
If you've created a program that meets for 4 sessions and has more than 5 handouts, make a custom workbook for members and self-publish it. Your program looks more legitimate, members feel special and you get your brand out into the world. My Celebrate You™ Workbook is 80 pages of full-color activities that support each session and members love it. No more loose papers!
9. Don't make a generic program.
Inject your personality and talents into your group format. Gentle accountability is my genius. Follow up and asking bold questions, seeing when a person is scared and would rather be slippery and evade questions and gently reminding them of who they want to be. What's yours? Something you do throughout jobs/life. Your inherent gift. That's who you attract—those that see that genius. So bring it!
10. Don't plan every detail. Leave room for magic!
Set an intention for your group, plan the flow of activities in advance and have a time frame so you can stay on track, with a little extra cushion to your time frame. Then once people arrive, expect to add some flexibility to the plan. If members are bonding and sharing deep insights, allow a few more minutes. Group learning and connection is one of the best parts of joining a group! Each group meeting is like any big party—if the facilitator tries to control every detail, your whole group will be miserable and you'll all miss out on the magic. Think about those reality show "Bridezillas"—trying to control every detail, raging and tantrumming when something doesn't go according to plan. They're so attached to their idea of perfect that they forget to celebrate the event and the people that have gathered. Be the opposite of Bridezilla.
11. BONUS CHALLENGE: Don't wait until you're ready and your group program is perfect.
Put a date on the calendar and start selling your vision! If you don't set a date, I guarantee you that you'll get distracted by life or the next great idea before you'll create the perfect program. Why not be a little vulnerable, put some great content into a program and offer it next month? You'll get practice, members will have access to you and your amazing content at an affordable price and they'll provide feedback on how to improve for the next time.
You're still reading...thanks!
Send me the date your program begins and the main topics and you'll get a 30 minute strategy session with me to focus on your content and delivery. Free! firstname.lastname@example.org