Entrepreneur Nicola Bird talks about taking your business to a virtual audience.
Many business owners like to think that most of their new business will come directly as a result of 1:1 efforts and from referrals. Whilst this is always the best form of new business generation, there is much to be said about the potential of the internet when it comes to lead generation.
I am still surprised at how many small business owners aren’t tapping into the benefits of offering their services ‘virtually’. For me, the move to online coaching literally transformed my business overnight as one of my first product promotions resulted in over £10,000 of sales, the majority of which were a passive revenue stream for me. I am not alone in my experiences either. There are many business out there making impressive revenues by selling their services online.
The great thing about it is that it applies to lots of different disciplines, not just the traditional personal or professional development coaching. A great example is a personal fitness instructor I know who made thousands from selling an online fitness bootcamp, containing content she had created years before, but has never found a way to utilise it properly. What I love about that particular story is that it was simply creating additional revenue from what she already had in place. Additionally, it was a completely new market that was opened up for her and one which she’d never really thought about before. It meant that she could reach clients that she just physically hadn’t been able to do before, as location and timezones were no longer a barrier to accessing her expertise.
Here are some top tips for taking your business to a virtual audience:
Review your website
The first step to maximising your potential online is to consider your website. This covers the entire spectrum, from overall design and flow of copy to ease of navigation through the site, SEO and general searchability. It is worth speaking with an expert to review your website and ensure you have the right platform to begin broadcasting your services to the world! Ensure you speak to a few different consultants or agencies and try to speak with previous clients or go by trusted referrals before agreeing to any work.
Define your ‘virtual’ offering
The next step is to really think about how you can productise your expertise into products that people will buy. Whether that’s, ‘How to stop smoking’ or ‘How to become a great business leader’, the secret is to focus on topics that you are really good at or passionate about, as the material will be stronger and will help you stand out and sell more.
The key is to get really clear on who you’re trying to help and what solution you’re trying to offer them. A lot of coaches in particular, have been trained to coach anyone on any topic. I actually believe that you need to have a really specific transformation that you help your clients achieve and to teach your clients first and then coach them to apply what they have just learned, to help them get the results that they want. So, teach them your subject matter that you really know, your process, your system that takes them from where they are right now, to where they want to be. The aim is to try and solve that problem that is keeping them awake at night.
Productise your offering
Once you are clear about what you want to sell to your audience, you then need to build the programme and find a way to deliver it online in a cost effective and efficient way. There are many different online tools to help you get started with developing online coaching content and many offer free trials, so have a look around and see what works for you. I used a couple when I started out and then decided to invest in building my own coaching platform JigsawBox.com, which is now available to any coach wanting to offer web-based coaching products and services.
When your product is ready, the next step is to reach your audience! There are a number of ways in which to do this, from utilising social media to direct marketing, PR and partnership marketing. Warm leads are invariably easier to convert than cold leads, so consider your existing database, previous prospects and clients as well as people who may act as advocates and promote your services to their customers, perhaps in return for a small commission fee.