Today Stacie covers how to create and launch a group coaching program -- even with your full-time job. Stacie launched two group coaching programs while she was still working her 9-to-5, and she shares her five biggest lessons for launching a group program without burnout or overwhelm.
If you’ve ever thought about launching a group coaching program, you can’t miss it!
Hello, my favorite biz bosses! I am super excited to dive into today’s episode which came by request from you all and is a question I get all the time: How to launch a group coaching program while working full time.
By the way, if you’re listening and not working full time, don’t tune out because this still applies to you too! And I would also say, if you are a service provider, this could still apply to you, not necessarily from a coaching perspective, but from a teaching perspective if you wanted to have a course with a live component.
For those of you who are new here, I launched my very first group coaching program for burnout in 2020 called spark+soul.
The first spark+soul program began in early August and the second program began in November. On my first launch, I had 7 people join at $444, so I made just over $3000. On my second launch, I had 7 people at $888 and made just over $6000.
On the first launch, I’d been consistent in my business, working 10-15 hours every week since January, so about 7 months of consistency, which just goes to show how much that can help you grow! And because I know everyone out there wants to know exactly how I was consistent, I’ll tell you my non-negotiables during that time: I sent out one newsletter a week, I posted questions in my Facebook group about three times a week, which I started in March, I posted three times a week to Instagram, and I would hop into other Facebook groups and provide value during the week when I had little pockets of time. I of course also served my clients really well during that time too.
At the time I decided to launch the first group, I had a small micro offer which included pre-work, an hour-long coaching session, post-work, and a follow-up 30-minute call. This was specifically for burnout and was priced at $111.
I’d had several clients start with me in that micro offer and continue on into one-on-one coaching, but I also realized I had the opportunity to create something for the folks who couldn’t afford one-on-one but still needed extra support. And that’s really where the group was born.
I didn’t follow a launch plan or create the program following a formula - for either launch, and I’ve been told that it’s fairly miraculous that I had 7 people sign up both times! But I’d be lying if I told you there weren’t any hiccups or lessons along the way, which I’m going to cover with you all today so you don’t make the same mistakes.
So let’s hop into my tips for launching a group program as easy as possible:
1. Keep it short and be realistic about your capacity.
Some of you have seen this on my Instagram stories...I had 16 calls in 8 weeks for the first spark+soul group, so we were meeting Sundays and Tuesdays for one-hour calls. It was a glorious, transformational experience and I love that cohort so dang much BUT...16 calls for the $444 was honestly...probably a mistake. The amount of calls combined with the amount of content I was creating was just a lot on top of my full-time job. For this program, I had pre-recorded video training and worksheets for each week of the program and the coaching calls were used just for coaching, not for teaching.
There were moments where I felt like I would never get ahead of the training content and worksheets I needed to create. I had it all in my brain from working with my one-to-one clients so I thought it wouldn’t be too hard, but there’s a lot that goes into creating materials to make sure that they’re user-friendly and that everyone can easily apply the concepts you’re teaching.
I started the first group with 2 lessons already ready to go, but looking back, I’d have done three things differently: lowered the number of calls, shortened the program to 4 or 6 weeks, and had the content ready to go before the program launched, which I’ll get into in a minute.
2. Launch a beta program first.
I recommend that you don't spend a ton of time building a super long, intense sales page and that you don't charge what you think you'll charge in the long term for your first program. You don't have any social proof yet for the program, and though you might have one-to-one proof, it's still different!
Also think about your minimum viable product: what do your clients HAVE to have to get the result you’re promising. And how can you very quickly get that out to them to test it, tweak it, and relaunch it later?
This also touches upon keeping the first program short. This allows you to learn quickly, to adjust, and relaunch at a higher price point. But if your first program lasts 4 months, that’s a long time to wait and a heck of a lot to learn and refine too. Start small and simple and refine it over time. This gives you the opportunity to really uncover what your clients need most too, which is helpful when you launch the program again.
You don’t even have to invest in a fancy course website. You can just as easily use a Slack channel or a Facebook group! Keep your overhead low so you can keep more of the profits to pay yourself or reinvest in your business.
3. Work way ahead.
Don't build it as you go. If there's one thing I wish I'd done, I wish I would have created my content before I launched. This is another reason to keep your first group program short, because it is super hard to create week after week of content on top of your job, have coaching calls, and still have time to keep marketing in your business. Which, I could create an entire podcast on this: you can never, ever stop marketing as that's what creates consistent income!
There's a lot of advice not to build content before you sell which I totally get - you don't want to waste time if the program flops BUT here's my advice: sell it with a start date a few weeks later, build the content in those weeks, and then start. That makes sure that you're not constantly freaking out about creating your trainings and you know you're not wasting time either. I also want to say: it doesn’t look good for you if you’re not getting things to your people when you say you will. This is HUGE. This is why it was stressful for me, because I was going to get them those trainings when I said I was going to. If you decide to do a group, you want to be on top of it because you want it to be a super solid program!
And in case you're curious: it takes a lot of time and mental energy to create a solid program. That's why there are so many bad programs out there to be honest! It's easy to phone it in but remember that your first group's experience sets the stage for your next launch. You want your program to be transformative because it will make it so much easier to sell it in the next launch.
4. Just because your program is “cheap”, doesn’t mean your audience will automatically invest in it.
If you went back to any of my launches for my group programs, you’d see that I talked about the program A LOT when I was enrolling. This goes for spark+soul and for my new mastermind Simple Success Collective.
And honestly, for my very first launch, I took an approach that I’ve since been told by other coaches would NOT work. I just like to follow my own rules! I opened enrollment and sold the program for SIX WEEKS. I’ve since heard that selling for that long can fatigue your audience, but it worked for me, and I think it was because I wasn’t constantly hard-selling the program.
I was showing up and giving value and talking about the program, but I wasn’t JUST selling the program every single day. And I bring this up for two reasons: No matter what your program is priced at, you still need to actively sell it AND you need to talk about the transformation your program will give them.
You need to clearly tell your audience what their results will be after finishing the program. Make it tangible for them. What problem does your program solve? Because even if it’s priced low, if they don’t understand why it’s important to them and how it can change their lives, they won’t invest it. And this is my own opinion, but I don’t recommend giving your beta away for free.
I can’t take credit for this saying, but I think it’s true: “People who pay, pay attention.” There’s nothing more frustrating than putting tons of time and energy into something and having your participants not do the work or show up. They need to pay something to make sure they’re invested in it.
Also know that you need to talk about your program so much more than you think is okay or reasonable. I swear to you. It will feel like it’s all you ever talk about, but people need to see your offer at least seven times before they buy -- that’s what the research says. And remember that every time you talk about your program, it’s an opportunity to say just the right thing that your ideal client needs to hear to invest with you.
A great example of needing to talk about it way more than you think: I just finished my Simple Success Collective enrollment. I talked about that program every single day for 3 weeks straight. I talked about it in my social media posts, my masterclass, my podcast, my Instagram stories, my Facebook group, my email newsletters...EVERYWHERE. And still, I got messages the day after I was supposed to stop accepting applications asking me questions about what it was...from people who had no idea what it was. Not everyone is watching your every move or reading your every email, so it’s important to keep going.
I kept selling even after the launch was technically over because I was still getting interest and it was Saturday and I was honestly not in the mood to switch my application form over to a waitlist on the weekend. And I got 4 more applications in 4 days. After two weeks of no one applying. You have to keep going, my friends! It’s not over until it’s over!
5. You need an audience, but it doesn’t need to be a huge audience.
All the marketing experts and big business coaches will tell you that you need an email list of 1000 subscribers to sell a course or a group. NOPE.
I had just under 200 email subscribers when I launched spark+soul and probably about 150 Facebook group members. I had 1100 Instagram followers. I didn’t have enormous numbers, but I also wasn’t totally brand new either. By the way, I still have less than 500 email subscribers and just under 1600 Instagram followers and I just had a $9k launch.
So you don’t need to have a huge audience, but you do need to have one, because when you’re selling one-on-one coaching, you just need one client. But when you’re running a group, you need a minimum number to make it viable or worth running.
Which, when you’re calculating pricing, it’s important to keep that in mind too: How many people do I need to have in this group to make it worth the amount of time and effort? But you also need to keep in mind that sometimes it’s worth doing it for a bit less to get the experience and the testimonials. It’s a balance!
But when you’re considering offering a group, I recommend polling your audience on what they want. My spark+soul group was named by my Facebook group members. They had full buy-in to the program before I ever launched it. Ask your followers what they really want, what problems they’d love to solve.
It’s easy to come up with a concept, but I think testing it is important too.
And finally, I want to end this episode with this: It’s all just an experiment. Sometimes we get it right on the first try, sometimes we don’t. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad entrepreneur. It’s just more information and data to create your next offer.
The most important thing is to just keep going, even when things don’t work out perfectly, or when it looks like it’s not going to work out perfectly. Because that really is the secret.
I’ve launched offers and then ran away and hid because no one commented on my one Instagram story or post. Seriously. I did that. We have all been there. But the important thing is to get back up and try again and to grow more resilient towards failure because the less you’re afraid of failing, the more successful you will be.
And I wish someone had told me how incredibly important that would be to being successful in my business. Falling on your face is just a natural part of the process of creating the life of your dreams.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast today and if you did, please jump over to iTunes and hit the 5-star rating, and leave a review. It means so much to me. Or feel free to screenshot and tag me on Instagram @staciemitchell because I love hearing from my listeners!
Have a lovely day!