Lessons Learned from Launching a Group Programme

Launching my group programme two years ago was the best thing I have ever done in my business. Many coaches tell me it’s an aspiration for them.
My programme has been running for two years solid now. It’s an evergreen model so you can join at any point.
I have learned a lot and refined my process along the way. I continue to refine as I continue to grow. I’m involved in masterminds and others’ group programmes so I get to see the best of everything and weave it into my programme.
If you are thinking about launching a group programme, here is what you need to know!
And, if you already have a group programme, this article may help you make it even better.

1. Long Enough Promotion Period

Give yourself at least an eight week promotion period.
It takes a lot of energy, time, preparation and patience, which is why most people never get their group programme over the line.
If only it was as easy as putting a social media post out saying “I’m launching a Group Programme. Come join.”
It requires a systematic approach and it takes a lot longer than most people think.
You need to introduce your audience to the topic, gently raising their awareness and gaining their engagement before you try and sell your programme to them.
To make sure that you have a big enough audience of ideal clients will mean working on becoming more visible in the lead up to your launch.
You are likely to need to create an event like a webinar or a five day challenge, or some other sort of way for them to get to know you better.
Map out your launch really thoroughly. If you are aiming to launch your group programme in September, you will need to start your preparation well before the summer.

2. Clear Programme Promise

Niching is vital for your whole business, but even more so for a group programme as you need to create a space for people where they are amongst a similar tribe.
The first group programme I joined, when I was six months into running my own business, wasn’t very effective because it was for general entrepreneurs.
I was on the programme with people running a really diverse range of businesses from handbag manufacturing to IT. We just didn’t have much in common.
For example, running an online business course like mine is worlds apart from running a product manufacturing business.
This is why, when I created my own group programme, although it was a real struggle I did niche down to coaches because I wanted the group to know that they would be amongst people who really got what they were about. They have shared values, a shared mission and shared challenges.
It creates a really rich, outstanding group programme where the group can really understand and support each other.
So, do really think about who your ideal client is and fill your group with those amazing people.
When it comes to your clear programme promise, most coaches I talk to describe the topic, for example helping people to stop procrastinating or to build more focus, or to gain more confidence.
All of those things in themselves don’t create enough of a sense of urgency, so you may struggle to get enough signups to your group programme, based on that kind of pitch.
I’ve learned that you really need to get to their actual end goal.
For example, if they stopped procrastinating, what would they do? Launch their business? Get a promotion? What is the tangible difference that it could make in their life?
That is the holy grail that people will pay for when it comes to a group programme, so that needs to be the promise that you use to sell your group programme.
And, if the word promise sounds scary, think about your top client and what they could actually achieve if they were to show up and put in the work.
We’re not going to inspire many people to take action if, for example, we are advertising a gym and we’re saying, come to this class, you might get fit.
They’ll be thinking, “forget it. I want to know that I’m going to get fit.”

3. The statistics

Know the average stats.
Many people jump into running a group programme well before they are ready.
If you are struggling to get one client, you are going to find it really hard to get eight clients in one go.
You might be thinking, lots of people don’t want to buy one to one coaching because it’s too expensive. My group programme is much cheaper.
But, what I’ve learned through doing this myself and from working with other coaches to help them launch their group programmes, it just doesn’t work.
It doesn’t matter how much it costs. It might only be £50, but it could still be really hard to fill your group programme if you haven’t done enough work before your launch – if you haven’t got a clear offer that you have validated that people actually want and if you haven’t got the audience size to be able to fill a group, and run a group yet.
This is because the average conversion rate from a webinar or challenge is only 1% to 4%.
So, on average, you would need to have a big enough audience to get approximately a hundred people to your webinar, to then hopefully get one to four people to say yes to your group programme.
As you can see, you need a much bigger audience than you may think to effectively launch a group programme.
A great way to start, though, is if you know people in your network who want your group programme you can do a presale.
In doing this, you gain confidence knowing that several people have said yes, enabling you to go into your launch period with confidence, knowing that you will still be able to run your group programme.

4. Delivery

You will want to create an amazing interactive learning experience that people want to show up at.
A space where participants gain valuable insights from their peers, as well as their own reflections.
There is a skill in holding that space, in encouraging sharing and mutual accountability. Gaining a sense of community that sticks for the long haul.
I have done that really well in my group programme, even if I do say so myself!
It’s an absolute pleasure to see the quality of relationships people have built through my programme, gaining so much from each other and still being in touch years later.
I think my secret sauce in creating that sort of experience is showing my vulnerability, which enables them to do the same. And, as we know, there is power in vulnerability. It is a true way of connecting with others on a really, really deep level.
So, don’t think you need to be perfect. In fact, no one likes perfect. We are all human. Always start with, “this is what I’m learning right now”. We don’t have to pretend that we have it all worked out.
My group has loved it when I’ve tried things and they’ve gone wrong. One week, I put music on to energise us all with a group dance. What I didn’t realise was only I could hear the music! There I was, dancing on my own. But one of the group said can I just congratulate you and thank you for being a great role model!
Don’t worry about being perfect – we’re all perfect just as we are.
It’s really important that you deliver an excellent onboarding experience, so they rave about you and refer you to their friends.
When the programme starts is a really key moment. It could be at that point that people might have a wobble, wondering if they did the right thing signing up and paying their money. You need to make sure they have a brilliant experience from day one, to reassure them that they’ve made the right decision.
Have some exciting, quick wins available for them straight away, and lovely things to make them feel welcome.
The best thing is that, through running your group programme, you will become an expert in your field because you are working with more clients and therefore gaining more experience in holding that space.
 
In summary, running a group programme is an absolute joy. It’s the best thing I have ever done in my business. But it has taken years of audience building and years of studying how to do it right.
I’ve been part of lots of group programmes and masterminds myself, to learn how to actually run a group programme and how to create an amazing experience.
I’ve also been part of general business building programmes, which has really helped because you get to see the inside of other programmes – what you like, what you don’t like, what they did differently… all that insight really helps you to shape your own group programme.
I know that lots of my clients have been empowered to launch their own group programme using mine as an inspiration.
Yes, it’s a lot of work, and you will never feel ready.
It is a big project and it’s going to take determination. So set your date. Map out eight weeks back from that and start thinking about your ideal client and what they will need to hear from you to be motivated to sign up.
What audience do you need to start growing in order to be able to fill that group programme?
Good luck! I would love to hear if you do launch a group programme and I hope this article really helps you to create an amazing experience for your clients.
 
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If you’d like my help to implement this so you make a difference, AND make a living, you can learn more about how I can help you here.

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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.