4 Powerful Ways to Automate Your Wellness Business

4 Powerful Ways to Automate Your Wellness Business

What would you choose to do or set up only ONCE.. and then put the task on autopilot?

I’ve witnessed more than a few entrepreneurs actually recoil at the word “automation” as if it meant something dishonest, impersonal, or inauthentic. 

It’s not. It’s about much more, including making your leads, clients, and yourself happier. Yes, that. For real. 

Others understand why it is important, but may get sidetracked by the “urgent matters and distractions” of the day and never quite get around to making their daily workflow more efficient.  Doing the frontend work seems like something that can easily be tossed into the “I’ll think about this later” bin.  The result is that they end up doing a lot of “wheel-reinvention,” repetitive tasks, and extra admin work.

And there are others who have embraced it and maybe even thought to themselves: “I wish I had done this sooner!”

I suppose there are others who love doing everything manually, but I imagine this blog probably isn’t for you.

Automation can liberate you from a lot of the things you don’t want to do, and give you time to do the things you DO want to do.

A story..

My idea of hell is being a receptionist or personal assistant. Not that I don’t respect those that do this kind of work, (I do, very much so) but the job description contains absolutely everything I hate and dread… chasing after people with phone calls, manually managing emails, answering the same boring questions over and over, having to be on the phone,  (in other words, having to be “on” instead of formulating better written responses AHEAD of time!) filing, and other admin tasks.

I also hate the repetition, and yes, the constant interruptions. I don’t like playing phone or email tag, spending hours re-scheduling appointments, doing paperwork, and tasks that make me feel like I’m generally “babysitting” people, tasks, and things, when I could be doing much more effective things that actually help people thrive and make my own business more sustainable.

I simply would rather interact on a deeper level and share ideas with other open-minded humans, and find that I have to place boundaries on the time I spend in superficial encounters.  Although it’s not fashionable to admit this about myself, it’s true.

As a business owner, your own idea of “hell at the office” may be similar, or different: It may involve solving technical problems, writing, showing up live, whether it’s in person or on video, mapping out a strategy, or any of the other tasks that we find ourselves managing on an ongoing basis.

Distractions

What’s interesting is that I don’t mind organizing, creating graphics, and other tasks that could be categorized as “busy work” if I don’t place a time limit on them. You may also have your own “pencil sharpening” distractions.. Such as email, time spent on social media, repetitive and unnecessary admin work, or even the habit of constantly “putting out fires.”

I’ve known people that have not made any progress in their business simply because they prioritize daily dramas, crises, and putting out fires over doing important but not urgent work, and I put categorize this as one big distraction.

For others, it’s spending countless hours on social media that distracts them from their goals and ultimately, creating meaning. It can happen unconsciously (I have to remain aware of this for myself, so that I don’t get distracted) but I’ve also seen many who consciously hustle on a daily basis on social media, which is exhausting. The minute you stop.. you become almost invisible.

Side note: I don’t believe in spending a lot of time on social media chasing after clients. There are better ways (automated) to attract ideal clients and customers. Social media has its place, of course. But having it rule our time the way it does for many is simply unsustainable.

It’s not just the things we dislike that can hold us back from our true potential. The things that distract us and cause us to lose focus also need to be addressed when setting up daily systems and workflows.

And that’s why I’ve integrated the principles in Michael Hyatt’s book: Free to Focus into my own work and how I help others create their own online offerings.

The gift of freedom is something we can give ourselves so that our work serves our lives, not the other way around.

One strategy for getting our time back is automation. In fact, and entire chapter in the book is devoted to automation.

Let’s bust that “automation isn’t authentic/caring/personal myth:

When many people think of automation, they think that it involves allowing cold, impersonal, machinery to take over our lives. The belief is that it’s the antithesis of creative freedom and flow.

I’m actually a very firm believer in the complete opposite: That creating automation and structure frees up our brains to focus on the cool stuff.. The stuff that we signed up for, went to school for, and spent years of our lives practicing and perfecting. It makes it possible for creativity to flourish by freeing up our time and energy.

It allows us to actually help more people, and also enjoy the rest of our lives.

How can one channel their creativity on a daily basis when it’s being sucked into a big black hole of repetitive tasks, inefficiencies that rob us of time and enjoyment, important tasks that are ignored for so long that they turn into daily dramas that give us a false sense of power and accomplishment.. and doing stuff that we hate?

All because we believe that “going with the flow” is the only path to true freedom? (It is, until it’s not)

Someone once said that structure will set us free. I believe this is true. This structure doesn’t have to feel confining. I think of it rather as something that is of service to me, rather than something I’m subjected to.

Automation is like having that personal assistant that can take care of the stuff that a CEO cannot really afford to be wasting time on.

Automation is about solving a problem ONCE, instead of every day, on the fly.

I do want to make a point here. This process isn’t about productivity for its own sake. (That’s why I run a free workshop every year about operating within our Desire Zone)

When I talk about automation, it isn’t about how to send more emails or create more content get more work done. It’s about taking ourselves out of the equation when it comes to tasks that:

1. We dislike doing and aren’t proficient at. (Example: Solving “tech” issues)

2. We like doing but aren’t proficient at enough to justify spending hours of our time in. (Example: building and managing our own websites when it keeps us from doing other important and money-generating work)

3. We dislike doing but ARE proficient at..  (Example: You are good at doing taxes. Everyone asks you to do their taxes. But you still hate it)

Automation also isn’t only about technology. In fact, there are 4 types of automation we can take advantage of on a daily basis:

  • Self automation
  • Process automation
  • Template automation
  • Tech automation

Together, all these things form your SYSTEM and WORKFLOW.

Let’s look at each of these up close.

Self Automation

This is where it all begins. This involves implementing routines, rituals, and habits to make it easier and more efficient for you to follow through on your highest priorities.

There are probably many tasks you perform on a daily basis that you don’t have to think about, such as getting dressed, driving, and preparing dinner. If you had to think about each one of these things on a conscious level every day, it would take you longer to get them done and take up more “head space.”

A ritual is “any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.”

Hyatt refers to a book entitled Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. The book explores the daily rituals of more than one hundred fifty novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and others.

He is also a believer in using structure to liberate one’s mind in order to focus on creating.

Your daily rituals, says Currey, “can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism.”

Here are some ways you could self-automate:

1. Keep your wardrobe very simple. (Steve Job’s famous black turtleneck freed up his mind from having to decide what to wear each day)  I’ve found that having fewer possessions is quite liberating, but this is a very personal choice.

2. Make the process of preparing meals a no-brainer. You can always cook something more elaborate when you feel like it!

3. Streamline your morning or evening routine so that it takes less mental energy to begin and complete a task, such as emptying the dishwasher, walking the dog, exercising, or any other chores. They become second nature and “frictionless.”

4. Create daily, weekly, and even seasonal habits or routines by repeating them so that they are ingrained. For example, I have a different routine for summer than I do for winter, and I work from home. For someone else who commutes or has a schedule revolving around kids or school or even seasonal exercise options, the routine could change.  This is a great way to both create routines AND keep things fresh.  As of this writing, I’m returning to my fall routine and it feels natural and easy.

5. My tip for keeping it sustainable: I stopped trying to accomplish 7 or 8 medium sized tasks per day. 3 or 4 is far more realistic.  I know that daily chores and tasks, like walking the dogs, doing laundry, and doing errands take up a lot of time, especially since I live in SE Europe (in the land of no dryers) and take a taxi into the nearest town once a week.

I don’t try to cram in too much or I’ll end up too tired to do much of anything. I honestly don’t think a frantic “North American” pace would help me get more done.

6. There’s a ton of books available about creating habits and rituals, and these ideas are worth exploring, even if only one or two ideas “stick” with you. 

Template Automation

I’m going to borrow an excerpt from Hyatt’s book:

“To make templates work, you need to develop a template mindset. Every time you work on a project, ask yourself, What components of this project will I use again? If it’s something you expect to do more than once or twice, consider creating a template. Even though it takes a little extra effort on the front end, it will save you an enormous amount of time overall.”

Hyatt, Michael. Free to Focus (p. 121). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Acupuncturists use this when they discover a protocol that works. They may not necessarily use the exact same technique or the same points every single time, but they have a starting point that can be customized, instead of starting from scratch.

Even though we may pride ourselves on avoiding the “cookie cutter” approach, can you imagine how much mental energy it would take to come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan from scratch for each patient?

Another great example of this is email templates, both for client/patient communications and for marketing/nurturing leads.

Yet another is a theme template or layout that can be used when creating a website. (with some customization in each case, of course)

One of the most popular features of some of my email workshops and website building courses is TEMPLATES, because it eliminates the process of having to stare at a blank screen, wondering what to write, or having to figure out how to build a website completely from scratch.

It may feel as if you are “cheating” but you are not!

Process Automation

The third type of automation, process automation, simply refers to a written, easy-to-follow set of instructions for performing a job or sequence.

I use this type of automation ALL the time.  If I have a multistep process, I write down every step, with screenshots, as if I were creating instructions for someone who had no experience with the task.

You can do the same. Because when you are tired, and haven’t done your taxes since this time last year, or haven’t updated your website in months, and you just grabbed your first cup of coffee for the day, you’re not going to remember.

Think about how much mental energy it takes to:

1. Find out where you put that damn checklist that you jotted down months ago. Stare at the screen because don’t even know where to start.

2. Try to figure out all the steps in between, that you didn’t write down because you thought you would remember it all

3. Spend a few hours Googling and YouTubing just to find out what those missing steps are.

3. Avoid the task.. kicking the can forward only to find that you really DO need to start from square one all over again.

This entire process requires about the same amount of energy from you as writing a term paper or onboarding a new client. That’s a LOT of energy that could be channeled into something else.

For example, I can spend energy trying to remember all the steps in order to produce this blog, which involves finding and optimizing images, research, writing, researching keywords/SEO optimization, formatting it, creating Pinterest pins for it, sharing it on social media and email, creating new “offshoot” content from it, etc.

As you can see, this involves and entire checklist. Someone new to this may think that writing a blog is simply about writing what comes to mind and then copying and pasting the text into their website.

Or I can open up my already existing process and go through each step, saving a TON of time and energy that can be put into creating a blog I’m proud of, and letting it work for me, instead of the other way around.

Documenting a process may seem like a lot of work, at first. It may even feel weird. But if you do this, you’ll be glad you did this for yourself the next time around, when you’re tired or distracted.. OR when the time comes to delegate the task, should you choose to.

Process automation is about never having to repeat your high level thinking.

Tech Automation

This is what many people think of when they see or hear the word “automation.”

The phrase “Automate your workflow” may conjure industrial age images of factory owners trying to squeeze more out of each employee, or replace them with machines.

I invite you to think of it as a service to you, as an entrepreneur. Anything that reduces your workload over time, that allows you to do what’s important to you, and save time, money, and energy is certainly worth checking out.

Examples of “tech” automation

To use this blog as an example again, there are quite a few tools I can use that make the process of writing a blog a LOT easier, even though all the steps I talked about above can sound daunting.

I have tools that allow me to manage images, (which I need, because I use images a lot) automatically create headings and subheadings (the gold and purple gray text you see in every blog) with a click of a button, and a lot more, because of the robust “tech” automation that DIVI provides.

Email is another great example.

I can follow up with leads, clients, and students easily with flexible email automation options.

Trying to do this manually is unrealistic for someone who sells on-demand products, but even for those whose primary focus is 1:1 services, it’s too easy for something to “fall through the cracks” which is not only stressful, but makes it appear as if we “don’t have our shit together.”

A CRM is yet another example. In Kartra, I can easily view and manage contacts so that I can serve everyone much more effectively (and stay sane!)

Data is super important for any business, and with automation I don’t have to spend time gathering data from different sources and try to figure out what it all means. I can have everything in one centralized dashboard so that I can “see” my numbers (KPI’s/key performance indicators) at a glance.

All of these things not only help you to keep your sanity and create a more sustainable business.. they actually create a better experience for your leads and clients.

For example, you can send the right emails to the right people at the right time.. dynamically and automatically, so that they get what is relevant to them, depending on where they are at in their journey with you, preferences, and how they interact with you.

This is a much better experience than simply “blasting” your entire audience with a generic message. THIS is what’s annoying to people.

To make it easier for you to build the “tech” infrastructure you need, I have 7 criteria for determining if a platform is going to be effective for selling an on-demand product, such as a course, membership, or program.  A platform could be one “all under one roof” solution such as Kartra, or it could be comprised of several platforms or apps that get the job done.

The objective is to make sure that the entire system or ecosystem is integrated, running smoothly, provides a seamless experience for customers, but ALSO automates your workflow so that you can focus on what really counts.

I hope that this entire article illuminates the concept of automation, so that it’s no longer a set of fancy tools and yet another thing to learn about/put on your to-do list.

Automation involves some up front investment of time, money, and energy, but pays for itself, and then some, after a few months.

Don’t procrastinate when it comes to automating your workflow, now that you understand the true meaning of this phrase and how it can serve you.

Need help with automating your business?

Systems are one of the 8 core essentials I help clients implement in their businesses.

If you find that you are becoming a slave to your business, an ever-expanding to-do list, or if things are starting to fall between the cracks, it may be time to take a close look at your systems and workflows.

This isn’t just for big corporations or even small businesses.. today, solopreneurs can benefit from affordable tools (NOT just tech tools) so that they can create something sustainable for themselves and for their clients.

Just click on the gold button below for a free 30 minute consultation.

7 Criteria: Setting Up A System For Your Digital Course or Membership

7 Criteria: Setting Up A System For Your Digital Course or Membership

Oh, my, there are so many tools, apps, and platforms out there right now. It makes my head spin! It’s even more frustrating when a software company promises to include everything you need to run the online branch of your wellness or coaching business.

Except that most of them don’t.  (Some almost do.. but have one or two essential pieces missing) I want to show you some “all under one roof” solutions as well as some other options that can be easily pieced together without “duct tape” and frustration.

Here’s my 7 criteria to help you set up the right system for your course or membership, no matter where you are at in your business.

What most new online entrepreneurs (and surprisingly,  some of the marketing experts guiding them) don’t understand is that:

1. There’s more to selling an online offering than putting a class up in Teachable or Kajabi or Podia. That  blog that tells you which platform is the “best” isn’t really providing enough context to be useful. I know they are trying to keep it simple for you (and for them) but in the end you end up having to wonder if those features really DO include everything you’ll need.

2. There is more work to do up front, when creating your systems, but the work will pay off.

3. Yes, it CAN be “ease-ful” and affordable to set it all up. But this is a “fluff free” zone.  Fluff isn’t going to help you. 

My mission here is to show you how to build an entire system, not just the place where your course or membership resides.

This could mean a single platform that does everything, or several that work together seamlessly.

Note: There will be a few affiliate links sprinkled throughout, which means I may make a small amount of money if the link is used. I am not an affiliate for every platform I recommend in this article. 

This article is for those who are just beginning to explore the idea of selling an on-demand digital product in addition to 1:1 services or live events, and are OVERWHELMED by all the platforms out there. Which ones will work best AND be the most cost-effective?

Many of you are also frustrated about how long the process of researching the options can take.

My goal here is to make it easier for you to decide, based on the 7 criteria I use to decide what pieces to include in my “tech infrastructure” or ecosystem.

I also want to save you some time in the LONG run, but there will be some work up front.  Your options:

  • You can use the 7 criteria as a general guide. Skim, take in each concept, which is broken down into 7 sections.
  • You can follow my own process for determining if a platform will work for selling an online offering. (find it at the end of this blog)
  • You can even download a version of this blog to use while you do your research.

Why this is important

The “ecosystem” you will need must be adequate enough to promote and deliver an on-demand offering. Each step MUST be set up and managed so that it runs automatically. The reason: “on-demand” products can be sold at any time, from anywhere, and at any place in the customer journey.

Many entrepreneurs at the beginning stages of developing their on-demand offerings are immersed in a different mindset that still lingers in the local, 1:1, trading time for money zone.  So they insist on using the platforms they’ve been using all along to book clients and patients.

They may ask: “Why can’t I just use Acuity? It’s always worked for me.” It’s a great platform, and I’m not saying to ditch it, (nor am I singling it out for any other reason than it happens to be very popular) but I do want you to think about how it may (or may not) work in the context of what you need your system to do.

Here’s a rundown:

Booking platforms

Booking platforms work well for those who are selling ONLY events or time slots. Even the packages and “membership” options they offer are still based on selling TIME. There are other subtle differences, such as the sale of “gift cards” which implies time, rather than coupons which are applied to the sale of a product.

If you are relying ONLY on booking software that isn’t part of a complete system that includes my 7 criteria (such as Kartra) or which can easily integrate with a missing piece,  (meaning you can find a platform to fill in a gap) you’ll experience 2 major shortcomings:

1. These platforms only consider the stage at which a lead has already decided to purchase an event or booking. This is only a tiny portion of the actual customer journey, since the average number of touch points needed before a purchase is made is 8-10.

In other words, marketing isn’t included. You’ll  need this. 

2. They are not designed for selling on-demand products. Having automated systems in place for on-demand products is a non-negotiable for both you and your customers.

In other words, you need to take care of those leads and customers, in ways that are immediate, customized, and automatic. You won’t be able to do this manually. (Bear with me) 

If the objective is simply to book time slots and only cover a sliver of the buyer’s journey, (the point at which they are ready to click on the book now button and buy) a confirmation email and perhaps some reminder emails may be all you need. However, your follow up options will be severely limited unless you also include a proper email marketing service as part of your ecosystem.

If you rely solely on a booking platform, you end up ignoring most of the buyer’s journey, which does NOT begin and end with “Buyer decides to make a purchase because of a link they see on social media, goes to booking page, and signs up for my event.”

Lots of stuff happens BEFORE and AFTER this stage of the journey. This means opportunity, but also potential for something to “fall between the cracks.”

Membership Platforms

I’m talking about the place where your course, membership, or program resides. These are designed for creating a great experience for your students, but not necessarily on promotion, onboarding, support, or follow up.

As with booking software, they don’t address every stage of the buyer’s journey, nor do they make it possible to address each stage seamlessly and automatically.

There will be some gaps to fill, unless you are using a platform like Kartra, Kajabi, or ClickFunnels. This is ok, just know that you’ll need to fill in a gap or two, and when you do your research, make sure that you can easily connect or integrate with another platform in order to fill in the gaps.

I’ll be honest: If you want to gain trust, appear as if you “have your shit together,” avoid spending even more time doing repetitive manual tasks, and actually sell more without having to hustle constantly on social media, you’ll need to have these 7 key pieces in place:

#1:  REAL automations.

There is some confusion about “automated emails” and email automations that I want to clear up, because they do NOT mean the same thing.

Your system needs to include more than “automatically sent emails and reminders” or transactional emails that come with most booking software, such as Acuity.

Here’s why:

With most “automated email” that booking platforms provide, the lead enters your ecosystem because they ended up on a “landing page” (which I’ll talk about in a minute.)

For those of you who are beginners, it’s likely that the person ended up here because you gave them a link, hoping that they were ready to buy. This may be the case, and this is indeed one of the stages of the customer journey. (When the lead is aware of your brand, engaged, maybe subscribed, and thinking about or ready to buy)

In this scenario, the automated emails that are generated when someone books an event or service with you are NOT actual automations. They are only designed to complete the purchase and fulfill the order. (transactional emails)

However, some platforms will CALL these “automated emails” which is confusing to beginners, because they think that what they are getting is a full suite of email automations, which is a different thing than a simple string of transactional emails that are sent when someone buys something.

In order to effectively sell on-demand products, such as a course, you WILL need to have the ability to send specific emails for anyone who enters your ecosystem, at any stage. You also need to be able to send specific emails depending on how people interact with your ecosystem at any given time. In other words, automations.

This includes people who have subscribed because of a freebie but don’t know much about you or what you offer, just yet. They will need to be nurtured. It also includes people that have registered for a free event leading up to your offer, but didn’t take action along the way: An email wasn’t opened, a link wasn’t clicked, a video wasn’t played all the way through, a purchase wasn’t made, etc.

These are “touch points” and the mistake most people make is assuming that someone isn’t interested if they don’t interact right away. Most people, even hot leads, simply won’t. Even more interesting is that they appreciate you keeping them in the loop.

The journey doesn’t end with a purchase.. It’s equally important to take care of those who made a purchase via onboarding, support, and follow up.

Of course, you also want to have a system in place for surveys and testimonials. If you try to do this manually, you’ll go crazy and waste a lot of time begging for these things. Or YOU will forget to send a reminder email till it’s almost too late to ask for that testimonial.

You will need to be able to send the right emails (you determine this) based on how your leads and customers interact with you.. Automatically.

The limited “automated email” functions that some platforms include do not cover any automated communications that need to happen in order to promote the event, or get people on an email list. They also don’t include customized onboarding, continued support, lead follow up, student follow up, or ways to communicate with paying clients and customers, automatically.

Conditional Logic

An automation system must have built-in conditional logic, which allows you to send (or not send) a particular email based on whether or not certain conditions are met. The basics generally include: “made a purchase” or “subscribed to list” but realistically, you’ll need a lot more flexibility.

For example, what if you only want to send an email to those who clicked on a link in a previous email? Or who did NOT purchase your course? Or who didn’t log into the course for over 30 days? Or who didn’t complete a checkout process or complete a survey?

These kinds of scenarios can, and DO occur, not because someone tells you to set up your system a certain way, but because YOU will want it to be able to _________ if or when ________ happens, and the system needs to be able to handle whatever YOU want it to do. In other words, YOU are the boss.

The only way to be able to send the right emails to the right people at the right time, (meaning you are the boss) and have it happen automatically, is by having an email service that is robust and flexible enough to handle this.

You won’t have time to do this manually, because by now you can probably see that managing multiple people coming in with different needs at literally ALL hours of the day would be highly unrealistic. I’m sure this isn’t something you would want to do, but it’s also not a great experience for your customers, either. It’s too easy to make mistakes. The last thing you want is for contacts to “fall through the cracks” or have a bad experience.

Remember, as a rule, people do NOT take action the first time they hear about an offer. They need multiple “touch points.” (studies show that 10 is about the average now) Most of these touch points happen via email.

People also need reminders and friendly “nudges” nowadays for things like remembering to log in, attending a meeting, or sending a promised testimonial. I have not had anyone get mad at me yet for creating touch points and reminders.. Most of them are automatic. It’s framed and worded in a way that it’s like an added service.

It also sure beats chasing after them with manual emails!

Is this expensive to put in place? No. Ironically, it’s not that expensive to set up an effective automated email system. It’s actually cheaper than the big names that do well only because of great marketing. (MailChimp is more expensive, double charges for subscribers on multiple lists, has limited automation functions, is clunky, and can be eliminated as a viable choice, as of this writing)

I recommend Active Campaign, and in some cases, ConvertKit and MailerLite, although their automations are not nearly as robust as Active Campaign. I also like Kartra.

This can be a hard concept to grasp, so you may want to check out my blog about the 9 major challenges faced by new online wellness entrepreneurs.

Learn more about email automations, and much more.. including how to set them up, templates to get you started, and much more in my on-demand email marketing workshop.

(See resources at the end of this blog)

2. The ability to create REAL landing pages.

Not the one that comes with your booking software or even the platform where your course or membership lives, unless you happen to use an all-in-one platform like Kartra, Clickfunnels, or something similar. (AttractWell, New Zenler)

Another word for this is “high converting” landing pages.

This is what you want, and you will want to have access to templates that are sophisticated enough to stand alone as sales pages for your signature offers or whatever other free or paid offers you plan on having.

Again, as with calendar booking, basic landing pages that aren’t really designed to sell are fine if all you plan on doing is sending a link to someone who may already be at least somewhat ready to buy from you. They are not meant to take the place of sales pages.  They are not meant for “cooler” traffic, only for hot leads. This means more hustling  for you.

Unless you want to become a slave to social media and chase after people there, you’ll need a sales page that can function well on its own so that you can do better things with your time.

You will also need a Thank You page. Users are directed to this page (you set this up) after they have either made a purchase or when they fill out an opt-in form on your website. This page is designed to offer genuine gratitude, guide to next steps, or yes, even provide a thoughtful upsell. Thank You pages are often an afterthought for beginners, but this is an important step.

You can choose to use a service that specializes in landing pages, such as LeadPages.  They do what they do very well, but I’ve found that for most entrepreneurs, great landing pages can be found in either the “all in one” platforms or..

Because of the many “crossover” functions of today’s marketing platforms, you can also find decent landing page templates in most email marketing services, such as ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit.  I personally never use them,  but this is an option.

I go into this in more detail in my Repeatable Webinar Workshop and in the Future Proof Your Business Toolkit. 

(See resources section at the end of this blog)

Clicking on these links will also give you an idea of what a landing page (and a Thank You page) might look like.

3. A membership/course area that is well-organized and encourages student participation and completion.

Some platforms only allow you to dump your videos and workbooks into one “bin” that your students must sort through. I see people paying around $30 for platforms that make me wonder if their students are actually signing up, USING these courses, benefitting from them, and becoming advocates.

A good teaching platform takes into consideration the student experience, and it needs to be seamless from the time their eyeballs land on the landing page, to the checkout experience, to onboarding, to the course itself, in which I strongly suggest you offer some support and accountability, and even some “gamification.”

Your course isn’t going to be perfect right out of the gate, of course. You want to launch a BETA version of your course so that you can get helpful feedback.

(You’ll need automations for both)

My favorite platform for this is Kartra. Others have used Kajabi and have loved it as well.

I really love the whole course experience in Teachable as well.  Of course, some of the 7 elements will be missing, but the gaps can be filled in, following the process I take you through at the end of this blog.  There are also, of course, pros and cons with Teachable.

4. A CRM. This means a way to manage all contacts, who are in various stages of their journey with you.

To put it another way, it’s an essential for building and managing a relationship with customers.. And keeping them happy!

There are many layers to a CRM. They can be basic or quite advanced.  Common advanced CRM platforms you might have heard of are HubSpot and Salesforce. These are not designed for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

What we’re looking for is a simple way to see what’s happening with your clients and customers, at a glance, so you can better serve them.

I’ll use Kartra as an example. (Unfortunately, Teachable and Thinkific don’t offer a CRM for their lower-priced plans)

Overview:

Log:

Membership status:

You may be wondering how to include a CRM in your system.  Here are some options for getting started:

1.  Standalone CRM’s are an one option for a small business like yours. I’ve checked out ClickUp but it seems more suited to project management for sales teams, and a few other apps (SimpleCRM,  TheSimpleCRM  are 2, but I have not found much information or any free trial options.

2. A CRM can also be combined with email. This article from Active Campaign will give you an overview on the value of having a CRM.  These solutions aren’t complete and don’t give you direct information about how your students or clients are interacting with your product, but it’s a start.

3. This is where Kartra, Kajabi, ClickFunnels, and other alternatives like AttractWell start to show the value they offer. The information you gather is specific to our industries: Course creators and wellness professionals and coaches. This also means that you won’t have your system weighed down by more tools it doesn’t need. These options are still coming up as my top picks.

Although this is one of my 7 essentials, I don’t want you to hold up the creation of your entire system, if you are just starting out, by spending weeks or months researching a CRM. I DO want you to be aware of how valuable this tool will be, and that it will become a must, as you acquire more leads and students.

Here are the signs that AC tells us when it’s time for a CRM:

  • Things are slipping through the cracks
  • You are losing more customers than you are gaining (through no fault of your own, they will just fall off the face of the earth without maintenance and care)
  • You have more tasks than you can handle on a daily basis, most of which can be put on autopilot.
  • I’m going to add: If you are working hard, but can’t quite pinpoint where in the journey you can make adjustments in order to attract, retain, and take care of more leads and customers, a CRM will give you fantastic insight on where to begin.

Here are some of the scenarios we want to manage, or data that we can use to figure out what our next step might be:

Who has booked a call with you? Visited a page? Got to the checkout then left? Signed up for a class? Has a particular “tag” based on a behavior, preference, or quiz result? Hasn’t filled out an intake form? Finished a module or a course? Hasn’t logged in for a while? Has questions? Had a payment that failed?

And what action will these events trigger? An email? Access changes to your course or membership? Lead scoring changes? (A way to measure and quantify the value of a particular lead) or even a Helpdesk ticket? (advanced)

In order to accomplish these goals, your system will need tools that allow you to intuitively:

  • Tag, segment, and filter your customers
  • Integrate with automated email campaigns (one of our essential 7)
  • Trigger coupons and product access for specific students
  • Track customer behavior, product engagement, and performance on assessments
  • See your data all in one place, in one centralized dashboard, without having to manually pull data from different sources

This is about organization. You are organizing the people that have come into your ecosystem so that you can help them effectively, and in a timely manner, without losing your mind.

You can also begin to notice patterns. For example, if students are getting hung up on a particular module in a course, you can find out why and make adjustments.

Do you really want to do this manually? Even if you do, I strongly advise against this. Any business that is run primarily by an administrative assistant,  (or you playing the role of an admin assistant) at the expense of marketing, product development, and all the other things that make a business what it is.. is probably doomed to fail. (yes, really)

You also don’t want to have to guess what your next move is, or even worse, quit because you “reckon this just isn’t working.” Remember, in order to make data-driven decisions based on insight, not just intuition and emotions, you will need data.

A CRM means you won’t be flying blind.

Some interactions, of course, may need to be handled manually. For example, answering questions, helping with technical issues, or perhaps handling payment issues: (for example, someone accidentally paid twice for the same offer)

A good system will make it easy for you to both automate and take care of contacts manually, if needed.

I find that the less manual work you need to do, and the more centralized your information is, the better. I don’t advise spending a lot of time on stitching together data from spreadsheets, notes, and any manually-entered data. This will likely end up taking too much of your time and discourage you from really leveraging the power of a CRM, even if it’s just you. 

It’s also far more likely that you will miss something important or make a mistake. (Stress you don’t need) 

Look for solutions that have a centralized dashboard that pulls in information about a lead or customer automatically, even if it’s basic information, to start off with.  

As you grow, you can decide if you want to hire help. At this point, you can start pricing your offerings so that if you need to, you can hire someone to help you, if and when it makes sense.

Remember 3 things:

1. In order to create a positive experience for leads and customers, You NEED to free yourself from unnecessary, repetitive tasks.

2. You will also need to respond to the needs of your contacts as quickly as possible in most cases, without having to be available around the clock to respond to every single inquiry. Basic questions can be answered, if not on your website or landing page or even social media, via a strong CRM.

Note: For those who might complain about having data directly related to their interactions with a business.. imagine getting on a phone call with customer support and having to explain your needs each time from square one, sacrificing relevancy (in other words, getting what you need, when you need it, automatically) or even losing access to perks, like special offers or gifts, or increased access levels. 

A business simply has to store and track information in order to make interacting with them a good experience with everything from solving problems  to easy payment to helping you make a purchase. (Netflix and Amazon are great examples, although quite sophisticated) This data can also be flexible.. obviously you don’t need as much data as Amazon collects, but if you have students, you will need some information about them in order to create a good experience for them and in order to guide your business decisions and make your product even better.  

3. You will need to make data-driven decisions and have the needed data in front of you. Flying blind will greatly hinder the growth of your business, and your ability to create an impact and help more people.

Even though a CRM can get pretty sophisticated, if you are offering an on-demand product, you’re going to need at the very least, a basic CRM. I consider this to be more than a fancy add on, It’s one of my 7 criteria.

5. A calendar/booking solution. This includes group programs, classes, and virtual events, but it also includes marketing activities such as webinars.

One of the cool things about calendar apps or platforms that include calendar booking:  Those transactional emails I talked about earlier (confirmation and reminder emails) are SUPER easy to set up.

Your calendar booking app needs to be flexible enough to manage the kinds of experiences you want to offer. This may include ongoing classes, events, and simple appointments. Do your research if you plan on including something like a monthly group coaching call or class.

A calendar booking system alone isn’t going to be able to manage follow up with your students, participants, leads, or clients.

For this reason, it also needs to connect to your follow up automation sequences. (Active Campaign, ConvertKit, Kartra all meet criteria #1, and most calendar/booking apps “play well” with them) I find that it’s best to not have to rely on Zapier to trigger the sending of important follow up emails.  In my experience, these are where the “weak links” are, and where something could break down.

Examples of typical follow up automations: “Only send this email to” those who have taken an action, such as logging in, signing up for a previous class, completing a module or course, providing a particular answer in a survey, etc.

I’m currently using Kartra, because it works seamlessly with ALL the other criteria listed here. I’ve also used Active Campaign, which provides by far the most robust, flexible, and best value, in my opinion, of any email marketing service.

6. A PRODUCT-CENTERED System

A product is NOT a time slot. It is a thing you can sell, at any time or place, on demand. For our purposes, we’re talking about digital products, not physical products, although with some platforms you can sell physical products. These products CAN also include events, group meetings, 1:1 bookings, or other time-based features woven into a bundled product.

This can be confusing, because some “products” include your involvement, if you so choose. 

To make it simple, selling a “product” in this case means that:

1. Someone ends up on your page
2. They buy the product
3. The product is delivered immediately.

Products can be “dripped” over time, as well, if you desire.. For example, a 60 day program with a new module unlocked every week.

Some products are subscription-based. For example, a monthly membership in which members can access exclusive content on demand, but also live monthly events, such as a Q&A call.

The product has a checkout page, usually accessed via a link in a landing page “call to action” or “buy now” button.

After the purchase, the buyer is redirected to a Thank You page, and an invoice and confirmation emails are sent. (Automatically of course!) The confirmation/welcome email contains access to the thing they bought, typically either a download link, a portal, or a membership area that can be accessed with a link and a unique set of login credentials.

Setting this up needs to be intuitive for you as well, so that you get the hang of the idea of how products, calendars, landing pages, contact management, and membership areas (where you host your courses) all work together. Once you do, you can conceivably create a new product in a day, if you already have previous products, calendars, and pages that you can clone or use as templates.

The cool thing is, you can design your product to include any level of personal involvement from you as you desire.. From a “high touch” group program that includes real-time guidance, a limited number of participants, and booking time with you for extra support, to a completely self-run and self-paced course that you only need to create and then sell as many “units” as you desire.

You can do this when you have flexible tools that allow you to create just about anything.

Examples of product-centered platforms (that also allow you to sell time slots) include:

  • Kartra (my favorite)
  • Kajabi
  • ClickFunnels
  • AttractWell
  • NewZenler (which at the time of this writing is in Beta and still has some serious limitations

7. A complete system that makes it easy to promote your product, sell it, offer SUPPORT for it, manage contacts in the ecosystem, and provide follow up. In other words, there isn’t anything left to fall through the cracks.

The entire process needs to be a positive, seamless experience for the customer, as well. “Clunky” setups don’t really help anyone.. They discourage participants from actually completing or using your course, membership, or program. It’s about more than just making sure that all items are checked off.

What I mean is that just like you want to create a wonderful experience for clients who enter your clinic, office, store, or healing space, you want to do the same for a digital product.

The process also must include a way to market and promote your products/services.

A system that doesn’t include a way to attract leads, convert them into subscribers, provide follow up, and most importantly: keep existing customers happy (yes, this is part of the marketing process!) isn’t complete, yet this is the system that most wellness entrepreneurs and coaches are using.

And this is what is exhausting.. because it means having to hustle and chase after customers instead of attracting them to YOU.  If you are currently relying on social media and a membership platform that lacks these 7 essentials, it’s a recipe for burnout for most of us.

So now.. this is more than an article because I’ve got some action steps for you to take.

First, make a list of the processes that you take people through right now.

What is included in the systems you already have?

What’s a little clunky for the customer, or for you on the backend?

What is missing?

What are some areas in which automation could  fill in gaps, replace tasks or areas where you don’t need to show up repeatedly, and allow you to skip the stuff you don’t like to do?

Where might you may be “leaking” time or money or energy?

Take some time to think about this, and then move on to my 4 step process below to help you choose the elements of your own system.

My step-by-step process 

Now that you have narrowed down your list of platforms to research, here is the 4 step process I go through in choosing a new platform.

Rember, at some stage, you will need to invest in order to enter this game, and currently, that investment is somewhere between $50 and $100, at the time of this writing.

PRESS PAUSE: If you are JUST starting out with your 1:1 business, focus on this for a while, till you feel confident about the unique strategy you offer your clients or patients. I highly recommend doing your foundational work first (niche, story, message, positioning, branding, etc) I have a course to help you with this, which is listed in the resources below.

STEP 1. Write down a list of 2-5 options you might want to consider.

STEP 2. Go to the pricing page for each option. Look carefully at the list of features. Do they either contain all 7 criteria? (very few will, which is normal, but there are a few exceptions, like Kartra, which has everything:

If more than 2 are missing, and they won’t integrate with or connect to another app or platform that will successfully fill in the gap, move on to another option.

STEP 3. Use the following guide to assist you in the next step, if one of the 7 criteria is missing (This is likely)

A. If what’s missing is automations, (real automations, not “automated emails”)

Make sure the platform “plays well” with a robust and cost-effective email service like Active Campaign, ConvertKit, or MailerLite. I find AC to be the best of the 3. It starts from around $15 per month. ConvertKit weighs in at #2, and MailerLite is a good free option, (it’s super intuitive) but is more limited when it comes to automation flexibility.

B. If a calendar system is missing

Make sure it “plays well with” your current calendar booking system or preferred system.

C. If landing pages are missing

You have several choices:

1. You can create them on your own website. This can be tricky, not because it’s technically difficult, but very few beginners have the design skills needed to put together a high converting landing page, and are probably better off using templates SPECIFICALLY designed and tested for use as sales/landing pages. If your landing page looks amateurish, it’s not going to be of much use to you. (unless you are planning to only sell to friends, family, and current clients)

I recommend using WordPress with the DIVI theme and builder. This blog will show you why WordPress, hands down, still the best option for entrepreneurs. 

2.  You can use the landing pages provided by an email marketing service like Active Campaign or ConvertKit.  These tend to be ok. These types of landing pages are not my first choice in terms of design, effectiveness, ease of use, or integration, but they can work.

3. You can sign up for a separate landing page service, like LeadPages. ($37 per month) LeadPages focuses on landing pages, It’s what they do, and they do it well.

4. You can go with a platform that has just about everything you need, including decent landing pages (AttractWell) or with Kartra, Kajabi, or Clickfunnels which have everything. I think that Kartra’s starter plan provides the best value at $99, especially when you start adding up the costs of a Frankensystem.

When people are already paying $60 to $80 per month, why not just spend another $20 on effective landing pages that you don’t need to struggle with, are well -designed and convert well, and already integrate with everything else in your system?

D. If it’s missing a CRM:

1. Integrate your system with an email service that includes a CRM, such as Active Campaign or ConvertKit, to start off and get a feel for how CRM’s work.

2. See #4 above, and consider a platform that has everything you need. (Kartra has all 7)

E: If it’s not product-centered

Honestly, it’s not going to work for the purpose of promoting and delivering an on-demand product.

If 2 of the 7 criteria are missing, you’ll also have to make sure that the 2 apps you’ll be using to fill in ALSO work well together. (For example, a landing page service and an email service) Simply put, the more gaps you have and the more separate platforms you have, the more complex it COULD get, and the more potential for having to “duct tape” everything together.

It’s not impossible to create a seamless experience, however, with multiple platforms. I leave this possibility open, because everything is still changing so rapidly.. new players come on the scene all the time.

Cost/Investment

Of course, you’re going to need a membership or teaching platform to host your product. At this point, you may begin to see that the costs may be getting well past the $50 to $100/month range. If this is the case, you may want to consider at least checking out a platform like Kartra. (My favorite, even though I”m not an affiliate)

As of this writing, AttractWell shows some promise, and NewZenler I want to give a chance, but I honestly don’t recommend it at this point, as it seems “clunky” and is still missing a lot.

A few more tips:

1. Go ahead and ASK someone in sales/support if the missing feature is in the works. Software companies LOVE getting feedback from us, and don’t mind questions or requests!

2. Go to their Facebook page and see what customers are asking about, complaining about, or requesting, and how those requests are handled. 

3. Once you have a system in place, trust it and use it.  It’s tempting to get distracted by something new and “shiny,” but this will keep you from accomplishing your goals. Remember, no platform or system is perfect. If you have these 7 criteria AND a strategy for your business, allow these things to work for you instead of constantly checking in, fiddling, or second-guessing what you have already set up.

Putting together a system  is one of the areas that are most likely to hold up the progress of a new online entrepreneur, and it can be overwhelming, not just because of the “tech” stuff, but because there are more choices, and not much of a guidebook for helping people like you figure out what you need and what you don’t.

Future Proof Your Business Toolkit The complete strategy for building and promoting your first online offering, so that you can create a sustainable, thriving wellness practice without selling your TIME…and without the overwhelm

The Tell Your Story DIY Website Kit: Everything you need to build your own StoryBrand-based website: Beautiful DIVI templates, copywriting prompts, step-by-step instructions, and guidance

The Ultimate Email Marketing Bundle: Workshops cover building a simple lead magnet, email automations 101: Set-and-forget marketing, writing copy/storytelling, templates, and more! 

Repeatable Webinars: Step-by-Step: Everything you need to run a successful (and affordable) webinar funnel without having to “duct tape” it all together.

Need more help in setting up your own ecosystem for your online offering?

Save hours of your time and get started!

I offer systems consultations for $247.  Simply book a call to begin.

Step 1: You tell me your goals and objectives

Step 2: I research and assess what platforms will help you achieve your objective

Step 3: I create a report for you, along with any extra training materials I may have.

Don’t let this process keep you from your true potential. Once you get it all set up, you’ll wonder why you didn’t begin sooner.