- Christie Mims is the founder of Coach Pony, a company that helps new life coaches learn the business side of coaching.
- While she’s grown a big email and social community as a part of her business, she was also able to create a sustainable income from a very small email list.
- Mims shared with Business Insider exactly what worked in her email marketing: Simply, she sent out a targeted email to a select group of individuals who had engaged with her work before.
- Mims argued that this is a strategy that any new freelancer, consultant, or coach should consider when trying to build revenue out of a small customer base.
Are you thinking of starting an online business? Maybe you’re ready to quit your day job, or start a side hustle. And you know that to be successful, you’ll have to build an email list. But every time you sit down to make it happen, you think, “I’ll never reach enough people to support myself!”
Don’t panic! It is possible to support yourself with a smaller community. I’ll break down exactly what I did in gory detail, so you can set yourself up for success.
But before I do, I want to clear up some myths that might be preventing you from taking action, or might become a pitfall along the way.
You might find yourself listlessly sitting in front of your computer thinking, “How on earth am I going to reach 1,000 or 10,000 people? I won’t sell anything until I find all of them!”
This isn’t necessarily true. Now in full disclosure, sales is a numbers game, meaning that to get one sale you usually need to reach at least several people — so numbers do matter. But you don’t need to reach thousands in order to sell your service or product if it’s something people want.
For instance, while I do have tens of thousands of people in my community, I haven’t needed all of them to generate tons of revenue. I’ve done plenty of launches to email lists that number in the low hundreds (and obviously less — you’ve seen the title of this article!), and I’ve made tens of thousands of dollars from each of those tiny groups.
What pushes people from browsing to buying is the relationship that you build with them first. (More on that in a second!)
Just sending out a few emails to random people in your network announcing your new life coaching business or amazing new essential oils kit will not make people buy from you. Often times it’ll just annoy the heck out of them.
What does work? Sending emails to people who already know you, and have indicated an interest in your product or service.
Maybe they’ve opted-in to a freebie on your website or signed up to receive emails from you, or maybe you met them at a networking event and they asked to be added to your newsletter. This works because as a very general principle, we like reading emails about stuff we are interested in, from a person or brand we trust (or at least has a point of view we find intriguing).
Over time, these emails will help build the relationship and establish rapport. When that trust is built, your email announcing your exciting new offer will start to get people to say yes.
First things first: I believe in brutal honesty. So when you see articles with titles like this one, or even more hyperbolic ones like, “I made $100,000 from 5 people and you can too!” you should be a little suspicious.
Here’s why: There’s usually something these folks aren’t telling you.
In my case, it’s this: This group of 16 people had already bought something of mine. They were previous customers. So the relationship between us was already strong, and they clearly were very familiar with my work and trusted me to deliver on my promises. This is why I keep harping on relationships (wink!).
And now to the gory details!
I have a business called Coach Pony, where I help new life coaches learn the business side of coaching so that they can support themselves as life coaches. I was beta-testing a new program on business building several years ago, and I invited a few select people to join the beta test for a reduced price of $600. This was a live, eight-week group coaching program I was ultimately planning on selling for over $1,000, but I offered a steep discount for the first run. I did that so I could test some new ideas on my students and prove the program was worth more, because it delivered real results and paying clients for their businesses that far outstripped their investment.
(This, by the way, is a great way to start a service or coaching business and get customers. Give them a price break on new programs or offerings as you begin. It takes the pressure off of you to be perfect, and it allows interested folks to get a taste of your magic and build a relationship with you).
We sold out of the 16 available slots in the beta program, and as it finished I offered another, much deeper, follow-on program just to the original 16 who had enrolled in the test. This next live group program was much more advanced and intense, and was set to last three full months, including a full three-day, in-person retreat.
The follow-on program was priced at $3,500 and more limited in size. Because this was a group that knew me extremely well, making the offer was simple. In this case, I sent an email to them announcing the program, then sent a second email going much deeper into the benefits of the program and what was included, and finally I offered to chat on the phone to see if it was a good fit for those who were interested, if they felt the need to talk it through.
Two emails and only two phone chats later, I had five people of the original 16 enrolled, for a total of $17,500. Which means my conversion rate was right around 30% — extremely high for the online world where offerings often convert at 0.5% to 1%. But again, it’s so high because these people were already customers. So … mystery solved!
So ultimately what did I do right? I built a great relationship with the right clients. They were the right clients because by buying into the beta program, they had already indicated they wanted and needed this type of help. And because we had a good relationship, they trusted me to deliver value and were therefore ready to sign on for more!
In your case, that trust might be built from something else. Maybe they experience some free training or you offer a free sample of what you do. And by signing up for that freebie, they indicate they’re interested in your services or product, so they’re at least willing to hear an offer. Maybe it’s something else. Feel free to get creative!
Just remember this: Keep it simple, and start with the idea that we are all human and therefore we are all interested in relationships. If you do that, you quickly realize you don’t need thousands of people to begin to be successful … you just need a few.
Christie Mims is the founder of Coach Pony, the best community for new life coaches who want to have a real business with paying clients. In addition to that, she’s a Forbes Top 100 Career Coach and the founder of The Revolutionary Club, a career coaching business that serves smart people who want to find their passion. Need a business boost of your own? Read this insanely helpful article on why people don’t buy life coaching (and what you are really selling instead), which will change your business. It’s time to start helping people already!