Episode 106

Is it time to shake up the online coaching industry?

Transcript

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I saw a heartbreaking post from a lady last week, who said she was so Uber hot seating programs. If you haven't heard of hot fee team, it's a style of coaching where participants each get time in the hot seat, as it were to get coaching from the educator leading the program, this lady had waited patiently for 45 minutes on an online call with at least 20 other program participants to be called on to speak.

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Only to watch someone who's already had a term gets the second goat. I also, how much she was paying for the program and how many participants there were around 300, all paying $5,000. I'm Janet Murray, a content and online business strategist. Who's tired of hearing stories like this of hearing about women getting duped by the online coaching industry. In this episode of the courageous content podcast,

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I share my thoughts on why this is happening and why women are getting taken in again and again. So in her post, this lady said she wanted to advocate for learners for the students in coaching and learning programs who need a voice. And I really couldn't agree more. Now the former journalist in me has to say at this point that this information is not verified.

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I don't know who this coach is, which means I can't get their side of the story, but even working on the assumption that those numbers are correct, 300 people paying $5,000 for a program where there is no guarantee of personalized guidance from the coach leading at work. I think that speaks for itself. Doesn't it. And what I can say with some confidence is that I've heard this story or versions of it too many times because the online course industry is not regulated,

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which is why so-called coaches can get away with charging extortionate amounts for group programs like this, where students aren't getting the personalized attention they need to progress. And what worries me about this is that so many women are buying into these kinds of group programs in the first place and not speaking up about how awful they are. I wonder if this is perhaps because they feel embarrassed or ashamed that they haven't made the progress they hoped when actually it's the person selling the program that should feel embarrassed and ashamed for selling it to them in the first place.

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And I'm wondering how we can stop this happening and how we can encourage women to be more discerning when they're making decisions about how and where to invest their money for online education and illustrate my point. Oh, let's talk about a program that I took back in 2014. I think it was when I was just starting my online business journey. And just to be absolutely clear,

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I am not speaking on this particular program or the person who created it. I'm just using it as an example because it keeps popping up in my feed at the moment. So the program is called B-School and if you haven't heard of it, it's an online business program created by a lady called Marie Forleo. Now don't get me wrong. Marie Forleo knows her stuff,

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but I paid about 800 pounds at the time, which was a heck of a lot of money for me then. And it was fine. I definitely learned some good stuff that I was able to apply in my business, but I took courses at the time and have done since which were less expensive, which were just as good. And in some cases work better.

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So why do we have a situation where people are paying someone like Marie Forleo or some of these other big well-known online course, creators, millions and millions, billions, even of pounds to take programs that are not really any better or any worse than anything else out there? Well, here's my take with Marie Forleo, but also some of the big online influences there.

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So consistency with content, you certainly can't fault. Marie Forleo on that. She's been showing up on YouTube with a weekly show for years. She really does know her staff and she is a consistent content creator, but the marketing is flick. If you look at her testimonial videos, for example, sometimes she's created in the past. They're really, really high quality.

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I remember seeing one around the time that I took the course where they clearly either flown someone over to the UK to do a testimonial or flying them to the U S somewhere. And it's hard not to get taken in by that slick marketing. And Marie is beautiful. She has gorgeous hair teeth, lovely figure. She used to be a personal trainer and dancer.

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I think she's about the same age as me. I think late forties, she looks amazing. And however much we don't want to be taken him by things like that. We just can't help it. Subconsciously we are drawn to things that look pretty and she does. But the other thing, and I think this one is so much more significant is that creators of programs like B-School have these massive affiliate networks of people who sell their courses for them.

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And they're not any old people. They are usually the most influential coaches in their space. So basically you've got Maria at the top and then you've got a load of other really beautiful glamorous, successful coaches beneath her who are all out selling this program. And just to reiterate, I am not picking on school here. I could reel off so many other programs that work in the same way.

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What I'm actually talking about here is affiliate marketing ecosystems and how they hurt the very people they're supposed to be helping. So case in point, if you Google B school, a block pops up on the first page from an entrepreneur who casually mentions making a couple of hundred thousand from school. And yes, you did hear right, a couple of hundred thousand dollars,

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which you could argue is fair enough. Being an affiliate can be hard work. You have to create a lot of content and basically do a full on digital product launch. So sure you could argue that these online entrepreneurs deserve to make additional money from selling other people's programs because they've done their Jew because they've rolled up their sleeves and done the work they've built their own audiences.

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They showed up consistently creating content. Why not cash in on that success? Well, I think it would be fair enough if it wasn't for the fact that there are only two types of entrepreneur for whom it makes sense to pause their own marketing for a few weeks or even months to sell someone else's products or services. The first type, these successful online influencers I've already talked about.

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Who've already made tons of money from their own digital products. They have an audience and they know how to run a successful launch, or they have the means to pay someone else, to do it for them. The second type of person for whom it would make sense to pause their marketing and sell somebody else's digital product is the person who is earning so little that they can actually make more money selling other people's products than that.

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And it may not even be that they're earning nothing. It's just that they can earn more by selling somebody else's digital products. And someone's told me a story recently about someone that they knew who had been a very successful affiliate for one of these programs, which was designed to help you launch your own online program. But they got stuck in this awful place where they were selling a program that they knew didn't work because they hadn't managed to get their own digital course off the ground,

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but they needed the money. And it went on for quite a few years. So in a sense, the money they paid for that program actually held them back from building their own business. If you're still struggling to see the problem with these big kinds of affiliates ecosystems, let me explain it to you another way. And again, I'm going to use B-School as an example,

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but I could be talking about tons of different online programs here. Once a year, the wealthiest online educators get together to promote one online business or marketing program, which is basically they do this massive big launch, which creates a kind of virtual flashmob. Everyone's talking about B-School everyone's asking whether it's worth investing. All the big coaches are offering bonuses. I remember the year that I invested,

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there was a coach who was offering a mastermind with her in Paris. It just sounded so cool. It sounded so amazing to go to Paris and hang out this amazing coach and learn more of this amazing stuff. But you did find yourself wondering how she was able to offer this for free to anyone who bought B school via her. Now this is not verified,

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but a few years back, I remember one of my friends telling me, and I think I'm remembering this rightly that she was reselling this program for. I think it was a thousand dollars commission per sale. So if you are a big internet marketer with a massive big audience, you can sell a lot of this and you can influence people to buy this program.

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Even if you haven't taken it yourself, or even if you've taken it and you thought it was okay, but it wasn't going to set the world on fire. And even, and this is the crucial bit for me, even if you don't think that is the best thing for your customers or clients, when I'm working with the members of my Courators Club,

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the thing I find myself thinking all the time is if I could just get more time with them, if I could just get to sit down with that person and look at their copy with them to help them rewrite it. If I could just have that time with them once a month. But I can't because there's only one of me and there's hundreds of them in my membership program,

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but I know that that's the bit that would make the difference. I know that's the bit that's missing for them. So for me to recommend that they join a program that has a thousand times more people in the program than in mine, where I'm thinking to myself, I want to give them more. They need more. That would just be unethical of me,

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I think, which is why I don't get involved in these kinds of programs. But back to these super wealthy online educators, getting together to promote this program. So not only does this make them all richer, it's effectively wiping out the competition. I mean, who can get close to B school as a business and marketing program when all the heavyweights or the most successful online course creators across a whole range of different disciplines are flogging this program who can get close.

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And it's not just the case in the business and marketing space because these influential, super rich affiliates are also the wealthiest coaches in their space, hails, finance, personal development, PR fitness, you name it. There are big coaches selling these programs across every industry, which is making it harder for others to rise to the top. And this is why big affiliate launches tend to produce too many graduates who are scrambling around in Facebook groups trying to sell half baked programs to each other because when all the big influencers have had their fill,

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there's nothing left for programs. So what does this mean for you? Well, if you're an online business owner, he's taking part in launches like this for, from empowering women to build a successful business, you're actually helping to ensure they say bottom of the, and if you're a business owner who's buying into these systems, then effectively, you're paying people to keep you at the bottom.

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And by the way, I do mean women here because it typically is where men who are trying to build flexible side hustle, businesses that fit around cabin responsibilities. It's just how it is. I'm speaking up about this because I really want to bring about some change and how can you contribute to the change? So, first off, if you're an online coach or educator,

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I would really urge you to think twice about getting involved in large affiliate launches as a seller. And particularly if you're new in the game, because it can become a trap. The last thing you want is to be in a situation where it makes more sense for you to sell someone else's program than yours. That's going to start the quotes of your business.

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So focus instead on developing your own high-quality, digital products and services and building your own audience and email list, this will help you build a sustainable business and will serve you and your clients much better in the long run. I mean, do you really want to be known for your expertise or do you want to be known as that person who sells whatever program it might be?

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If you're an entrepreneur or course creator, who's thinking about joining programs like this, I'd really urge you to take an expert influencers approach to sourcing your online education or training. And don't assume that a high price tag means a high quality or vice versa. I'll talk more about this in a future episode, but the irony of this is that I'm probably one of the few online business owners in the UK who has sold at scale selling hundreds or thousands of units or digital products.

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There's not many of us around actually, but there are people out there who haven't sold in the volumes that I have. They don't have the same email lists. They don't know how to build funnels. They don't know how to do upsells and down sells, and they don't know how to sell anything. But these high ticket programs in relatively small volumes, they're charging more than I do to teach things that they have no track record in.

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It's just mad. And please just do your due diligence around checking success rates for any program you invest in and try not to get sucked in by the big showy entrepreneur lifestyle content I shared with you quite openly, that I hired a house to have my photos taken in because mine wasn't nice enough. And it wasn't really big enough either because my house is so small,

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but a lot of people wouldn't tell you that I was quite open when people said, oh, you've got a nice house. I said, it isn't my house. I wish it was finally, I am definitely not perfect. I've made mistakes. I've been taken in by some of this stuff. I've used the six and seven-figure business stuff, partly.

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And we'll cover this in a future episode because if I'm going to sell people, content programs that are designed to generate more money for their business, I feel like I should be able to offer that social proof, but partly because sometimes it feels like people don't want to listen to anything else, but I don't let people sell my products or services who don't genuinely know and love them.

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And even then, because of the price point of my products, nobody's going to get rich off selling my plan, that they might make a few hundred pounds at the most because I don't have overpriced programmes. It's generally pennies for most people and it's not. Cause I mean, it's just the price point. I also don't take part in big affiliate launches.

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I tried one affiliate launch, which was a bundle launch. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I hate the fact that it's probably cost me more to provide the customer service for this affiliate bundle launch that I took part in. I hate the fact that this product was, I think, a bundle of hundreds of different courses that there's no way anyone would ever get to look at and actually looking at them all.

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It's just wasting time. So I will never do it again. And I don't pimp out the audience that I've built. Last year. I was approached by a tech firm who asked me to name my price. Did I want a car, a house, a holiday or something for my business, just name my price to give them access to my audience,

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to basically let them sell to my audience. They weren't interested in me. They weren't interested in my content expertise or how I built my audience. They just want you to access to you. And I think you deserve better, which is why I told them to stick it. I am not perfect, but I value the community that I've built online. I want to treat them like I would like to be treated.

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And I certainly don't want to take advantage of anyone. So I'd love to know what you thought of this episode. It is quite courageous for me. And what am I aiming this year is to start conversations about what's going on in this industry and to challenge some of the language and some of the myths that I believe keep women where they are rather than empower them to build successful businesses.

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If you'd like to be part of the conversation, there's a couple of ways that you can get involved. So you can reach out to me on social media at the best place to catch me is generally Instagram. I'm at Jen Murray UK, or you could leave me a question or a comment over on apple podcasts and the review and recommendations section and while you're.

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There, you can leave me a review if you enjoyed the podcast, that will be most appreciated because it helps get the podcast out to more people. And if you do so, I will read it out and read your name out on the podcast. And one final word I want to leave you with. Remember people get paid to go to Napa island and have their photo taken with Richard Branson.

About the Podcast

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Courageous Content with Janet Murray
Content marketing advice for small businesses

About your host

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Janet Murray

I’m Janet Murray and I’ve helped thousands of coaches, creative and entrepreneurs learn how to create engaging content – so they can build their online audience and make more sales in their business.

I’m also a podcaster and keynote speaker who has spoken all over the world about content marketing and building online audiences.

Work with me and I’ll teach you the strategies I’ve used to grow a multi six figure online business, selling digital products (including Ebooks, online courses and two membership sites). And launch a physical product – the Social Media Diary & Planner, which has sold thousands of copies, all over the world.