Feeder Courses – What are they and how do they help your coaching business? (Mary Williams)
Feeder courses are some of the best ways to attract clients, but a lot of coaches and consultants struggle to understand what exactly feeder courses are and how to use them effectively. If the concept of feeder courses has you stumped, you’ll definitely want to tune into today’s conversation. In this episode, Melinda and Mary Williams explain everything you need to know about feeder courses and how they can help you scale your business.
• Episode summary: Bootcamps, introductory webinars, books, and joint ventures are some of the best methods of attracting clients who are immediately interested in what a coach has to offer. But why are these sometimes known as feeder courses? How much should you charge for a feeder course? Or should you just give them away as freebies? Today’s coaching conversation clarifies what feeder courses are, how to use them, and when to create them.
• In this episode, our host Melinda Cohan engages in an in-depth and lively discussion with Mary Williams about feeder courses and how to use them to grow your coaching business. Mary is a Chief Technology therapist who runs her own coaching and education business Sensible Woo and is also a coach for course creators at Mirasee. Mary and Melinda are both very excited about the prospect of using feeder courses to grow your coaching business and in this session, they’ll explain exactly how it’s done.
• In this episode we discuss:
- What are feeder courses?
- The pricing of feeder courses. Freebies or paid?
- The problem-solution problem-solution model.
- What is the best format for feeder courses?
– “Feeder courses are a really special little corner of our universe and it can be used really, really powerfully.” – Mary Williams
• Guest Bio:
• Mary is the Chief Technology Therapist at Sensible Woo, where she teaches highly sensitive & neuro-divergent online business owners how to replace technological chaos with a harmonious system. Through programs like Digital Feng Shui, her clients optimize their business foundation from an emotional and intuitive perspective so that they can delegate and automate without wasting time, money, or energy.
• She is an accredited librarian with a Master of Science in Information and set the foundation of her career as the first digital archivist for Disney Animation Studios. From there, she has worked with marketing agencies, entertainment technology companies, public libraries, fundraising organizations, and technology start-ups. You can connect with Mary at sensiblewoo.com
, subscribe for updates, and access her free library of learning resources.
Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:
- Coaches Console
- Guest - Mary Williams
- Host - Melinda Cohan
- Producer - Cynthia Lamb
- Executive producer - Danny Iny
- Writer - Michi Lantz, Melinda Cohan and Cynthia Lamb
- Assembled by - Geoff Govertsen
- Audio Post Supervisor: Evan Miles, Christopher Martin
- Audio Post Production by Post Office Sound
- Music soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely
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Publisher Name: A SOUNDSTRIPE PRODUCTIONEpisode transcript: Feeder Courses – What are they and how do they help your coaching business? (Mary Williams).
[00:00:05] Mary: How do you know you want to spend weeks and weeks and also lots of dollars on an experience? And a feeder course can be a very easy, low priced entry point for somebody to not feel the pressure of making that big decision so that when it does come time to make the big decision to do the deeper work with you, it becomes a no brainer decision.
[00:00:29] Melinda: Hello and welcome to just between coaches, the podcast that tackles difficult coaching conversations. Head on. My name is Melinda Cohan and I run a business called the coaches console. The coaches console has supported more than 50,000 entrepreneurs and creating their own profitable coaching business.
Today we're going to talk about an interesting and important topic, a subject you'll have to dive into if you're a course creator or thinking of becoming one. I'm talking about feeder courses. But first, what exactly is a feeder course? I sometimes call them intro courses or intro webinars or intro workshops but whatever you call them, feeder courses are an opportunity for people to experience you. They can learn a little bit about what you're about. They can experience your style as a coach. They can see how you support and interact with clients and there's an opportunity for prospects to just dip their toe in the water to see if they want to make the full commitment to pay for your premium services or programs.
Now to talk about feeder courses today, I've invited Mary Williams onto just between coaches. Mary is a chief technology therapist of her own coaching and education business sensible woo. She is also a coach for course creators of Mirasee. But before I bring Mary on, I'm going to read an email from a listener that reflects today's topic, as I've said in other episodes. Unless you tell me otherwise, any email that you send me that we read on the air will be anonymous. We want to encourage you to be open about what's troubling you without worrying about what your clients might think. Here's what anonymous had to say:
• Melinda. I know you are both a coach and of course creator. So I want to ask you how to deal with clients who are reluctant to do boot camps or give away freebies. A couple of my clients have expressed reluctance to jump into adding free three part webinars or courses to their action plan. They think it's putting their full expertise out there for free. They feel they dilute their service and also come off as too sales. E I also think they're afraid someone will steal their work. How can I help clients who are reluctant to do this when I believe that offering some type of feeder course is the next best step to expand and grow their business.
• Dear anonymous. I am so glad you brought up this topic and I want to be clear about something. I want to clear something up right away. You hear people refer to a pilot course. Sometimes now a pilot course is not the same thing as a feeder course. A pilot course is the first time you test out and offer your program or your ideas or the experience of the participants. A feeder course feeds people into your funnel so that they would eventually buy your course or by your program. And whenever you're enrolling a prospective student or a client into anything, whether it's a one on one enrollment conversation or through a feeder course, you're always enrolling them into three things. You're enrolling them into themselves. 1st, you're enrolling them into you as the guide, the coach and you're enrolling them into your ultimately you're bigger course or your program. So if feeder course has to meet all three of those requirements, prospects have to be able to see themselves and experience themselves in the course or webinar series of webinars that you offer, they feel what it's like to be a participant and they're having that student experience and then the feed of course also has to enroll them in into you as the coach, as the guide. So they get to see how you are as a leader, how you facilitate, how you teach, how you coach, how you serve, how you support them. And the third thing it has to do is to enroll them into your larger program. If your webinar or workshop does all three of those, it can be a great feed of course mm
• Today on just between coaches is our guest Mary Williams. Mary is a chief technology therapist of her own coaching and education. Business sensible woo. She also coaches course creators at Mirasee. Welcome Mary!
Mary: Hi Melinda, how are you?
Melinda: I am so good. I'm so excited to have you about this topic.
[00:04:47] Mary: Yes, I love this topic. Um and I love that you already gave our listeners some context because it is really confusing when we're building courses and we're coaching. Um you know, there's all the terms and there's all the things but feeder courses are a really special little corner of our universe and they can be used really, really powerfully,
[00:05:09] Melinda: especially when done well. And we're going to get into all those juicy details. But first will you give our listeners just a little bit of background about yourself so that they have a picture of who you are and where you come from?
[00:05:20] Mary: Yeah, so I am a for real librarian. I have my master of Science and information and I started in a corporate career. I was the first digital archivist at Disney Animation Studios, which was awesome. After doing some consulting with entertainment companies when I left out of the 95 now I work with small online business owners and help them with their systems and their software and I help them work with their operations and processes behind the scenes which you and I both find very near and dear to our hearts. And I also coach course builders at Mirasee, which is I think one of the most fun places to be because courses are really having their day. Finally we have software that can fully support the implementation of it and it really allows a lot of people who have a lot of great things to bring to the world a chance to make a difference. So I'm really excited to talk about it with you
[00:06:15] Melinda: and to start off with, can you give us your view on what feeder courses are and are not?
[00:06:22] Mary: So a feeder course is, as you said, something that should be bringing lots of great people into your funnel so that eventually they can buy your full course or come book, say V. I. P. Coaching with you or something like that. There is not the equivalent of a freebie. I think that's a really important distinction.
[00:06:45] Melinda: Yeah, there's different kinds, we'll we'll dive into that distinction. But really let's talk about the course itself. The feeder course, like, would you say a book like a book launch? Would that be a feeder course? What kind of content would you include in that?
[00:07:00] Mary: So for a feeder course, let's say it around a book launch. Um, you know, I would really take something that is doable and practical, out of the book content, something that's applicable in real life, turn that into something that can be put into action and that becomes the feeder course. I feel like courses are most impactful for consumers when they get some kind of transformation or benefit out of it. I'm a librarian, so I love information and I love reading about things and I love absorbing all kinds of juicy tidbits. But when it comes to learning, I really want to be able to apply that somehow somewhere. So if there is a book that you've written and you want to attract people further down into your funnel, um, you can offer them a theater course that will then allow them to put something practically into action that came out of the book and give them a real good flavor for what it's like to not just read about it, but to actually experience it. And I think those are the hallmarks that make a feeder course very impactful for people. And it can even create things like word of mouth advertising for you when people have great transformation, what do they do? They go and they tell everybody about what happened there. Like this was so amazing and that's really what we're hoping for.
[00:08:24] Melinda: So I just want to recap those three things they read about it. Like they learn whatever it is you're teaching, experience it and they implement it and I love that. It's like a taste like you pull out a sample, a little taste of whether it's for a book launch or whether you are offering a course or a program or an event or whatever. The thing is you pull out a piece of it, an item of it and that becomes your feet. Of course, that's what you focus on.
[00:08:53] Mary: Yeah. You know, I love a good food analogy and I like to say it's kind of like, you know, you go to the ice cream store and you're like, well I don't really know what flavor I want and what's the first thing you want to, you want to taste it. And I feel like consumers with the courses are the same way. You know, how do you know you want to spend weeks and weeks and also the lots of dollars on an experience and a feeder course can be a very easy, low priced entry point for somebody to not feel the pressure of making that big decision so that when it does come time to make the big decision to do the deeper work with you, it becomes a no brainer decision,
[00:09:31] Melinda: right? It's just the natural next step.
[00:09:33] Mary: Yeah.
[00:09:34] Melinda: Yeah. And I think right now, especially with how the world is and how especially courses are having their heyday right now, people are craving connections, new and different ways to connect with other and I think that a feeder course is a great way to have an experiential aspect of the learning, not just being isolated in the learning.
[00:09:58] Mary: I still agree with you. I feel like the thing that our old version which still has its place but old freebie lead magnet opt ins, they still have their place. But the thing they can't do is they can't give somebody that very visceral experience of being connected to you. And of course allows people to do that. Not that you can't get good things out of a pdf handout for instance by asking someone to take action is a really powerful thing. So instead of it just being a passive experience it becomes something very active. And as we all know when we take action and we start getting consistent with it, we actually see results. So when our clients can see some kind of result, even if if it's not the final full result, they're going to feel like they have this huge win and they're going to know how you are differentiated from your competitors in the market to
[00:10:53] Melinda: Yeah, because when you can wow them before they even become your client, you're creating raving fans before they've ever signed up.
[00:11:00] Mary: Yes, you can totally create raving fans with feeder courses. I feel like it's it's just one of the fastest, most effective ways to do it. Um but I love that you made the distinction earlier to, you know, this is not a pilot because you know you really do want to still pilot your work. You want to make sure that you validate and remove any assumptions you have about your market and about what you're offering and how people want it and once you're clear on that creating a feeder course becomes quite doable and quite simple because there's a clarity that you don't have if you're still not quite sure on what it is you're offering and who you're offering it to.
[00:11:36] Melinda: Yeah now earlier you were talking about feeder courses sometimes they could be free. Maybe there's a low price. Can you say more about that?
[00:11:46] Mary: Yeah so you know I feel like this comes down to a personal preference as a business owner and with the direction that you're trying to take your business in. I personally am a big fan and I know you agree with me to on this Melinda, I don't like giving everything away for free. I don't, I think that that is a wise thing to do and I really feel like a feed of course can be delivered quite effectively at a low price point. There's something really, really great about asking someone to pay a nominal fee and we're talking about something less than $100 here, it could be more than that, but even something less than $100 can totally work and what it does is it makes that person a little more serious about what they're trying to do, they're not just going around collecting free stuff, they realize that you are going to ask them to do something and participate here. And usually people like to get a return on their investment even if it's, you know, $20.40 dollars, $90 whatever that might be. And by asking somebody to pay for your feet, of course, it can also help sort out the people who are truly just about ready for you and those who still maybe might not be. Um that doesn't mean that you can't offer a free feeder course. I think free feeder courses also work, but when you're building your funnel, it's really important to have some intention around it. So you're not just creating some random free things, or even some random low priced feeder courses, that there's really a step by step journey that you want to lead your people through so that they have some cohesion to the experience.
[00:13:24] Melinda: I also think that, and I'd love your thoughts on this as well. It also depends what the feeder courses feeding into. Like if it's a lower priced program or lower priced online course as compared as relatively speaking to your high end signature program, you might have a different kind of feeder course, one might be free, going into a lower online course, one might be for a fee, going into a higher end premium package.
[00:13:57] Mary: Yeah, they're great ways to sort your your audience. Um It's a great way to let human behavior help you figure out who belongs where in your offers and by having something for an audience that you're still nurturing and growing them into slowly into your larger offers is a great thing. So you can have the free feeder going into something that's maybe a little bit smaller and then having something with a price tag attached. Really helps send a message to your audience that this offer this feeder course is really meant for a person who's at a certain point, you know, they're not just starting out there, not just looking for free things and trying to figure out what they don't know, that they don't know. You know, they're looking for an actual solution and they're willing to pay for it. And then those people becomes very clear, aha. If you are willing to pay me a couple $100 for this entry level feeder course, then that tells me based on what kind of behavior they display during the course, that they might be ready for the bigger coaching mastermind program or whatever it is that you're putting together.
[00:15:08] Melinda: Yeah. And it can serve as a qualifier so that, you know, the right kind of people are coming in so that those students or clients have the best experience and get the best results.
[00:15:19] Mary: Yeah. You know, I love using theater courses almost like prerequisites in college. You know, you have your prerequisite course and you can really monitor who's coming into those courses. And that way, if somebody maybe qualifies themselves for really advanced work and maybe they're not actually ready for it. You can catch it before they end up in a program that they're not ready for and then they become unhappy with you and it gives you a chance to really interact with your audience as well. So, um, you know, you can definitely use feeder courses and so many different levels, you can really be quite creative with them.
[00:15:55] Melinda: And I've even had the situation, I don't know if you've experienced this Mary. Uh somebody wanted to sign up for, I've got an online course and coaching program and they weren't quite ready after my team had a conversation with them instead of us saying, no, this is not for you were able to say this isn't for you, but I think if you do this and we had our three day workshop, our feeder course, if you do this, that's going to help you get ready. And so it gave them a place to go, but still keep them in our world.
[00:16:26] Mary: Yeah, I I feel like our audiences are really just craving to be nurtured. You know, when they fall in love with your program, like millennials, so many people who freaking love coaches console, it's an amazing community and they want to be a part of that community. But you know, if they're not quite ready for the full coaching business system, they can hop into something that helps them get ready and then they feel more successful as they continue to graduate into the next program in the next program and they actually build a better business. You help them with whatever it is that they're working on.
[00:17:02] Melinda: Now. Have you ever experienced pushback from students or from clients that you think should be doing a feeder course? Like what are some of their concerns if you've had that experience?
[00:17:13] Mary: I find that pushback usually comes because people aren't ready for something or they're just not a good fit for the community, in which case that's great information as a coach to know that your messaging needs to be refined and um, and that can also help build your business too
[00:17:29] Melinda: interesting. Now the beautiful thing about feeder courses is that when you make the move from 1 to 1 to one too many, like you're able to serve a lot more people at once, right? But if a coach or consultant or the expert, if, if they haven't really dialed in the enrollment conversation or the, the basic fundamentals of the feeder course, it can be very easy for them to give away too much in their feeder course and then they're sitting there hoping and praying that somebody will sign up, which is never a great strategy.
[00:17:59] Mary: No, that's not a great strategy. It's one of the worst feelings in the world. Like I've built this thing where is everybody,
[00:18:08] Melinda: one of the things that we have done. Um, so that our clients don't give away too much in something like a feeder courses. I teach them the problem solution, problem solution model. And so when your prospects first encounter you, whether it's by, you know, we're talking about a lead magnet earlier, they, somebody refers them to you or an event like they are living in this area of challenges and frustrations, right? That you helped them in and your feet of course is that initial solution to one of those challenges? It's not the end all be all. But it should just solve that first step or that one piece. And at the end of the feeder course, there should be a new problem that arises and then your package or your course or your program, whatever your offer is, That's the new solution to that new problem. That's what I call a problem solution problem solution. Do you use that model Mary or do you use some other model when you're teaching your students to build a feed?
[00:19:10] Mary: Of course, I really love that model. Um, I love how you always talk about a problem solution problem solution. I like to build things. I'm a visual person and my people tend to be quite visual too. So I'll draw diagrams a lot of times. I love using pyramids because I find that a lot of people have a big grand vision of, you know, in Utopia. This is what it looks like at the end. And um and that's like the tippy top pointed part of the pyramid. But every pyramid has a base. And I find that feeder courses really create that base of the pyramid. Like you can't have the beautiful golden pointy tippy top of the pyramid without the base. And each thing should naturally lead into the next like a set of stairs. You know, you should feel like you can climb to the next stare and I think it's so important that we learn that, you know, everything gets built one thing at a time and it gets built by truly listening to what people are telling us over time as your courses and your business evolves, you'll notice that sometimes things shift, but so long as you're listening to your people and your staying engaged and you're not thinking, well, I created that once. So you know, like my hands, I'm done as long as you're not approaching it that way, you will stay in that that beautiful zone of being able to pivot gracefully when the pivot is needed and you stay ahead of the curve and it makes you a leader in your field. People realize that, oh, you know, she really has it together. Like I I know that I can depend on this person to hear me and understand what's going on and be responsive in those core clients that we have. You know, they love creating with us. They're the first people who will raise their hands and opt into something new will help give you all that feedback that you need and you can figure out at that point has the problem changed? How is the solution changing? How do I continue to line these up and away? Just like you said, problem solution, problem solution, make sure that as they solve the problem, there's always another solution that you can offer them and it puts the clients at ease too. Is what I find
[00:21:21] Melinda: now, I know that with some of my clients, I will run into this fear that they have, um, you know, well if I give my stuff away for free, somebody else will take it and now they'll use it and then I can and so I really make a distinction with my clients competition vs. Collaboration and uh more than enough to go around and I find that I have to remind them sometimes and reframe that. So they're like, oh right, yes, I can move forward with this strategy. What do you think is the best format for a feeder course? What have you found to be the most successful?
[00:21:57] Mary: Again, I think it depends kind of on your will, definitely depends on your audience and it also depends on where you're at in your process. So if you were a brand new two courses, it's a lot more powerful to deliver something live, because you get the immediate feedback loop from people, we talk about this all the time in morrissey when we're helping people launch their pilots. So at the beginning I'm a real fan of delivering something small live once or twice and then turning it into something that can be replicated over and over again. I've even taken material that has been delivered for, say, a conference or a summit, like I've re recorded them and then put them in my online classroom and turned it into a free feed of course and that is a really effective thing. You know, if you have a signature talk, you can deliver it in a free feeder course, have an attached workbook with it. Really use it as a great lead magnet and drive traffic into it so that when you're guests on a podcast or you're being featured in someone's blog, that's the link you give out.
[00:23:06] Melinda: So Mary, let's go back to the dilemma that anonymous is facing the clients who are afraid that their work will be stolen. Do you protect your work?
[00:23:15] Mary: I find that the majority of people don't really want to copy your work. They really don't. They respect what it is that you're offering. They might become inspired by what you do if you do something really unique and different and I don't think that's a bad thing. Um, I have people in my systems world who are technically my competitors and we tend to inspire each other regularly, but we also know the point at which we refer people to the other person and that comes from having a really good relationships, you know, this is just like business one oh one good relationships, Melinda, you have this amazing training inside of the coaching business system program that is just so good about networking and building relationships. I freaking love that training and so I find that stopping yourself from putting real help out into the world is the opposite of what we really want to be thinking as coaches. So if you're thinking that I would really challenge yourself, I would challenge our anonymous listener. Do you really think about where does that fear come from? You know, it isn't legitimate.
[00:24:23] Melinda: Yeah. Like what's underneath it? And, and I would also say I'm a big fan of having that abundance mindset and protecting your work right? The copyright that comes to you naturally for my signature stuff that I've created. That's my unique approach on a certain topic. I even trademark it so that it's like my voice in the world that says this is mine, use it. But give me uh reference credit and for me it helps me put my head on the pillow at night and sleep well knowing that I've protected what I've created. So I can more freely put it out there.
[00:25:02] Mary: But you know, I think it's really important to make a distinction here because if you are a coach who is just getting started with courses and you're thinking about creating a feed of course on top of that. Um to start diving down the rabbit hole of have to protect everything and I have to file a trademark and everything is a little bit premature. You have to put your workout to a certain extent before you start filing all those things. Because if you make drastic changes, the thing you just filed for is no longer valid.
[00:25:31] Melinda: So anonymous. Let's summarize a couple of things that we've talked about today. The beautiful thing about a feeder courses that when you make that move from 1 to 1 to one too many, you can really serve more people at once. And a feeder course feeds people into your final into the opportunities that you have for them so that they can then eventually by your course or your program, it's a feeder into your next step into a bigger program. And in order to avoid giving away too much in your feet of course you should create the feeder course after you've structured your program. And even like Mary was saying after you've run a pilot or two or really proven some of the assumptions, so we call reverse engineering, right? And also to come from a place of collaboration instead of competition or fear that keeps us and prevents us from putting our work out there. That can help people collaboration will help open up and connect and sell and serve to those that really need what we have to offer. And I mean that's what we're here as coaches to do. And then I just one of my favorite things is what you said Mary that by having a feeder course, our potential clients can learn from us. They can experience it, they can implement it. It's not a passive experience, it's an active experience that gets results. And that's I mean, what I believe is we're in this amazing age, what I call the results revolution and that's what are the new buyer that's emerging our potential clients. That is what they are desperately seeking as results. And I think feeder courses are a great way to do that Mary do you have anything else that you want to say to anonymous?
[00:27:11] Mary: I would say go for it. Taking. Being wildly imperfect in moving forward is one of the most powerful things you can do. And if you haven't, I think we've laid it out pretty well here. If anonymous hasn't yet launched a pilot start there and there are very logical steps to launching your pilots going to force you to really know your
[00:27:33] Melinda: audience and really understand what you're offering
[00:27:35] Mary: and refine it. And then later on dive into the feeder course so that you can bring more people into that full course that you create as a result. And when you follow those steps and we don't try to skip too many
[00:27:47] Melinda: steps, we actually
[00:27:48] Mary: grow faster. So that would be my biggest advice for anonymous.
[00:27:52] Melinda: Well I want to thank you for listening into this episode of just between coaches and also a big thank you to Mary Williams for this fascinating conversation Mary, let's do this again sometime.
[00:28:03] Mary: Yes, definitely. I had so much fun talking with you,