I came into coaching by accident. Only 8 weeks after I launched Wonderful Web Women, someone contacted me and asked me to coach them. My response was “sure” then my next thought was “Oh S#*t, what is coaching anyway and how do I even know what to offer them?”.
I then had to figure out things like what to include in a coaching program, pricing, how long should a coaching program be, what resources to include , and then explore what would make a good coach as well.
I think I made every rookie mistake you could but managed to get great results for my clients anyway!
I share my lessons on experimenting with the how long a coaching program should be over here on this short podcast. You can watch in video, listen to the audio or skim read the transcript. Whatever works best for you.
Here are 3 mistakes I made, and what to do instead.
Charging an Hourly Rate
My first instinct as a coach was to offer an hourly rate. This is possibly what you’re doing right now.
If you focus too much on the hourly rate, people will be less focused on the outcome they will get by working with you and worry more about “What do I get per hour?” There is also the issue of value judgements on how much you are charging per hour. Some will think you’re overpriced or greedy while another group of clients will ask “can I get the results I want at that rate?”. You can’t win either way!
Charging by the hour also means you are constantly needing to sell the value of rebooking the next coaching call with you. This is bad energy to bring to the coaching relationship.
Selling Bundles of Time
When I realised that charging an hourly rate was not getting the best results for my clients or my own business, I created my first coaching bundles. I thought I was creating a coaching program but I wasn’t.
I simply sold bundles of coaching time, of 6 hours and 12 hours and was happy to create bundles of shorter time if that was what the client wanted. Of course, the longer the time you booked, the cheaper the hourly rate, as there had to be an incentive to book longer periods of time.
The problem is, the focus was on time and cost per hour, rather than on outcomes of working with me so I still had all the same problems of charging an hourly rate. This was not best for my clients or my.
Selling Coaching Programs That Are Too Short
Once you move away from the hourly rate model to creating coaching programs focused on the journey and the outcome, you then need to decide how long those programs will be.
A really common mistake is to make this decision based on the price you will charge.
For example, instead of creating a 6 month program you may create a 6 week program because it can be sold for a fraction of the price. At first glance this sounds really sensible and it is exactly what I did.
Here’s the problem though. If you know your client will need 6 months to achieve the outcome you are coaching them on, you are setting you both up to fail if you offer the 6 week program.
As an example, My Video Marketing Academy is designed to be a 6 week program, with lifetime access to teaching modules. That’s because I know this is the amount of time the average person needs to get confident on camera and clear on their message to create a series of videos.
My Rising Stars Coaching program, on the other hand, goes for 12 months with many clients choosing to return for another year. That’s because the journey and outcomes of this program are much larger. With the program, I help my clients build their brand, work out their own packages, bring in new clients, really launch their business, and of course create a system they can rinse and repeat. It simply takes time to create this in a business and have time to test, launch and tweak.
How To Determine How Long Your Coaching Programs Should Be
Before deciding how long should a coaching program be, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the outcomes I can expect my clients to achieve?
- What is the best time for the average person to achieve this outcome?
When deciding the optimal time a client needs to achieve an outcome keep this in mind:
There are three types of clients:
- There will always be the super client with a lot of focus who already knows exactly what they want to achieve and could make that happen within, say, a period of 3 months.
- Then there will be those who still need clarity on what it is they need and would take longer to get results. The process of finding out what their goals are alone would take months.
- Finally, there are the clients who are at that average pace.
When deciding how long should a coaching program be, don’t think of the extremes. Instead, find the median and then add a bit more time.
What if people say your coaching program is too long?
If you have an outcome of a program that is quite big, and thus requires a longer time, such as 12 months, you can guarantee some potential clients will ask you to offer a shorter program for a lower price.
Because you KNOW your client will get inferior results with less time, integrity dictates you need to educate them on WHY you can’t shorten the time frame as you know you will be setting them up to fail.
This means you will lose sales in some cases.
The alternative is to offer a shorter time frame and be very clear with the client the new, simpler outcome they can expect to achieve in that time.
In my books, it always comes down to integrity and doing what you know will be best for the client.
After all, they have come to you for help with transformation and achieving change.
Your programs must be designed to help them do that to the best of your ability.
What has been your experience both as a coach, consultant or transformational service provider and also as the customer of other people’s programs?
What has worked and what lessons have YOU learnt.
I’d love to hear from you.
If you take the time to comment below, know you very likely will provide the “ah-ha” that one of your fellow readers needs to hear.