Sunday, December 23, 2012

Case Study #01 – The World of Soccer

A day off the blog yesterday, while reflecting on the just completed 12 Steps That Lead To A Financially Successful Career as a Teacher of Alexander Technique. Friends from Sweden are in town, and we headed off to a Xmas get together at Amriel’s in Brunswick Heads. There I met an old friend and fellow Alexander Technique teacher Jonathon. I unexpectedly worked the 12 steps with him, along the way designing an alternative life…

Step 1 – Motivation
Jonathon is passionate about soccer. He also knows how to make money – having successfully built a local company selling fresh organic greens – and he completed an Alexander Technique Teacher Education at a STAT certified school in Sydney more than 15 years ago. All ingredients that demonstrate he has the success drivers in place to make a new career teaching…

Step 2 – Who to Teach?
Soccer players, coaches, organisations. This is a huge industry, worth billions, so the notion that there is no money to make is not tenable. There is money flowing in great amounts in this industry, the question is…

Step 3 – Where to Start?
Obviously small – Jonathon leads a club in a network of 22 clubs in the area that handle the coaching, scheduling and competition between teams. He is known there, he knows others, so what can he do in that small pool to bring attention to Alexander Technique’s relevance to soccer…

Step 4 – Service Product
Obviously taking soccer players in and out of chairs won’t interest players – what does? Is kicking a problem? Or power? What kind of “workshops” or “info products” that are full of helpful tips from the revolutionary Alexander Technique perspective can Jonathon sell? Does he do workshops, or sell coaching sessions, or work on rehabilitation? Creating a service that people will pay for is built on deep, insider knowledge of what people want…

Step 5 – Industry Guide
Who’s a go-to person who could help Jonathon figure out a way to build his reputation within this soccer industry? Or look to other sports – are there examples of coaches or teachers arising that can influence and build a reputation? Finding a person with the right mix of experience could hasten the journey considerably… Who is Jonathon going to find as his coach?

Step 6 – Communication
In building his presence, the first step is to start talking with people – where are people going now get new ideas? Who does he already know that could team up with? What forums are available for presenting his ideas? This is the time to think through the ways that he will reach people, which media and methods…

Step 7 – Make A Blog
Starting a blog is the simplest way to leverage his information to attract followers. It takes time, and it gives an opportunity to express what he knows… It is the true test of what he has to offer, and he can use the blog to build content for new service products. To find out the interest of the market: is he able to build a following to his blog?

Step 8 – Back-End Business
Perhaps his market is coaches – dedicated individuals like Jonathon who want to improve their ability to be effective? Or are there individual players at a professional level who might seek his advice? Another vision is as a successful coach, but that is a very tight income opportunity – very few make it there. Or in the longer term, would he start a sports training school that produced great players? It is hard to know what the back-end business can be, but as he attracts fans to his blog, this is the question to keep asking…

Step 9 – Undoing Stories
The biggest story is “I can’t make money from Alexander Technique in the world of soccer.” So is this true? How do you know? The truth is, no-one has ever tried. Alexander Technique itself is a powerful tool which can deliver spectacular results. The challenge Jonathon has, is to demonstrate this to soccer devotees. Alexander Technique is a tool that no-one knew they needed until they had it, and now they can’t do without it. Any story that would stop the progress of this great discovery leading to support needs to be unknotted…

Step 10 – Launching…
The first launch is the blog – telling people, announcing it on soccer forums, handing out mention of it at his club matches. The second is having information available for downloading, the next is writing a book. Or… What is the plan?

Step 11 – Becoming an Authority
Jonathon’s plan needs to include becoming a “someone” in the industry: that can be done in many different ways. Writing for magazines is an obvious start, being a speaker and coaching a winning team are others. In the world of soccer, what speaks loudest is a career of wins: backing and coaching a successful team. Jonathon needs to team up with winners, associate with the best. Tangible results. When that is achieved…

Step 12 – Making deals
Opportunities start to appear to grow outside the small pond and go national, go international, go professional.

All the above is a bit loose, yet it does show that with the right mix of dogged persistence, great content and some daring and bold moves, Jonathon could position himself as the first Alexander Technique teacher in the world to break into the soccer niche, and make a great living doing what he loves. It is a lifetime plan, and it's a life worth living…

Friday, December 21, 2012

Step 12 – Make Joint Venture and Affiliate Deals

Last week in Tokyo, we gathered together a group of people in the music industry to meet, talk Alexander and develop a relationship. We had an NHK composer, two Professors of Music, two magazine editors, a book publisher, a Jazz singer, several free lance journalists, Administrators from both university and private music schools, and some accomplished, classical musicians. What was more important than any immediate outcome, was simply establishing the basis of a relationship.

Who could you host for an Alexander Technique event in your area?

Next year we are launching the BodyChance Affiliates program. With that we plan to offer our graduates opportunities to work with companies with whom we are currently developing these relationships, while also educating them in the ideas that I am sharing in this blog. This is part of BodyChance’s plan to establish Alexander Technique more permanently in Japan – relationships with institutions has been one of the tried and true methods in the West to achieve this. It recently came to my attention that Alexander Technique has been part of the Royal College of Music in London for over 50 years. Wow!

What opportunities exist for you?

Landing a job in an institution is no easy task – it is usually a longer term project, but if you start working on it, time will pass quickly enough. It’s part of a mind set that starts thinking like this: what do I have which will help organisations with their problem?

When you approach someone at an organization to make an arrangement, the primary question needs to be: how can I help that person? What is the problem that I can solve for them? This is no different from niche marketing, except now the problems are quite different. You may have an advocate whose problem is budgetary or political, nothing to do with the veracity of Alexander Technique! Can you offer them a great course for next to no cost?

One teacher I know in Australia has been teaching a small course like this at an Adult Education Centre in Sydney for almost 20 years. He makes next to nothing for the work, but told me that a large portion of his long term students have been sourced from that course. Working in these kind of simple, low paying situations turns out to be beneficial to you in the longer run – factor in that income as part of your course payment!

Firstly, you gain access to a new audience while actually being paid to do so. It’s a marketers dream.

Secondly, people often feel safer joining a course through an institution, rather than directly with you. They advertise your course in their brochures and website – it is more impersonal and removed, so if participants don’t like it, they can withdraw without any confrontation. This is marketing – leveraging the lists of other people to access students for you. 

You can also advertise these courses on your own website for the same reasons - people feel safer going to a known institution first. The people who then like your work may well carry on with you after the course, especially if they signed up through finding it on your personal website.

Another version is offering to enhance the work of another practitioner. For a newly graduated teacher, a joint workshop with a singer, fitness expert, dance teacher - or just being a free or lowly paid assistant - can give you both teaching experience and the chance to network. You are not directly looking for clients – although if someone asks you can give them your card – you are developing relationships. If you have your blog, E-zine and free downloads in place – letting people know about this free and helpful information is a non-threatening way to start building a relationship with them…

Look around you. Notice the music, dance and fitness clubs that exist. Know that for every 100 people you can be in contact with, it is certain that you will gain 1 long term student, another 4 to 5 shorter term, and possible another 15 if you have your marketing and sales funnel worked out. Once you have built your marketing machine, the process that orientates them to you is automated, so your job now is to keep filling up the funnel with new people.

Finding opportunities with others is one of the easiest ways to build relationships that can benefit you both. When students in your joint workshop with a singer are wowed by what you offered, the singers reputation is also enhanced. Once the most prestigious Music University in Tokyo decided to bring in a BodyChance teacher, slowly the other music schools started thinking they better have Alexander Technique in their curriculum too.

Of course, if you have already established your Self as an Authority and Celebrity, it will start working the other way around. People will be coming to you with all kinds of offers and opportunities.

Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Step 11 – Nurture Your Celebrity/Authority

This morning I was advising a Angela Bradshaw in England about her website. She was wondering how it could be improved, and as we dialogued I discovered that her clients included: “…Mums, pregnant ladies, therapists in many forms, business people, medical professionals, athletic types, musicians…” I thought: who would want to niche down with such an interesting variety of students? The answer is - Angela is already niched. The “niche” is Alexander Technique, which in England these days is a viable niche, probably one of the few countries in the world in which you can. Alexander Technique is more of a household name in England.

Added to that, Angela is an empathetic woman, with a para-medical background. All of this is on clear show at her website. She is using an early stage version of the Celebrity/Authority strategy: it relies on being a sparkling person capable of generating word of mouth and referrals. This can either substitute for, or enrich your online strategy. It is possible to build just one system, much stronger to build both. In the end, they will both grow and complement each other.

In BodyChance we charge for all our Introductory Sessions, but if members bring a friend, both can come for free. Our analysis shows that friend referrals account for a large number of new members. Perhaps that’s what you need to be doing? Start by asking this question…

What are you now – a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond? Which is better for you to follow?

As long as your pond (niche, location, product, blog and/or backend) can supply sustenance, go for the small pond every time. Why? It’s easier! Your long term aim is to become a “name” in your market, someone people will talk about: that’s easier to do when there’s less people to reach. And it creates a base from which to spring into new markets, gradually widening your appeal.

The advantage of becoming a celebrity is that you become an appeal all of your own, beyond the niche that you have blossomed from. People want to connect with you, no-one else, and they are willing to pay for the privilege. You get a bump in both potential clients, and the fees they feel comfortable to pay you. They can even object if you are too cheap! It diminishes their sense of having a "special" teacher.

In terms of building a life-time career for your work - this has to be your end game. If you follow my advice and start blogging, in a year you will have already produced enough material for several books. Basil Kritzer, a full-time member of BodyChance, has been blogging almost daily now for four years, and just last Monday he published his first book: basically an edited compilation from previous blogs, organized in a clear way. Notice how I am doing the same with this blog?

However in Japan, I can't yet pay another person full-time to be my voice - although I do have significant support - so it is not possible for me to get to the top without Japanese language skills. I do what I can, while coaching the team around me to do this. It hasn’t been easy - I am creating a new culture against significant resistance - but Basil was the first person to embrace this approach, and go for it 100%. After four years of sustained effort, and only 8 months as a teacher, he is already surpassing all of my other graduates in terms of visibility, revenue generation, effectiveness and celebrity status. He loves what he does, it comes from his heart, but we treat it like a business too, because that’s what it is. There’s a culture in Alexander Technique world that thinks this is somehow “dirty” - but truth be told we all need to earn a living. That is as real as you can get.

People also credit Basil as a “special” person, a “special case” and while that is true, it is also a convenient way to lesson their own sense of responsibility for success. The part they don’t credit, or even recognize, is how consistently Basil ticks all the boxes in this 12 Step plan, including the emotional undoing work. As the saying goes: “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.”

Analyze any enduring celebrity and you will recognize the same thing. Justin Bieber, talented as he is, still hit the big time by spending years travelling from one local radio station to another, playing his songs, talking to the DJ’s and twittering where he would be going to next. This is full-time, intelligent work - not just happenstance, luck or talent. I say all this so you know it is possible for you - but go back and read my first Step to understand the need for a success diver based on love, not neurosis.

I understand that the idea of “celebrity” does not appeal to everyone - instead think of your Self becoming an “authority”. In Japan, almost every website concerned with any kind of bodywork, has a picture of a man in a white coat endorsing what is being done. Doctors still mesmerize many people. However, your authority is conferred upon you by you. It is as simple as writing a book, displaying a degree, or being the person who knows other “authorities”. If you associate with influential people, people begin to assume you must be one too.

Authority gets you referrals, it generates invitations, it puts into place a self-perpetuating marketing system that starts to do itself. Eventually, all those years of hard work pay off: now it’s pick and choose. You get to decide when you work, for how much and who with.

This is a long game, so don’t start until you are irrevocably sure you are on the path you want to be on? As you succeed, you will be both honored and maligned, so take time with this, and make sure you can stand the heat…

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Step 10 - Launch Your Marketing & Sales Funnel

You’re a golf fanatic and someone tells you about Alexander Technique. You go to the site and the first thing you see is a testimonial from a golfer talking about how his “yips” has completely gone, his drive has increased in both distance and accuracy, and his handicap is lower. Even if you disbelieve it, you can’t resist finding out more - what if it is true?

You’re a golf fanatic and someone tells you about Alexander Technique. You go to the site and the first thing you see is a middle aged woman sitting in a chair with a tall, thin man wrapping his hands around her neck. The headline reads: “The Alexander Technique is a method of reducing unnecessary tension by consciously learning to re-educate your habits of use.” Lower down on the left you catch a black and white picture of an Edwardian looking man smiling, and next to that something about the British Medical Journal. Huh?

Which website is most likely to develop a relationship with the golfer? This is the powerful reason to niche your message. It takes time to build trust, so for someone who comes to your website via a search, usually with a short attention span, first impressions really matter. The power of niching is to capture their fickle attention by dangling the possibility of... Your Headline (catch-copy in Japanese) speaks to their need. What is the purpose of your Headline? To get the person to read the next line. What is the purpose of the next line? To get the person to read the next line. Are you getting the idea?

To successfully get your potential students to come to you, you then need to build a pathway for them. Putting this in Alexander terms - you want to design the means whereby a person will be encouraged to continue engaging with you. Are you now assuming unreasonable outcomes for casual visitors to your website? The few websites I have looked at seem to have as their primary outcome: Please come and have a lesson with me…

Whao!!! WAIT A SECOND. That’s is a bit like me - after being casually introduced to a girl at a friend’s party - coming straight out and asking: “Please come over to my place for dinner tonight.” Why bother with her name? Yeah, that’s really going to work, NOT. I’m shooting for the final result, without putting in a few charming steps along the way. Simple steps like:

1. Hi! I feel we can get along… (niche matching)
2. Let me tell you about me… (niche-affirming story)
3. I’d like to give you something… (niche advice download)
4. Hey - we've got the same friends! (niche testimonials)
5. Can I have your email? (niche list building)

You ask the girl for her email/cell number once some bonding has started to happen. If it works in personal relations, it will work on your website too. The difference of course is that you don’t see this person - so the only way to bond with them is to know their interest, hence your website is niching. It’s the only way I know to accurately guess what an individual is wanting.

So then what happens? You give them a good time! Now you’ve captured their email, it’s time to roll out the auto-responders I explained in a previous blog. This is your journey - a process where you slowly, with each email…

1. establish empathy;
2. build interest and stir emotions;
3. let them know the unique benefit of what you do;
4. compare your service favorable to others;
5. rationalize your price structure;
6. take away any risks they might be feeling;
7. offer more free content if they join;
8. give them a frame within which to act;
9. instruct them clearly on how to act;
10. reward decisive action…

What you are asking them to do may differ according to your business model - but the logical step is to invite them to a paid or unpaid personal trial session with you. Alexander Technique is a sensation as much as it is an idea - so your final pitch for lessons effectively occurs belly-to-belly with you.

We all want to get our hands on them - but please, be delicate about it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Step 9 - Undoing The Stories That Bind You

I’ve spent the last year crying most weeks, often every morning. It has been a powerful, healing process that I don’t fully understand. What I do understand is that first person I need to love is me. When I have no love for my Self, it is not possible to love anyone or anything else. Self-hate, in my growing knowledge and experience, is the only problem that we have.

However, self-hate often won’t appear as self-hate. Instead, it comes with an effort to improve my Self (because I am not good the way I am) or the indignation of not being seen as you imagine (how dare you treat me that way) or the longing for love (when will I know that I am worthy of you). We rarely consider these emotions originating from self-hate, and we often blame others for how we feel.

Victims are violent people - violent against their own Self. The pain and suffering a victim feels is not inflicted from without, it is inflicted from within: when you rage against what others say, you become the person afflicting your Self. It is never another person who causes you pain, it is only ever your Self that would not love you enough to know that those other people are wrong about you. Poor them - how sad that they fail to know the real person you know and love. Compassion for others is born from the love of your Self.

Over these last years I have been disparaged, misunderstood and criticized by more people than I can possibly know. It’s part of public life, part of what it means to take a stand and commit to something. When I used to care about other peoples’ opinion more than my own, I ached so much I resorted to alcohol to anesthetize my longing. Now there is only one opinion I value above all the others: my opinion of me.

When I hate me, I suffer and end up hating you too. When I love me, I love you. This is all too simple for some people, but the essence of truth is simple. My precious teacher Marjorie Barstow, in describing Alexander's discoveries, once remarked: “This is so simple, it is shocking.”

I feel the same way. It all came to me for the first time when I was 18 years old - and this insight keeps returning as I grow older - that downward pressure is the result of self-hate, it is the result of failing to forgive your Self for being who you are in the moment. You are that, nothing else. If you say “I wish I did not do that, say that, think that…” what is left but to hate your Self?

Hate fills the space when love absents itself.

Love is what is there, hate is what we add. Our heads do not need to be poised on our spine because that is what happens organically when we are present, loving and being who we are. Heads start pressing down on spines when we are not present, when we imagine ourselves as wrong, as lacking, as victimized, as some kind of mistaken person that needs fixing.

You do not need fixing. Alexander's discoveries are not a fixing phenomena. Alexander's discoveries reaffirm what already is, and present us with concrete, scientific proof that when we hallucinate and believe a story that would argue with how things exist, we can see it’s harmful presence almost immediately by observing the relationship of the head to the spine and whole self.

Yet this pain we feel is also part of our perfection - it is what is right about us, not what is wrong about us. When we do the things we do, if we create such volumes of self-hate in our internal dialogue, pain and suffering is the natural sign that lets us know we are out of harmony with the truth of who we are.

What stories do you carry around that cause you to feel pain? These are stories that actually bind you to the world that you do not want be in! You are not in that world when you cease imagining it. It doesn’t matter if your story is a happy one, but when it causes you pain, why keep it? There is only one world, the one that is here right now, not the one in your imaginations. While you live in a painful story of what is wrong with you, with her, with them, with him, with the world - you miss the moment that is all you have.

This is the work that rests at the heart of what I do. Everything else is there to support it.

This is the work.