Saturday, December 15, 2012

Step 6 - Create Your Communication Mandala

I know when I look at the current feast of social networking possibilities, I go into overwhelm - where do I start? Luckily, if you’ve done your niche and location homework, the answer is simple - with your  people.You want to become part of their life, but how? Actually, the better question is - where…?

Would you feel comfortable with someone looking through your email in-box? Most people I ask say no - they feel protective and private about that space. We all have our little secrets, and many of them are on show in our inbox. This is an intimate place, and when it comes to the whole social media matrix, nothing comes close. We hate spam because those people barged in without an invitation. Your email messages being welcomed every week - and read - is the holy grail of internet marketing.

So the question to ask your Self is: how do I get invited to visit my niche’s email in-box? Look at it another way: what does it take for someone to invite me into their home? In 13 years in Japan, I can count on one hand the number of private homes I have entered, but it is so much easier in Australia that I lost count years ago. Everywhere is different, so you must know your niche -what lets you through their door?

The simple answer is people invite you into their homes when they know you, like you and trust you. An Alexander Technique teacher wanting to build up a long term practise needs to go about building a long term relationship with the people (s)he most wants to help. Do you have a sense of this relationship building? Have you got all the steps worked out?

In the old days at BodyChance, the faces that appeared in our studio for an Introductory session often looked slightly anxious, as though they were doing something daring. One of the top 5 frequently asked questions was “Is Alexander Technique a religion?” It was clear then that people did not know or trust BodyChance - that was a job they were asking us to perform for them. This also happened to be the time my business was crashing, something I have written extensively about in Paul Cook’s DIRECTION Journal.

In those days my mentor did not encourage me much in online marketing - which is one reason why he is no longer with me - so these apprehensivelyinterested people came in response to brochures and flyers that I used to spread about. There is no doubt flyers work in Japan, but the targeting and use of them is a science all to itself. It was around this time that I found Brendan Nichols, who did encourage a much broader range of online marketing, and particularly the use of the auto-responder.

Oh, the auto-responder. What a wonderful invention that thing is. How many of you have an auto-responder series in place for your niche? Not many is my guess - yet it is so simple and cheap, and it works for you even while you are on holidays.

At BodyChance these days, when people enter the studio for the first time, the suspicion and nervousness of the old days have been replaced by a sense of excitement and adventure - these are people who have been reading our auto-responders! They are looking forward to meeting the teachers they have been reading, often for several years, and finally going to the studio they have heard so much about. This is the critical part of relationship building that I had ignored in the past.

Are you ignoring it now? It’s really simple what you have to do - get people on to your mailing list and start talking with them. Don’t have a list? Make one. When you do, encourage your niche people to join it. When they subscribe, have ready an automatic series of emails (the auto-responders) that go out to them immediately, the next day, a few days later, and so on. At BodyChance, some of our auto-responder series go on for half a year. I could be hospitalised for 6 months, and the relationship building is still going on. When I come back - a room full of people waiting for my lesson.

The only reason to have a website is to develop relationships with strangers. First you attract strangers that you already know a lot about (i.e. your niche audience) so that, second, you have a good chance to win them over to the work. The gulf between visiting your website and personally coming to your introduction (even if it is free) is a pretty big leap that most consumers will not make unless they are fanatical or desperate. Those people are the 5% of your audience that I’ve written about previously. Those 5% will generate cash flow, but they won’t pay for your holidays.

It is the next 15% that generate your livelihood, but they are not going to personally visit you till they know a little more about you, decide they like you and are willing to see if you are trustworthy… So get your Self invited into their email in-box: become a welcomed regular visitor to that hallowed place so you can invite them to your studio.

The steps and methods to achieve that are dependent upon the habits of your niche, although these days websites, blogs, FaceBook and twitter are all pretty standard. Your whole social media matrix has one simple objective: convince people to join your mail-list and read your Alexander Technique niche-based advice.

From there, you can move them into becoming your long-term students...

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