I built and run BodyChance: the largest Alexander Technique Teacher Education college in the world and the first million dollar Alexander Technique business. In this blog I share my free advice to AT teachers and trainees who want to know how to make a financial success of their practise...
What is most important to you Franis? Making money from teaching is not one of them, based on what I read. The desire for creativity, for variety, for stimulation all seem to take precedence over making money - leaving you in a situation that you can’t afford to rent the kind of facilities that would attract the clients you want. It’s catch 22 - I need the pupils to able to afford to rent the premises, but I can’t rent the premises until I have the pupils. Something has to give, so while putting focus on strategies, give a strong priority to working with “psychic structure” with this issue at the epicenter.
Step 2 – Your Niche
Franis is going for a micro niche - people who have heard of Alexander Technique and want to find a teacher. A lot of teachers out there are aiming for the same niche. So the job of getting a person interested in Alexander Technique in the first place is left to someone else. That cuts out most people living in the world today. There is a better plan to find…
Step 3 – Your Location
Franis’ niche challenge is compounded by where she chooses to live. Her niche is super tiny - even in Tokyo with 13 million people, there’s not a whole lot of people searching BodyChance’s website with the intention to come for a lesson! As for where Franis lives in Hawaii? Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless!
However, Franis does have a niche candidate, I quote “My perfect student seems to be an older woman who’s had lots of life experience.” Great! Hope is back. There must be an abundance of these women in Hawaii. An “older woman” come from an era when it was a good thing to save money, buy your own home, stay out of debt and credit cards were the next “big new thing” in town. Translation? She has money to spend on Alexander Technique lessons if you can convince her to come.
Step 4 – Service Product
Franis also mentioned golfers, but I don’t think her personality is a match for that market. So let’s go with Franis’ “perfect student”: what do these older women want the most? Often they are looking for a new interest. You will find a lot of these women at Yoga classes. The kids have grown up, the husband’s still working, so they have free time, money and curiosity to learn. How perfect is that? Yoga has nailed this market, but it is still wide open for Alexander Technique. What can you offer them? Answer: find out what they want.
Step 5 – Your Mentors
Franis has an abundance of mentors - she kindly lists me as one thank you - but now she needs a guide for this new niche. These women will not be an easy market to penetrate. It will take someone with knowledge and experience in selling to this market to help Franis craft a message that appeals to them. It may be that the ideal person is already one of her students?
Step 6 – Communication
Currently, Franis has a blog site, a web site, a place where she is working on a new book (blurb.com), lots of FaceBook & Alextech mail list commentary and “I probably have six or seven books that I have never finished.” Fantastic! She has many portals in place, but it needs something to tie it all together to a group of people who will give her money. Currently the group that ties it all together is actually “Alexander Technique teachers”. Franis has a strong relationship with many teachers through her FaceBook, website, Alextech and blog writings. Unfortunately, none of them take her lessons or pay her money. Focus on the money Franis!
Step 7 – Creating Content
This is Franis’ strong point - as many of us know, she is prolific in her output of observations, ideas and experiments, and as a result has attracted many Alexander Technique teachers. She lists Marjorie Barstow as a mentor, so I know she understands the power of the application model. Great. However, when using the application model in long distance communication, you can not “improvise” as you can in teaching. You do not know how people are reacting to your words, so the only way to gauge their responses is to select a specific person and talk to them specifically. However, my guess it that this grates against Franis’ personality (mine too) as we both love variety, challenge, originality, creativity - so focusing down to on area of application feels restricting. What I discovered is that the reverse is true - the world opened up in ways I could not have imagined.
Step 8 – Back-End Business
Franis is a natural to educate teachers. Her “perfect student” in the form of “older woman” is also a strong candidates to train as teacher. They have the time, the money and do not necessarily feel a need to get back any more than the satisfaction of the learning process. Offering a diploma at the end is still a powerful incentive, but for these older women it is the joy of learning and the community experience that really attracts them.
Step 9 – Undoing Stories
“But I am not driven to support myself with lessons.” I guess that if Franis puts making money from teaching a priority, some kind of stress will appear. What is that stress? Are there any negative thoughts around doing what is necessary for this to happen? To have no drive to support your self from what you are most passionate about is difficult place to live - is that serving Franis’ life? It would depress me. My simple observation, which I have repeated many times in this blog: when you start making money from teaching, you are helping more people.
Step 10 – Marketing & Sales Funnel
This is a new game plan for Franis. Here are the steps: 1. research the market of “older woman” (watch out for how in week 2 of this course); 2. Along the way find a mentor - who may be one of these “older woman” with a bit of business savvy; 3. Nail down “older woman” to a location where you have easy access to them; 4. Create an “older woman” avatar: describe “a day in the life of” including all her hopes, frustrations and needs; 4. Write a fictitious letter to her that ends with a compelling offer to… (more on that during week 10); 5. Start a blog to attract interest and create content; 6. Build a road for her to follow = blog, website, email registration, content offers, free intro/special events, service product, training school (see Step 8). That’s a life plan, not an annual plan. BTW Lots of other people will turn up too!
Step 11 – Becoming an Authority
Franis already wrote that for these women “…I don’t have to convince [them] on the front end of the sense of the logic, good sense and practicality of some of my recommendations for experimenting.” Translation: they accept her as an authority. I don’t know how old Franis is, but my guess is her age is close enough to this “older woman” for her to feel comfortable with Franis, probably delight in her eccentricity (wishing for a little more themselves), and readily accept and act upon her advice.
Step 12 - Finding Partners
Going back to the problems expressed in Step 3 - Location: Franis needs to find a professional, secure environment for these older women to enter. At the early stage of career building, a good place to start is making an arrangement with an existing center. I have done this several times, sharing premises with chiropractors, nutritionists, psychologists - all of us under the same roof. What I failed to realize at that time was the need to accomplish everything else! Location is just one part of it. For groups - offering free intros at preexisting centres with an agreement you can hand out your flyer or card is another possible route. Start that when everything else is in place in your mind too.
I have to say - wow! - this took a long time to write. I have 11 more of these slots to do, but currently only 6 are still available. It’s all free, so if you want to be in, go now and do the task assigned in Day one’s blog.
NEXT WEEK: How to decide, locate and research your niche students. Starts Monday!