Sunday, January 20, 2013

W02.07 Guest Post from John-Paul Watkins in Reply to Case Analysis...

On Sundays, as I continue my free online course for Alexander Technique teachers on my 12 Point plan to build a financially successful practise, I am offering each teacher who submitted their situation for a case analysis to reply to my comments. Last week I wrote a case analysis of Jean-Paul Watkins situation. This is his reply…


A few months ago after a few involuntary life events, I found myself in Marin County pondering my future. My nursing career was stalled with no obvious openings in the job market.   At the age of 54 I was pondering where I was going. I thought once again about Alexander Technique. Did I really want to throw myself into the world of financial uncertainty and no benefits? After a lot of inner struggle I decided that that was going to be my new direction.

         Ok, what next? I knew a website was a necessity, looking around at different teachers sites I found a couple of models I liked. My main concern was If you make a website how will it be seen, I found someone expert in SEO and after some struggles had a website. Although I was not totally happy with the final version, I felt that something was better than nothing. Meanwhile, I stumbled on Jeremy’s site and started to question my strategy for making this work. I had already been thinking about potential markets based on my interests, meditation, some martial arts when young, surfing, yoga, and music. I have been a curious seeker my whole life but have always been moving from one thing to another.  Pretty typical situation I suppose, nothing really popped out as something I could hook into as an authority. I envisioned a generalist approach much like ninety percent of teachers I was familiar with.

        Taking up Jeremy’s offer I submitted my brief history. With further thought I realized that my RN license was my greatest asset. Even though I was disillusioned with nursing as a profession, I could still leverage my experience in this area to make a niche for myself. Jeremy’s analysis supported that conclusion and really got me thinking about how to tap into that community.  There are so many unique stressors in professional nursing that are only evident to an insider. Of course I am ideally placed to exploit that knowledge and come up with some AT solutions!

           I think that as teachers we think that the broad applications of the technique are a selling point. To turn this on its head and actually exclude groups of people from your recruitment efforts seems quite frightening. I had been thinking along the lines of one flyer for the gym, one flyer for musicians etc.  Actually the thought was so for me the thought of trying to draw in all these different groups was somewhat paralyzing, where to start? I am also aware that the San Francisco Bay Area is well supplied with AT teachers and at least three training courses. There are local teachers who have a background in music or acting. It made very little sense to try and compete for the attention of those same groups.

       Of course, even after accepting Jeremy’s reasoning, doubt keeps creeping in. What if Jeremy is wrong? Does this only work in Japan? I have run it past a couple of people who have professional marketing experience and to them it made total sense. We even have a couple of examples in Malcolm Balk and Steven Shaw of people who have really gone down this road in a big way. I suspect that the possibilities are only limited by our imagination. Why not have training courses that offer a specialization in much the same way that doctors are trained?

A recent NY times article documented the struggles of psychotherapists to attract clients. Apparently the number of people seeking traditional therapy has dropped by thirty percent in the last twenty years. Many therapists have turned to niche marketing as a matter of survival. I think that the AT community should pay attention. F.M made himself a very big fish in a small pond, the pond has now become crowded with people offering services that are, on the face of it, similar to AT. If niche marketing is how we can take the technique to a wider audience then we should not shy away. I am hoping that Jeremy’s success in Japan can be an inspiration for teachers looking to develop a financially healthy teaching practice.

TOMORROW: How Alexander’s Own Story Explains Why Niche Teaching Sells...
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