Thursday, February 21, 2013

W08.04 How Do I Decide My Front-End / Back-End Business? Part Two

Harvey Goodliffe, a wonderful teacher and friend in London, once told me he had three kinds of pupils: the A-category Pupils: “just fix me and send me home”; the B-category Pupils: “teach me all the mechanics, but leave my personality out of it”; and finally the C-category Pupils: “I’ll try anything!” The C-pupils were the most fun to work with, but he loved them all.

The point was: 1. Harney offered them the kind of lesson they wanted; 2. He noticed many of them changed categories as they stayed longer. A-category pupils often ended up as C-category pupils. Does your niche have this same tendency?

The business models I present today fit more easily with traditional Alexander Technique businesses, even those that are not clearly niched. Are you losing opportunities to increase your income? As you read on, consider how you could re-engineer what you are already doing…

Promise of A Break-through Result
Frontend: going away from something…
Backend: going towards something…

Your “result” could take many forms – a physical one (eradicating yips in golfers; solving OOS/RSI for office workers; back pain relief for Registered Nurses); an emotional one (resolving stage fright, conflict resolution, grief relief); a spiritual one (deepening self-knowledge, understanding others, increasing serenity).

You Front-end/Back-end mix could be a play between “going away” from pain, conflict and suffering (Front-end) and “going towards” freedom, love and happiness (Back end). What will your promises be? These are choices that your niche market will decide for you…

Or your Front-end/Back-end mix may be expressed as deeper reading of the same problem. If you started with a physical promise, you give it an emotional profile: “Back pain is a mental problem”. If you started with mental promise, you give it a physical profile: “Stage fright ceases when you stand this way”

Offer them Disneyland
Front-end: Regular Alexander Technique (lessons/groups)
Back-end: Adventure holidays with You

A definition of a Back-end business is that you are selling something to your Front-end clients. This is one reason why a Back-end business is profitable – you increase your average income from students you already have. This Business model will work for Alexander Technique teachers in affluent areas, who have a good following but want to boost their annual income without too much trouble.

This model leverages your relationship with your current students, offering them an opportunity to study with you in a fun location. You can even encourage them to bring their partners or best friends.

The reason for them to buy is the same reason they buy any holiday: because you offer some fun, mystery and adventure. They love their Alexander Technique lessons with you, and they would love to deepen that by having a community experience that is not available from their usual engagement with you.

Some visiting teachers to BodyChance have used this model: inviting Japanese students for glamorous holidays studying with them in Paris, Switzerland and England. I notice that there are several summer workshops these days for Alexander Technique teachers, offering a morning study program, with afternoons and evenings off to travel around the chosen location.

Years ago, I did very well advertising a “Learning Holiday” to busy executives by advertising in a National News Magazine. My series of adds filled up a residential workshop several years in a row.

What could you offer your current students that would excite them to spend their holiday money on you?

A Tiered System of Learning
Front-end: Beginners series
Back-end: Advanced series

In this structure, you make it clear from the start that there is graduated path to enlightenment. As you move along the path, the price and commitment increase too.

In Karate for example, your belts go from white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown, black then 1st dan, 2nd dan all the way up to 10th den. That’s 16 steps, and there are steps within the steps. There are lots of other ways to characterize it. Many online membership systems offer levels like: Silver, Bronze, Gold, Diamond, Platinum, Titanium for example. In every case, the principle is the same.

The challenge of this structure - which I thought about a lot during the years I was figuring out how to re-structure my Alexander Technique Teacher Education Training school - is to find milestones that are meaningful. I mean - how many different ways can grade getting out of a chair?

There is where having a niche could be a life-saver. This approach in standard in the martial arts world because it relies on demonstrable skill sets being accomplished. Do you know your niche well enough to create a series of categories that is graduated in skill, logical to understand, and doable for your students? For the Alexander Technique Teacher Education Training, I could not think up enough milestones to get this model to work. However, that may be possible to do in specific niche-related skills…?

Ability to Teach Others
Front-end: Personal Education in Alexander Technique.
Back-end: Professional Teacher Education in Alexander Technique.

My first blog post this week explored this business model, but I am re-introducing it here to encourage you to consider it in another, more radical way.

If you have been following my blog, then you have a niche. Could you offer your niche an enhanced certified educational process? Can you teach them to do some good, and give them a Certificate which says at much? I will explore how Kit Racette could do that in her own business tomorrow.

There may be ethical, pedagogical, ideological or political reasons why you do not want to do this. I won’t argue all that with you, instead I will only state my own position: if it is ethical, legal and moral – where’s the problem?

I think it is pretty hard to cause more harm than is already out there. Alexander's discoveries, even when distorted beyond recognition, are fairly benign. The core ideas are non-violent, and do not lend themselves easily to abuse. Whatever abuse does arise – and I admit it does – is still relatively harmless in my opinion. Even the “bad” is good.

For example, John-Paul Watkins RN, who was an early case study on my blog, could certify Registered Nurses to teach a basic set of procedures to other nurses that would result in less injury, more ease. Ok, it might be a bit mechanical – Dumb Alexander Exercises – but where’s the harm? I can only see good. It helps people, and it hints that there are deeper leanings available for people who wonder how this got figured out in the first place…?

At BodyChance, students are encouraged by me to test out what they are learning with other people as soon as they wish. Will they make mistakes? I sure hope so. How else can they learn? I know they still have to make it through the rigour of our Stage Two assessment process, but until then the more practice they can get the merrier.

I export my attitude to any plan you have to “license” your students to do something in your name. Steven Shaw is an interesting case. Originally, as people asked him for more guidance with his Alexander Technique Service Product for swimmers, he went to talk to the members on STAT Council about producing a training for swimmers. STAT actually encouraged him to find another name for it, and sell that, so he took their advice and came up with the “Shaw Method” for swimmers.

What will you call your method? Find a good name, based on your USP, and this is one of the strongest business models of the lot!

TOMORROW: Kit Racette is next in the growing line of courageous teachers willing to expose their careers for analysis based upon my 12 Steps That Lead To Financial Success.

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