Thursday, July 3, 2014

Are You Serving Your Clients WHEN They Want It?

Are You Serving Your Clients WHEN They Want It?If you deliver any conference presentations, training workshops or seminars, it's no longer good enough to just provide a single one-off experience. Clients and audiences want more flexibility, not only in how they learn but also when they learn.

Think about a rocket going to the moon, coming apart in planned stages along the journey. Do you deliver your training material the same way, or is it all in a one-off event? The one-off event (like a conference presentation, workshop or seminar) used to be the only practical option. But the Internet makes other delivery methods possible, and if you don't offer them, you're not respecting your clients and audiences.

Let's look at four ways of delivering in multiple stages ...

One-off Event

This is the typical workshop, course or seminar, where people turn up to the event, get all your material, and leave.

It's good for specific chunks of material, and where the entire audience is at a similar level (and wants to reach another, similar, level).

But it has some drawbacks as well:

  • If there's a lot of material, it can seem overwhelming
  • Participants need self-discipline to put the material into action
  • Even with the self-discipline, they don't necessarily know how to learn it in the right sequence or time frame

Calendar Events

You break up your material into a logical sequence, and deliver it in stages over a number of dates.

This can be done with training courses and workshops, and also with some online learning (such as a webinar series).

Because everybody is on the same schedule, they can work together on material. You can also create group interaction for participants - for example, a support group or a discussion forum.

But again it has some drawbacks:

  • People who miss the starting date miss out until the next time you run the program
  • Just because you're delivering material according to a schedule doesn't mean participants are consuming it the same way. E-mails might get backed up for later reference, people miss the regular webinars, and so on.
  • The schedule you choose might be too fast for some participants, who will feel overwhelmed and might even quit
  • It might be too slow for others, who are impatient to continue

Rolling Events

Again, you break up the material into a sequence, but this time they receive their instalments depending on when they begin the program. The best example is an e-mail course, where they get e-mail messages at regular intervals from the date they sign up.

This method has the advantage that people can join at any time, so nobody misses out, even if they start later. But it still has the drawbacks of the calendar events - e.g. too fast for some, too slow for others.

On-Demand Material

With this model, you still break up your material into pieces, but the participants choose their time frame for consuming it. Sometimes you don't even decide on the sequence, so participants can dip in and take whatever they need at the time.

This applies to one-to-one teaching (such as coaching and mentoring) and to online learning that's presented as a "resource centre" (such as a membership site, or an online university).

This means participants get exactly what they need, when they need it, and at their own pace.

This is the most flexible option, but it too has some drawbacks:

  • Some participants don't know exactly what they need, or when they need it
  • Even if they do know, some need the external discipline of a structured sequence
  • Giving everybody access to everything can be overwhelming

Can you combine these options?

As you can see, there are pros and cons to all four approaches. The best option for your clients and audiences is to provide a combination of these methods, so they can choose what's best for them.

This isn't as difficult as it seems. For example, with the right membership site software, you can provide all four options in one place - for example:

  1. One-off: Individual items, such as e-books, audio, video, and slide shows
  2. Calendar: Monthly mastermind group, monthly webinar, weekly newsletter
  3. Rolling: Online courses, either delivered automatically to new members, or they can enrol themselves
  4. On Demand: All the resources available for members to "dip into" at any time

Even if you don't have a membership site, do consider how you can offer your material in different stages. Your clients and audiences expect it, so be flexible enough to give them what they need.