Is Building Your Product Killing Your Marketing?

RIP Coaching Program

Are you spending so much time on your coaching program that you have no time for marketing?

I have a friend who launched a life coaching program a couple of years ago.

He loves what he’s creating. He’s transforming lives.  He’s helping people live with more power and vision.

So what’s the problem?

He’s spending so much time fulfilling his commitments to his paying customers that he’s not able to go out and get new customers. Currently, his business is only generating $1100/month in revenue, and growing incrementally slow.

And yet he feels an obligation to follow through on his promises to his program members, and doesn’t want to short-change them by spending time selling his program.

We exchanged a few emails back and forth, and I got permission from him to share the gist of our conversation without revealing his identity. If you have some thoughts and experience to draw on, please share them in the comments section, below.

His message to me:

I love the product I’m creating, and it’s going to be a highly valuable asset indefinitely…but I need to figure out how to get unstuck and massively boost revenue and marketing BEFORE 7 months from now when I finally finish creating this one beast of a product.

Here’s the email message I sent to him:

Ultimately you have to realize that the marketing & business growth stuff IS a part of the product (and even makes your end product better). So time you spend building your list and getting new customers actually improves the product itself.

In the business you’re in, it’s all about joint ventures. Get on teleseminars and webinars with peers and make offers. When you can, get out and meet more people face-to-face at events. Relationships rule in this business! (Wonder where that tagline comes from?)

His reply:

The biggest challenge with doing what I know needs to be done (much more focus on marketing and biz dev in the ways you mentioned) is that I have committed to myself and my customers to do this monthly training and its sucking up all my time and only paying me $1100/month currently.

I could certainly stop doing it, and focus exclusively on biz dev, but then I shut off my already built (though meager) recurring revenue and come away with a half built product.

I can certainly repurpose what I’ve already created…but I really don’t want to. The vision I have for the product being a 1 year system is so clear and it is fulfilling its purpose perfectly. By finishing it I will have a highly valuable asset that I can market forever which is also the backbone of my framework.

So I feel stuck because I can’t see how I can possibly not create the rest of the training, but I also don’t see how I can make the appropriate time for marketing meanwhile.

This brings up an interesting dilemma for coaches and marketers of information products: You want to over-deliver on your product, so that your customers love you, you get more testimonials, and you fulfill your life passion / mission.

But isn’t part of fulfilling the mission of your business getting customers?  Won’t more customers validate what you’re building?

What if you spend all this time building a product, and then you end up with something that not enough people want (or are willing to pay money for?)

My point:  by not spending any time on the marketing side, your product is really suffering.  In the info-product world, marketing is part of the product!  In fact, it’s probably the most important part of the product.

It’s all just content, anyway. Content that only paying members get, or content that everyone gets (as part of the marketing funnel).

But that’s just one opinion.  Another could be, “If you build it, they will come.”

Coaches, what do you think?

13 comments for “Is Building Your Product Killing Your Marketing?

  1. September 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    I think your friend needs a bit of “Lean StartUp” thinking. Get a minimally viable product (MVP) out there. Get feedbac, and reshape, refine and build according to market response. Don’t wait to build the “Perfect Product.” This way you’re making money while you’re refining your product.

    • September 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      Hi Leon: Thanks for your thoughts. I completely agree – I’m a huge fan of Lean & the concept of an MVP. The customer interaction leaves clues about what should be built.

  2. September 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Love this conversation and suggestion. It’s very helpful to what I am doing

    • September 26, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Hi Carol: It’s a common conundrum, not just in coaching but in business generally.

  3. September 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    If $1100 a month is “sucking all his time” he is either hugely UNDER priced or being WAAYYYY to perfect on his product. My gut tells me it is a bit of both.

    I’ve used instant tele seminar for years to market a free informational session that invites people to join a $400 a month coaching program using your call to action buttons to take them to the sales page where they can enroll. He should try the same… monthly free calls to his list (or a JV’s) and either a sales page or a free consult for his program

    • September 26, 2014 at 9:07 am

      How did you do things when you were starting out? Straight to a sales letter, or a free consultation?

      • September 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm

        I did both… sometimes to a sales letter and sometimes to a free consultation…

  4. CGibson
    September 25, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Having built a full one year program myself, I recommend breaking it down into 3-4 sections and selling each independently. If you’ve already created 3-6 months of content, package that and begin marketing with the ideas above. You can even up-sell the content that is to come as part of the package- just not deliverable until they complete the first sections.

    • September 26, 2014 at 9:06 am

      Carol: Makes sense. He might even get a broader reach that way (a 3-month commitment is much less daunting that a full year).

  5. September 26, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Interesting example. It’s so common for coaches to feel that they have to give away everything for a low investment and then work themselves into the ground. I teach my clients to create high level service programs FIRST so they have great cash flow and then once that is in place they may think about a training system. Even then it’s always with the mindset ‘ sell then build.’ This particular one sounds like a good add on but to generate so little from such an amount of work shows that something is not adding up. Coaches love coaching and so tend to ignore the marketing piece which really needs to be done daily – even for 30 mins. I would recommend he schedule at least a small amount of time to do outreach and as you say Joel to build those relationships.

    • September 26, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Hi Rachel: What’s a high-level service program and how is that different from a training system? Meaning 1:1 coaching, or something else?

  6. Pete
    September 26, 2014 at 8:45 am

    mgionta is right. Something seems off. Simple math tells a different story. Because this guy says he has no time for marketing, let’s assume he’s putting in a full 40 hours a week for 4 weeks delivering his coaching content. At $1100 per month, he’s averaging $7.25/hour. This isn’t a business; it’s a hobby.

    This guy has a world of options, none of which include working for $7.25/hour. Group coaching can leverage time. Doubling the rates can create more time. (If you lose 50% of your clients, you’re still making the same amount.) Automating your marketing system can save you time. Listen, I love this guy’s passion for his product but it’s also fun to have money for food, shelter, clothing and a sustainable business.

    • September 26, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Hey Pete: Yeah, that’s the bare minimum wage actually. I guess I should have pointed out that he has a 2nd business that pays his bills while he’s building the new one, so he and his kids aren’t destitute! Though paradoxically, not having that 2nd business right now might force him to do the marketing stuff he’s able to afford not doing right now…

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