Episode #125 Proof of Concept

Why Low Enrollment Numbers are not a Bad Thing
July 22, 2022

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 You are listening to My Freedom Grove podcast with Gretchen Hernandez, episode 125.

Welcome to My Freedom Grove Podcast, your calm space for practical help to get your dream business up and running while being authentically you and taking care of your mental health. I'm your host, Gretchen Hernandez. I'm so glad you're here!



Hi, my strong friends. Hey, there's some exciting stuff happening in July. Many of my clients are launching their new programs. They're starting new workshops. They're taking on their first paying clients. It's just, there's so much excitement, so much new stuff. I'm so overjoyed for all of them. I love new stuff. I can't wait to see how everything works out for them.


I decided to use this podcast as a way to get in front of a potential obstacle in our industry. That's coaches, healers, and educators. One of the most common obstacles is enrollment numbers.


Now a number is just a neutral thing, but we can have lots of feelings about that number, and all of our feelings are normal. Our feelings, we know, come from our thoughts, but it's quite possible that we can start having thoughts that are creating feelings that are pretty yucky.


And if we have the yucky feelings about those thoughts on enrollment numbers, then it can lead to a lot of problems as we go forward with our programs. We want to make sure that we can have more enrollment numbers coming in every single time. We also want to make sure that we're honoring ourselves, too.


I've encountered enrollment numbers all over the place from when I was a coach in corporate delivering courses and then also enrolling clients in one-on-one or group coaching or on process improvement projects. And then again, as an entrepreneur where enrollment numbers will correlate somewhere with my revenue.


And it's a little scary when it's tied to your revenue. Within my sales funnel, I'm looking at all of my enrollment numbers at each step because those can help me to predict what my revenue's going to be. And then I can make adjustments accordingly so that I can ensure that I have good revenue.


I'm gonna talk a little bit more about sales funnels in upcoming episodes. I think it's really helpful because it helps us see all of the different business activities and how it's all tied together so that we're making sure that we're streamlining our efforts to get the biggest results.


But coming back to enrollment numbers throughout your sales funnel. And then also once you have people in your products and services, enrollment numbers are always gonna be something that we pay attention to. We want to try to hit our target on our enrollment numbers.


Today, I want to give you two tips that are gonna help you. First, I want to acknowledge how much time and effort goes into preparing for any of our offerings. Whether that's a product or a workshop, a program, a one-on-one, all of it takes a lot of prep work to get ready for. It can be pretty disappointing to put in all of that effort and then nobody shows up for it. Or just a few people show up for it. So I'm gonna talk to you about two different concepts that will help you in the long run.


The two concepts are

  • Proof of Concept
  • Minimum Acceptable Enrollment.


Proof of Concept


Let's get into proof of concept. At any time, you can use that one run-through of your offering as a proof of concept, checking out if everything works and if everything flows, what it feels like. And if there are any changes that you'd want to make.


You could even consider this like a dry run. You don't even need anybody to show up for you to do a proof of concept. But if you have even one person show up, you can do even more of a proof of concept because now you have someone to try it out on and you can get some feedback from that person.


I want to share a personal example first. In my first year of business, I wanted to use workshops as the first part of my funnels I was going to do in-person workshops. And then throughout the workshop, people are gonna get some kind of benefit with me. And then, at the end, I would offer for them to have a free coaching session with me to help support that workshop. And then we could explore if we'd want to work together one-on-one.


So I decided to do these as in-person workshop, because I love seeing people in person and interacting.

I rented a space, and I got all of my workshop materials ready and out here on the coast. This was before the pandemic, so people were still using flyers as the main way of advertising. I created a whole bunch of flyers. I used up all of the ink in my color printer at home, which was kind of a bummer, but it was worth it to me because we're looking at advertising costs. So it's just a container of ink. It's kind of low cost in the grand scheme of things.


On my flyer, I had a QR code and I also had a website link for how people could enroll with me.


I was so excited. I had all of my materials, I show up at the place and no one had enrolled yet. And I was like, okay, okay, well maybe I'll get drive-by traffic. It was heartbreaking when I showed up to the location and they didn't have any lights outside. So people wouldn't even know that a workshop was happening because they couldn't even see the building or the parking lot.


I turned on all of the lights so that people could see through the windows that here was this instructor Here was this Easel, and we're ready to go. And I spent all the time setting up the room. I had all of the packets ready to go. I printed everything. I even had clipboards and pencils. I was set, and not a single person showed up.


Oh my gosh, that was a huge amount of effort.


All Of the time involved in creating the workshop in creating all of the flyers and posting all of the flyers. I had to drive all up and down the coast, putting flyers up everywhere. Creating the website pages that could support the enrollment, printing out everything, buying the clipboards like that even took me an hour drive each way to find a place that sold clipboards.


And then nobody showed up, Oh man, it Sucked. It really sucked.


But here was the good thing. Proof of concept.


I had run through what it would be like to host a workshop in person. I not only had put all of the materials together. I had an idea of how long it would take. I also knew what kind of advertising I had tried the first time and what the expense was of that.


I got to evaluate if I actually enjoyed it or not. I also got to evaluate the location and if the location worked for me. And then luckily my kids had come with me to help me to bring everything in and set everything up. So I asked them if they would be willing participants to still sit through the whole workshop with me, just so that I could do a proof of concept of the whole flow of the workshop to make sure that it was understandable, it flowed. That I would be able to answer questions that they had.


Now, their ages were a little bit different than my target market for the workshop, but I was still able to get a lot out of It. And they actually got a lot out of it, which was pretty cool.


So from a proof of concept, just on the flow of the workshop, it was worth it. From a proof of concept on how I would advertise, all of the expenses, everything that went into it, that was worth it, too.


Then I could decide, Okay, what would I want to tweak? What would I want to change?


And what I was able to do is take that workshop that I had done in an in-person format and offer it online. And so when I offered it online, all of a sudden I had, I think 13 people show up to it and I didn't have to put in any extra effort because I had already done it. I had already done the run-through in person for the online version. It was just me delivering it online instead of in person. So there were A few little changes and tweaks that had to go into that.


But then I got to evaluate what were the marketing expenses with that? What was the attendance like? I could repurpose those same webpages, just change it a little bit for the location and the time. And I already had the flow already worked out.


Proof of Concept From Low Product Enrollment


Now another personal example. Now, this could be a paid program.


I've run a couple of paid memberships at this point because I'm trying out proof of concept, both on the format and on the topic. So if you've been a long-time listener, you know that I started off with Unshakable Men as a membership program and then Unshakable Women. And now I have a combined merged Unshakable Business Co-Lab.


With the Unshakable Men membership program, I loved it from a proof of concept standpoint. I got to learn how to actually put a membership together, all of the different pieces. And so when I talk pieces, I'm talking courses, laying out digital courses, creating them, all of the material that goes with it. How that fits into Kajabi, which is my website platform. And I did all of that work myself, all of the video editing, everything.


I also learned, how to set up sales pages, and thank you pages and email sequences that go with it. And then I also experimented with different types of funnels that would lead into it.


So I experimented with a webinar funnel and with a workshop funnel. I personally like the workshop funnels better where you can interact with people directly because I just really enjoy people. And seeing them face-to-face, having that back and forth conversation.


Now, the first run-through, I think I had four people show up to the webinar. And I could have taken that as oh no, my enrollment numbers for the webinar are really low, but here's the thing, the way that I had set it up worked out so well that three of those people enrolled (75% conversion rate).


You don't need huge numbers of people showing up to enroll in your program. So that felt really great to have that experience.


Over the course of the next year, I also got to experience what would it be like when people came in for free trials? What would it be like if people left the program? What would it be like if people stayed in the program for two years? It's been pretty darn amazing.


And sometimes, low enrollment numbers help you to keep on a schedule because you know that you're always going to be adding more people into a program. Now, if you offer a set program where a certain number come in and then it ends after a finite amount of time, you may not see your enrollment numbers fluctuate much. It's who you start with is who you end with.


Although sometimes life does happen and people stop showing up. It doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with your program. It just means that life showed up.


But what this does is no matter how many people have come to your program, even if you only have one, you get to do a proof of concept. You get to try it out to see what did they like about the program? What worked? What flowed? Or for you, did you enjoy delivering the program?


Some of the things that I learned early on in the Unshakable Men membership was that I had a big internet connectivity issue. Now, it wouldn't affect the calls that much, but it would affect me downloading the recordings of the calls and uploading them into Kajabi.


It could take me up to an hour and a half to two hours each day just to download one video and upload it into Kajabi because I was having internet issues. It was an obstacle. And you know me, when you're trying out your new processes, you always want to write down what are all of the obstacles.


So taking two hours of my time to upload or replay. And the other thing that's great about your proof of concept. You're looking at your metrics. The time that you're spending doing things, but also you can see are people even watching the replays.


And that was the big eyeopener was I was spending all of this time, and I could go into Kajabi, and I could tell that nobody was watching the replays.


And I thought, well, why would I spend all of this time if nobody's using it? Now, I know that it's kind of an industry standard to offer replays. But if you find that your community doesn't actually use those replays, then you can choose to change that outta your program. And if you were someone like me, where it was taking up to two hours, you've now saved yourself two hours. You can have that extra waste taking out of your process.


So proof of concept is pretty awesome.


Or if you find that people were watching it, then you could evaluate what the heck is going on with your internet stuff. So you're resolving any technical obstacles that you encounter. And mine just happened to be some corroded, wires, internet wires on the outside of my house.


My internet company actually came out, they ripped out all of their old equipment that was like 10 years old. Because sea air gets into the little staple holes in an internet cable on the outside of the house, and it corrodes the wires. So it was making everything go slower.


They ripped out all the old stuff they put in all new equipment, and all of a sudden my download and upload speeds were significantly better. So then it would only take me about 20 minutes to 30 minutes maximum, which also helped me with my course creation because in course creation, you're uploading videos.


Taking care of that technical obstacle saved me so much time in the end. But if I had decided that because my enrollment numbers were not at my target and I wanted to walk away from it, I would've never resolved all of those obstacles and set myself up for success in the future.


Also, in your proof of concept, you get to evaluate if you like the activities that you're doing, like the way that you're delivering your product or your service.


Depending on how many programs you've been in or how many programs you've created, you might have seen different ways that people interact with each other online, especially over Zoom. So there can be the webinar style where it's just the instructor who is delivering some type of material. And then there can be a Q and A that happens, polls, or a chat.


So you, as the person who's delivering the content, you might find that you don't enjoy just being in a room, staring at a camera and talking, it may not feel comfortable.


You might try all sorts of different tricks, like putting a picture of someone on the camera. For me, sometimes I will just allow my own reflection to show back on the screen. And then I just talk to myself as if I'm the participant that has helped me so many times, especially with creating online courses.


But on Zoom, you can also do it as I call it Brady Bunch style where you have everybody on all at one time.


One of the other things with the webinar format is that you can have a list of all of your participants and then you can bring them up one at a time so that you can spend time interacting with them. If it's a coaching session, then it's coaching and then other people are watching. And then when they've had their time, then you can put them back to an attendee of the webinar and then bring up the next person.


Zoom also has breakout sessions. So if you have a large group, you can always create separate rooms for people. So then they can interact with each other. And then as the host of that event, you can pop into all of the different ones.


In the beginning, when you haven't tried out all of the different features, it can see kind of overwhelming, but that's where doing these in the different formats, you're doing a proof of concept to see, do you like it? Do the participants like it. You're helping yourself get used to all of the different tech and the different options that are available to you so that you can hone in on what are your favorite ways of doing things?


I personally prefer coaching one individual at a time. So in one-on-one sessions, I spend like two hours per session for business coaching and it's just one-on-one.


And in my membership, I bring people up onto the camera individually, coach them, and then they become the attendee again. And then I bring up the next person, but I also know that I enjoy having everybody together. So I also have this social call that we do once a month with all of my business clients where we're practicing, introducing ourselves, we're interacting as peers. We might be doing some fun things together because you can accelerate your progress when you can learn from multiple people.


I know that I have a lot to share, but I also know that my clients have a lot to share with each other, and I can even learn from my clients. So it's fun to incorporate different things.


When you do something brand new, whether it's a workshop, a program, a one-on-one, no matter what your enrollment number is, how can you do this as a proof of concept? What would you evaluate?


And if nobody showed up for it, would you still do it?


And there can be definite benefits from that. Also, including that replay that I talked about, sometimes when people don't show up live to something, it doesn't mean that they're going to skip out altogether. Those replays can definitely come in handy. And when you look at your metrics, you'll be able to see are people looking at the replay. And then what happens after that?


Proof of concept, you can use proof of concept at any time, you don't have to see zero enrollment as a bad thing. It can still be a wonderful thing because you've tried out all of this stuff, having one to three people show up fantastic. It doesn't take a whole lot of people to convert over into paying clients. And there's always proof of concept on everything.


Minimum Acceptable Enrollment


Now we're gonna move into the second concept, which is your minimum acceptable enrollment.

Now, zero might be fine. Zero could be great because you're doing proof of concept. But what if you don't need to do proof of concept anymore?


What if this is already something that you've delivered a couple of times, you already know that it's good. You don't need to do any more run-throughs, but you have zero people enroll, or maybe you have a couple of people enroll?


Now, if it's a paid program, there's not really a whole lot of reason to not show up for it, right? You've set your prices so that this is reasonable for you to show up for.


When I was an employee in biotech, this would happen a lot where we had three workshops that happened every month. And although I didn't know what sales files were back then, this is exactly how people would come in.


They'd come to these workshops. And then from the workshops, they would enroll with us as either a one-on-one client, a group coaching client, or having us develop them to do what we're able to do, or have us lead a process improvement project for them.


It was a great funnel. These were the same workshops every single month. So people would know that it was always available. There's a good thing and a bad thing to that.


You become known for it. And more people will come because it spread word of mouth. Everybody knows how great these workshops are. They tell their friends, and more people show up. It's a great standard routine to get into. And it's always bringing more and more people in, but it can also backfire a little bit in that if people know that you're gonna offer this every single month, if they have other life stuff or work stuff that pops up, they may decide, okay, I'm gonna pass this month, and I'm gonna attend next month.


So that happens. It's not a bad thing. They're still gonna come. It's just, they couldn't come this time.


So that's where having some type of a registration system is really, really helpful because then you can see how many people have registered before you show up to the event.


Remember, this is not a proof of concept, you've already proved the concept. You get to decide how many people is worth your time because you know that you're gonna offer it again the following month. And if you're evaluating what your workload is already with your existing clients, you might decide that you don't really need to do the workshop when you're a corporate employee. If you're getting paid by the company anyway, your income is not dependent on it, which was kind of a nice thing too.


If you're an entrepreneur and this is part of your sales funnel, and it's a free thing. And if your client load is already enough, your revenue is already enough. You can also evaluate the amount of time and money that goes into this compared to your registration numbers. And you can decide if you want to cancel it.


And I know that's not always fun to make that decision. And as a participant, it can be quite disappointing, but if it's canceled and rescheduled, then it's not as disappointing. Because the participant will still know that you're gonna take care of them. You're gonna give them this opportunity. It's just not gonna be on this specific day.


Make sure to always follow up with people if you're gonna cancel or if you're going to reschedule.


Last year, I had a client who had kind of an emotional reaction when she offered a workshop and seven people enrolled. And she needed clients. She didn't have any. And she also had an online course that was available for people to purchase, but she allowed seven to seem like it was a bad thing. And so she decided to cancel it, and she canceled it, and she didn't give a follow-up either.


It's quite possible that all seven of those people may have wanted to be her client, or they might have wanted to come to that first one. And then whatever, subsequent workshops on different topics she offered, they would want to come to those. And eventually they would be ready, willing, and able to be a client of hers.


But she stopped that opportunity for them and for her. She decided that seven wasn't a good number. She didn't even have a minimum at the time she canceled it before we even had a chance to talk about it. Otherwise, we would've worked through some of those mindset obstacles so that she could have actually had that workshop and allowed everything to come through.


There's a business metric that is kind of tied to this concept. We already talked about a minimum acceptable enrollment.


Part of that, like nestled under it is a Cost Per Acquisition. So to get clients in any business, there's a cost to it. There's a marketing cost that goes into it. If you're using your own time to do a free workshop, that workshop is a type of marketing and your time is valuable.


So we're looking at your time, we're looking at any of the things that you've paid for. You take that full amount, that cost, and then acquisition means not only the lead that comes into your nurture path but how many will actually convert to a paying client at some point? The acquisition is of a paying client; how much money and time did you put into it so that you could get a paying client?


The goal is always to spend less money and time on the marketing activities than the cost of the product.


If you're spending more upfront and then you're giving a product or service that has a lower cost, then you are in the negative in your business and you're going to not be in business for very long.


So when you're coming up with your minimum acceptable enrollment numbers, think of the cost that's associated with doing that marketing activity. Or if it is a product, what's the minimum that you would enroll because there's even a cost associated with putting on the product and you want to make sure that you're coming out on the positive, that you're actually having more revenue than the expense going into it. So factor that in, when you come up with your minimum acceptable enrollment.


All right, my friends, I hope that this was helpful.


I'm super excited for all of the new stuff that's coming out from my clients. I'm so excited about all of the new offerings that my clients are putting out into the world. If we're connected on Facebook, you may even see me sharing some of those out with you because I love to help support my clients. If they have social media posts or ad or something, then I'm definitely gonna help to cross-promote it.


So take a look, I've got some pretty amazing clients and the things that they're creating are probably something that you could use. If you're interested in getting some extra support from me one-on-one in your business, I do have a couple of spots that are available so you can reach out for a free consultation so that we can talk about your business and what your needs are. And then we can explore the possibility.


All right, my friends, I hope that you have a great week and I'll talk with you soon, bye-bye.


Thank you for listening to My Freedom Grove Podcast. When you are ready to make your dream business a reality and take care of your mental health, I invite you to join the Unshakable Business Co-Lab. This is the mastermind membership you've been waiting for. There's no limits on your imagination, nor your timeline. We're with you every step of the way. To learn more, please visit www.myfreedomgrove.com/join. I'll see you there!


Note: The Kajabi link provided is an affiliate link.  I may be compensated from purchases.


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