A big key to group coaching success is having the right tools, technology and systems so that you can easily handle all of the logistical and administrative details of running groups. This Technology and Resource Guide outlines the main areas you need to address.
Wherever possible, I make specific recommendations so you don’t have to spend hours and hours researching all of the possible options. Recommendations are based on my personal experience, research and analysis combined with the piles and piles of feedback I’ve collected from clients and colleagues over the years.
I am an affiliate of some of the providers I recommend. All this means is that if you click on my affiliate link and then decide to invest in one of the products or services that I’m affiliated with, I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything additional and you’ll gain my appreciation and thanks if you use my affiliate link.
5-Step Decision-Making Process
Use this 5-step process to make smart decisions about what technology and systems to use:
- Determine your priorities. (ie: Invest in the best vs. Minimize expenses)
- List the options you are considering.
- Conduct your own research.
- Make a list of pros and cons.
- Make your decision.
If making powerful decisions is sometimes challenge for you, set a “decide by” date in order to limit the amount of time you spend researching.
What I Learned From My Coach
Here’s a great piece of advice I received from one of my coaches when I was first starting out…
“Set up your systems and make your investments based on the business you want to create, as opposed to the business you have right now.”
People who are committed to the long-term success of their business understand the importance and value of building a strong foundation that can support the size and scope of the business that they intend to create.
With that said, a lot of the tools and resources below are free or low cost, so you don’t need to make huge investments to build a solid foundation.
Here’s to your success!
Basic – You manually handle registrations. Not a bad place to start. Have participants call or email you to sign up. You can accept payment via check, www.venmo.com, www.square.com, www.stripe.com or www.paypal.com. The transaction fee is typically around 3% and it is accepted in many different countries. Just about anyone with a bank account or credit card can set up a paypal account.
Another Basic option is https://www.paypal.me/. Just share your very own PayPal.Me link (paypal.me/YourBusinessName) with your clients and customers, and they enter any amount to send you money for coaching, product sales and more. Your customers will also benefit from PayPal Purchase Protection.
Your clients and customers don’t have to know your email address or mobile phone number, or even have the PayPal app. They just tap on your link, go to your PayPal.Me, type in the amount, and send the money.
You can request a specific amount by adding the amount you want to request to the end of your link. For example, use PayPal.Me/YourBusinessName/250 to request $250. The client or customer must have a paypal account to utilize this service and the regular PayPal transaction fees apply.
Intermediate – Online registration handled through a 3rd party service such as www.eventbrite.com. You input all the details about your event, set the payment amount, etc. The service generates a link that you can send via email or place on your website. When someone clicks on your link they are taken to a page where they can sign up. The service takes a small fee for each transaction and then sends you your payment.
Advanced – Full e-commerce website the enables people to register and pay for your group coaching program via your website. This typically entails having:
- Ability To Accept Online Payments
This can be done via www.paypal.com, www.square.com or having your own Merchant Account. We use: www.directpay.com
- A Shopping Cart Service – comprehensive e-commerce system for automating the selling of products and services via the internet.
Shopping Cart Services
www.CoachesConsole.com Comprehensive online client management system for professional coaches. Handle all of the administration of your business whether you are coaching individual clients or groups.
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www.keap.com (Formerly known as Infusionsoft) All-in-one CRM (Customer Relationship Management), sales and marketing automation system.
www.ontraport.com Complete system that includes email marketing, sales and marketing automation, shopping cart, CRM, landing pages, membership site and referral partner tracking.
You want and need to be able to regularly communicate with the participants in your group. You also want them to be able to communicate with each other.
Here are 3 ways this typically works…
- Email them directly. This is the most basic approach and can work totally fine with a small group, especially if you implement some good email management. Here are two tips…
- Set up a folder in your email in-box and create a rule so that emails with your group name in the subject line go into that folder. Tell participants that whenever they email you, they must put the group name in the subject line. You need to also be sure to put your group name in the subject line of any messages you send out.
- Create a distribution list in your email application so you can easily send messages to your group participants.
- Communicate with them through an online group, such as a private Facebook or Linked-In group. These are also a great way to enable participants to communicate with each other!
- You use your shopping cart or email service to communicate with participants. This works really well for one-way communication (ie: you email the group after each session that the call recording is now available, reminder of assignments, etc.)
Email Services with CRM/Marketing Functionality
www.clickfunnels.com – Website and sales funnel builder that includes landing pages, sales pages, shopping cart, membership area, email marketing
www.activecampaign.com – Email marketing and automation, CRM, messaging
Depending on how much content you’re including, you’ll need a way to distribute your program materials to your group participants.
Basic – www.Dropbox.com allows you to share or email a link to a document, video, or any other kind of file with your members. Many people use Dropbox so they are familiar with the service. Two things to consider, your members can forward your document links to anyone so it’s not very secure. Dropbox has a free and paid version, based on your storage needs.
Create your materials using Google Docs/Sheets and share with participants via Google Drive.
Share your materials via a Facebook Group.
Intermediate – You could password protect a page on your website where all members use the same password. This forces your members to visit the site to download their materials and the page is secure from the public. This feature is built into WordPress and is available on any self-hosted WordPress site.
Advanced – There are three main “Advanced” Options:
Option A: Have a content delivery system or membership site system installed on your own website. Each user has their own username and password plus you can protect groups of content for each program you deliver.
www.Member.WishlistProducts.com – This is the system we use for the GroupCoachingSuccess.com membership site.
www.DigitalAccessPass.com – is made for WordPress and Works on Non-WordPress Sites as well.
www.Memberium.com and www.imember360.com – Membership plugins for WordPress sites and Infusionsoft.
Option B: Choose a “back-end system” that includes a content delivery function.
www.CoachesConsole.com is an excellent system for coaches that we recommend. It includes a member area portal and the ability to deliver content and materials.
www.Ontraport.com also has a membership component built into their Pro and Team versions.
www.Kajabi.com is another all-inclusive system that is widely used in our space.
Option C: Choose a specific platform for your content delivery
www.Thinkific.com – User-friendly platform for delivering content and courses.
www.Ruzuku.com – Popular platform for delivering content and courses.
www.CustomerHub.com – This platform is built specifically for integrating with Infusionsoft.
Free Conference Call Services
There are a wide variety of free conference call services and they are continually adding new features. Do your research to see what is currently available.
www.FreeConferencing.com – This comes highly recommended from clients and colleagues. Features include free recording, up to 1,000 callers, breakout conferencing, unlimited use, web-based controls, Q&A capability and support for skype.
www.FreeConferenceCall.com – I have used this service in the past and have been pleased with the quality and reliability.
www.join.me – Free and easy-to-use online meeting tool.
Paid Conference Call / Video Conference / Webinar Services
There are a wide variety of paid conference call, video conference and webinar services. Here are some of the ones we have used:
www.Zoom.us – We are currently using zoom for the Group Coaching Success Bootcamp. It’s affordably priced and easy to use. Perfect for running virtual group programs. Key features are direct to camera video, screen share, polling, chat, Q&A, breakout rooms, attendee tracking and more!
www.Maestroconference.com – I have used this service in the past and appreciate the user-friendly interface and features, including: automatic recording, muting/unmuting, polling of participants, breakout rooms. Each participant has their own access code which makes it super easy to see who has joined in.
www.EasySeminar.com – I have used this service. It has a user-friendly interface and great features, including: automatic recording, webcasting and support for skype (key if you have an international market), screenshare/webinar capabilities and more.
www.GoToMeeting.com and www.GoToWebinar.com – This is a popular webinar services. A big plus of this service is that many people are already familiar with using it.
Online Scheduling Tools
Audio Editing & Transcription
www.audacity.com – Free software for editing audio files
www.rev.com – Transcription service
Designers & Other Freelancers
www.VAnetworking.com – Largest global network of virtual assistants – free to post RFPs
www.taskus.com – Administrative services at low hourly rates
www.fiverr.com – Website where people will do things for $5 – including audio editing and transcription
www.upwork.com – Website to find all types of freelancers
Graphic Design Tools
www.canva.com – Canva is a free tool that makes it easy to create graphic images. (There is also a paid version if you want more features).
www.piktochart.com – Easy to use presentation and infographic maker.
Stock Photos & Video
If you need stock photos or video, you’ll want to make sure you are using royalty free images that you are allowed to use for free without attribution, or that you have purchased the images and therefore have the right to use them.
www.depositphotos.com – paid stock photo site
www.librestock.com – free stock photos
www.pexels.com – free stock photos
www.unsplash.com – free stock photos
These online tools are great for conducting research about the focus or topic of your group.
www.yousendit.com – online service for sending big files (ie: video or audio files). They have free and paid versions.
www.dropbox.com – File sharing service
www.worldtimebuddy.com – Use the meeting planner to see what time your group sessions will be in other time zones