Ep.22: Taking My Practice Online with Samantha Scruggs
Are you wanting to create an online program but are thinking, what is my online program going to be on? If so, you’ll want to listen to this episode for tips on how to finally answer that question.
Today we have another one of my amazing past clients, Samantha Scruggs, Registered and Licensed Dietitian who specializes in helping women overcome Anxiety. I helped her create her online program which had begun as a side hustle for her to work on her passion, and led to her deciding to take it full time last year. She shares her experience of what she went through as she was creating her online program, what she learned and some lessons that can apply to any health professional who wants to or is currently creating an online program.
In today’s episode, we have tips on how to know what program to create, whether to create it live or not and who to make that program for. We discuss what helped Samantha clarify her direction and what made her decide to go full time with her side hustle – along with the numerous pros of the one-to-many business model and my analysis of what has worked when selling my programs.
Online programs can include a lot of work up front but after you have all of the pieces, you can really see how to scale it. It all starts by having a vision of where you want your practice or clinic to be – and then committing to it. It’s definitely worth looking at the current transformation and solution you offer and how an online program can give you the opportunity to go beyond your local practice to help, educate and support more people worldwide.
Samantha Scruggs (Samantha Leigh RD) is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian in practice since 2011. She has a private practice in Belmont, NC and specializes in helping women overcome Anxiety by modifying diet and lifestyle to achieve balanced mood and fewer episodes of anxiety or panic.
If you enjoyed this podcast, you may enjoy these 3 other podcast episodes with health practitioners who have created online programs:
- Ep. 14: Create a Program Your People Want with Nazima Qureshi
- Ep.18: Get it Out in the World with Martha McHenry
- Ep. 20: Build the Business for The People with Libby Rothschild
Prefer reading? Here’s the transcript below
Stephanie: Hey there, welcome to The Leveraged Practice Podcast, helping health professionals create online programs for their practice. I’m your host, Stephanie Clairmont, and in this podcast you’ll get quick tips, insight from amazing interviews, and actionable strategies specific to the health industry. I’ll focus on what’s working now so you can get clear on how to get your program into the hands, well, onto the screens of your clients’ devices so you can make a bigger impact, change more lives, and grow your practice. Let’s do this.
Today we have a special episode with one of my past students and clients, Samantha. Thank you so much for being here Samantha.
Samantha: Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Stephanie: Yeah, I’m excited. Samantha and I have chatted a little bit ahead of time about what we want to talk about and she’s going to tell you a little more about her. She was in one of my programs and we helped her create an online program for her practice. She’s been doing that for a little while.
One of the fun things we might get into later in this podcast is just what to do next too, which I think people struggle with as well and have questions around. How you relaunch and relaunch and some things to think about.
So, we are going to get started and hear a little more about Samantha’s practice, where you can find her, and see what she’s doing. And then some of the things that she went through as she was creating her program and some things she learned and some lessons for all of us if you are someone who wants to create an online practice or are currently working on that. So Samantha, why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and who you are and what you’re up to.
Samantha: Awesome. Well, I am a registered licensed dietitian like many of the people in your audience. I got my license in 2011. Very soon after that I just found that healthcare wasn’t really my jam. I just didn’t love working in hospitals. I did dialysis for a little while, which was better than the hospital but it just really wasn’t for me.
So I jumped into having a side hustle and a lot of us dietitians do that. We’ve got kind of something on the side to give us our sense to release our passion while we’re working our hospital job or whatever it may be. So that was in 2013 and then I took my side hustle full-time about a year ago in 2018. In the summer of 2018 is when I officially was a full-time entrepreneur and practice owner.
The Decision To Move To Full-time Business
Stephanie: Cool. And for those who are doing a side hustle, I sometimes think they have questions because I hear them. I also worked a part-time job and worked on my business part-time before I released myself into the world of full-time entrepreneurship. What got you to do that? Got you to say, “Okay, I’m done with my job, I’m going to go full in?”
Samantha: Yeah. And you know, it’s challenging to do both. It really is. And so if you’re in that space right now, which I know a lot of people are, I get it, it’s hard. You feel like you’re working two full-time jobs. So I really just wanted to get to the point where I had at least a little bit of stability in the business so that I could pay my overhead and my expenses.
I’m lucky that I’m blessed that my husband works full-time and has a pretty stable career. He has a salary so it just enough that we knew that I wouldn’t have to shut the whole thing down. My goal was to at least be a little bit profitable. So that’s what we did.
As soon as the business was profitable enough to be its own thing, that’s when I decided to dive in and just see what happened. It’s mainly just me and then I also do have a virtual assistant.
Stephanie: I like that because if you are listening and you are working part-time for someone else and part-time for yourself or some of you are working full-time for someone else and you’re building a business on the side as well. I know that’s so hard, it’s challenging. It’s smart though because you have money coming in as you’re trying to build something.
I did the same thing. I hit that point where I was like all right, I’m making this much money, which is good, consistently on a month to month to month basis, but I’m never going to hit where I need to hit with this other job. Having kind of like a target of here’s where I want to get myself to, and making it reasonable because like you said, you only have so much time to grow this thing and it takes a lot to grow a business or your own practice.
So that’s really interesting. So Samantha joined me in a previous version of The Leveraged Practice. So for those of you that know, I run a workshop called ‘The Leveraged Practice Workshop’ where I help people create online programs for their practice. Before it was called that and branded that and delivered in the way it is now, there was an earlier version of the program called Create Online Courses and I ran it several times and put several groups through it.
It was great. I personally learned a lot from running that program and I didn’t get the results I wanted for my clients with that framework, and that’s why we have a new framework and a new way to deliver it.
Stephanie: I don’t want to go into a rabbit hole, maybe that’s another podcast episode of my own learning of running online programs. But as I tell my clients and my students, we need to run a first version of your program and might even need to run it one, two, three times to serve clients, to work with them, to see what they like, what they need and to change it. I’m such a big fan of changing things in the moment as well. So when I run programs, sometimes I make them a little longer. Sometimes I add a few coaching calls on. Like whatever people need.
For me, and this is an interesting subjects as well, I really felt like if I delivered the program live, more people would show up and more people would complete it. So it wasn’t even about my own success or my own money in my pocket. It was really about my students, and I’m a big fan of building online programs for the success of our students and getting them the same results we would get them one to one or in any other way. And so, I just had this hunch, and then as I have started to run it live … It’s still online, because people are all over the world. But its been really cool to see how people show up.
Samantha is one person who joined the program and actually showed up and did the work and created her own program based on this framework.
The Right Time To Create An Online Program For Your Health Practice
Stephanie: Firstly, this is a question I feel like I get, when do you think it’s the right time to create an online program for your practice? Because, tell us about you and where you were at when you decided to do this with me and create this online program?
Samantha: Yeah. I agree with what you’re saying. I was like, creating it live is such a good idea. I remember when we first talked, probably two years ago. I was trying to launch the weight loss program for men and it totally flopped. I maybe got like 50 email addresses, but as far as actually getting people interested and into the program, it was not a thing that I was able to do. Not that that can’t be done, but it wasn’t for me. I don’t really enjoy doing weight loss. It’s not something I even like doing in my practice, so I’m not sure why that was the direction I went.
But it was a lot easier for me to have a failed launch without having two or three or four months into creating an entire program around it. That would be a lot more of a sad event if I launched it and it failed then. So I think doing it live can kind of solve that problem. Like well what if you create something that’s not going to work out? Either for you or your business or your audience or whatever. Then it’s like okay, well I created a launch, so I made a couple of landing pages and it flopped, no big deal.
Stephanie: So let’s back up, because you just said two incredible things that we need to highlight. So the first thing is that, the first online program that you’re like, “I have an idea for this online program, I want to help men with weight loss.” You didn’t have a brand built up around that. You weren’t doing that work already. Is that correct?
Samantha: Right. I just had the private practice, kind of side hustle thing.
Stephanie: The private practice side hustle. And what was the work you were doing there?
Samantha: So I saw and still even now in the private practice, see people of all ages and sizes and even pediatrics, all over the board because I’m the only private practice owner not associated with a hospital in my county. So I’m the only one. So if you want to see a private dietitian, there are some that do maybe some traveling work, but as far as a private practice owned by a dietitian, I’m it. And so if you just google nutritionist near me, I pop up.
Samantha: So yeah. Of course I’ve worked with men, I’ve worked with children, I’ve worked all over the place. But it just wasn’t my passion. I can help you, but it’s not my passion.
Stephanie: So I love that because I think that a lot of people come from this place where they do a lot of different things in their practice, and they want to create an online program. They want to create that leveraged income. They want to maybe do a little less one to one or they want to create another stream of income.
But they’re seeing a whole bunch of people and there’s nothing wrong with a little business or a little practice you’ve built where you have a couple of different audiences, especially in certain cities and neighborhoods and counties, and wherever you are, sometimes that really works.
I’m not someone who’s here to judge your business model. I’m not going to tell you who you can and cannot see at all. I think do what works for you. But what’s interesting is taking that little practice and saying, “Okay. I’m seeing all these different kinds of people, where do I put that online program in and who do I make it for and how do I do it?” So that’s a great question for all of us to ask.
It’s conversations that I have with my students. Sometimes some of my clients will join the program and they’ll be like, “Listen Stephanie, I am a practitioner, I have a practice, but I’m not sure what my first topic is.” And we have those conversations.
Other times people come in, they’re very clear and they’re very niched down and they’re like, “I do pediatrics and I do this and I know exactly what my first program is.” So everyone’s a little different.
So to finish this first thing that we were talking about, the important part about creating an online program, is that you have some kind of experience. You have some kind of work that you are working with people.
If you guys go back and listen to the episode with Nazima called “How To Create A Program People Actually Want With Nazima” She spent time focusing on building her audience for a year in a specific area and then launched her online program. So when people ask, “When should I create an online program?” Definitely when you have some experience working with people.
But then from there, you launched your first program and then you were like, “Okay, that didn’t work.” Because you’re not sure why you picked that topic and then you were like, “That’s not really my passion as well.” Could be because the audience wasn’t built up. Could have been the launch plan, could have been maybe you. And part of it is honestly, sometimes we have to do it over and over again.
Do you feel like that was a good time in your practice to do an online program? Like having a practice already and having some clients. It sounds like you created a second one and that’s the one you’ve been running, right?
Samantha: The one I’m running now is the one that I’m running with. No pun intended. But yeah, I think you have to have some one-on-one coaching and counselling experience before you can create an online program. You’re not even going to know what people struggle with and what to say to them if you’ve never counselled people one-on-one before. I’m really lucky in that I did do dialysis for a few years and so that’s really a great way to get a lot of one-on-one counselling experience.
So when I jumped into private practice, it wasn’t a difficult transition to go to counselling one-on-one people who were coming for office visits. But I do think you have to know what people are coming to you or what questions they’re going to ask and what are they struggling with. Then you could create a program around so many different things.
I think you just have to ask yourself about those times when somebody comes into your office and you help them solve this very specific problem and it just lights you up inside and you’re like, “I wish all my clients were like you.”
Stephanie: Yes, yeah.
Samantha: That’s when you can be like, “Okay, this is something that I am really passionate about.” That’s how it is with me and my anxiety program. When people come to me with anxiety, mental health issues and body image issues, they usually come to me seeking weight loss, because that’s what the people think dietitians do. What I help them see is that they don’t necessarily have to fit their body into some sort of crazy mold in order to be healthier. They don’t have to go to the gym five days a week in order to be healthy.
So these are the conversations I love to have and helping people see themselves differently, helping them with their thoughts and behaviours. So that’s when I was like, yes, anxiety. I have been diagnosed with anxiety so it also has a personal feel for me. A lot of people don’t even realize how much nutrition can do for anxiety.
Stephanie: Yeah, interesting. I was the same. I remember coming home to my husband one day when I was working at a family health team. This was before I had my clinic. I remember going to my job and seeing two patients with diarrhea in one day and I was like, “I had the best day ever. I had two clients who had diarrhea and I know I’m going to fix that diarrhea.” Like it made me so happy. So I totally get that.
If you’re listening and you’re trying to figure out, what’s my online program going to be on or is my practice too broad and I need to focus in? You can definitely see multiple clients. Like I really believe that you don’t have to say no to people, especially in the beginning of building your business and building your programming and all of that.
But If there are those clients that you love working with, do more of that and write more of that and put more blog posts out on that and put more content out on that. Attract more of those people like that. That’s really, really awesome.
Running A Live Version Of Your Health Online Program
Stephanie: So, I want to lean back into what we were talking about earlier. Samantha was saying she had launched live, meaning she did not spend six months building out an online program with perfect slides and perfect handouts and graphic design and investing thousands of dollars into building a custom website platform and all that stuff, when she launched that first program. She knew she wanted to create an online program, had this mixed practice, tried one, didn’t work and she was like, “Okay, let me step back for a second and see.”
Samantha: It’s hard work because it’s hard work to launch and to run a program. You know if you had gotten some people to sign up, you might have done it again and again and then been like, “Oh, I know it’s not for me.” But sometimes the universe and God and whatever you believe in kind of does some things to you. So I think it’s interesting that happened and you stepped back and thought, “Wait, where do I want to put my energy because I know this is hard work?”
Stephanie: So part of this is the live launch and so, what we’re talking about is what I teach in The Leveraged Practice. This is very hard I know. Letting go of the perfectionistic ways that we have. Because you know you’re like this. This is health professionals. We’re a little bit perfectionist. We like to do things right. We like the pretty slide decks and sometimes we obsess on those things.
It’s not that it isn’t important and you can’t show up professionally, because that is important. But the first time you run an online program, just like the first time you took your first client, you were not perfect doing that. And so, what we’re talking about here is that first time you run that program, you have the content mapped out, you know what you’re going to do, but you haven’t spent all this money and all this time building out an online program that’s 12 weeks long with all these modules and all these handouts. That comes with time.
I teach more about content development in the workshop. So that’s what we’re talking about and that’s definitely a style that I still highly recommend. I think that it also moves us forward faster, instead of spending six to 12 months building out the perfect program and then running it, and then seeing that your launch doesn’t do great.
Sometimes we have to launch more than once and figure it out or figure out that that subject isn’t your favourite or that you need to redo the course or whatever. You get out there, you create some base content, and then you see how it goes. I think that’s super interesting that happened for you. What do you think helped you clarify the online program that you run now, that that was the direction that you wanted to go in? Is it what you just shared with us? Like those clients who were your favourite to work with?
Samantha: Yeah, exactly. And then I remember the first coaching call with the anxiety program. Just coming off of that and being on this high and thinking, “This is amazing. I love this. I love helping people and I love helping them realize these things about themselves.”
I loved the online program version better because you got to do the actual coaching on the coaching calls, and you got to do the teaching in the module. So it was like, they listened to the module so you’re not saying the same thing to like eight clients in the same day, which is exhausting. And then you get to dig into the deep mindset stuff and individual people’s problems, instead of just answering questions about how much fiber is in certain foods.
Stephanie: This is super important. Let’s highlight a couple of things. One, I want you to know, listener, you have everything you need right now to create an online program. You already deliver amazing, brilliant health advice every single day, and there is a way to take the things that you repeat eight times a day, so you don’t repeat it anymore and you’re effective in your education. That’s what we usually use for prerecorded content.
You also don’t have to do that. Some of my clients just launch their programs and it’s all live and they record it, but you’re still doing one-to-many. So one to a group. So instead of repeating yourself eight times in a day, you have eight people on one group call and you educate those eight people all at once.
So whatever way you do it, the first thing is that we are leveraging that repeatable stuff that you are saying over and over again in your online program, whether you record it or it’s live. The other part that is really important to an online program is the supportive piece. So people think, “Well, can I still customize it? Can I still get great results for people?” Absolutely.
I agree with you. My digestive program that I’ve built over the last five years, I’ve worked to advance it and improve it. I think it’s better than when you saw me four times for one hour. All I got was four hours with you, and at least half of that was assessment and me asking you questions.
Now I can educate you, but I can also customize the approach. So you do that through a variety of different things. Whether it’s like you were explaining, you do live coaching calls, so that’s where you can answer people’s questions. You can also do feedback, so you can help people who submit their food journals or their plans or their protocols or whatever they’re working on and give feedback. You can have email support. What else is in your program? Do you have a community or do you have another place for people to get support?
Samantha: Yeah. So I have a Facebook community. The program is called Anti-Anxiety Lifestyle, so I have my free Facebook group for anybody, and then there’s the Anti-Anxiety Lifestyle program members only group. So I have both of those Facebook groups and then I already was using Healthie for my EMR.
I know a lot of people may not know what that is, but it’s basically a electronic medical record. So I used that for my private practice and they have the ability to run online programs within their software. So, I don’t think you have to have Healthie to run your online program. I’m like an online program junkie. Just a disclosure.
I’ve taken programs that are nothing but email, a Facebook group, and Dropbox. Now Facebook has units in their groups, so I recently did a friend of mine’s beta launch for a financial program that she was running, and she did it all in the Facebook group using the units. So she just put a paywall up, which basically means she made people pay before they could join the Facebook group, then they joined and all of the content was inside the Facebook group.
Samantha: So there is nothing that you could possibly think of that would be an excuse as to why you can’t launch an online program.
Stephanie: You can do it, yeah. There are a few different EMRs. So if you’re a health practitioner and you’re using an EMR, some of them actually have a tool right within it to create an online program in there.
Now we talk a lot of technology with my clients and my students and what is the best for them. I would say there’s no one right way to do it. You can do it a lot of different ways.
The important part for me is that we create a really great experience for our customers. I am a very client-centered and results-driven entrepreneur and coach to all my students, and teacher and facilitator. So I think looking at the software and making sure that you’re providing a great experience is important. We talk a lot about Thinkific in my groups because they have a lot of great features for delivering great client experiences. But there’s not just one way to do it.
So Facebook is an option and the sky is the limit for the number. I love that you said, there’s not a lot stopping you and if you have the experience, if you’re seeing clients now, then you could start to lean into your practice and ask yourself some really good questions.
Like, who are those clients that I love to see that light me up? And what’s the kind of work that I see myself wanting to do three, four, five years from now? Because doing the same thing over and over and being consistent with your program launches, with your content you’re putting out in the word, with your brand, is only going to help you grow.
When we kind of pivot every six months with a new idea, it doesn’t help us grow. We just kind of start all over again. So I think those are really good questions to ask. Is there anything else that as you were creating and launching your program and working with your customers and your clients that you learned along this way of delivering that one to one into more of a group program?
Samantha: There’s lots of lessons that I’ve learned along the way that I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to learn if I hadn’t just done it. Like I guess somebody could have told me and I would have been like, “Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah.” First of all, my audio quality on my first run through the program was terrible. I think I recorded one outside on the back porch and there were crickets chirping. But it didn’t stop the clients from getting results.
The PowerPoint looked terrible. I used a free program to get background pictures or something and it was just basic headlines. My worksheets were pretty terrible too. But nobody cared. Nobody cares how nice your worksheets look. You could put a Google doc in as your worksheet. Like they care about what you’re coaching.
Stephanie: I love a good Google doc. We have a lot of pretty resources in my digestive program, but in The Leveraged Practice, we use Drive documents because I think they’re super practical and useful, opposed to if I gave you something that you couldn’t fill out. So if you join my program, we are king of the Google Drive, because we want you to have copies of that stuff that you can fill out.
We were doing that as well for a long time. Like, my food journal docs and stuff were Word or spreadsheets, so people could fill them out and then submit them back. So I love that. You can show up professionally and use simple tools and resources. I’m sure Samantha’s program was fine and that no one thought anything, but to her, she was like, “Oh dear God, I don’t have proper logo.” But it really is you.
I think it’s really important for us to show up a lot, especially in the first versions of our program. Like when I ran my programs, I used to do a lot of Q&A calls and I’d show up a ton in the IBS program. As I did more and more of -it, I started repeating myself again. So I took what I was repeating in one-to-one, I made it a group program, and then as I was delivering the group program, I started repeating myself in those sessions. So I started to make more video modules, and as you grow, you can automate more and more.
So whether that’s in the supportive community, like you’ve talked about or you’re doing your office hours, there are ways to still show up and support our clients. And so, I think that’s important as we’re delivering online programming. What’s interesting is where we’re heading now that there’s a lot more online courses and programs and options. So the future of online education is interesting, and it is interesting to think about it in the health space.
In delivering your program, what are the things that you don’t automate? Like what are the things that you’ve found are really valuable for your customers or your clients to get feedback and get support? Are there some features that you know that you need to build in and continue to have?
Samantha: Yeah, I mean automation is something that I’m doing more of before the program. So I’m doing automated webinars and an automated sales process. The reason I want to automate those things is because I want to be able to devote more one-on-one attention to the people who are actually in the program. So the only thing I really automate are the modules that get delivered automatically to the clients after they sign up.
So when you say modules, you mean there’s some prerecorded video class content? So they’re getting some classes each week and that’s prerecorded?
Samantha: Yeah, there’s a PowerPoint video presentation for each week. There are worksheets for them to fill out. There’s survey questions. I use the GAD7 test to test their anxiety levels before, halfway through, and at the end of the program to see what their result is. You have to have some sort of measurable results for your program.
I have a module from a licensed professional counsellor because I think it’s important people know when it needs to go outside the scope of dietetics and they need to seek help elsewhere. Then I have a workout program that was developed by a personal trainer. So those are the pieces of the program.
As far as the group coaching calls, messaging support, all of that I just do as questions come in, as people are going through the program and they need help. People can ask questions in the Facebook group and I think that with those type of things, it’s good to be hands-on and one-on-one. You’re showing up for the students in the program versus the delivery of the program which doesn’t necessarily have to be manual, but it could be. I know a lot of people do that manually and that’s fine too.
Stephanie: There’s no right answer and I also think it depends on your audience. Like some of my clients have postnatal programs for new moms. That doesn’t necessarily need to be live. That might be super handy if it’s like three minute videos you can watch anytime, like when you’re up at 4 a.m. So I think it depends on your audience and your style and things like that.
So we know that the support is an important part and I love that you talked about tracking progress. That’s something that is really important, that we have measurable results. One, for our clients, so they can see that they made progress. But two, it’s super useful for us to report on our programs and say, “I as a practitioner am delivering results. I am creating content that’s working for people.”
It’s also super useful for those of you that want to grow and you want to maybe licence your program or get referrals in from health clinics or hospitals or other places, if you have a big vision of growing big and having other practitioners referring to your program. If you can track progress and say, “Hey, people enter in and here’s their score on this quiz or chart or assessment, and here’s what happens when they leave,” and you can show those results as you mentioned that are measurable, you’re going to have more success selling your program at a bigger scale as well. Also to show that to one-to-one clients. So that’s really important.
Starting To Automate Your Health Online Program
Stephanie: So one of the things that we were talking about is now the relaunching. So now that we’ve done the program first, whether you’re going to do it live or you’re going to do it with some prerecorded content, you want to continue to sell it. You want to continue to get more people in and I think this can be a real struggle for a lot of us as we validate the idea.
So we’re moving into marketing, and we won’t spend a whole day talking about all of the different marketing things. But I think one of the interesting things that you and I have talked about a little bit already is just this automation part, which is challenging in the health space.
I mean it’s challenging in all spaces. How do we move to some automation so we’re not doing everything manually? How do we get more people into our business? Into our funnels? To hear about us? So what are some of the things that you have found have worked for you to continue to make sales? Is there anything as you’re evaluating your results of launches, or do you have a process for evaluating your launches right now?
Samantha: Yeah, I have been evaluating my launches. The only thing that has worked for me so far is I’m actually jumping on messenger or on the phone with somebody and selling the program that way. Right now I’m testing a video marketing strategy and an automated webinar. So far, my results are not anything to write home about. I have added a ton of people to my list, which is awesome. So I’ve been getting leads on Facebook. I’m pretty good at Facebook ads so I get leads for somewhere around $2, $3, which is great. I’ve heard that’s really good.
But the only way for me to convert those leads into paying customers is to get them on the phone. So I’m struggling because I’m still running a practice full-time. Like right now I’m just home because my daughter had the stomach flu. And so, running a practice full-time, how do you do that and get on people with the phone to talk? I feel like I’m going to have to cut back on my practice hours in order to do more of the sales process or hire a sales person. Like, I don’t know what I’m going to do.
We’ve talked about this differently or a little bit more in other situations, about how in the health space a lot of these automated strategies are not as effective. I think it’s just because the market is so saturated with people who are unqualified to teach what we’re teaching.
Stephanie: Yeah, totally. People are wary right? They’re wary and here’s the thing, definitely in the digestive space … And I don’t know if this is the same in every space, because I can’t speak about those. People write us and they’re like, “I’ve already spent money on this problem. I’ve already tried a practitioner.” Maybe it’s not online. Maybe it’s one-to-one in person. They’ve done something that just didn’t work or they bought a book or they bought some supplements.
You know, health is crowded and I love that you mentioned that it’s not just the regulated health professionals. It’s all the people who are doing health. And so people are really wary. They’re like, “What are your credentials? Have you done this before?” I think that people need to be more discerning. So it’s a good thing, but it causes us to work a little harder and be like okay, what are the objectives? How do people need to be talked to and worked on with this?
You know, my team and I with the IBS program find very similar results so I can speak to some of those results, which may be helpful for some of you to hear. Because we’ve been launching and launching and launching since I came back from my last baby. So since October, we’ve been launching and launching and launching and launching. That’s one of the things that is so much work.
Even having a small team, even just like an assistant or someone to help you with all this, is so helpful because it’s a lot of work and a lot of commitment to relaunch and launch and launch and launch. But you learn every single time you do it. And so we’ve been launching so much and we’ve been analyzing those results and then doubling down on whatever’s working.
I can tell you, even for programs that are a couple a hundred dollars, not just the programs that are like thousands of dollars, but even with the small lower priced point programs, people are wary and people are discerning and they’re really wondering, “Is this for me?”
So I agree with you that I think selling in the health space is a little more hands-on. I think it’s a little more manual and I think people want to talk to someone. Because they’re saying, “Okay, instead of hiring someone one-to-one, I’m going to choose an online program.” Because you still have that option. If you have anxiety or you have IBS or you have whatever, you still have that option to work with someone one-to-one. So we’re combating that and saying, “No, this is a great option.” But they’re used to talking to someone one-to-one.
It’s a very interesting space for us to be in for those of us in health who want to create online programs and figuring what our sales process is going to be. At least to start with, How do we make sales? How do we grow those sales? And then as we grow those sales, how does our business shift? Like you just said, do I have an assistant? Where do I fit in? What are the only things that I can do? And what are the things that other people can do? Because the path to growth is challenging because you can’t do it all yourself.
I do agree with you that I think we’ve struggled on my team with the sales process as well. I’m the one that makes the loom videos or hops on the phone or does even the emailing that people want to hear from Stephanie Clairmont when it’s that IBS program. So I do think that that can be a bottleneck, but then you’re kind of saying okay, let me keep trying and let me figure out the new things.
I really believe that the showing up live, whether it’s like you said in Messenger or it’s on the phone, it’s via email or maybe it’s live webinars or like how we have been working with my team on a live series, it’s me and I’m there. I’m like, “Hey, it’s a live video.” That’s connecting to people so I think experimenting with the connection, having other people on your team doing it and being consistent with it.
It’s just an interesting place, but it can be challenging and it does require some real commitment to trying things over and over again. But I do wonder about that with what do we automate, and then where do we put in that one-to-one time? Because you’re right, there are some things we can automate, which is information. So like Samantha, for all you guys, the things that are working for us which is what I teach in my workshop in regards to launching is, definitely when you’re selling, getting on the phone or messaging people or writing emails or doing that kind of work. That converts way more people.
We’ve analyzed results for 18 months, so we analyzed our 2018 and our 2019 results so far. For those with the shortest customer journey, so the people who convert the quickest in four weeks or under, usually have watched a live webinar or participated in a live series. So they’ve been with me face to face, heard me talk, seen me wave my hands, done all the things and then been given an offer to join us in the program. Those people move the fastest.
The other people that move the fastest are those that have been referred by a dietitian usually or a friend or a professional.They convert pretty well also. Other people stay on our list for a little while and they get the emails and they download the guides and they do that kind of thing before they purchase.
That customer journey can be long for some people. So doing both, the consistent content but also the showing up live, is important. And I think for everyone kind of outlining that customer journey, it’s okay if it’s referrals. I think we can build successful online program enrollment with referrals. Like from Physicians, from fellow dietitians, from other health professionals, just like we do in regular practice.
In regular one-to-one practice, if you’re a physiotherapist or a psychologist or a social worker or a dietitian or whatever you are, we work and we get referral. So I think if that’s something that works for you, it works for us, knowing that that could be part of your customer journey as well. So I think our results are similar and we’re just trying to figure out like you are, and testing how we can show up more live when we have to, when it connects to people and which parts we automate.
So it definitely is a process and it sounds like you may need to do some delegating soon, like in the next six months of your business to help you grow a little bit. Because if you’re selling, if you’re getting on the phone and you’re selling and you’re getting people enrolled, that’s amazing. That’s a win right?
Samantha: I did just hire an assistant who is starting July 1st, so I think she’s going to help me. She’s one of those very highly organized people, whereas I’m more of a visionary. So she’s I guess my integrator. If you’ve read that book, the integrator and the visionary. I forgot what book it was, but yeah, it’s going to be just us brainstorming together and figuring out how do we refine this process?
She’s going to have a local meet and greet. So for the different positions and counselors in the area, I’ll be meeting them in person so they know that I’m a legitimate person. A lot of people have a lot of skepticism when it comes to anxiety because they think that I’m trying to say that, “Oh you can just treat it with diet.” That’s not what I’m saying at all.
I’m saying diet should be a part of the process of treating it. I’m not saying don’t see your physician, I’m not saying don’t take your medications. I’m saying don’t just take meds and do nothing else. But I’m not saying these things I think a lot of people think I’m saying. So there’s a nuance there, where I have to get in front of people and sort of explain, that no, I’m helping them improve their diet and improve their nutrition, do some exercises, so that they don’t need as many medications.
Samantha: Or so that if they don’t want medications to be a long-term, forever solution, that they have another option and so that really helps with networking with that group. That way I’m not the enemy.
Stephanie: Well and in health, this is what we do traditionally. Again, if we think back to our roles when we were at hospitals and we were with a team in a interdisciplinary team, we would have those conversations. I would have doctors refer to me. I would have the nurses, have the pharmacy, everyone refer to me, because they knew me. They knew my face, they saw what my clients did. Now that we’re growing and we have more people who are referring to us, I think we still have to do that work. So I’m happy to hear that you guys have that on your list of things to do.
Part of the work we’re doing is sharing our message, and we have to be really clear on what that message is. So here’s the work I’m doing, here’s how it fits into working with your doctor or this and that, like these other things. Being clear on how your online program fits into an integrative model with other interdisciplinary care, is probably going to only help your marketing. Because a lot of people can get referred to you by other health practitioners, no matter what the area is that you work in. So you want to think about the team that’s working with that one person that’s going to come and work with you and do what Samantha’s doing, which is connecting to that team and educating that team.
Early on in my practice, I was educating physicians on the FODMAP diet. I was dropping off handouts and books and resources on all the things that I was teaching them. Sometimes it was a handout on probiotics. Sometimes it was that we had a book called, ‘When the Body Says NO’ by Gabor Mate. Because I had a social worker that worked with me as well.
Educating these health professionals so that we can all work together can be so useful to help just validate your program. Because the last thing you want is to be like, “Here’s my program,” and then other people are like, “No, don’t take that program.” Right? You do not want that. When people hear about your program, they want to be like. “Yes, that’s the right fit.”
So I love that you guys are working on that and I think that when it comes to health and online programming, it does have this multifaceted approach, where we have to think about it from all sides. We have to educate other health professionals on it. We have to show that we’re legit and that the program is really good and having all that information and messaging out in the world so people can read it can be useful as well.
So it sounds like you guys are working on a lot of great things to grow your practice and to get more of your audience in towards your program. Is there anything else for those people who are thinking okay, maybe I want to do an online program, maybe it’s the right time, sounds like it could be the right time? Are there any more pieces of advice or anything you want to leave our listeners with as they’re thinking about maybe I can do this thing and I can educate online?
Samantha: Well I just want to say that it’s a lot work up front, but after you get all the pieces in place, then you can really feel like, “Okay, I can scale this.” It’s the things that you can do with an online program that you cannot do with a traditional practice. You know, you can only fit so many people in a room. You can only do so much in a local area. So I think it’s like seeing a vision of , okay I’m putting in a lot of work right now. We’re testing different things and we feel like we’re pulling teeth to get people in the program, having to one-on-one do calls with everybody and everything.
But, then we can see like, okay well this could be scaled and we could hire coaches to do some of the coaching if there were many people that enrolled all at once or something like that. And so, just think about that. And where do you see your business? Like I see my business as being a multi-million dollar business someday. And so I needed to find a product that could create that effect or multiple products. I think just seeing it in an overall picture of like, what do you want for your business, whether it’s big or small? And how does an online program fit into that vision?
Stephanie: I think some takeaways from this chat with Samantha is that, I think that we’ve talked a lot about being able to help more people and that’s what the online program can do, and I think that we can educate better as well. I think you’re saying that and I’m saying that and by running online programs, we can tell you that the work we can do online is different.
I don’t want to use the word better, but I really do believe after working one-to-one with IBS patients in a clinic for over three years and then doing it online for over three years … Its been almost five years now…the information and the way I can coach them to make change is incredible with what I can do online compared to my maximum of like four one hour appointments with them. So I do think that it’s worth thinking about your current transformation and solution that you offer clients in your practice and how online programming can support that. Whether it’s its own program or it coincides with your one-to-one. Those are really good things.
So I think if I can give you guys a takeaway from today’s podcast, I love what you just said Samantha, which is really like have a vision of where you want your clinic, your program, your practice, whatever you’re doing. If you’re working for an organization, if you’re working for yourself, if you’re in clinic, what is your vision for supporting people? How many people do you want to help? How big do you want to grow and what does that look long term? Who are you committed to? Who are your favorite people to work with? Where is there a gap in the market? What are people struggling with and still need help with? And then commit to that long term vision.
Anything you want to create or build or put together, it takes work. So definitely thinking about how it fits into your vision and then committing to that. I think getting the support to do it right so that you can create that course, create that program, bring it out into the world, do some of the work that you and I have chatted about today Samantha. That problem solving work of who that client is, what the problem I’m going to solve is and those kind of things can help.
Of course if you guys need any help with this you can always find me at TheLeveragedPractice.com. Message me. Join us for a workshop. Well that’s it for today, so thanks so much for joining me. I think it’s really nice for people to hear your story. Hear that they don’t have to be perfect. That they can have an idea and try it and then that they have to keep at it and it’s really towards the long term that they’re working on it.
Samantha: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Stephanie: Oh, no worries. All right everyone. Well thank you so much for joining me. I hope that you found this helpful, inspiring and you feel like you can do it. You have everything you need to create that online program. I will meet you back here next time.
If you enjoyed this podcast and you’re thinking about creating an online program for your health practice, you’ve got to check out The Leveraged Practice workshop. It’s my program where I walk you through my tried and tested framework to plan, launch, and deliver your online health program. Join me at TheLeveragedPractice.com. I’d love to have you join me for the next workshop.