#190: Why Smaller Lists Work Just As Well As Big Ones - Part 2

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Smaller lists work amazingly well, but there's a big task at hand

You not only have to keep clients coming back, but prevent them from leaving as well. How do you do that? At Psychotactics we have many methods and it should give you some ideas as to where you can begin. If you have some ideas, do send them in.

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We'll focus on just three things that we can do with our tiny list

1- The first purchase: why you don't need thousands, or even hundreds of clients on your list. 2- How to willingly get clients to buy a second, third, fourth, even ten times in quick succession. 3- Monitoring the connectedness of your community.

What makes a society feasible?

No doubt, a lot of elements go into the making of a society, but two of the key components are: Are the rest a lot like me? Are they completely different from me?

Our lists are small in comparison to most others in our field

Our list now hovers around 25,000 people, and probably 5000 people open their e-mail. The membership site at 5000bc has just 600 members. Our workshops allow for just 35 people at a maximum, but often we'll have boutique workshops like the Landing page workshop, and admit only 15 participants.

When you consider the size of other lists, and especially those who've been around as long as we have, you'll see there's a marked difference. But how come we're able to do this whole three-month vacation bit, take weekends off, etc.

It's because of our belief in the small list, but there's a greater driving force

We have community in the sense that's easier to manage when you're smaller. It wouldn't be over the top to state that we've personally met close to one fourth of our members in person.

We've interacted with clients via e-mail several times, and on 5000bc, possibly hundreds of times. Even so, the community aspect only tends to work, if the client is willing to pitch in. And they only tend to pitch in, if their two questions are answered reasonably well.

Are the rest a lot like me? Are they completely different from me?

If the client feels socially overwhelmed, they will not participate in the community. Social overwhelm doesn't come from abnormally large groups. Instead, as one client told me: “I feel about 15 people is all I can manage”.

Which is why you need to keep your clients to smaller groups, and for our workshops and training, we might take 35 people on the course, but split them into groups of 5-7 people.

That avoids the social overwhelm. Then, we give them structure to introduce themselves to each other and to get to know each other. They get to know the likes, the dislikes—and this reduces isolation. The reason why a society exists is because the group members don't feel extremely different from each other. This fosters a sense of identity with your tribe. And in doing so, it also answers the question: Are the rest a lot like me?

When a group is small, and get to know each other, they tend to stay longer

The more the connectedness, the more they're likely to pitch in and help one another. Whether you're in business online, or have an offline service—say a clothing firm, or a bakery—there's always a chance to get your audience together.

Lulu Melon, the fitness clothing store, for instance, has yoga classes every weekend. Others like the lawyers I worked with, would have seminars and then cheese, and really good wine. And if you're sitting in a land of 64 million sheep, far away from the rest of the world, you can connect with your audience, as we have over the years.

To make this work in small groups, we use a ton of methods.

Methods we've used so far:

A) Offline meet-ups B) Online meet-ups C) Courses online and workshops (but restricted to groups of 7 people) D) Taking Action forum and Cave Guides E) Chocolate from New Zealand

A) Offline meet-ups

The toughest bit about workshops is all the preparation involved. It's exhilarating for me, as an extrovert, to conduct a workshop, but it's also a fair bit of work because we promise skill, not just a seminar filled with information.

Then, to make it harder for myself (and apologies for the “me, me, me”) is I promise to give the notes a whole month in advance of the event itself.

This sudden decision was only half the trouble. A workshop needs a proper venue, it needs catering, and because we're pedantic. We fly in at least three-four days in advance to make sure everything's just right.

And yet, workshops are astounding at creating communities. Clients who come to workshops get a greater ability and tend to participate more in the membership site at 5000bc. And yet, as you can tell, workshops are well, a lot of work.

Which is why we decided to have offline meet ups.

B) Online meet-ups

A meetup doesn't need a venue. Any cafe will do, though we go to extra lengths to get a nice venue, where possible. It requires no notes, little or no planning and I can sleep well the night before. Believe it or not, a meet up achieves a similar result as a three or five-day workshop when it comes to community building. The meet-ups are usually about three hours long where everyone (and we restrict the numbers to about 15 people) talks to the others, but then I get asked dozens of questions (and I answer them all).

That session moves to a restaurant, where people spend two or three hours more, talking and enjoying the company of other entrepreneurs just like them. And in some cases, some have stuck around until dinner, and as you can see, it's a pretty long day for an introvert, but a glorious day for someone like me. Nonetheless, even if you were just to have a meet-up, as Dorothy does, that alone is worth the trouble.

Dorothy who?

Dorothy Goudie, who founded Dorothy’s Fashions in 1982, decided not to renew the lease on her Neville Street women's boutique and retired at the age of 78. Even so, when the store was going, Dorothy would have her meet ups. It wasn't anything fancy. She'd personally invite her clients to an afternoon of tea and snacks. And in that tiny little act, she managed to get her clients together and form a community.

One of the best ways to get clients together is to have an offline meet-up, yet your clients may not be local. In which case, an online meet up is what's needed for sure.

Online meet-ups

We live in New Zealand, and yet we travel the world, so it's relatively possible to have meet-ups from time to time. However, the offline meet-ups were so well received that it made perfect sense to take the concept online. That way we could have clients from different countries and varying time zones getting to know each other. Think of a meet up much like a webinar, especially since you're going to be using webinar software anyway. Getting clients together to just talk to each other and interact with you, is slightly different from meeting over beer and coffee, but there's no reason why it can't be fun.

Some clients will not turn on their video, some will not show up on audio either, but my guess is that almost everyone will say hello, at least on chat. To straddle east and west, we've had two separate time zones. This takes us to the third method of getting clients together—courses online. Most clients are delighted to meet in small groups. The bigger the group, the more they lurk. It's well worth having several sessions, rather than one big nameless, faceless group.

C) Courses online and workshops

Courses are a great way to get clients to interact. As explained earlier, we start off with a group of anywhere between 25-35 people, but they're in groups of no larger than 7. Why 7? Because if a couple of people go missing for a few days, you still have a discussion going between 5 people.

If you have a smaller group, say of 5 people, and two go missing, it's just down to three. That's a bit too close for comfort, and hence 7 is a good number for a group. However, we've found that this number can then be pared down to as small as two per group. If you have a final couple of weeks, you can pair people off, and they work very well.

A similar concept can be used for on-site workshops creating bonding between the group as well as between two specific individuals. Is it possible for someone to request a move to another group? Of course, it is, and it doesn't happen often, but it's easy enough to make a move, if needed. Which takes us to the Taking Action group in 5000bc.

D) Taking Action forum and Cave Guides

The big reason for joining a membership site like 5000bc is to get a consistent level of progress. Or in many cases, just to be heard and have someone to hear you out. That's what 5000bc's Taking Action forum is all about. Once again, it can become quite isolated, except for the fact that we pair up clients. Just having another person listening to what you've achieved helps you come back and get progress.

And yet again, it's a bond that forms between clients. There are also the Cave Guides and the Elves. The Cave Guides are there for those who've just joined and need a helping hand around 5000bc. The elves, on the other hand, come out and volunteer when we go on vacation thrice a year. They keep watch over the place and pitch in if help is needed.

E) Chocolate from New Zealand

One of the most intimidating aspects of the Internet is the inability to connect with the owner of the site. It almost seems like you're interrupting them at some level when you write in. The chocolate bar sent with a hand written card, all the way from New Zealand makes a huge difference and a connection. Some people suggest we get a service to do this task. And perhaps print a card and send it off.

Yes, all that advice is very efficient, but let's focus on why we're doing all of this in the first instance. It's about connection. The moment the client gets a chocolate bar, they usually write in. Clients send photos of their family and of course the chocolate bar (but often just the wrapper).

You may sit around and drool at the thought of big groups

In reality it's just that the grass looks greener on the other side. You can run a perfectly profitable and sustainable business. You get to stay close to your family, to travel when you need to, have lots of downtime and to run a business like that's not chasing its tail. Best of all you don't need a big group at all. You grow your audience organically and systematically. But most of all, fish at your feet first. Keep the clients you have and they'll help you grow as they grow too.

That's pretty much it.

Part 3: Why Smaller Lists Work Just As Well As Big Ones

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