I hope you’re enjoying the start of summer. 😎
This year has been a whirlwind, supporting clients through an uncertain economic time, while developing new perspectives and tools for navigating the road ahead.
This week’s article is a hot topic for many of my entrepreneur clients, and a central focus for my work with them in 2023: Streamlining Services.
This approach has been changing the lives (and businesses) of my clients and is changing my own business as well.
Introducing Cohort-Based Coaching
One of the joys of running a services or expertise business is knowing that your unique perspective, insight, intuition, and creativity are part of what makes your business unique.
The more you deliver your services, you start to see patterns and processes emerge that consistently solve key problems for your clients.
One way to harness the value of these patterns and processes is to consider offering them to your clients in a new way.
If you want to run a more efficient and profitable services business, you may want to consider Cohort-Based Coaching (CBC).
Cohort-Based Coaching: A Definition
I define Cohort-Based Coaching as:
A synchronous learning environment, meaning people gather in the same space in real-time – whether virtual or in a physical space – while learning, practicing, and implementing in community with others.
For example, if you are an accountant who regularly helps your business clients determine the right entity structure (sole proprietor vs LLC vs S-corp), you could create a 4-6 week cohort to guide your clients through the entire process at a fraction of your personal cost and time.
If you are a coach that helps senior executives design a more meaningful life, you could set up a 6-week cohort that walks them through the steps of your process while also allowing them to share insights with one another, practice what they’ve learned, and implement the strategies in real-time.
In each of these cases, you are leveraging your intellectual property and a cohort structure to teach, coach, and build community in a high-value format that builds trust and encourages collaboration.
Cohort-Based Coaching allows you to offer a service that doesn’t require you to teach or coach individually. This consolidates your energy and frees you up to perform other high-leverage work in your business like creating valuable content, booking a keynote presentation, productizing services, or just having more time to enjoy your life.
In some cases, you can use the Cohort-Based Coaching model to work yourself out of the picture entirely with a mix of pre-recorded content, licensing, or having a qualified person that can lead cohorts on your behalf.
This sets you up to scale endlessly.
Why Cohort-Based Coaching is the Future of Learning & Development
Cohort-Based Coaching (CBC) offers a higher-level experience that’s built around community, collaboration, accountability, and support.
Cohort-Based Coaching benefits for participants/clients:
In self-paced learning, there’s often a low completion rate and a lack of accountability; the familiar ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ excuse can run rampant in this environment.
In a CBC model, there is a high level of accountability built in. This model involves set schedules and timelines, so there’s positive reinforcement for participants to show up for their cohort sessions.
Many participants are extrinsically motivated and don’t want to let their peers down by not showing up. Instead, they want to do well and participate in their learning community due to the sense of accountability and camaraderie created within the cohort.
Positive peer pressure = people showing up for their fellow participants = higher engagement.
When people learn independently, they’re unable to bounce ideas off of their peers and instructors like they would in a group setting.
CBC offers the ability to connect people of many different backgrounds and experiences.
Through group discussions, participants can expand their perspectives and hear opinions that differ from their own. Plus, participants are able to enhance the experience by sharing their own personal and professional experience, helping everyone in the cohort learn something new.
This environment can also encourage students to take risks and explore new ways of thinking that they may not have otherwise considered.
Many high-achievers like entrepreneurs, consultants, and executives feel isolated in their work.
Cohort-Based Coaching allows participants to come together in community, which is what many are missing.
Community is also linked to higher learning satisfaction as research suggests that participants learn best when social interactions are involved in their learning experience.
Depending on one another for support can deepen trust and lead to a more collaborative and immersive learning experience.
Learning in community can also help participants support one another throughout their learning journey. Plus, it often leads to participants expanding their professional and personal network.
Learning by Doing
Since CBC helps students apply, analyze, evaluate, and create in new ways, the cohort model is exponentially more effective than a self-paced program or 1-on-1 coaching.
By participating in live discussions, case studies, problem-solving, and role-playing, students stay engaged in the process at a much higher level.
The CBC model is designed to encourage participants to be more involved in the learning process as opposed to passively consuming content, which exponentially improves retention and results.
Cohort-Based Coaching benefits for service providers (coaches, consultants, advisors, experts):
The CBC model doesn’t only benefit participants. It benefits you, the service provider.
Higher Completion Rates
Static, asynchronous programs have a 3-6% completion rate. The CBC model has a 75%+ completion rate.
In theory, consuming content on-demand gives your clients flexibility …but in reality, they get easily distracted and rarely make it past the first module.
Provides a Positive Feedback Loop
Through cohort discussions, you can easily identify knowledge gaps for what you’re teaching and coaching.
This provides you with immediate feedback; once you know what’s missing or what information you wished you’d included in your program, you can create supportive content/programming to fill in the gaps and immediately use it to improve your CBC experience.
Makes Knowledge Transfer Easier
It can be challenging to teach higher-order skills – like analyzing, reasoning, applying ideas – by reading a white paper, a book, or watching videos. CBC creates a great sandbox for this.
With the CBC model, your participants won’t just be memorizing and regurgitating information, they’ll actually be integrating it with their experience and implementing it in their personal or professional lives.
Higher Value = Higher Price
On average, CBC programs are priced much higher than self-paced courses since it requires higher touch involvement from the participants and the instructor.
With an overwhelming array of options for your clients to choose from, many people are happy to pay for the accountability, community, and deeper learning experience that CBC programs offer.
Not only are you able to sell your CBC program as a premium product, it also has the potential to easily scale. Most CBC programs are priced somewhere between the cost of a self-paced course and individual coaching.
Many of my clients earn $10k-$50k per cohort and folks with a more established audience can earn $50k+ from a single cohort.
A Smarter Business Model
One of the biggest challenges for many service providers and experts is getting out of the time-for-dollars trap.
While the CBC model isn’t passive income, it does offer greater leverage than private coaching. And it offers significantly deeper impact than one-time speaking and training engagements.
Many of my clients have used the Cohort-Based Coaching model to add depth and transformation to their existing speaking, writing, training, and coaching models.
More than half of my clients that implement a CBC model go on to lead multiple cohorts at the same time – which opens up opportunities for certifying others to lead your CBC programs and/or licensing your CBC program to other organizations.
Helps You Stand Out
A CBC model is a great way to differentiate yourself from others in your space; the ability for your participants to have direct access to you helps you to stand out in a competitive market.
For many participants, this opportunity for live engagement can be a huge reason why they sign up for your CBC program. Many learners value the ability to speak with their educator and peers in real-time.
This makes a huge difference for some students and encourages those who are on the fence to enroll in your program vs someone else’s.
It will take some time and energy to transform your human-guidance-heavy service into a more streamlined model, but when you do, you’ll find that you can serve more clients, more consistently, for more money.
In the next newsletter, I’ll be going into more detail about how to design a Cohort-Based Coaching program, including a few client success stories.