Only 1 person signed up. Now what? - Christine Kane

One of the biggest lessons I’ve discovered over my years of coaching and doing online launches is that sometimes shit just doesn’t work the way you want it to. That’s especially true for people in the beginning stages of their business.

Today’s topic is inspired by a message I received on Facebook that read, “I only had one person sign up for my thing. What do I do now?”

So, I kick this off with a vulnerable story from my early music days. Then, I share the lessons I got that couldn’t have come any other way except the hard way. (Plus, I’ll introduce you to Jim – a janitor I met who became a pivotal touchstone as my music career evolved toward success.)

After, we’ll take a practical look at what to do in your own business when things don’t pan out as expected. You’re going to hear a different perspective on the value of your email list and how you approach it that could shift your business and how you approach sending emails.

I’ll walk you through the choices you have when you only get a couple of sign-ups or only person shows for your event. Plus, I’ll offer a couple of strategies for moving forward so when it happens (because it will), and now you’ll know exactly what to do.

Episode Transcript

People are so overwhelmed right now. You need to break things down in a way that their brain can digest them and they can understand the value of them.

Welcome to the Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Welcome my Friends. This is episode number 50 of the Soul-Sourced™ Business Podcast. And today I’m going to go into a little bit of the dark side of marketing. We’re going to talk about a very tender territory, and that is what you do when you don’t get the signups you wanted or were hoping for, for your program, your event, your launch, whatever it might be. What do you do in those moments and how do you handle it when this kind of thing happens?

And I know this is not a very popular topic and that most marketers and coaches talk about how to get the millions, how to get the six-figure launches, how thousands of people will all fall at your feet in adoration of you, and here’s how to do it. But I have discovered and found over my years of coaching and my own years of having a business and doing launches that sometimes shit just doesn’t work the way you wanted it to, and especially when someone’s in the beginning stages of their business, this is going to happen. It’s going to happen more often than not. And the worst thing somebody can do is think that it means they’re not a good business owner, or they should roll around in shame and give up and all the teeth gnashing that goes on when something doesn’t work the way you thought it should.

So to kick this off, I am going to read from a blog post. It’s a, it’s an older blog post that I wrote back in 2017. And it is called Not Enough Readers, Fans Are Peeps. What To Do When Your Numbers Are Embarrassingly Low. This is a short post, but I think it’s worth mentioning here, since we’re going to touch on this topic, then after this, I’m going to walk you through what to do both in the moment and what to do for the long term.

Now I’m going to start reading. Every now and then someone will complain to me about not enough people signing up for their event or that they only have 47 registrants on their webinar or only 13 people in their first program. Recently, a doctor sent me his marketing sequence and he wanted me to tell him, for free, how to get 35 more people to his very first day long retreat next week. Only nine had signed up so far, and that was just embarrassing.

Here’s what I want to tell these people. I want to tell them that the first time I launched an online program, 11 people paid me. I also want to share that the first time I did a workshop about 10 people came. I want to remind them that my first webinars didn’t have even close to the thousands of participants like they do now. But when I say these things, people look at me like I’m lying. Their eyes glaze over. And they say things like, okay, but what should my next email say? So instead I tell them about Jim. You may or may not know this, but the first business I built was being a musician, making CDs, touring, and managing my own music career. I met Jim at my very first show on my very first tour. I had just been signed by an agent who got me actual paying gigs on college campuses. I was officially a professional musician. I hit the road. I drove two days and I arrived on the campus of Jacksonville university an hour before my showtime for my first big show.

There was a young woman waiting for me on the steps of the student center. She had a folder and a check. She walked me to the makeshift stage and waited robotically as I did a sound check. She double-checked about the start time and the end time, she stood there uneasily, then she handed me the envelope with my check in it and she left. And that was the last I saw of her. After that, I sat in the student center waiting for the throngs to show up. It smelled like stale French fries. The start time came and there was exactly one person in the back of the room. The janitor. I thought of a line I had just heard from the Bhagavad Gita, set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. The author of that line, I decided, had never sat in an empty student center, faced with the prospect of playing her tunes for the janitor. But I took a deep breath. Then I got up. I told myself that this janitor was going to get a great show even if I had to feel embarrassed for this pathetic person on stage.

During my first song, he was pushing a broom across the back of the room. By the time I began my third song, he sat down at one of the tables in the front of the room, since he was my only audience, I started talking with him between songs. His name was Jim. Jim was from Jacksonville, his whole life. He worked odd jobs all over campus. I told him this was my first show on my first tour. That made him happy. He asked for a Fleetwood Mac song. I played it. Jim didn’t seem embarrassed that there was no audience. So I kept playing and he kept listening. When my show ended, exactly no one else had joined us. Jim bought my CD.

So here’s the thing. We think that businesses and careers are all about the one moment, the event with hundreds of people, the podcast that will make us famous. The big release that everyone raves about. I went on to make seven CDs and a DVD that won a Telly Award. I shared stages with stars like John Mayer and Nancy Griffith, the Beach Boys and Los Lobos. Two dance companies choreographed, ballets to my music and took me on the road with them. But no single event made me successful. Success I learned, was just showing up fully again and again, giving my heart and soul and learning and marketing and doing better each time. When hardly anyone comes to your thing, whatever your thing is, my advice is the same. Get better at marketing and then give the ones who show up the very best you have. You don’t have to fake it, but you do have to be there and talk to them and teach them as if they’re the most important people in the world, because they are, and you never know how your energy and presence will ripple out into their lives and then back to yours.

Honestly, I didn’t think about Jim after that show until a year or so later when I went back to Jacksonville for a CD release show for my new CD, at a coffee house, Jim was there. He brought six people with them. He introduced me to each one of them, and we joked about the time he was the only one in my audience. His friends all bought both my CDs. After that, every time I played in Jacksonville, Jim was there with a new group of people who all bought CDs. Once he even came to another city and waited with his friends in a line of people to have me sign his CD with a flourish, he told everyone around us about that night when it was just me and him, now look, he smiled and let his hand sweep across the theater lobby.

So I tell Jim’s story because yes, it sucks when you’re building your business. It always seems to take slower than the internet gurus say it will. And even when you do have a big night or the best sales ever, or a jillion comments, you still have to get back to work and keep doing your thing. Whether your business is coaching or design or real estate or speaking, or training or writing, you won’t always get the numbers you want. And your ego will say bad things to you. Your ego will say, why should I even bother? My short answer to that question is something that my own puffy grandiose, easily bruised ego had to learn over my years as a touring musician, keep doing your thing because no one is a janitor and everyone is Jim.

So this episode, the topic for this episode was actually inspired by a question I got on Facebook from somebody who said, I only had one person sign up for my thing. What do I do now? And as it turned out, she wrote that she had posted, she had sent out her flyer. I don’t know what that means. I don’t know the context and I did not ask, or if I did, I think she didn’t respond when I did ask. So the way I’m going to approach this and the way I always approach this with clients is taking two strategic directions. Two places that we want to examine here. And the first one is going to seem like it’s the most important, which is like, what do I do now? How do I handle this? But honestly, the second one is the one that is the most important, and I want to focus on that as well.

So the first one I get it, it’s about what do you do now? The choices are kind of limited, but they are as follows. The first choice is that you do the training, you do the coaching, you do the program, whatever it is, and you do it for the one person and you give them the best experience ever. And I know that that’s a hard one to roll with. It depends on the situation, but you really can do that. But one thing that I would say is that I would not, if you have some time before the program starts or before the start day is, or the retreat or whatever it is, and you’re not going to lose money or anything like that, and you’re still going to do it, I would really encourage you to send out one or two more emails or messages to people, If there’s still time to get people enrolled, because you never know, people like to wait till the last minute, they might have sort of opened your email and checked it out. I don’t know what kind of tracking you have in your email program, but I would definitely write to people again. And if you can tell that someone opened your email, you can send just to those people on the list, something that says, Hey, I noticed you looked, it’s the last day to sign up. Would you like to talk or offer them to have a phone conversation, whatever it is, but do the work to get people enrolled. Too often, our ego steps in and we want to be cool and we don’t want to reach out. And we don’t want to talk to people, we just want them to sign up for our thing, but it’s worth a reach out. If you can get a few more people into the program, that is an option.

The second choice is that you can delay the program or the event until a date in a few months, again, provided you’re not going to lose your deposit on a space or whatever it might be, I’m not sure what the scenario was in this particular question, but what you would do in that situation is that you would write to the person or people who, who signed up and I’m going to give you a warning here. You’re going to write to them, but you are not allowed to be lame, meaning you’re not allowed to say, well, you’re the only one who signed up. You can’t get Eyeore on them. All right, you want to be, you wanna, you know, be very real about the options that are there for them and say, I’ve decided to delay this. It turns out that the summer months are getting in the way of other people’s schedules, and, and I’m going to wait until September to host this thing and would you like to apply your deposit to that date, and see what they say. Again, the way you frame this is going to be particularly important. And so it’s going to be worth taking some time to get out of the little bruised ego place that you might be in right now.

Then the last option is the worst option, which is to give, give up and never launch anything again, and decide that you suck at launching and that this is just terrible for you. And then while you’re at it, you might as well just go grab a tin of Pringles and watch an old Sandra Bullock movie to really amp up the entire evening you’re about to have. Hopefully you won’t take option number three there, but those are the two things that you do. And I know it hurts sometimes, but you step into it and this is how we grow.

So let’s go into the other strategy I want to talk about. And that is instead of just trying to be like in the mode where you’re constantly putting out fires, let’s get into the mode where you’re now preventing fires, where you can actually learn from this situation so that it doesn’t happen in this way again. What I teach my clients is that when a launch doesn’t work, when something like this doesn’t work an offer, whatever goes out there, you want to pay attention to three different things. You want to go back and review. First, the list and the people on it. Second, the copy, meaning the email copy, the communication, the video, the audio, whatever it was that you sent. And last is the offer itself. And I’m going to go through these three so that you understand why this matters.

The first being the list. And in this particular situation, the person who posted this question did not give me this kind of context. So there’s all kinds of scenarios that could have happened with this. One is that the list hasn’t heard from you since 2018 or something like that, like you’ve been very spotty and you only occasionally email them. And maybe you sent them one email during COVID to tell them how everything sucked and complain or whatever it may be. But I’ve seen all kinds of relationships with people’s lists that are not consistent. They don’t create a relationship. They do not create trust. And then all of a sudden they’ll blam, hit them with an offer, and the list doesn’t even know you anymore. They don’t trust you anymore. And it’s amazing that the few people who do sign up, sign up. And so what you want to consider is this list, If you haven’t been in touch, how do you get to where you’re more consistent and you do stay in touch? What kind of email communication could you share? What kind of value could you share on a regular basis so that you start building the relationship with the list? Because a lot of people like to say the money’s in the list and that is absolutely not true. The money is in the relationship with your list.

The other thing about the list and the people is, does this thing, you offered, serve this person that’s on the list. So I’ve met a lot of people and worked with a lot of people who have changed directions in their career. Like maybe they were an executive coach at one point, now they’re starting something a little bit different. And the people who were on their list when they were an executive coach, wouldn’t be interested this, or they might be interested in this, but a lot of them wouldn’t. And so you have to realize that they might need to be warmed up or the list might need to be scrubbed, and they’re no longer a market to message match. And so the people that you’re writing to very, very important and your relationship to those people is very, very important.

The next thing we look at is the copy. So this person who posted this question to me just casually mentioned that she sent out a flyer. I’m not a fan of flyers and brochures and things like that because in general, you know, we, in my Vision Board Pro program, I do have something I call a flash sheet and that is something that doesn’t go out until you send out some emails and people start asking you about it.

But I liked just emails because, when you have a good relationship with somebody, like let’s think of you and your great friend, and you’ll sometimes email back and forth, you don’t send them flyers. You just simply email them. And so the copy matters. So in this particular situation, I obviously am not going to go in and look at all her copy and ask her to look at that, but what you would do is go through and look at the emails you sent out. And one hint I will give you is that most people do not send enough emails about their workshop event or whatever. They send out one email, that’s like nine pages long. It has a flyer attached. It doesn’t even land in inboxes because there’s an attachment on it. And then they say, oh, I suck. This didn’t work. And so what you want to do is consider, I think I actually did a podcast on this way, early in the beginning, but you want to consider that every time you make an offer, there’s a campaign involved.

It’s not just about the one thing here it is, you know, boom, there it is in your inbox. You’re in, you’re out. That’s not it. You want to build the relationship with the copy, with the stories you tell, share why they would want to come talk about it a little bit and give them a very clear call to action, CTA, call to action, and then see, you know, see who responds to you and then have a back and forth with those people. But the copy is very important. What you wrote, how you wrote it, not making me like one email, be forever too long, set up things in segments, do multiple emails and create a relationship about this offer through the emails you send.

And the last thing is the offer itself. Meaning, how did you stack things up in this offer? And this is something you have to think about. So for instance, in Uplevel Cafe, which is the membership that, um, the community I have that we just opened up, you can go see it at Uplevelcafe.com. We just opened the doors of it. But part of why it took me so long to redo it and relaunch it, and we didn’t launch it last year, partly because of COVID, but partly because I was rebuilding, it was that I had to really rethink how I presented the Strategy Track of trainings and the Soul Track of trainings, because a lot of people who had been in it were getting them wrong and they were calling them in the wrong names. They were calling, I had different names for it at that time, and they were getting it all wrong. They were very confused about what to do. And I just paid attention to that and how I made that offer how I set up Uplevel Cafe, wasn’t serving people, and so I had to kind of go back to ground zero and start building this up again, talk about it again. And I had to learn my own lesson from that of how to serve people. So when it comes to your event or your retreat or your day, what are the elements that are in that offer and why do they matter? Why does someone need them? And do they even understand what they’re there for and what the value is?

So for instance, in Uplevel cafe, it’s not, like it might seem like, I’ve had people get in there and say, I can’t believe you are giving all of this for just 47 a month. And it’s very true. There is a lot there, but that’s not a selling point. Like it’s not a selling point to say, you’ll get so much shit you won’t even know what to do with it all.

But I have to really break it down to say, why does this matter? Why does it matter if they go you’re on the phone with me once a month? Why does it matter that I have strategy trainings and soul trainings? Why does it matter, why does the Facebook group matter? Why do all the little bonuses that unlock after 21 days? Like the mindset train, why do these things matter? And I need to be able to articulate that to people. Most of us don’t, we send out a flyer and we think it should be obvious and it is not obvious. And we also think we need to firehose them and give them so much they’ll, their head will spin. People are so overwhelmed right now. You need to break things down in a way that their brain can digest them and they can understand the value of them.

So when someone says to me, I emailed out a flyer, most likely it didn’t land in people’s inbox, or they didn’t want to open a, an attachment because they didn’t understand, like they just didn’t trust the attachment or they opened the attachment and it was overwhelming to them because there was too much going on and not a clear call to action. So there’s many reasons why a launch doesn’t work, but for our purposes, that’s usually going to point to one of three things, your list, your copy, or your offer. And if it’s all three, then great, you know that and you have some work to do.

So you guys, I hope this helped. This is why no matter what business you’re in, this is why marketing is so key. And as you know, I don’t look at marketing as marketing. I look at marketing as just very great communication that has some kind of objective or impact for people and really elevate people.

So consider that as you’re communicating about the next thing you offer, and then you’ll do it better the next time. And to that end, if you do want to learn more about marketing and about, and about the Strategy Tracks and Soul Tracks, and, um, our first coaching call is coming up this week, actually not our first, but our next group coaching call is coming up this week and can ask me a question, hop on Zoom and, uh, get some coaching. Go to Uplevelcafe.com and see if it resonates with you. And in the meantime, I do hope this helps for those of you who are putting things out there and getting numbers that you wish were higher. It’s a normal thing, but you will get better over time. I promise you.

Okay. Cool. Thank you guys for listening. I really appreciate you and I will see you next week. Bye, everyone.