Group programs are a hot topic in the world of nutrition business. Most of us became nutrition professionals because we love to help people and want to be able to change lives for a living. It’s a labour of love and most of us can’t see ourselves doing anything else.
But it’s also a job that can become exhausting and hard to scale. You can only see so many clients in a day, and working one-on-one with people full-time may take a huge toll on you mentally and emotionally.
Running group nutrition programs is a clear solution. They’re scalable, impact more lives, and give you the ability to serve more people than you'd ever have time to see in a day.
We chatted with some awesome Nutritionists who have a ton of group program experience and asked them to share what they have learned along the way. Their incredible advice and insights will help you design your own amazing group program, so let's get right into it!
How to Know You're Ready for a Group Program
One of the hardest parts of launching a group program is believing that you’re ready for it. There is no handbook for how many clients you should have experience with before taking on a whole group of people at once. So we asked our Nutritionists to share how they knew a group program was the best move for their business.
1. You feel like a broken record.
Samantha Gladish is a Holistic Nutritionist specializing in women’s weight loss and hormonal disorders. She knew that she was ready for a group program when she realized most of her clients were coming to her for the same reasons.
“I got to a point where I was consistently repeating myself with clients. It just made sense to have everyone in a group coaching setting.
I wanted to create a community of like-minded women who can support each other and root each other on.”
This is what makes niching down in your nutrition practice so powerful! Without a niche, you can never run a group program because your clients are all coming to you for different reasons and need totally different things. When you work within a niche, you can build a community of like-minded people around your brand. This way, not only can you support your clients, but they can support each other too.
2. Your clients are asking for it.
Holistic Nutritionist, Amy Ritchie, started running her Real Food Reset because her one-on-one clients were asking for a structured plan with no guesswork, quick results, accountability and support. She listened and responded to their needs.
“It developed really organically. In the beginning, it wasn’t my intention to run group programs monthly and I was practicing one-on-one for a couple of years first. I noticed I had quite a few clients, or potential clients, asking me about resets. Rather than having them follow a restrictive diet, dangerous cleanse or take a ton of supplements, I wanted to create my take on a reset. That’s how the Real Food Reset was born.”
If some clients are asking for it, you can bet that others are silently wishing for it, and this was the case for Amy’s program.
“The results have been incredible and it has allowed me to provide services at a lower price point to women all around the world. I’ve also realized that not everybody feels comfortable sitting down with a Nutritionist. With the Reset, participants can sit back and observe or participate daily in the group depending on their comfort level.”
3. You dream about increasing your earning potential.
Laura Wood is a Holistic Nutritionist and creator of The Lavish Method, an online program to help women lose weight without giving up foods they love. She knew she wanted to create a group program when she realized the limitations of her one-on-one practice.
“There's this undercurrent in health and wellness that we should be in it to help people and that making money shouldn't matter. But I want to have a big life. I want to travel and go on amazing vacations and buy all the shoes WHILE helping people and having a tremendous impact.”
Laura quickly realized she couldn't do that working one-on-one with her clients because she was trading dollars for hours, and there are only so many of those in the day. For her business, an online, automated group program removed those roadblocks and blew the ceiling off of her earning potential.
4. You're feeling drawn to it.
Sometimes you just need to change things up in your business. Just because you've been doing something for a while, doesn't mean you will want to keep doing it forever.
Holistic Nutritionist and founder of Joyous Health, Joy McCarthy, started losing the inspiration to see private clients after several years in practice.
"I felt like I was getting to a point where I just didn't feel super inspired to do one-on-ones anymore because I had been doing them for several years. So energetically, I felt it was time to move on."
Her experience with one-on-one consulting helped her create awesome group programs that she was inspired to run and helped even more people.
"I wanted to make the best use of my time and wanted more balance between my family life and business life. Doing group programs was more profitable than one-on-ones and I could help more people in the process."
Group Program Mistakes to Avoid
We think that knowing what NOT to do is even more important than knowing what you should be doing. We’re all bound to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from our colleagues and save ourselves a few headaches. Here are the biggest mistakes these Nutritionists have made with their group programs.
1. Believing if you build it, they will come.
We’ve all heard that creating a great product or service means customers will flock to you. Or that if you aren’t getting customers, it means your product or service sucks. But neither of these myths are true.
After realizing she didn’t know enough about the marketing side of her business, Laura found clarity by hiring a coach.
“I thought if I built it, they would come. I didn't think I would need to learn the business and marketing side of things because my program was awesome, so of course people would buy it! Big mistake.”
Samantha came up against the same problem when she launched her first group program and felt like a failure when she wasn’t bombarded by sign-ups.
“I had this idea that I was going to launch a program and EVERYONE was going to join. That wasn’t the case. It taught me to manage my expectations and to be patient with growing the RIGHT community and speaking to the right people who would see the value in my programs and offerings.”
Just like there are no quick fixes in nutrition, there are no quick fixes in business and if you want to get great results you will have to put in a great, consistent work over time.
2. Creating a program that’s hard to follow.
Amy’s biggest mistake was creating a program that was a little too hardcore for beginners. Unlike working one-on-one with clients, group programs will have everyone from total beginners, to those with a bit more experience.
“I had to learn to ease them in. My first group program I started week one with some of my favourite super high fiber recipes like kale salad and chilli included. Some members felt GREAT, others experienced some undesirable digestive symptoms!”
When running a group program it’s better to assume that everyone is a total beginner and to start with small, foundational changes and work up from there. This reduces the likelihood of clients dropping off because the program was too hard for them to follow.
3. Not setting good boundaries.
When you're starting out, it's common to over-extend yourself. Joy's first online group program left her feeling burnt-out and depleted because she was constantly online, supporting the participants.
"I made myself too available! I would reply to comments and questions at all hours when I ran my first Joyous Detox online program. It was great for people in the program, but not great for me personally. The subsequent times I ran it, I set boundaries and I hired someone to help me field questions so I wasn't a one-woman-show."
Laura also learned the hard way that staying constantly available to program participants is a big mistake and takes the fun out of the program.
"I offered unlimited access via email. People were private messaging me, and I was answering at all hours because I thought I had to in order to justify their purchase. It was exhausting and I would feel resentful of my clients who took advantage of these things (even though it TOTALLY wasn't their fault)."
Over the years she's gotten better at setting boundaries so that she loves running the program just as much as her clients love doing it.
"I've learned that I need to set really clear boundaries and uphold them. Questions are only answered in the private Facebook group. I block time out every day to go in and do that. Having boundaries works much better for my clients (they know the process) and for me."
How to Get People to Signup For Your Program
Getting sign-ups is not as simple as posting a link online and hoping people click it! Since all our Nutritionists have run multiple rounds of group programs, we asked them to share which strategies have paid off the most in terms of getting signups.
There’s nothing quite like getting out in your community and making real, in-person connections. When people have met you, they are more likely to trust you enough to buy from you or to recommend your services to someone else.
Amy’s main strategy for getting clients into her programs is to make personal connections and convert those leads into paying clients over time.
“I really love my hometown and do workshops and public speaking frequently and have had quite a few sign-ups from these events.”
Once they’ve connected with her and start following her on social media, she keeps building trust by sharing recipes and testimonials from the program. She has found that even if someone doesn’t sign-up right away, it doesn’t mean they never will.
2. Focus on building your email list.
Since Laura's business is 100% online, building an email list was the biggest game-changer for her. Her strategy starts with a lead magnet, which her ideal clients download and then get added to her email list and invited to her free Facebook group where she builds trust with them and turns them into paying clients.
“I use an automated sales funnel. I use Facebook Ads to generate leads, nurture those leads via email and my free Facebook Group and then invite them into a webinar where they get an invitation into my program.”
This strategy works for Laura because she is super clear on her niche and who her ideal client is.
“Underlying all of that is the very clear foundational work of understanding my ideal client, being able to speak to the problem I solve for her (in her own words) and convey the transformation authentically.”
3. Talk to your audience.
Samantha feels strongly that regular outreach and personal connection with her potential clients is the key to turning them into paying clients.
“Conversions happen inside of conversations.
Whether it is in person or online, people require conversations, they have questions they need answers to. They need to trust you and learn about you before purchasing. Engaging in conversations and building relationships with people is what will drive sales.”
Samantha engages in regular conversations with her community on Instagram and through her podcast Healthy Hormones for Women.
4. Create multiple touch points.
People are more likely to buy from you once they've heard about what you are selling multiple times. Instead of focusing on just one strategy and putting all of your eggs in one basket, try to reach people across multiple platforms.
Over the years, Joy says this is what has given her the absolute best results.
"Now I use a 360-degree approach. What I mean by that is, utilizing all channels of my business to communicate with people and create awareness for a program. This includes my newsletter subscribers, my blog readers and my social media community. I've also found working with influencers or ambassadors of my brand has also helped to get the word out there."
A comprehensive approach like this doesn't happen overnight, but as you grow you can build out a strategy that reaches people across multiple channels.
All of these Nutritionists use tech tools for their programs. Here are the tools they can’t live without:
One of the most time-consuming and frustrating aspects of creating a group program is creating the actual program content. This is where That Clean Life comes in to save you time and money. Instead of writing, testing and photographing your own recipes, you get access to a huge database of recipes that have been developed and tested in-house. You can quickly calculate the nutrition of your meal plans so they’re balanced and nutritious. Plus, you export beautiful materials branded with your business information so there’s no need for a graphic designer.
Creating marketing materials and supplemental resources can be expensive, which is why most of these nutritionists use Canva to easily DIY beautiful materials for their marketing. With Canva, you can create social media posts, graphics, ebook covers, thumbnails for your lead magnet, and more even you aren’t ready to hire a graphic designer.
3. Facebook Groups
Facebook Groups are a free and simple way to get all your program participants together in one place. You don’t need to be tech-savvy to create a Facebook group and send out an invite to your program participants to join.
For the Nutritionists who have online businesses, they recommend ClickFunnels for hosting both sales pages and program content. This tool does seem to require more tech know-how, so if you’re not ready about it, don’t worry! You can start simple and expand as you grow.
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