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E#233 Running Pilot Programs for Quick Revenue (and Growth)

Running Pilot Programs for Quick Revenue (and Growth)

Whether you’re starting out in business or thinking of a new service line, it can be tough to break into a new market.

Pilot programs allow you to test a new service for the first time on a test audience in exchange for feedback but better than that – they are a great way to create business and revenue growth through live customer experience, results, reviews and referrals.

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Why Pilot Programs?
* How to Create Value in Pilot Programs
* Building Revenue with Pilot Programs


Why Pilot Programs?

Pilot programs are a low-risk opportunity for you to test and refine your coaching or other program using live feedback from people in your niche or target audience.

But more than that, running a pilot program is a pre-marketing activity. It is essentially a soft launch that creates visibility, interest, engagement and excitement around your new program.

To answer the question – why pilot programs? – they are a great way to give people a taste of what you do, and to create initial revenue, results and reviews (traction) that lead to future sales.

What I mean is this: by running a test version of your final program, you’re giving people a live experience of what you do, which generates positive feelings and other outcomes (which is what people actually buy – feelings).

You are showing you care about the customer because they’re helping you to make it exactly what they want and need.

It doesn’t have to be perfect, and there is far less pressure for you as you work out the kinks and bumps with a willing audience.

In return, they feel wonderful about helping you and they’re also getting a result in a structured, step-by-step process. Then, they are going to tell people about what they’re doing – spreading the word for you.

You can also share wins, photos, insights and progress along the way with your future audience to build their interest and excitement for your next program.

That means you end up with a refined product that exactly suits your target market – ready to go for a full launch – and with plenty of eyeballs on the next intake of your program. Much more fun than a pile of ads for something you’ve never tried or tested!

If you choose the right people for your pilot program, you’ll get relevant feedback to improve the final product, and glowing testimonials that will attract more people to your business.

I covered how to get the right people for your pilot program in episode #134 Five Top Tips for Finding the Right Pilot Program Clients. I explained why being selective is important, and how to find the right clients for your pilot program.

To answer the question – why pilot programs? – they are a great way to give people a taste of what you do, and to create initial revenue, results and reviews (traction) that lead to future sales.

Now that we know why pilot programs are great, how do you get people to join your pilot program? Well, you need to create value by communicating the problem you help to solve, and the solution or outcomes people will get by participating.

How to Create Value in Pilot Programs

Two previous episodes of this podcast do a deep dive into creating value within the program. In episode #154, the Why, What and How of Pilot Program workflows, I talked about how to map out the steps of signing up clients, onboarding clients, and the key steps in delivering the pilot program to those clients, so that you can prepare properly, and then deliver a complete and wonderful experience to your clients that covers all the bases. In episode #155, The Value of Pilot Program Content and Emails, I described how to create value for your clients in different elements of a pilot program – basically, how to create value within the content of the program that you can then test with a pilot group!

Building Revenue with Pilot Programs

Someone asked me recently – does a pilot program have to be free or can it be heavily discounted?

The short answer is – it depends on the niche clients, the size and urgency of their problem, their ability and willingness to pay, and the importance of change to them.

If you think about it, someone with a big, painful, problem that disrupts their daily life will be more willing to pay, and to pay more, and to get help, than someone with a minor problem that has little to no impact on their life.

Let that sink in for a moment – it’s important.

How do you feel about paying for something versus getting it for free? Several people have told me that they want to pay me for coaching because then they have skin in the game and will be more committed.

And on top of that – as the saying goes – nobody wants a free kitten. Because then the question is – why is it free? what’s wrong with it?

So how do you price a pilot program? Firstly, I think the language is important. If you talk about discounting as it devalues what we do as coaches.

I prefer to say that “this first program as a pilot will cost $X, and future versions will be $X”. This can help people decide to buy now or to wait until later.

Generally, I charge about 1/3 to ½ of the retail price for a pilot program, with a clear requirement for feedback along the way (which includes verbal and surveys). So if it will eventually be a $1500 program, a pilot version might be promoted as a one-time-only price of between $500 – $750.

Remember that even with in a pilot program, the right clients will get incredible value, assuming that you pick a niche, you’re clear on the problem they want to solve, and that the aim/outcome/result is clearly defined and exactly what they’re looking for. That is where the value is created – the old ‘what’s in it for me’.

People love to help, and they love getting a sense of value (which is simply a function of the results they get – and how important the results are to them – in exchange for their investment of time and money). If they can get a result in your pilot program, they’ll be incredibly grateful and will spread the word.

This is how pilot programs lead to business and revenue growth.


To answer the question – why pilot programs? – they are a great way to give people a taste of what you do, and to create initial revenue, results and reviews (traction) that lead to future sales.

They are more engaging than the more formal and structured forms of marketing, in that they are experiential and give your customers a feeling. After all, that’s what people buy!

I’ve linked you to two other episodes of this podcast to help you map out the steps, create valuable content, and take your idea to the world.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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E#140 A Four-Point Checklist to Launch Your Business

A Four-Point Checklist to Launch Your Business

When you’re starting a business, there are some specific things you need to do to get set up and ready to operate.  Today I’m talking about four parts of my business startup checklist that are part of my Passion to Profit program. 

In this episode, I’ll talk about 
* Deciding your business name
* Registering your business
* Setting up your business’ bank account

Deciding on a business name

Please don’t get hung up on the perfect business name.  

I recommend that, unless you are clear on your niche, simply use your own name as your business name and get on with things.


Simply because you are your own brand, and by using your name you can become more easily recognisable to your audience.

It also means if you decide to change your niche later down the track, you don’t have to worry about whether your business name is still relevant.

I recommend doing this and then, having programs that are well-named to suit the niche problem, so that those programs can be branded in their own right, and you have the flexibility to work in different areas if you wish or to pivot down the track.

Example: I started my business as Melanie J White coaching, and ran the Downsize Me program, which I licensed for other coaches to deliver. Later on, I decided to pivot into business coaching, so now my name is more commonly associated with the Passion to Profit program.

So that’s a way to keep it simple and get started – choose your own name. 

The other way to go, if you’re clear on your niche, is to choose a business name that speaks to what you do and this is appropriate if you have a clear niche.

I would recommend looking at a name that speaks to the niche, rather than a general name.

That’s because general names get lost in the sea of businesses, and if they are not clearly related to a problem solved, then they don’t catch the eye of the masses.

A good example of a clear name is Vital Lifestyles which is Jason Nikakis’ business in Melbourne. I like this name because it’s an outcome-based name.

Registering a business

Once you have a name, you are ready to register a business.

I recommend you talk to your accountant if needed to work out the best type of business to set up – Sole trader, Company or Trust.

The reason is that everyone has a different financial situation and that might mean one option is better than another.

For me, setting up a company made more sense.

For a lot of people, setting up as a sole trader will be enough.

If you don’t have an accountant – get one. It will save you a lot of pain at tax time and help make sure that your business is legally compliant.

You need to find out if you should register for GST or not (most people won’t need to at first unless their business is going gangbusters).

You can ask your accountant to set up the business for you, otherwise, go to the ASIC website to register your business name and get an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Registering for insurance

Before you exchange service for money, you will need to have appropriate professional insurance as a coach.

The two basic types of insurance are professional indemnity and public liability.

Professional indemnity is designed to protect you if somebody wishes to sue you for malpractice.

Public liability is designed to protect you from general loss or injury, for example, if you are running a workshop and somebody trips over your extension cord and hurts themselves and wishes to sue you.

Do you need insurance?

Definitely.  Firstly, it tells the world that you are a professional entity that takes their business seriously. Secondly, it offers protection from potential litigation.

The probability that someone will sue you is low, but the consequence is extreme.

If someone were to attempt a legal challenge, it would cost you money, time and emotional wellbeing  in addressing the challenge – and there is also reputation damage which could affect the future of your business.

Having insurance offers a buffer of support and it should be backed up by appropriate policies and procedures, which we cover in the Passion to Profit training. 

In addition, if you are hiring an office, a venue for running a workshop, or going into any sort of partnership arrangement including running a training course for an organisation, you will need to present evidence of your insurance in most cases in order to be able to conduct those activities.

Where do you get insurance?

There are a few companies that will insure you but you typically need to go through an insurance broker to get the right coverage for your situation.

Two options are:

  1.     Become a member of our national industry body – HCANZA – and contact their recommended insurance provider for a quote.
  2.     Contact IICT for information and a quote on insurance.

Insurance costs could be in the range of $300 up to $600 typically, with the premium being related to the type of services you want to offer and the risk associated with each. For example, you are an exercise physiologist who also wishes to work as a coach – these services have different levels of risk and therefore cost associated with them.

Typical amounts are $2M for professional indemnity and $10M for public liability.

Set up a business bank account

Set up a separate bank account for your business to keep your business income and expenses separate.

This sounds like a pain – but trust me – it has a lot of value.

How serious are you about your business?  Are you intending to persist for at least 2 years to make it work?

A business bank account is important for your own mindset as it makes your business real and tangible.

It also makes tax time MUCH easier because you can clearly separate personal vs business income and expenses.

It means that when you are ready to take payments, your clients know that they are dealing with a professional.

Business bank accounts are easy to set up and don’t cost a lot. Look for an account with low fees and charges – it should cost you under $100 per year to maintain.

There are other things you need to do to set up your business, but these are the essential starting points that get you ready to serve your customers.

If you’re in the Passion to Profit course, check out page 37 of the Student Guide for the complete checklist.


Today I talked about the first few points of a business startup checklist that I use in my Passion to Profit Program.

Before you start a business, you need to:

  1. Choose a business name – preferably your own name as your own personal brand
  2. Register your business with ASIC (in Australia) using the best structure for your personal asset and income situation
  3. Get professional insurance for yourself as a professional providing a service and your liability in a public setting
  4. Set up a business bank account.

If you have a great idea and need help to create a solid business blueprint and turn your idea into a thriving, profitable business –  make sure you book in for a free info session to learn about my Passion to Profit program.

Ready to get clarity on your pathway to success?

Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 51: Becoming a household name

This podcast is about how to become known for what you do in your area. I share my own experience about how I relocated to a regional community, how I became known, and the one thing I had to do to gain traction. 

These are the things I did to become known in the first 3 months in a new area.

You can do these even if you are not moving!

  1. Online research – I know it sounds boring, but you just need to spend an hour or two doing this and you will gain so much information. Go to the sensus data for your area and find out who lives there, or use the suburb information from realestate sites. Find out what the demographics are for your area so you can know who you’re working with.
  2. Network with clubs – Find out which clubs are operating in your area, then meet with people for a coffee. This will help you to find out who your tribe is, and to find out who they are already working with.  .
  3. Speak in public – You can do this in person, in community groups or online as a webinar. Speak about what you are passionate about, and make yourself known. This will help you develop relationships and find out who you have things in common with in the area.
  4. Host events – This was something I did that was really useful to interact with clients on a social and personal level. For me it was workshops, and movie nights, but it could be anything you are into that will welcome potential clients and and enable that social interaction.
  5. Attended expos – When setting up my stall, I try to use catchy things to engage people and start conversation. For example, my Tanita scale to measure body composition, bone mass etc. was a huge success. What I learnt from this is that people want to know about what’s going on with themselves, and I used this knowledge to help set up engaging activities at other events.
  6. Adult education – When I first moved to the area, I signed up to teach short courses based on private workshops. I taught from my experience,  knowledge and interest. It gave me intel on the local community and what their needs were, and helped me understand my niche.
  7. Form partnerships – I partnered with a wellness clinic, and by working out of that premises I connected with other allied health workers and got exposure from that workplace.
  8. Run a big promo event – The community I moved into needed a footpath, and had slowly been fundraising for it over a great length of time. I saw the need for this to move faster, and decided to run a fundraiser – we held a Guiness world record event for the longest bellydance hip shimmy. It turned out to be a great fundraiser, but also a great way to become known. The publicity was free – local newspapers supported the event and spread the word far and wide.

Without specificity you risk being vanilla and not standing out.

I used these things to get known – and I did.

BUT it was only when I niched down that I got traction.

I built a specific program around weight loss called downsizeme. When you have a name that is specific and clear, with a specific set of three pillars to create a specific result, then people know exactly what you do.

From there things began to fall into place.

I ran a pilot program, which is where you offer your product for free or at a reduced rate. Participants know that you are testing it so they are very forgiving of any mistakes, and are willing to give feedback to get what they want. It was a great success, and the participants told their friends about it, so publicity took care of itself.

I also consulted with a local doctor about the process, and suddenly I was communicating clearly about who I helped and how. All of the connections made prior to this began to make sense and became an integral foundation of the career path I was building.

The same sorts of stories can apply everywhere – online, or in your existing community – talk about a strong point and find your tribe.

Get out there and get known, build a profile for something. Then you need to talk about that something over and over. Without that specificity you risk being vanilla and not standing out.

Ready to make yourself known?

Let your community know who you are are what you do! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: