by Andrew Barber (CoachConnector CTO)
We are surrounded by choice! We live in a world filled to brimming with colour and noise, all carefully constructed to persuade us to choose one product over another. In the tech world, we can spend days or even weeks consulting marketing specialists, SEO experts, UI/UX gurus and any myriad of other individuals described by acronyms and driven by a singular cause – to help attract customers to products.
Do we live in a world where the best product is also the most popular, or is it in fact simply a contest to have the best marketing, the greatest exposure to social media and the most efficient sales network? Is the development of a platform governed entirely by specification and budget, or are there now elements of UI/UX and marketing intertwined within the development process?
As a writer, more attention is given to PR, tours, book signings and social platforms than is ever given to the latest plot, current works or any required editing. Indeed when I am working as a writer, I often need to go into “retreat” in order to find the time to actually pen any prose.
When considering this argument further, people of my generation or older will doubtless quote the example of VHS versus Betamax – an instance where it is widely accepted that a superior system lost out to a product with better marketing.
Technology should be used as a means to improve our life or business in ways that would otherwise be beyond our ability. It is an ever moving conveyor of exciting new advancements, laid out neatly to tempt us into making a purchase. And as if that were not enough, many are then additionally wrapped in shiny inducements promising us the world in return for our hard earned cash.
Discounts, buy one and get one free, prize draws and special offers are all very tempting when deciding on your next big purchase. From your mobile telephone to the car that you drive, you are constantly making decisions that shape the way you live your life using technology as a tool.
Without your mobile telephone you would still be tied to only communicating when and where a land line is present. Without a data account on your mobile device, you may only check your email and social media from a laptop. Each purchase you make is governed by a genuine need, each attached to a benefit that adds something to your life or business.
So when considering what platform might best suit your coaching practice, you will soon realise that there are in fact quite a few systems to choose from. But thankfully there are lessons to be learned from the way we purchase everyday technology that may be applied in order to help make the right choice.
Take Your Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and you certainly do not need to make any snap decisions about what platform offers the best fit for your practice. Don’t be afraid to take a test drive and see which system bests suits your personal requirements.
To Have or Have Not
Remember that technology is a tool not a fashion accessory. The idea is to adopt a platform that will enhance your business. If you can’t find the right fit for the way you want and need to work and can see no benefit from the tools currently on offer, don’t sign up. Watch the market and keep trying different systems until the right deal comes along.
Intuitive User Experience
Make a list of those processes you see as being most important to your business and then test a few systems out to see how easily you can incorporate these items into a digitised practice.
Horses for Courses
When you start to look at coaching platforms you will quickly realise that they all offer a veritable smorgasbord of varying functionality falling from the screen in ever more tempting technicolor so to draw in the user and convince them to sign up. Take care to balance which platforms offer the functionality you are most likely to use against additional tools that may bring value later (future scope).
When considering your options be sure to weigh the cost against the return. The most expensive platform may also offer the best tools and services or perhaps it is actually a platform at the lower end of the cost range that has caught your eye because it boasts specific functions that fit your business.
With all the good will in the world, there are going to be days when you need help – how quickly can you gain that all important support and in what form. Some platforms will also offer surgeries in which they will welcome suggestions from their membership and readily incorporate the best ideas into the system (thus aiding the coach in adapting the platform to their needs).
Accessibility by association
You will find that many platforms cater for very specific groups, this may be certain types of coach or businesses with a minimum number of accredited hours or qualifications. In some cases platforms are effectively promoting a clique that fits closely to a specific working criteria. Not every platform will be a fit so only look at those systems designed with your services in mind.
… And Finally
As already mentioned, every platform will market their offering around functionality and value added services designed to help you and your business. To this end, it is important to gain some understanding of what the functions on offer actually mean when applied to a coaching program. This is important as while you may not see certain functionality as being critical to your business, when you understand its use, you may then realise it has a place in the future scope of your practice.
Next time we will dig a little deeper, looking at the types of functionality typically being offered by vendors and how it might help aid your coaching practice.