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Face To Face

I’m writing this on the way to Cardiff to run one of our 3 Day Coach Education Courses with 12 hand-picked coaches. Of all the things we do at Swim Smooth, these courses are perhaps the most enjoyable for me, you can’t beat spending some quality time with other passionate swim coaches, getting to know them and talking swimming with other swim geeks!

You can do a lot on the internet and reach a lot of people but you can’t beat being in the same room to really get to know someone. I can’t think of one significant relationship in our business that was formed without spending quality time with that person in the same room or on the same pool deck.

In fact, in 2010 we went to the expense of flying coach Charles Couturier over from Canada to the UK, so I could meet him and get to know him on our coaching course. This obviously cost quite a lot of money but Charles is someone we are hoping to work with over the coming years (and decades!) so this was well worthwhile in the long run.

If you’re an internet or social media junky (like me!) then why not take your best electronic connections and suggest meeting up in person? If it’s a relationship with real potential for your business then it could be worth spending some money to do that if necessary.

Even if the person turns out to be not what you thought, that’s good too. At least you know and can move forwards.

Adam

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Something’s Changed With Youtube (For The Better)

We host a lot of video on Youtube, it can be a good way of showing people who aren’t already familiar with our work how we can help improve their swimming. People who like our video can subscribe to us, which just means they get an automated email from Youtube telling them when we put up a new video – neat.

Here’s our subscribers per month statistics over the last few years:

 

Something happened about 8 or 9 months ago, where I’ve drawn the arrow. We didn’t introduce any significant videos at that point but the number of new subscribers jumped up dramatically. I’m not sure exactly what’s caused this but think it must be the new graphical design of Youtube which places the ‘subscribe’ button more prominently on the page.

So, Youtube just got a bit better for everyone. One thought from me: try suggesting users subscribe to you within your videos, you might well double your subscribers.

Adam

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Present Better And Win Disproportionately

I just googled “swimming technique” and got 313,000 results. Clearly there’s a lot of websites out there talking about swimming! Whatever your line of coaching, product or business, there’s almost certainly a lot of competition out there vying for attention.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? One extremely effective way is to do a better job of structuring, packaging and presenting your materials than anyone else. You might do this with some (or all) of these elements:

- Better writing skills
- Engaging story telling
- Intuitive visual layouts
- Clear simple explanations
- Creating interesting diagrams
- Cutting to the chase with less hype and fluff
- Carefully selected photos (or even a dedicated photo shoot)
- Unique video

At University, if you spent five times longer working on an assignment you might get a 10% better grade. But in the highly competitive world of business, if you spend five times longer working on presenting your idea or developing your product, you will get much more than five times the response.

Hard Work

On this blog I’ll be giving you ideas and suggestions for how to get better at each of those items on the list (and others) but I can’t do the work for you, it will require effort on your part, which is kind of the point. 99% of people chuck stuff out there with little planning or forethought. If you can do the hard work for your customers to make things easier to absorb, more insightful and less confusing, you win disproportionately.

You might have looked at the list above and thought but I can’t write or I don’t know how to take a great photograph. I would say that if those skills are going to be of ongoing use to you in the future, then make the effort to start developing them now. Choose the ones you need the most and are the weakest at, and get to work.

Copy And Steal Everything

I think it’s fair to say that Swim Smooth have the best quality swim coaching video out there, it’s something Paul and I put a lot of effort into and has made a large difference to our business.

In fact, we’ve just completed six weeks of intense filming in Perth. We’ve tried really hard to move the needle on the professionalism of the production and to make the coaching more ‘live’ and engaging. I’m very proud of the results and confident we’ve taken things to the next level, even beyond our Catch Masterclass DVD.

How did we do this? In lots of small ways, with ideas and techniques we stole from all sorts of sources. For instance, over the last couple of years, whenever I watch a movie I’m always looking at the camera work and the editing. I know when Paul watches TV he notices the presenters, how they talk to the camera, show their passion and engage with the viewer.

My girlfriend thinks I’m pretty sad when I notice a nice panning shot in the middle of Sleepless In Seattle but I just can’t help it, I’ve become a filming geek now. Once you’ve decided to become better at something your brain starts noticing things and learning from them. So, perhaps the most important thing is to decide what you need to become better at and START, that decision is the most important thing and not making it holds most people back. Just decide to start and the rest will follow.

Adam

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What is different media good for?

My thoughts on the best use of each:

Twitter = gossip
Facebook = news + pics
Blogs = a single thought, notion or element of advice at a time. drip drip drip.
Website = one-stop-shop linking to everything about you
Book = a detailed life-changing message

I think which you choose to do depends on what you have to say and are trying to achieve. Ignore social pressure to be on facebook or twitter etc if it isn’t right for you, otherwise you’ll waste a helluva lot of time and effort just making noise.

Adam

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Be Amazing And Relentless

Back in 2009, just before we launched the new Swim Smooth website and Mr Smooth, Paul and I wavered: Did everyone already know about us from our old website? Had everyone who was ever going to buy our DVDs already done so? We had no idea but if that was true we’d just wasted two man-years of work writing all our new materials on the site, a worrying thought!

How did it turn out? Since the website launch in July 2009 we’ve had five million website visitors, 65,000 blog subscribers and around a 50 fold increase in sales. A great result for a small company. Graphically, our website visitors went link this:

 

Monthly traffic to the Swim Smooth website(click to enlarge)

 

My point here is that we tend to think that everyone already knows about us and has heard of us. Perhaps people have already visited your website or seen your advert in a magazine but do they remember you and so come back? What have you got on there that’s unique or special or memorable?

The internet is an amazing thing because it allows anyone to find out about you instantly and reach millions of people for free. But that thing they’re seeing has got to be very good (or ideally amazing) to capture their interest. Without that you get nearly zero response, it really is all or nothing.

Be Amazing And Relentless

A secondary point here is that our website hasn’t really changed since July 2009. We’ve tweaked a few things and added a few additional articles but the essentially it’s unchanged. And yet, as you can see on the graph, our website traffic is still increasing month on month and year on year. Word of mouth builds and gradually people link to the website creating more traffic.

This is true of nearly all businesses, be they web based or traditional bricks and mortar. They take time to reach their potential and although we all like to think people instantly know about us when we create a product or service, it’s almost certainly not the case.

What to conclude? Create something amazing or unique or inspiring but then just as importantly live up to that promise day-in day-out by relentlessly delivering on it. There are strategies and methods that can help maximise this but at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. It’s a lot of work but few things are as satisfying!

Adam

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SS Coaching Courses Announced

Just announced in the UK in July and August: http://www.swimsmooth.com/coacheseducation_aug2012.html

All our coaching methods are discussed and demonstrated by us, and trialled by you.

For me a key thing is that there is no assessment or monitoring on the course, which means we can spend more time giving you the knowledge in a low pressure environment.

We’ve run five of these before for 12 coaches each time. They always go down a storm with great reviews from the attendees:

This is the first course that I have been on, coaching or otherwise, that I haven’t at some point been bored and disengaged. I enjoyed every minute of it and am looking forward to implementing ‘the gospel according to Paul’. I thought the mix of coaches was interesting and enjoyed our interactions. The video footage of swimmers was amazing. Paul made this whole coaching malarkey seem simple. Thank you Paul and Adam for the gob-smackingly good course! 

Penny Rother, Scotland

Don’t miss out!

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A great idea is only great once you act on it.

A great idea is only great once you act on it. And you can only tell how great it is from the effect it has.

How many great ideas do you have? I know I have one or two a week. Some might be brilliant, other merely quite good.

Keep them a secret or indeterminately put off doing anything about them and the idea goes to waste.

I try to spend half my time coaching, chatting, researching and developing ideas. And the other half of my time doing something about them. Procrastinate and do nothing and one things for sure, nothing good will happen.