Create Your Own Signature Program! What, Why & How to Get Started | by Jennifer Britton MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC

Coach writing on whiteboard to co-create Signature Program with clients

You may have heard about Signature Programs - but aren't quite sure what they are, why they're valuable and how to go about creating one. From Virtual Retreats to One Day VIP Programs and Individual Coaching Packages, Signature Programs can become the foundation of a coach's business mix. This article takes a high-level overview of these three areas.

Part 1) The "What" of a Signature Program - 6 Types to Consider

Signature Programs come in many shapes and sizes, and usually evolve based on what your clients are interested in. Simply put, Signature Programs are the coaching programs you become known for - they become  your "body of work".

Signature Programs are uniquely you and have your fingerprints all over them - reflecting your values, philosophies and ideas. While someone else might offer a similar program in your niche, Signature Programs are unique to you, and imbued with key elements that can be scaled up or down, and used in many different ways.

Here are 6 of the More Popular Types of Signature Programs to Consider:

1) One-on-One Coaching

Many coaches start here, developing their own individual signature coaching program.

As you coach around your niche, notice what themes or focus areas your clients want to explore. It's likely that there will be a handful of natural "theme" or focus areas your clients typically explore. These can become the seeds of a Signature Program, which you ultimately take each client through.

2) VIP Days

VIP days provide clients with an intensive deep dive with the coach. It could be a one day, two day or half day program, delivered in person or virtually.

VIP days range from a structure you co-design with your attendees, to a pre-designed curriculum that you walk them through.

For example:

  • In the VIP Days I host around business building, clients receive a "menu listing" from me to spark ideas of how they would like to use our time together, and they get to choose their mix from the menu I provide.
  • However, if my clients want to go deeper into areas, for example designing a group coaching program, they can also choose a specific VIP day geared to taking action and deepening learning around creating their own group program.

3) Intensive Workshop Programs

Whether it's a one-day or weekend workshop, coaches may also scale their signature coaching program into an intensive in-person workshop or retreat offering.

4) Group Coaching Programming

Group coaching is another great option for coaches to consider in scaling their signature group coaching program to reach more clients, while continuing to lead from a coaching perspective.

Characterised by a series of coaching conversations in a small group context (less than 15), group coaching provides a peer learning experience, often at a lower price point than one-on-one coaching.

Many clients prefer this option for the extended learning process, and peer focus.

5) Virtual Retreats

Virtual or online retreats have been a mainstay in my business since 2006. Clients get the benefits of focus and the "get away from it all" of a retreat, blended with the convenience of being able to attend from anywhere.

If this appeals, consider how your Signature Program might be scaled to be delivered in a virtual retreat format.

6) On-Demand Video Based Programs

From Udemy to Kajabi, Coursera or Teachable, the last five years has seen an explosion of on-demand video based learning programming.

This is another great option to explore for a Signature Program which can be completed independently, or supplemented by coaching support.

Part 2) Why are Signature Programs so valuable?

Signature coaching programs become part of your "body of work" as a coach.

Whether you have one or several focus areas, over time (which can be as much as a decade or more), a Signature Program will help you become known as the "go to" person in that area. This is incredibly valuable as it helps you focus your efforts, and magnifies how people hear about you and your work. More importantly, it helps you to scale your business and leverage your time and energy.

As you run different programs you'll get to know your niche - and begin to hear the emerging needs of your clients. This naturally leads to a program and product stream in your business.

Since I opened my doors back in 2004, I have aimed to develop and launch at least one major new program or product offering annually in my signature areas of 1) group coaching, 2) teamwork and 3) small business success.

Other benefits to Signature Programs include:

  1. Providing a variety of ways and price points, for clients to enroll in your services.
  2. Creating a variety of ways for clients to engage with you, according to their preferred learning styles and time available.
  3. Offering a variety of engagement touchpoints, which allows you to expand your reach and geographic impact.
  4. Scaling your business beyond a one-on-one hourly revenue approach.
  5. Keeping your work fresh, so that you are working around similar issues - but in different formats.

Part 3) How to Get Started Creating Your Own Signature Program

Given that Signature Programs usually consist of a series of offerings, designing your Signature Program usually occurs over time.

Our clients are our best guide. Some of the coaches who have been the most successful at developing their Signature Programs, develop them in real-time with actual clients rather than designing them in a vacuum.

At a Meta-Level, 30,000 ft View, Here are 3 Sets of Questions for You to Get Started on Your Own Signature Program:

Deciding on your Signature Program topic:

  • What are the areas you want to become known for?
  • What's the one area, or niche, you want to take deeper?
  • What are your clients looking for?
  • What are the issues every client or a majority of clients, explores in your conversations?
  • What makes your approach and philosophy unique?

Choosing the Signature Program Delivery Method:

  • What type of programming do you want to offer? For example this could be in person or virtual; one on one or groups; intensive or over time, coaching only or a blend of coaching and learning.
  • How much time do you want to invest in the design and maintenance of your Signature Program? Among other things, this affects the types of Signature Program you choose to offer.
  • How will your Signature Program fit into other things you offer?

As coaches, it's important that we consider the needs and interest of our clients.

You Can Further Reflect on Your Clients' Needs by Asking:

  • What types of support do my clients most value?
  • Do my clients want the deep dive and intimacy of a weekend in-person intensive, or the longer-term accountability created by a virtual group?
  • What is most important to them in terms of location, duration and engagement?
  • What are the key issues they want to explore?
  • What modality or delivery option will your clients be most interested in right now?
  • What is the progression for clients to go from one area to another?

Finally, What Support Might You Need?

Coaches may want to explore different support vehicles in the marketplace to help them design their own signature coaching program.

Would you benefit from the deep one-on-one dive with a coach in a VIP day geared to Signature Program design? Or would you prefer to spread out the learning and action steps over a month or quarter through additional programming? And if you are paying for learning, are CCEs an important part of this learning process?

Wrap-up

Once you've had the conversations with your clients and gathered information, now is the time to start designing your programming! Think about selecting the delivery platforms - and of course, marketing.

Now the real work begins. Many coaches are surprised just how much time it takes to develop a Signature Program.

Remember Parkinson's rule which states that "tasks expand to the time we give them". Also watch for the "analysis paralysis" trap. Instead, get feedback as early as possible by actually running your programming.

Signature Programs provide a wonderful opportunity to develop multiple revenue streams for your business.

I'll leave you with 2 questions: 1) "What do you want your Signature Program to look like?" and 2) "What are the next steps for you in moving forward with a Signature Program?"

Connect with Jennifer:

  • Reach out to Jennifer to set up a conversation about how she can best help you birth your signature coaching programs! Email her at info@potentialsrealized.com
  • Or follow her current #90DaysPlanDoTrack business development series on Instagram

Contributing author: Jennifer is the author of four books including Effective Group Coaching (2010) and her latest, the Coaching Business Builder Workbook and Planner (2017) now available on Amazon.

A major focus in her work is to support coaches in creating their own group and team programming - from coaching programs, to retreats and on-demand learning. She offers coaches a range of support options so that they can design their own programming. From the ICF CCE approved Group Coaching Essentials, and Virtual Facilitation Essentials programs (5 weeks), to the deep dive of virtual VIP days focused on program design, to the bi-weekly annual group support at the Learning Lab and Design Studio.

Jennifer is herself an award-winning program designer, and her work with clients have received awards including program design innovation in financial services, the 2016 Prism Award for Excellence in Coaching - Health Care, and the 2017 Award of Excellence - Curriculum Design (i4PL).

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Image of Coach writing on whiteboard co-creating signature program by Stuart Jenner via Shutterstock

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