About This Episode
I’m coaching Shira Karpel today, who has a business which serves ABA therapists (Applied Behavior Analysis) at HowtoABA.com and The Behavior Resource. Her current business is going great and now she wants to branch out to serve another demographic within her niche: Parents who have children with learning disabilities. How does this new direction fit into her current business model? How should she approach her branding and marketing to best reach her target audience?
We begin the call by exploring Shira’s plan for her new business. We define how the two businesses can overlap and complement one another, then we dive into marketing aspects. Should Shira have two different websites? How does she brand both of them? We sort out all the nitty-gritty, and Shira gets some clarity for the future.
What You’ll Learn:
Uncover guiding principles and strategies for serving a new market within your niche.
AskPat 1031 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up, everybody? Pat Flynn here. Thank you for joining me in Session 1031 of AskPat 2.0. This is a show where I coach entrepreneurs like you. You apply at AskPat.com and I may select you to help you solve your issues with your online business.
Today, we’re talking with Shira who has a business helping therapists, ABA therapists specifically, who’s a person who uses applied behavior analysis as a form of treatment, mostly helping children, which is great. She trains therapists with her business, but she’s thinking of branching out to not just train therapists but also starting a resource to help parents of those with learning disorders.
We’re going to talk today about the difference between helping therapists versus parents. We’re talking about two completely different avatars here, and I know many of you who are listening to this may have similar things going on in your business, too, multiple customers that you could serve. How do you serve them best and how do you serve them both so that you can make sure you provide the best value? Those kinds of things. We’re going to talk about that today.
But before we get to that, I do want to thank today’s sponsor. Actually this is the sponsor of the entire year for AskPat. I’m so thankful for this company—it’s called FreshBooks. If you haven’t heard of them, you must know about them, especially if you’re thinking about transitioning to any kind of freelancing or coaching business. You really need to check them out. One of my favorite companies, and the reason why is because they make it ridiculously easy to manage your accounting, and they do this through their special software that I use myself. When you want to bill someone, for example, you can create a super polished invoice in less than thirty seconds. You can also set yourself up to receive payments in just two clicks and there’s many more amazing features.
They have a new proposals feature where you can include an outline of your project, scope of work, and a timeline for deliverables, all those sorts of things. You can even collect an e-signature to seal the deal, too. The thing is, FreshBooks helps you do way more than that: invoices, payments, expenses, keeping track of all that. You must check them out.
If you want to check them out for thirty days for free, an all-in trial, all you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat and just enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. All right. A big thank you to FreshBooks and a big thank you to Shira for joining us today, so let’s just dive right in to this coaching call. Here we go.
Hey, Shira. Thanks for being here and welcome to AskPat 2.0.
Shira Karpel: Hi, Pat. Thank you for having me.
Pat Flynn: Absolutely. I’m excited to get in and dig into what’s going on. Before we get to that though, can you introduce yourself to the audience and what you do?
Shira Karpel: Yeah, of course. By profession, I am a board-certified behavior analyst, which means that we work with children of many kinds, most commonly children with autism who are getting ABA programs. With my qualification, we would basically supervise a team of therapists, correspond with parents, and put together a program to get kids learning, talking, so many different skills that we work on. That is what I’ve been doing professionally for the last few years.
Then recently, we opened up an online business where we’ve been putting all of our resources that we’ve had so many years of working in the field online into a membership site. That website is called How to ABA, and our membership site is called The Behavior Resource. We’ve been targeting other professionals who are either BCBAs, or working alongside BCBAs in the field, who are looking for just some extra help. We offer CEUs, which are continuing education credits to other professionals. The membership site is for people to come in, access resources, ask questions, and it’s going really well which is great.
Pat Flynn: That’s awesome. What’s on your mind relating to all this now?
Shira Karpel: What I do here, which I like a lot, but what I do here is we’re hired by parents and we really help parents. But the way we help parents here is through the team of therapists. Our online resource became a way for us to coach other professionals, but I’m also hoping to have a resource that I can directly target parents because I know for a lot of parents who have this problem of a child who is struggling, or a child who has ASD or some other diagnosis, they may not be able to afford a whole team or they may not have the right professional. They may not live near somewhere they can access resources. I was really hoping to also get to those parents, but I know it’s a completely different audience, very different pain points. I guess my question is whether that fits into the current business as a different avatar or if it’s a whole new business.
Pat Flynn: Well, for the current programs that you have, what would be not something that would be right for a parent to see, or went over their head, or not necessarily for them to know that you already have?
Shira Karpel: It just wouldn’t be what they’re looking for because the programs that we’re providing and the resources we’re providing, it’s part of a whole 2twenty-hour week program of ABA that the therapists are implementing. I don’t really see the parents downloading all that stuff and running programs with their kid. Also I think there’s a bit of an ethical thing with the parents using the programs without being technically supervised by a BCBA. I’m not too keen on letting the parents access that stuff or marketing towards the parents.
Pat Flynn: Right. It just basically sounds like, based on what you told me, that that program is specifically for the professionals, for the therapists. That’s not a resource for parents specifically.
Shira Karpel: Right.
Pat Flynn: Okay. Now what would be a great resource for parents specifically that you’re thinking of potentially creating?
Shira Karpel: I would love for there to be a lot more hands-on, even coursework, a place where parents to go and ask questions, so courses that would target sleep training, or if your child is having eating issues or toilet training, behavior management—a lot more broad topics, but that provide real life solutions as opposed to the theoretical program planning, and stuff that professionals would be more interested in.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. I would agree with that. I’m a parent myself and those are the kinds of topics that I would be more interested in learning about and understanding and getting support with versus the professional.
I think the big question here is: Is this where you want to go? Does it align with your goals and goals of your company or is this something separate that is just a shiny object that’s maybe an opportunity that is there but taking away from the business that you have? Let’s say you have a resource for parents in addition to the resource for therapists. How does that feel to you in your life?
Shira Karpel: I was always torn between the two. When we first started the business, I really couldn’t decide. I really had a tough time deciding. The resource for professionals turned out to be pretty low maintenance because a lot of the stuff we already have, so it’s really a question of just putting it into the membership site, running CEUs once a month. Then professionals, they don’t really have so many questions. They’re pretty good at what they do. They meet up in person. It’s pretty low maintenance, which is nice.
I do feel like I have more time and resources to put into what the parents would offer, and I do feel like it’s providing a much bigger solution that I’m a little bit more excited about than the professional solution.
Pat Flynn: I like that. I think there’s a lot of … Although they are for separate audiences, I think there’s a little bit of crossover, especially from the therapists’ side to the parents’ side, because I can imagine you help train somebody, for example, through the therapists’ stuff and they get a lot of value out of it and now they have clients of their own who are parents, and they are likely asking questions. If you train your therapists in your therapist course to go share our resource here for parents, whether that’s just goodwill or through a partnership program or whatever, it feels like a perfect solution for them to offer their parents who are clients too.
Shira Karpel: Yeah, exactly. A lot of professionals who are part of our resource have actually been asking for parent training. That’s something that they struggle with. It’s not something that you can download a PDF for, so it is something that I’d love to create because it would solve the professionals’ problem and it would solve the parents’ problem.
Pat Flynn: Right. What’s stopping you?
Shira Karpel: For me, it’s confusing as to whether this is part of the current business, because everything that we do in marketing and the blog that we have and all of our social media is really targeting the professional. I’m not sure if we should add in more marketing within the current model for parents, or if it should be a separate thing, if it’s too confusing. I don’t know.
Pat Flynn: Personally from my point of view it is a separate business or a separate . . . It’s a separate product, for sure. Obviously, we’ve just discussed that. It doesn’t seem like it would be something that would be marketed on your current programs or in your current website or in your marketing. It would be something that would be initially introduced to the target audience you have now in that program. Now when you have parents come in, here’s a great way or a great resource you can share with them over here, which I would say is a separate . . . To me it feels better separate.
Shira Karpel: Right.
Pat Flynn: It doesn’t have to be a separate entity. It doesn’t have to be a separate checking account even. It could be. But it to me is, from the outside, a separate thing run by the same people.
Shira Karpel: Right. If our current website for marketing is How to ABA, and that’s all the professional stuff, would it be a separate website that leads people in towards the parenting stuff?
Pat Flynn: That’s what I’m assuming. How to ABA is “how do I become somebody who helps serve in that space?” versus “I’m a parent.” To me it’s a separate website also.
Shira Karpel: Okay.
Pat Flynn: Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing?
Shira Karpel: Yeah, I think that makes the most sense to me. But then I guess my next question then, is if it’s two separate websites . . . with a lot of what we’re doing in How to ABA includes video and the brand . . . I’m not sure how much the brand then is supposed to be me versus the company, because then if I have two companies, would my brand be on both of them or would it be . . . How much of myself am I putting into the company? Would that be confusing, that there’s two of me and two companies?
Pat Flynn: No, I think it adds more credibility. If I’m a parent and I see that you are there, Shira, helping me with the things that are going on in my family, but I also see that you also help therapists too, and you train them—wow, you must be the person. Of course I’m going to listen to you. You have this face on both of these brands. You become the go-to person in this space to me as a result of that, if you want it. I think on the parenting side of things, it’s more important for you to be there because parents want to connect with other parents. Right?
Shira Karpel: If I were to put my face on one of the companies, you think it’d be the parenting one?
Pat Flynn: I would say so, because if everything is working on the therapist side already, then . . . It seems like you’re not on there yet, right?
Shira Karpel: A little bit. A couple.
Pat Flynn: I think that’s working fine. I think your face and your name would be better suited for the parent side of things. “Hi, I’m Shira. I help in this world by this other website that I have, but also here for you as a parent because we understand that you have specific needs, and we want to make sure that you have support in this journey that you’re on. Myself and my team, we’re all here to support you. Here are some of our favorite resources to help you. We also have either all these courses here that you can take depending on what your needs are.” Or, since you’ve already proven this model on the other side and you know how it works, “we have a membership site that you can join where you can get all this information and you can communicate with us.” In terms of what you offer eventually it could be a membership site, or an à la carte serving of all those different products. That’s really up to you, and perhaps based on what you find out once you start to build that audience, what their needs are.
I think the answer is clear. It’s a new website that is potentially a partner website or a sister website to the other one that is, you’re there and you’re there to help parents. I mean, it’s very clear to me.
Shira Karpel: Do you think in terms of niching down, is it too broad to be a general parenting site, or should I say specifically for parents of children with either special needs or autism? Is that too specific?
Pat Flynn: I don’t think that’s too specific, and that plays perfectly into the niche that you have expertise and this unique advantage in. It plays perfectly to the therapist who go through the other program and they have clients that are going to fit that specific genre, too. I think it’s better to niche down. If it’s a general parenting site, then it’s not going to be as useful for somebody who has those specific needs. I think that, yes, although you would be cutting down on the potential for the overall population who might be interested in that, the truth is you’re going to be bigger because of it because again, like I said, you become the go-to resource and personality for the special needs families, and I think that just to me makes the most sense. The riches are in the niches for sure.
Also when you think about it, the articles on there, all of them would better serve that audience versus some of them. The way that you speak to them, the examples and the stories that you share, they’re all going to be more relatable versus some stories that may relate and other stories that may not.
What happens is a lot of times these niche communities in all realms, they all find each other and they all share resources with each other that are specifically for them, so you’d likely have a lot of internal growth through the parents that come and follow you. They’re going to find other parents who might need the same inspiration, articles and how-tos, and you’re just going to have this amazing fanbase essentially, which is that’s what’s going to happen eventually. You’re going to have a fan base. They’re going to come to you, Shira, and the website for all their answers.
Shira Karpel: That’s the plan.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I think that can happen.
Shira Karpel: Okay. Cool. My plan was to potentially start putting up blog posts and freebies and stuff for that new audience and then build up an email list.
Pat Flynn: An email list would be great. I think this also gives you an opportunity to find other . . . You’re not going to be the first one to create something like this. But you have a unique and interesting angle with your connection to helping therapists, and this allows you to connect with other bloggers, other podcasters and share some interesting things that only you know.
For example, you find a podcast that has a similar audience and your blog is just starting out. But you can also provide those other podcasters value by saying, “I help train therapists, too, and I think it might be interesting for your audience to know how therapists are trained and what to look for when you go and hire one.” That’s adding value in a way that you have some insight that they don’t have and that allows you to get in front of their audiences and go, “By the way, I help parents, too, at name of website here,” and you begin to start to grow your audience and again really honing in on that fact that you have this experience on the therapy side of things. Many other parents would be very interested to learn about those things.
Shira Karpel: Okay.
Pat Flynn: In a sense it’s separate but in a sense it’s actually . . . They support each other, right?
Shira Karpel: Yeah. That’s what I really like about it. I’m a little bit nervous to be having so much going on. But, like I said, I think I could do it.
Pat Flynn: You could potentially have guest contributors, guest writers come on your blog, too, to help fill out some information, and you can take it at whatever pace you want. I think that realizing that this will become a very helpful and potentially life-changing resource for people . . . Just imagine all the people who are going to be there feeling much better about where things are going because of you.
Shira Karpel: Yeah, that sounds great. I’d like to be able to help make a difference. The more people that I can get to and help their kid, that would be awesome.
Pat Flynn: You’re already doing that indirectly through helping therapists, because now they’re able to help more people through you and the training that you’ve given them. Now this is direct to those people. That should feel great.
I want to help you and whatever I can do this after this call to support you, let me know. This is why we should be building websites, to help people through their pains and the problems in their lives.
Shira Karpel: Exactly. It breaks my heart when parents can’t afford to help their kids, and the prices are just so expensive and it’s so crazy. To be able to offer a solution just sounds really good.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Great. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing how it all goes. Do you mind if we follow up with you in a later episode and do an update?
Shira Karpel: Of course, no problem.
Pat Flynn: Awesome. Do you have any final questions or pains that I can help you through when we finish the call, or are you ready to get going on this?
Shira Karpel: Yeah. No, I’m excited. I think that was really helpful. I like with your idea with the crossover. I didn’t really think of that. But the crossover could be really great.
Pat Flynn: I think so.
Shira Karpel: Yeah. No, I’m excited. I think this gave me a lot of clarity. Like I said, I’ve been really struggling with this for a long time between the two different markets, but I think having them separated and really defined a little bit better helps.
Pat Flynn: Awesome. Well, good luck with everything. Shira, thank you so much and thank you for what you’re doing.
Shira Karpel: Thank you, Pat. It’s a pleasure to talk to you.
Pat Flynn: All right. Take care. We’ll talk soon.
Shira Karpel: You, too. Bye.
Pat Flynn: All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching session with Shira. Shira, you’re amazing for what you do and I cannot wait to see how else you might serve people in this community and keep us posted. We look forward to following up with you.
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