Kara helps people get off their couch and start running. As an ultramarathon runner herself, she often hears something along the lines of, “I wish I could do what you’re doing.” Her message is that you can, the same way that she did, by walking and running, then running a little more, then running a little more, until you’re doing a 5K and beyond. On her Instagram (@thisrunlife) and her website, thisrunlife.com, she helps inspire people to get out there. And while she’s built a great audience, her question is one that a lot of us run into: how do get your audience to take the steps you need them to take in order to move and convert?
Solving this problem involves understanding your audience, and what the bumps in the road to taking the next steps might be, from their perspective. The first question that I ask Kara, that you should definitely ask yourself if you’re in this situation, is what is the most common objection people have to even getting up? As in, before they’re even out the door, before they’ve entered a 5K, what is the first excuse people make? For Kara, it’s “I don’t have the time.”
As you listen to this episode, pay attention to how we break down Kara’s larger conversion challenges into simple steps, and then try to come up with easy wins that can get her audience activated and motivated. If you’re thinking about doing any sort of challenge to promote your business and really jumpstart audience growth and engagement, that’s how you need to approach it. Meet the most common objections head-on and create a community where your audience can support each other in tackling them. Check out where we go from there, and if you’re looking to get off your couch and start running, I happen to know a great coach. You can find Kara at ThisRunLife.com.
If you want to be considered for a coaching session, apply via the form at AskPat.com.
Pat: What's up everybody? Welcome to AskPat, Episode 1073. I appreciate you for being here. If you don't know what this is, this is a coaching call that you're about to listen to between myself and today's guest, Kara, who has a running website. She helps people and inspires people to get up off the couch and start running. And not run just like to the end of the block, but sometimes run their first 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks, half marathons, full marathons, and she's even running ultra marathons as well. You can find her @thisrunlife on Instagram, and on her website thisrunlife.com.
Today, we're talking about how to get her audience. She has a pretty large audience but she's having a hard time getting them to convert to the next space, which is actually interacting with her material, and her courses, and her offerings. This is a very common thing for us to spend all this time providing so much value and inspiring people, and educating people, building our audience, but then having this audience, and then what? How do we move them? That's what we're going to talk about today. Make sure you sit back, relax, and listen through because this is going to be a great one.
Now, before that, I do want to mention that by the way, if you haven't yet started your podcast, now might be a good time to do it. Did you know that there are still under one million total podcasts, compare that to five hundred million active YouTube channels, and over five hundred million active blogs, less than one million podcasts. It's still early in the days of podcasting and guess what. You're listening to one right now, and we're building a relationship right now. It's just so fun to provide content in this way from the comfort of my own home without the worry of video and lighting and makeup or any of that stuff. If you want to get started with your podcast and you're not sure how, I have the perfect thing for you. You can download my free podcast cheat sheet, which you can download at askpat.com/podcastcheatsheet. One more time, and those are just all one words, no spaces, dashes, or anything, askpat.com/podcastcheatsheet. Go ahead and check it out now. All right. Now, let's get to the conversation with Kara. Here she is.
Hey, Kara, welcome to AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?
Kara Whittington: I'm doing well. Thank you so much for having me.
Pat: Oh, absolutely. Can you take a quick minute to tell myself and everybody else listening right now who you are and what you do?
Kara: Sure, sure. I am a runner. I wasn't always a runner, I started just like everyone else as kind of a walk to run. I'd walk a little bit and I'd run a little bit, then I'd run a little more and walk a little less. Then I was just running from there. Then I set a small goal for myself, which was to run my first 5K, and then I turned it into a larger goal, which was to run my first half marathon, and then a larger goal which was my first full marathon, and to even a bigger goal, which is to run ultramarathons. That's what I do now. I found during my running journey, I was connecting with a lot of people who were saying, “Oh, wow, that's really great. I wish I could do what you're doing.” My response would be, “Well, you can. Let me show you how.” That's how I kind of got started on this journey to run coaching. The name of my company is called This Run Life, and our motto is that we want to make running a part of your life. My coaching philosophy is, “train with your heart, and the body and the mind will follow.”
Pat: That's amazing. Where can I find This Run Life online?
Kara: Exactly there, @thisrunlife. That's my Instagram, that is also my Twitter, also my Tumblr.
Pat: I like it. You got the branding down. That's great. Tell me really quick, what is the ultramarathon . . .? Because I know I've run half marathons, that's really hard. I can't imagine going twice that. And here you are going even more than that. What is the ultramarathon exactly?
Kara: They're all hard. Technically, an ultramarathon is anything that's more than 26.2 miles. That might include a 50K, which is about 30.6 miles or maybe a 50-miler, that's my chosen distance. Or even above and beyond that, you could do a 100-miler. Could also do a 200-miler, that's the new mega distance that people are into.
Pat: That's insane. Have you done the 200 one yet?
Kara: I have not. Maybe one day. Never say never.
Pat: Right. Before we get into helping you out, I'm just so curious about this. Your favorite race, what was it?
Kara: My favorite race is always the Baltimore Women's Classic. It's a 5K in Baltimore, and I love it because it's local. It's a lot of girl power. It's a lot of energy. I train a lot of runners for that race. Normally, that's my largest training group. I'll have anywhere between fifty and sixty ladies, a lot of them beginners, who run that race, and very emotional for a lot of people. They show up on the first day of training, and we train for six weeks and just the transition and transformation in the six weeks from the day I meet these wonderful ladies to the day that they finish and get their first medal—there's a lot of hugs, there's a lot of high fives, there's a lot of tears. That's always my favorite and that's something I can share with my mom as well.
Pat: I love that.
Kara: She's a runner.
Pat: That's amazing and great job. I mean, you're changing lives, you're helping people become healthy and sounds like you're having a lot of fun doing it. With This Run Life, what's on your mind? How can I help you?
Kara: Well, I have three components to my business. One is an online component, and that one is where people will buy the training plan, only, from me or they'll do online coaching from a PC. There's also an in-person component, where I provide the plan and then I meet people for in-person workouts. And there's a contractual component where I partner with local businesses to provide group trainings, or maybe lead a warm up at a fitness event. What I'm struggling with is the conversion rate. Getting people off of the couch, getting them from the contemplation phase to the preparation phase, to the action phase. I really want to get them up, get them moving and keep them moving, improve my conversion rate, and then work on getting a better retention rate and eventually transforming this passion into a full time enterprise.
Pat: If I were to ask you, what keeps a runner running, what would you say?
Kara: That is a good question. I think motivation just comes from different places. I think if you are someone that your motivation comes within, that will keep you going, but as far as what will keep you going with me, that's what I'd like to figure out.
Pat: Yes. Well, that's great. It sounds like we're just trying to figure out how to put the pieces here, and conversion is a great word to use because there are a number of people who want to run, right? You know that. They're on the couch, and they want to run, and there's a conversion from, okay, let's get them just excited about it. Then there's a conversion of the people who are excited about it, how many are actually going to prepare? There's a conversion at how many people are going to prepare and then actually do the thing. I think there's different moments of conversions. I think it really starts with . . . and this is why I started with that question about motivation. It's like what needs to happen at the very start? They're on the couch, they have an idea that they need to do this. What has worked in your experience as a coach to help a person just understand that they need to get up?
Kara: I think what helps is just being the cheerleader. I know that you can do it and help to kind of erase the doubt from people's mind. Because whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right, but I want you to think that you can, and I want to help you get there and put those pieces together. Really, I think it's just showing up. We might have a day where we just don't feel like going somewhere, doing something, might not feel like going to the gym. But once our clothes are on, we're like, “Oh, we might as well go to the gym. I'm only going to stay for five minutes.” Okay, once I've done that five minutes, now I feel really, really good, maybe I'll do ten. Before you know it, you've done your whole workout. I think really, it's just taking that first step.
Pat: You're absolutely right. I read a book recently called Atomic Habits by a good friend of mine, his name's James Clear. In it, he talks about the idea of, if you want to start a running habit, you kind of have to find that first micro habit that starts that whole process. And he has this thing where you go, “Okay, well, if you're going to run tomorrow, here's what you do tonight. You just get your shoes and you put them right on the side of your bed because when you wake up, there they are, you don't have to go find them. It's already there for you.” Then your challenge is, “Okay, I'm not going to run 5K.” Your challenge is, “Okay, can every morning I put on my running shoes?” Because the whole idea is just make it simple, like you were saying those first steps, and the first step is just to put on your shoes. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
I love that because if you have your shoes on, you might as well go run, and I think that . . . just starting that process . . . He even says, if you want to go to the gym, just try to challenge yourself to spend five minutes at the gym every day, just five minutes. Get up, walk in, and you could walk out, but nobody walks out. If they're there, they're already going to keep staying there and do the thing. It's great that we're honing in on this because I think the most important thing for conversions at the start is what is that easiest simplest just minute little thing that they could do to kind of get them started? I don't know if you've ever done a challenge before but this is something that has come up on AskPat a few times, but there's these cool things like when they're amazing coaches like yourself, you have that cheerleading aspect, which like you said, is so important. The hard thing is, how do you be a cheerleader for all these individuals who are in different places at different times? That's why things like challenges are pretty cool because you can have a specific date, like, “All right, everybody who's on the couch, we're going to have a challenge on this date, and our challenge is for the first. . . for three days straight, the first thing we do when we wake up is we're going to put on our shoes.” Or whatever fun thing you want to do to start off, and just go out and run however long you want to do. The goal is not to go run a certain distance, the goal is just to put on your shoes and get outside. That's the only goal we have.
That could be really interesting because what happens with these challenges is it's like an event. People are like, “Okay, it's only three days, I can manage three days. Hey, come on, friends. Let's do this with Kara. She's kind of rallying all of us and then we'll be each other's cheerleaders, we'll hold each other accountable.” I think that's where people on the couch kind of get stuck is they don't have a couch partner who's also as motivated. Sometimes they have a couch partner but they're not as motivated. I think you could be that person to create something simple that people can do to kind of start that sequence for them. What are your thoughts on something like that?
Kara: That sounds great. I've seen running challenges, but I've seen the ones that are a little bit more intense, like a thousand miles in a month. That number seems . . . I can see how that number would seem daunting to some people, but anybody can put on their shoes. For three days straight, first, we're going to put on our shoes. Great. You've done that. Now, we're going to go outside, and now we're going to take a couple of steps and we're going to run for five minutes. Then tomorrow, we're going to run for ten minutes. That does seem very simple and very doable, and just things like that would be the appropriate first step to just get people out. I really just want you to show up.
Pat: Yes. You know what's funny about that too is like, what's really cool is oftentimes with these challenges, you can have a Facebook group that people can join just for the challenge where people can share their wins. Like, “Okay, before you step outside, take a picture of your shoes and share it in the group.” You know what I mean? It's really easy to do that now. Everybody has a phone, right? It's like, “Hey, here are my shoes, here are my shoes.” You start seeing people with the shoes, and if you don't have your shoes on, and you've signed up for the challenge, you're like, “Oh, wow, look at all these people who have stepped up and put on their shoes and are walking outside now. I should do that too,” because we humans, we want to be with the pack, right? There's safety in numbers, and I think that it's like the more we can encourage each other to do things, the better it will be. The other thing I was thinking about just kind of jamming and brainstorming with you here—I'm getting really excited about this by the way—is on our devices now, there's a way that our phones can keep track of how many steps we take, right? Like you said, there's these like thousand-mile challenges. Well, why not like a thousand steps challenge or something? You can just go, “Hey, guys, take a screenshot of your steps when you hit five thousand steps today and we're going to do this for three days straight, and by the end, you'll feel a lot better, I promise you.” Just again, something small, simple, already available would be the easiest thing to kind of start that first conversion point. What are you thinking?
Kara: Good stuff. That's all good stuff. I'm writing feverishly.
Pat: Oh, good.
Kara: I have a lot of great notes.
Pat: That's great. Again, it's just making it simple, and you being that person who kind of facilitates this. The cool thing about this is . . . I have a couple friends, Jadah and Jen. They started a company called Simple Green Smoothies. Jadah is no longer there. She sold her share of the company. But to grow their following . . . they help people be healthy by teaching them how to make green smoothies, right? They did a quarterly, so once per quarter, thirty-day green smoothie challenge where she would send them recipes for thirty days straight for free, completely free to join, and you do the recipes and you drink the juice and you feel good. And you share the picture in the group and then everybody rallies with each other and invites each other along. They were able to grow their Instagram to over four hundred thousand followers primarily by using this challenge strategy.
Part of the challenge aspect would be to go, okay, sign up for the challenge. Step one, email here. Step two, follow me on Instagram here. Then step three, join the Facebook group. That's so simple, everybody knows how to do that, but you're also growing your Instagram, people can tag each other and like, “Hey, we're starting the challenge on this day,” and getting people excited. The cool thing about their challenge that I love is the big objection that people have, which is what you have to think about. It's like, okay, what's going to go through a person's head when they're like, “Oh, I don't want to do this?” With them, it was, “Green smoothies are gross.” But what they did was they made their very first recipe their favorite recipe, the best one, the one that was like the best-tasting one, so that immediately people would go, “Holy moly, these things aren't as bad as I thought. I'm so pumped up. Let's keep going.”
I'm wondering if there is a way for you to kind of. . . probably even just thinking out loud what the objections are that people have, and then really just addressing those up front and going, “Here. No, no. This is why this is okay.” I don't know if you have any thoughts on perhaps what some of the common objections might be to something like this so we can jam on, “Okay, how can we counter that?” Because it's really important to think about that. I think this is an exercise in selling, and although you're not “selling” anything with this challenge, or whatever this thing is, you are selling the idea of it. That's really important to understand what the objections are to do that. What are the most common objections that people have to even getting up?
Kara: Oh, the number one is, “I don't have time.” That's the number one, I think, is, “I don't have time.” I hear that a lot.
Pat: That's great to know that.
Kara: “I wish I could but I don't have time.”
Pat: How might you position this challenge to counter the fact that they are saying they don't have time?
Kara: Well, I think that the biggest gift that you can give yourself is time. How could you not give yourself that? You can't give yourself ten minutes? I think we give ourselves gifts every day in small forms. I go outside and look at the sun and that's a gift. Ten minutes towards your well being, and maybe your health and happiness, you have time. People make time for things that they want and for things that are important to them. Someone says I don't have time, yes, I would say, “Time is a gift that you give yourself and you deserve that gift.”
Pat: I love that. If you had something on the . . . I don't know, challenge page or on your Instagram message about this challenge, that comes from the heart. I can tell that you really care about people. I think that if you share that message to allow people to give themselves the gift of time, that would be great. Now, you said something in there that really stood out to me, that made me feel really good that I don't even know if you caught but you said, “We can all give ourselves ten minutes.” That, I think, is really key because if you said, “Okay, guys, we're going to do this challenge. It's going to take an hour every day.” In that case, it's like, “Okay, well, I could find an hour but . . .” I mean, everybody's super busy and they may actually not have an hour, but they do have ten minutes. It seems like you know that that might be the only amount of time they need just to get started and start feeling good.
What if the challenge was. . . I mean, this was your idea, like ten minutes a day or. . . How many seconds is that? I don't know if that. . . No, maybe not a second. What is that, a six hundred second challenge? I don't know. I'm just trying to position it so it's like, “You know what? That sounds so. . . That's it? That's all I need to do?” I think you're on the right track however you want to position it, but that's so great because then you can actually build the challenge around that. “No, see, it doesn't take that much time at all,” and just kind of take that objection head on. It's so great. Let's say you get people to do this challenge. Let's just kind of think ahead a little bit. They do the challenge however many days. Three days, ten minutes each day, they're loving it. They're like, “Wow, I didn't know what it'd look like outside in the morning,” kind of thing. “I'm always stuck out, and I never took some time for myself. Kara, what are my next steps? Where do I go from here? How can I get more help from you?” What's the next non-scary thing you could offer me at that point?
Kara: I think the next non-scary thing I could offer would be a 5K training because then your ten minutes you've done. If you can do ten, imagine what you can do in twenty. The first day of my 5K training is twenty minutes. If you felt this great in ten minutes, you're going to feel twice as great in twenty.
Pat: When people consider a 5K and you go, “Well, you know that's 3.1 miles.” What would you say is the objection that people have with that? I think this is the next logical step, and we've heard these programs called “Couch to 5K” and all those kinds of things. I definitely think you're on the right track, but I'm just doing that exercise with you about the objections again. You tell me that a 5K is my next step. I'm like, “Oh, okay.” What are the objections that are usually met at that point?
Kara: I think that just like you said, it's 3.1 miles. Let's not think about it. It's 3.1 miles. What would have you think about this in a different way? How can I make 3.1 miles seem less scary because there's only two emotions really: fear and love. You're scared of the 3.1 miles, I don't want you to be scared of it. It's nothing to be scared of, I want you to love it. What can I get for you. . . What is it going to take for you to love that 3.1 miles? I find that when I'm training people for a 5K, I keep time. They don't know how much time has passed. It's my job. I keep time, and you'd be very surprised at how many people, “Well, I can't do three miles,” and normally, someone is coming to me with at least five minutes. They can walk or jog. Normally, by the end of week five, they're doing it. People say, “I can't.” Well, you just did, you just didn't know. I tricked you because we were talking and we were having a good time and you saw the birds in the trees and you were distracted. I think that's it. I might not even say that. Maybe I will just frame it in, “Just meet me for fifteen, and then meet me for twenty.” Then I'm keeping time.
Pat: That's great. I think you're on the right track, and I just . . . you're thinking about all the right things. As you progress into your offerings and think about these conversions, conversions happen when people know that this is something that they are able to do, right? We never buy anything knowing we're going to fail, we buy things because we know there's a chance and that we can do it and that it's something we care about. You've expressed the idea of love, which I think should be central always in your message. I love that. I think the other part of this that—I don't know if it enters into your messaging at all—but it's the idea that you're not just running for yourself. You're running for the loved ones who want you to live a long prosperous life. You're you're running for pride, you're running for being an example to other people in your life. I don't know if that sort of enters its way into your messaging as well, but that's something that, I think for the programs that I think about when it comes to health, it's like my health is important, yes, because I want to feel good, but I also know that if I'm just slouching on the couch all day eating chips, guess what my kids are going to do when they grow up? You know what I mean?
Kara: Yes, that makes sense. Sometimes I like to tell people to find your why. Maybe even a why challenge. Find your why and go for it.
Pat: That's great. That's a great idea. Tell me more about that.
Kara: Find your why? What's your why? Why are you doing this? When things get hard, remember your why. Why are you here, and why are you doing this? I think intention setting is very important, and I think it's also important to kind of keep your eyes on your own paper. Comparison is the thief of joy sometimes, so find your why. Yes, this person is doing this but you're keeping your eyes on your own paper. What's your why? Your why is different than hers, than his, than everyone else's. I think just remembering why you started it, and every day is not going to be easy, but that why doesn't change. That why is still there and what are you going to do to achieve that why? I like maybe a why challenge.
Pat: That's super cool, and that's something anybody can take a few moments to think about why they want to do something, right?
Pat: Do you have stories of successful clients that you could perhaps share that would kind of uncover that person's why and inspire others to think about their why as well?
Kara: I do.
Pat: I would definitely love to highlight those as well because. . . some amazing things happen—and I'm teaching this to a lot of my podcasting students now when they invite their clients and their customers on their show to talk about their story and how they've got through something that you've been able to help them with. Imagine one of your success stories being shared and a person listening or reading or watching that and just being inspired because they're like, “Wow, they seemed to have the same struggles I did, but we have the same why. I have to do this.” And you start to see micro-mentors in your community for new people who are coming on. I love that idea of sort of a why challenge to start or that's . . . again, that might be the first, first step before the sort of ten-minute thing that we were talking about earlier, actually.
Kara: Okay. I like that. I like that.
Pat: I like that a lot too.
Kara: Yes, that will be. . . If we're talking about the five stages of change, then the why is the contemplation phase. I like that. Then step two, which is the preparation phase . . . So maybe a challenge in there, and then that action phase is going to be that ten minutes or one hundred steps.
Pat: There you go. You've made it seem a lot less scary when you position it that way because when I'm thinking of you telling somebody on the couch to take action, it's like, “All right, you want me to run a 5K right now?” No, let's start small. Then maybe this sort of second action, like you said, would be, “Okay, after you get your ten minutes in for three days, you've proven to yourself that you have time, which means you have the time to train for a big goal that we're going to set which is a 5K and here's why this is important,” and all those kinds of things. How you feeling?
Kara: I'm feeling great. Oh my gosh, so many ideas. Thank you so much.
Pat: Good. Yes. You're welcome. Go ahead.
Kara: No, I'm very clear, and I've got so many ideas I cannot wait to implement these and just put these all on my big whiteboard, kind of map these out. I think this is a lot of ideas and a lot of activity. How could you not convert after you've told me why and then you've gotten ready? You only did your ten minutes.
Pat: Yes, exactly. Everybody has to follow This Run Life on Instagram right now, and thisrunlife.com. Check out what Kara's doing, and I'm just super stoked to see where you end up, Kara, with all this. Do you mind if we perhaps reach back out to you in a few months to see how things are going and maybe do a catch up episode?
Kara: Please. Maybe we'll be on our maybe 500th challenge by then. That would be awesome.
Pat: That would be great. Yes, we'll talk about it. One more time, Kara, This Run Life, any words of inspiration for just the people in the audience right now who are on the couch who want to get up and just start running?
Kara: I would say, again, train with your heart and the body and the mind will follow.
Pat: Love that. Thank you so much, Kara. I appreciate you.
Kara: Thank you.
Pat: All right. I hope you enjoyed that coaching call with Kara. Kara, keep doing what you're doing because you are amazing. This Run Life on Instagram and thisrunlife.com for all she's got going on, and hey, she might help you get off the couch and start running or get off the 5Ks and start doing marathons and stuff. I've done my own fair share of half marathons and they aren't easy, and I did have a coach myself and Kara might be perfect for you. Go ahead and check her out, This Run Life.
If you want to get coaching just like Kara did, make sure to check out askpat.com, find the Application button right there on that page and submit your question because I always love getting new questions. Now, I can't possibly answer everybody here on AskPat, but truth is I'm not going to answer you unless you try, so askpat.com, fill out that application button. That application button, I don't know why I said it like that. Also, you can see the other shows that were in the archive as well and make sure you head on over to Apple Podcasts. Leave a review. That's always very helpful. I read those every time they come in. Thank you in advance for that. Finally, like I said earlier, if you want to start a podcast of your own, download my free podcast cheat sheet which you can get at askpat.com/podcastcheatsheet. One more time, all one word, no dashes, no spaces, askpat.com/podcastcheatsheet. Go ahead and check it out. You're amazing. Thanks so much and make sure you hit subscribe so you can get next week's episode delivered straight to you on your device. And until then, Team Flynn for the win. Cheers.