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Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Who Needs a Digital Coach? (I Do!)

By Holly Buchanan
January 23rd, 2008

Seth Godin's headSeth Godin piqued my interest (there’s a surprise) with his post about a shortage of digital coaches. Seth points out a need that a whole lot of people, myself included, have: Help getting more from the technology in which they’ve already invested.

We have an interesting discussion going about Apple, technology needs, and advertising to different types of computer users. Here’s another chance to look at how people use technology and how you can use that knowledge to create better advertsing for them.

As Seth tells it on his blog,

Here are three things that are true:

1.) Digital technology, especially computers and cell phones, can dramatically increase productivity.
2.) More and more users of digital technology are small firms or individuals.
3.) The vast majority of users of digital technology are totally lame in getting the most out of the investment of their time and money.

My guess is I’m not alone in how I use technology. I can set it up myself, and I do. I can figure out some stuff, and I do. But is there a better way to use this technology? You bet. If I had about 200 extra hours, I could go out and educate myself on every cool product, feature, new software, etc., and set it up to greatly increase my productivity. Here’s the only catch: I don’t have 200 hours.

I don’t have one hour.

One hour that takes me away from what really matters to me — researching marketing to women online, doing outstanding client work, being taken for my afternoon walk by my Lab — is one hour too many. Like many people, I would gladly trade time for money. I would gladly hire someone who has lost 200 hours of their life learning this stuff so they can set it up for me.

In his blog post, Seth is looking for the same person I am.

Here’s what I haven’t found: people who charge $100 an hour to hear what you do and how you do it and then show you how to do it better. People who organize data and put it in the right place. People who overhaul the way small groups use technology so they can use it dramatically better. People who use copilot to take over a PC and actually rearrange it so that it works better.

YES! Where is that person!? As luck would have it, the post links to a Squidoo page where people who provide just such a service let you know about themselves.

Last I checked, there were over 40 responses, but only one really got my attention. Here’s what it said:

“Your tools should fit YOUR life”

Now THAT’s great copywriting. (Sign me up!) Use words that your customers can relate to. In one sentence, they managed to explain exactly how I feel: Technology should work for me, not the other way around.

Here are some of my reactions to the other “digital coach” auditions:

“Web gurus help make sense of online technologies.” (I’m not interested in trying to make sense of technology. My love life, yes. Technology, no.)

“Simple easy to do lessons and tips.” (I don’t want lessons and tips. That’s why I’m hiring you!)

“Have you been seeking some hand-holding?” (Not since I was three.)

“Teaching digital literacy.” (Did you just call me illiterate?)

People who are not tech-savvy are not inherently stupid. It’s not that we don’t understand; it’s that we choose to spend our time doing other things that are more important to us. There’s an important distinction.

Don’t be condescending.

If you want to build solidarity with someone, look at their problem through their eyes. That’s why “your tools should fit YOUR life” is a very powerful message. You shouldn’t have to work your life around technology. Technology should work around you.

If you’re going after the do-it-yourselfers, some of those other lines would work. But if you’re going after the do-it-for-me crowd, try the “your tools should fit YOUR life” approach. (Trust me, it could win you a lot of business.)

Agree with them. THEY are not the problem.

[Editor's Note: If you're a fan of his work, take a moment to listen to our exclusive interview with Seth Godin, or download it by right-clicking here.]

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Comments (14)

  1. I don’t need a coach, guru or hand-holder. I’m an intelligent, independent, literate grown-up. What I’d like is a colleague who can quickly tell me what’s what. I can take it from there. I know a lot about all kinds of technologies – but it’s impossible to keep up with everything going on in what I’ve dubbed the Widget Economy. All kinds of cool tools out there, but like you, I don’t have 200 hours to find and implement them.

  2. Very interesting topic. After reading what Mr. Godin, had to say, as well as the comments, I’m realizing I have been making a
    huge mistake. You see, I have been giving away this type of digital coaching service for free. I receive several calls a day asking for information, research, or advice on everything from VOIP to multimedia and more. I typically get these requests from friends, family, and colleagues. I give them what they asked for for free. I just finished a product roll-out presentation which is to be embedded and streamed from a web site. At $100 per hour, I’m out about $1,000.00. OYE!

  3. Great lessons to be learned from this post. You may be surprised to know that here is where I got one of my greatest COPYWRITING lessons! Thanks a lot, Holly. You’re a genius!

  4. I’m with you Holly. I can do a lot of the tech stuff but i don’t want to do it! I want to focus on reading and thinking and writing and blogging. ‘Your tools should fit YOUR life’: bang on relevant.

  5. [...] this mean people are lame? Of course not; as Holly Buchanan of GrokDotCom says, it’s a matter of priority. Some people would rather focus on other aspects of their work, [...]

  6. [...] Holly Buchanan adds some valuable comments on Seth’s quick analysis. Among others, he highlights the ”lack of time combined with the need to prioritize” as one of the major causes why some “spectators”, “e-illiterates” and even alihoopies, would be willing to pay for some “digital coach” services. Also very interesting is his opinion on “Your tools should fit YOUR life” statement. I am as well 100% aligned with this vision. [...]

  7. Holly,

    I think I understand what you mean about not wanting to give up an hour. Do you think you (and others like you) might benefit from some sort of audio coaching materials? Like mp3 files you could load on your portable player and listen to while your Lab takes you for a walk?

    I’ve easily “lost” more than 200 hours learning about new technology as it truly fascinates me. Especially when I can find ways for it to improve my productivity, save me money, etc.

    I’d love to be able to help other entrepreneurs use techology in ways that fit (and improve) their lives. Would you (and your readers)be willing to describe in more detail how that would look to you?

    Thanks for bringing up the subject for discussion.

    Sheryl Schuff

    P.S. Seth’s list topped out at 75 before my lens was added. It’s at http://www.Squidoo.com/DigitalCoachForSmallBiz

  8. For those that are interested, there is a new Digital Coach Discussion list available.

    This discussion list is to create best practices, offer help and practical suggestions to other Digital Coaches, and general technology discussion as it relates to Digital Coaches helping their clients.

    Hope to see you there!

    Don Makoviney
    DigitalCoach-L.com

  9. The entire concept of a digital coach is new to me… it’s very interesting. I bet their is a good market for digital coaching out there for the many baby boomers who have not yet become tech savvy. You’d be shocked of the technology illiteracy of some very high powered individuals.

  10. Very good. thank you for share

  11. Not sure how much technology we currently have for digital coaching. Perhaps it’s a bit like the early days of the car – easily fixed by most mechanics (or carpenters!).

    Now my car is extremely intelligent, knows when to inflate its own tyres, wipe the windscreen, call for a service etc.

    And I can’t fix hardly anything on it myself….it’s all electronic!

    Smiles

    Steve

  12. I think I understand what you mean about not wanting to give up an hour. Do you think you (and others like you) might benefit from some sort of audio coaching materials? Like mp3 files you could load on your portable player and listen to while your Lab takes you for a walk?

  13. Very interesting topic. It is the forever question : should we do things by ourselves or not ? It is definitely a personal question.

  14. Sometimes more complex offerings involve the other party rethinking how they approach what they are doing in order to facilitate the types of efficiency gains that Seth refers to.

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Holly Buchanan is a marketing to women consultant specializing in marketing to women online. You can read her blog at http://marketingtowomenonline.typepad.com She is the co-author, along with Michele Miller of The Soccer Mom Myth - Today's Female Consumer - Who She Really Is, Why She Really Buys.

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