How many of you have ran a challenge?

Was it successful? Did it achieve what you wanted it to achieve?

For a lot of people the answer is no.. They may have started a challenge, but hardly anyone joined up, no-one engaged during the challenge, and it certainly didn’t make any more sales for them.

Sound familiar? For me it does. A couple of years into my new business, I decided to run a Trello challenge, so I set up the videos, created a facebook group and email list, did some promotions, had a landing page etc, all the things I thought I should have..

But I was new to the idea of challenges, and didn’t actually research what made a good challenge. I was quite naive.. In the words of Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams (I know, showing my age now!)… I thought that ‘If I build it, they will come’…

Guess what, they never!

It was a failure! 3 people signed up. I think only 1 of those finished… I was gutted. I knew that Trello was a good tool, and that using it helps small businesses better plan the day to day activities, as well as manage new projects. So, felt really deflated

It totally put me off of doing any more challenges, even though I knew the benefits of doing them.

But then I started being on the receiving end of challenges. One of the participants

And through that, learnt what worked and what didn’t. The things that made me complete the challenge, and those challenges that didn’t actually meet my expectations, and therefore I gave up half way through.

So back to basics, what is a challenge?

According to the Collins dictionary, it’s something new and difficult, which requires great effort and determination.

So why would you want to develop a challenge, well, there are a number of reasons:

A challenge is way of getting your current clients, or potential clients interested in what you have to offer.

It can be used to raise awareness of your expertise, of your brand, or it can help you promote a particular product that you want to sell. It can also help you to try out a little section of your new offering to see if people are interested in what you’re going to be putting out.

It can be an integral part of your sales pipeline, but they aren’t the silver bullet, the magic wand. To get anything from them, you need to be prepared to put in a lot of effort, a lot of hard work.

This is where I went wrong. I didn’t fully scope out my reason for running the challenge. I didn’t have a goal or target in mind. I just thought it was a good idea, so spent some time pulling it together.

There are a number of stages that you need to go through and consider before the challenge starts.

As in most things, you need to know why, what, when, where and the how.

What are the main steps that you need to go through to make sure that challenge is both valuable to your audience, but also helps develop your business?

The first thing you need to do is to look at your goals. What is the actual purpose of creating the challenge?

Then you need to identify who the challenge is for? What do they want? What are their problems? What is the one big action you could help them develop?

My challenge was very generic. It didn’t specify who it was aimed at, so when I promoted it, I didn’t actually attract those that it would have helped the most. Thats the problem when you try to attract everyone, you end up attracting no one.

Once you know your goals and who the challenge is aimed at, it’s a lot easier to think about what the topic of the challenge should be. And then you need to think creating something they want to sign up to.

Now you’ve got your topic, you need to create materials that go along with it, any resources you’re going to provide and understand how you are going to deliver the challenge.

I find that mind maps are great for helping me get things down on paper, to be able to brainstorm everything that I might want and need to do. To give me more ideas and steps to develop into a challenge

You can then put them into themes and look at the scope and sequence of the materials. This will give you the length of your challenge. Shorter challenges tend to be more successful than longer ones..

Another element to consider if how you are going to promote your challenge. Will you be posting on social media, creating blogs, using paid ads, etc. Have you got any raving fans that could become affiliates that could help you promote it?

What and how do you need to promote the challenge to get your audience to make the decision to take part. Throughout the customer journey, make it as easy as possible, so that participants are more likely to stay and complete the challenge. If it’s too difficult they may drop out, and all that effort will be for nothing.

Once you once challenge is completed you will have a list of people who completed it. They will now be on an email list. You may want to offer a special offer to those who did. Though don’t forget about GDPR.. there needs to be transparency and data processed in accordance with expectations, legitimate interest counts!

Lastly, you need to really think about how you are going to monetise the challenge. Obviously you want to provide value, to increase brand awareness and demonstrate your knowledge, but at the end of the day your business needs to make money, otherwise it’s not sustainable.

After you finish the challenge, as part of continuously improving your business and your offerings, you should always carry out a review and analyse what went well, and what you would do differently next time.

The feedback I got after mine, was that it didn’t go into enough depth. The challenge was aimed at introducing Trello to new users, but actually managed to sign up someone who wanted to know more about the power-ups, teams, tags, checklists, etc.

So even though it didn’t go that well, at least I had feedback and even though I haven’t ran another Trello challenge (yet!), it did drive me to be more specific about my niche and how I could help prospective clients.

In summary (TDLR), if you are thinking of creating a challenge, firstly make sure you know your goal, your reason for doing the challenge. Then identify who you will be aiming the challenge at, and understand exactly what they need.

Once you have these things in place, you can move onto creating the content, promoting your challenge and making sure you have the technology in place that will allow you to deliver your challenge effectively

You need to know what paid product/service you will be offering at the end of the challenge and understand whether you are going to offer special discounts and then you need to enjoy delivering the challenge to all your sign-ups!

Don’t forget to do a review at the end, and take on board any feedback, so that you can make your challenge the very best for future participants.

To know more about running a successful challenge, buy my challenge toolkit. It contains everything you need to know.

A handbook, which guides you through everything you need to prepare and plan your challenge.

A playbook, to help you develop all the materials you need.

A planner will help you make sure you are prepared for each stage of your challenge,

A checklist will give you a quick confirmation that you have everything you need before you start.

A guide to the tech you will need to promote and deliver the challenge