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One of your intentions for your gateway program should be to help your clients discover the gap between where they are and where they want to be in whatever area you work in.

– Darla LeDoux

Hello and welcome to today’s episode of Retreat and Grow Rich, the podcast. This is Darla LeDoux. I will be your host for this solo episode today where we’ll be diving in to gateway programs- the key to having the right people at your retreat. 

If you are new to this podcast, or you haven’t listened to episode one entitled “The Retreat and Grow Rich Business System,” you may want to do that before diving into today’s episode. In The Retreat and Grow Rich Business System I show you the only three offerings you will ever need to create a multiple six and even seven-figure retreat based business. In this series on retreat business models, I’m going to go deeper into each of the different steps of the system. 

So if you listened to the first episode in this new series, which was called The Business Model Problem, you know that filling retreats is very different than filling any other type of program or offering that you have. It is someone’s first visible step to come and get in the room with you. It’s this visible commitment to their transformation, and because of that, it holds a lot of weight and because it holds a lot of weight, we really want to support people in making the decision in a way that nurtures them, that empowers them, and helps them really get clear on whether it’s the right choice for them- and also helps you to get clear that the right people are going to be in the room at your retreat. 

And that is really the intention of the gateway program. So in this conversation today, I’m going to take you through at a very high level, what is a gateway? What is the intention behind your gateway, and have you start looking at the lifting that having a gateway program can do for you? And, for some of you, it will be very automated, which is a really beautiful thing where you’re starting to screen people in and out of your retreat without you actually doing anything physically because it’s automated. 

So we’re going to talk a bit about this. We’ll talk about the format options for a gateway program and also when to focus on your gateway. As a business owner, I was gonna say as a new business owner, but truly as a business owner at every level, this is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is- what should I be focusing on now? And if your focus is diluted it is going to really dull your impact. I am not going to own this as an “I am” statement, but I have been queen of doing a lot of things at once and this is a discipline that I’ve really been focusing on recently- and forever, but in particular very diligently recently, is being very disciplined and discerning about what I choose to focus on when. 

I’m going to share with you how to be disciplined and discerning about when to create your gateway program. Most people make huge mistakes in this area and do things out of order and it costs them a lot of time and a lot of money and a lot of redoing of work, which if you’re here, I know you’re not very interested in that. So with that, I’m going to dive in here. 

So what is a gateway program?

As I said in the first episode of this series, we talk about why filling retreats is unique. People are really making a bold choice to register for your retreat. And because of that we want to give them some support and guidance in the process of choosing to come to your retreat. We want to give them a container of support to help them get present and honest and real with themselves about their commitment level to their own transformation in the area that you are an expert in.

Your gateway also helps to build your know, like, and trust factor and gives people a sense of what it is like to work with you. By offering them a gateway program, which I’ll talk about what that can look like and different ways my clients have used gateway programs, but by doing this you are helping them to self-select as an ideal client for you or to bow out and not take a spot in your retreat if they are not an ideal client for you. You’re insuring for yourself that there are no surprises with the people who come to your retreat because they’ve already engaged in a program with you and they really know what they’re getting. That way you’re not met with a lot of resistance for your work, because you’re actually preparing people to come into the room ready for transformation. 

That said, I have to add, in hosting more than 60 retreats now, nearing 70 actually, there’s always surprises. They just come in various forms and they come in service of your transformation as the leader,just as much as for the transformation of the attendees. So that’s part of what makes it fun and adventurous and it’s probably part of why you are drawn to hosting your retreats. So, by all means, we are going to be surprised, but the gateway program really will ensure people are making an informed choice to get in the room. And depending on how you design the curriculum, it actually, you can provide tools for weeding people out and having people lean in. 

The other thing with your gateway is it is a paid program, which means it’s a demonstration of their commitment in this area of life. So, you know, would you rather market to a hundred people that you know are highly committed to the outcomes that you deliver, or would you rather get in front of a thousand people who are not right? I would take the hundred committed people before I would want to try to convince people who aren’t interested to do this work. Right? 

So having a gateway allows people to pay you, which is their demonstration that they have a certain level of commitment toward an outcome, and those are the people that you invite to your retreat. So it’s a much more engaged and prequalified audience. 

The first intention

So with that, let’s talk about your personal intention for creating your gateway program. So I want to suggest for you that your personal intention with creating a gateway program for your clients, this is something they can engage in that is a smaller commitment in one way or another than your retreat and helps for repair them to be ideal clients for your retreats- I’m going to suggest some intentions. 

So the first thing I want you to consider for your gateway program is that this is really some kind of offering, that you are creating, that is going to guide them to discover the gap between where they are right now and a current level of discomfort with where they are and then where they want to be- their desire. Okay. When someone, when the gap between the presence to the discomfort of where I am now or the desire of where I really want to be, when I’m present to that in such a way that it’s very palpable or real for me, that’s when I find my internal commitment to make a change and to close that gap. 

So one of your intentions for your gateway program should be to help your clients discover the gap between where they are and where they want to be in whatever area you work in. 

This can be by really presenting a picture for that desired lifestyle based on knowing your ideal client and knowing what they really want. It also could be having them do some self evaluation of their discomfort and really letting them magnify their discomfort. When I teach the anatomy of a transformation, which you can find in one of our beginning pillar episodes, I talk about this discomfort that we are so accustomed to living in. No matter who the person is, there’s some area of discomfort that they’re tolerating. If someone is tolerating a level of discomfort in the area that is your specialty, whether it’s their relationship, or their money, or their health, or their career, whatever that area may be, they’re really, really good at avoiding being present to the discomfort, right? They have become masterful at that because if they were present to the discomfort, they would make a change. 

So we know this about them. So including in your gateway, some kind of exercise or evaluation or storytelling or teaching that helps them get present to the discomfort they have been tolerating should be a part of your intention, along with some sort of exercise or activity or storytelling that helps them evaluate their desire and get really clear, not just about the top of mind desire, but those desires like what would really be possible if they got their top of mind desire. What else would that make available? So that needs to be one piece of your intention for your gateway program. 

The second intention

The second intention I’d like to suggest for you is to deliver relevant information that you’d like people to know, ideally before coming into your retreat. So this is really a vehicle for giving them certain information or frameworks or ideas for how to think about the work that you do, that if they know that before they come to your retreat, it will help them get the most out of the transformation. 

So in other words, I have a course called Retreat and Grow Rich Virtual where I deliver a lot of different information. Some of it that’s here, but we go in much more depth and we also include a lot of workbooks and worksheets and exercises and coaching and things like that. People have all this information coming into the retreat so that when they’re in retreat with us, they’re able to shift whatever has been in the way of them implementing that. Right? They’re able to focus on their mindset and their transformation. So when they leave, they’re ready, they’ve integrated the information, not just gotten it in their head or gotten stuck somewhere. 

So you can include information that you want your clients to know. And I want to give a couple of caveats here in terms of the intention of sharing information or frameworks for how to think. 

So the first caveat is you don’t want to fire hose people. In other words, if you give them so much information that it takes away from the first intention, which is getting them present to that gap, then it’s too much information. Okay. Because if you put them in their head thinking about all the information in such a way that they forgot what they really want to change in the world or in their world, then it’s a fire hose. It’s too much information. 

Or if you do want to give it all because we, you know, we definitely don’t want to create a gateway with like the intention of “I’m going to hold back stuff” so that, you know, they have to pay me more later to get more stuff. I don’t really love that energy. So if you do want to give it all, then what you want to be sure is that somewhere in the gateway, whether it’s a course or a workshop, which we’ll talk about in a minute, that you say, look, I don’t expect you to get all of this the first time. I don’t expect you to implement it all perfectly and I’m giving all this information to you now so that when you have your transformation in the live retreat, you’ll be ready to implement it. So please don’t get overwhelmed. It’s normal for people to get stuck somewhere in this process. And that is exactly why we have a live retreat to support you in integrating this work. 

So that way you’re able to kind of get the information out there and out of the way and set the expectation that there’s more to do. Because the truth is, and this comes down to the foundation of how transformation works, is for almost everybody who’s drawn to do retreats and is listening to this, there is information that you want to get across and there’s some outcome that you want people to get by taking action. Yet you know that the reason they haven’t taken action until now is that there’s some energy block or belief system or however you think about it in your work, there’s something in the way that they need to transform in order to free them to actually implement all that great information that’s out out there. 

And as I’m recording this, Facebook is up on my computer screen and I see an ad that talks about losing fat, right? A weight loss ad and everybody knows how to lose weight, but most people don’t know what’s in the way of them actually losing weight, right? So that’s why the live retreat and the transformation is so important. You can deliver all the information about losing weight in your program as long as you’re inviting them to come to the live retreat to break through what’s been getting in the way. 

So intention one is to get them present to this gap and intention two is to deliver the relevant information you want people to know before they come to your retreat. 

The third intention

Intention three is share polarizing ideas. Share polarizing ideas in your gateway. If you have philosophies for life or for your specific expertise that may not be broadly known or broadly shared, you want to be sure to use your gateway as an opportunity to share this. So, as an example, I’ve done a lot of different gateways, I’m going to share about that in a minute. I’ve sold different things live and virtual and had signature courses that have discontinued and all a lot of different things. One of the things that I’ve always done, which I attribute to success in having people come to my retreat is, one of the first things I share, is letting people know that it is an inner work journey. Whatever the topic, right? So I’ve had business coaching courses where I always start with letting people know this is an inner work journey and really sharing why it’s an inner work journey, which helps set up why they need the transformation, not just the information. 

So whatever your polarizing ideas are about your topic area, you want to include this in your retreats so that nobody comes to your retreat actively disagreeing with the things that are most important to you. And if you think you don’t have polarizing ideas within your work, I want you to think again, because I’m sure you do. There are things that you believe that might just be the water you swim in that you don’t even realize that most people don’t see or don’t know or don’t understand. Don’t try to overcomplicate your gateway. The things that seem super simple and straightforward to you, maybe even obvious because it’s your gift, likely are not super simple and straightforward to other people. And even if other people can see them, they don’t have the same aptitude for understanding how to apply it that you do. So by all means, get your polarizing ideas out there. 

If you’re not sure what they are, talk to people, interview people in your world, interview your clients and say, “what was the most surprising thing that we did together, that shocked you or that was different then other people doing similar work” and start to get some of that feedback. 

Additional intentions for your gateway:

You can teach them tribal language. So if there are certain ways that you say things, for example, I use the word gateway, I talk about a gateway program. You can use that in your gateway, your own tribal language in the gateway. So they’re starting to, you know, understand the way you communicate and shorthand it. What this is going to do is it’s, first of all, again, it’s going to help them decide how they resonate, but it’s also going to save you time in the live retreat because you’re not having to teach all the concepts.That way you have more time and space when you’re together live to dive deep into the transformational aspects of your work. 

Here’s another intention, which is so important to consider,this needs to be intention numero uno, is you want to give them an experience. So this is in your gateway, not your retreat. You to give them an experience of what it is like to work with you. And I’m going to give you more specifically what that means. 

You want to give them an experience that lets them know two things: what it feels like to feel safe in your presence, what it feels like to feel safe in your presence, and two, what it feels like to be challenged by you, what it feels like to be challenged by you. 

So I talked about this in our first episode in this business model series, but these two things are important to people making their decision to come to your retreat. So use your gateway as an opportunity to deliver this. You can do this by offering live Q and A’s. So they get the opportunity to actually coach with you personally on a small level where they can feel your energy and feel safe and also get to be challenged by you. If you are unable to do something live, which I’m going to talk about how to design this in a minute, then offer a recording of you coaching someone so they can imagine what it is to be in that conversation with you. 

Here are some other intentions for your gateway. So your gateway, at the end of the day when you have your whole system established, your gateway is going to be the one thing that you market publicly. Now I say this and I still will sometimes post or share with my list if we are filling our high level program, which we’ll get to in a future episode, or our back end program. I do announce that to our list, but primarily I offer this to, I only will send like one or two emails. It’s not like a big campaign, right? The main thing that we offer is our gateway program, and once people join the gateway program, that’s how they get access to learning about the other things. 

So your gateway program, you want to really consider what is the thing you want to be known for? What is the thing you want to be known for? 

Because that is how people will know you, right? So for example, I’m known for retreats. And I also work with our clients on messaging, and marketing strategy, and business model, and pricing, and money mindset, and really being able to elevate their energy and make an impact in the world and in their room, right. There’s a lot of things that I do, but the gateway messaging is around retreats. So what is your gateway that you want to be known for? Many business coaches, for example, are known for helping people develop a signature speech. Yet they have high level programs on the, what’s called the backend, that are about coaching, general business or maybe mindset, etc. Whatever you lead with doesn’t have to be the only thing that you offer, but you want it to be a specific thing that you’re known for. 

The next piece is, you know, as an intention, and we talked about this, is your intention primarily should be, you know, on top of all of these things, to help them decide if the retreat is right for them. Help them decide if the retreat is right for them. Don’t be afraid too, within the way you design the curriculum for your gateway program, talk about the retreat. Seed the retreat, share examples of what happened when people, you know, took the chorus and then came to the retreat. It’s not a secret at any point in the gateway that for them to get the maximum value from their work with you, you want them to come to the retreat. This is the goal. 

In my Retreat and Grow Rich program, in my gateway program, I guide people through a process of designing what I call the “rooms in your castle.” And we use this, plus your retreat leader archetype, which is the way you love to lead your retreats, and we put those together to help determine what your gateway is about. So there’s a process and a system that I have in my course that helps you get really clear what your gateway is about. And it actually, you know, it’s not like “here’s what the gateway should be,” but it’s actually a process of discovery through looking at your own expertise and the work you do with your clients today it kind of reveals itself. So if that interests you, you can check that out over at our website. 

For now I want to give you some prompts just to help you, you know, start the process of imagining what your gateway might be about.

So here are some great questions to ask to consider what is it actually about? 

So the first question to consider is what do people think their problem is? So a lot of times when marketing transformation, you know what the problem is, you know what they need to transform, but they’re not even aware of it yet, right? They need, they’re like, you know, 10 steps behind you and they need a certain level of awareness before they can even recognize the real problem that they have. So a lot of times my clients, they’re very either intuitive or they were their ideal client a few years ago. So they really know the problem well and the issue is we forget what our top of mind problem was, right? 

So we know well, really, it’s some belief that happened that you established before the age of seven that is really causing you your problem today. Well they don’t know that yet. You know, depending on who your star client is and what layer of the onion they’re on. They don’t know that yet. So what do they think their problem is? That’s where you want to, you know, kind of look at for the gateway program. 

Another question to consider is what part of my work do I most like to be known for? So I know for you to get results with your clients there’s a lot of things that you focus on. This is one of the hardest decisions that an entrepreneur can make is that level of focus, right? So what part of your work would you most like to be known for. 

And a further question to help with that a little bit, do you want to be known for your system? And if, so, this is what I call a castle tour, you want your gateway to be a castle tour where you’re teaching your signature system, or do you want to be known for a topic. In which case, this is what I call a house party, you want your gateway to be about one room in your castle. So consider that, right? What do I most want to be known for? By the way, I go in way deeper about this in our course

Another question to consider is what part of my work comes first? So if you think about, you know, the various things that you do with your clients, what’s the first step for them? The first step for them could be a great topic for your gateway, the thing that you’re known for. 

And then here’s my favorite question for you to consider is what does my star client need to know and agree with about my work to make them the best possible fit for me? So your gateway is where the work that you do meets the need that they have authentically. So we’re not, you know, trying to get them to want something they don’t want. We have to meet them where they are. And in the gateway, the best possible outcome is that you actually train them how to be the best fit client for you. Knowing that someone who’s not a best fit client for you, they’re going to lean out. They’re going to go, :mm, I’m not into that. I don’t agree with that. That’s not for me.” But the best fit clients they are going to lean in and they’re going to say, yes, this makes so much sense. 

I recently attended an event where the actual event, it wasn’t necessarily a transformational retreat per se, though transformation happens when we gather live regardless, but it was more of an event. And I would say it serves a similar purpose to the retreat in my model, but this easily could have been gateway content, where the content was actually really just presenting some ideas and philosophies for people to lean into. It didn’t actually share a full system even. It was snippets of concepts for a client to decide, “do I lean into that or do I not?” And it was highly effective in having people make a decision to take the next step, even though it left out a lot of the information actually that they would need to implement. Right? So they needed to take the next step to get all the information. 

Another example I’d like to share around, you know, what do I want my ideal client to know and agree with, as one example, I believe the work of transformation is highly valuable and that transformational leaders and retreat leaders should charge a lot for their work. Now a lot is relative and you know, we could have a whole if philosophical discussion about a lot, but I believe in the value of transformational retreats so deeply, changed my life. Like, I can’t even begin to measure the amount of joy and freedom that I’ve had in my life since I first discovered transformation. It is completely priceless. And people who are passionate about this work are continually undercharging. When I started doing this work, I was sure I was going to have to downsize my life and eat only Chipotle so that I could afford to do this work. 

So I’m really on a mission to shift that, to shift that perception of what we pay for. We pay so much more for cable television than we do for our own transformation nd I would love to change that. So that said, because of that, I want people to lean in who want to charge a lot for their work, right? Who want to increase the investment to work with them. Who want clients who are financially committed to their transformation. 

I don’t want people coming in who fundamentally believe that this work should be cheap. Because it’s enough to help someone move past their blocks about money when they want to. And the last thing I want is to have to convince someone to want to raise their price, right? Because we’ve got enough to cover. And until someone is at that place where they know that’s something they want, I would prefer that they don’t come to my retreat, because we’ll be having conversations that will bump up against their resistance. At least some part of you needs to want to charge enough to earn a healthy living from this work to be a right fit for me. So that’s one of the things that I include in my gateway program. 

As I mentioned, I’ve had quite a few different gateway programs over the years. Some things I have recorded into content and into courses that could be purchased online as a course. Other things I’ve done live as a group program, right? A group coaching program or some combination of that. I have also done some of these other things I’m gonna talk with you about as gateway programs. 

So I have personally done almost all of these things at some point in time and my clients, you know, if I think about what my clients have done as well, I’ve seen all of these things work as a format for a gateway program. 

So you could do a course. It could be, I recommend if you do a course, it’s between four and eight weeks, sometimes 12 weeks, anything longer than that, a lot of people are going to drop off. Remember your goal is, we covered the goals of the gateway, so you don’t need this to be a whole six month program to get them ready to get committed to their transformation. I have found over the years, shorter is better. My program is nine recorded modules, which are delivered over nine weeks. So that can give you a sense of that. Depending on the topic, sometimes shorter is better. Four weeks can actually be better than nine weeks if you’re doing a course. 

You can also deliver your gateway in a live workshop. So you could get a physical space, a conference room or even a retreat center and do a live workshop. I like to recommend three hours for a live workshop. That’s a length of time that allows you to deliver a taste of transformation, to meet all the intentions, basically, that we spoke about, and get them to the place of knowing if they’re actually committed to their transformation. 

Some people do a one day workshop or a short “retreat.” That’s one day. I personally don’t love one day, I prefer to do a half day or three hours, or three days for me. That one day is, if you’re in the market or in the business of transformation, that one day can be challenging because it is a long enough time that you can really open things up, but not a long enough time to really open things up and put them back together and have someone have a full transformation. So I prefer it to be shorter so I can really give people a taste and not, you know, try to deliver the whole enchilada so to speak. 

You could also do a virtual workshop that is paid. So this differs from a webinar in that it is paid, in that it is experiential, in that it is hopefully interactive and it’s really focused on these intentions that we talked about. I have done several virtual workshops over the years, priced anywhere from $47 to $197 for, you know, maybe two or three hours and made an offer for people to come to the retreat. This has been effective for me in a lot of different ways. 

You can also do a virtual retreat. This might be a little bit longer. It might be a full day or it could be an evening and then a day and then a morning. I’ve done that before. Something where they can participate from the comfort of their home, but it’s really, you can think of it kind of like delivering the course but in a retreat format over the phone or over Zoom. Right? So people are getting it a taste of what it’s like to work with you. They’re getting all of these intentions, but they’re getting it in a shorter period of time. 

I haven’t tested this, I would love to test side by side my nine week versus a one day immersion to just see how that would sell because I suspect that it depends on your audience, but more and more people have taken courses that they never finished. And you know, people need to be really committed to actually take of course and finish it. A lot of courses go unfinished. So I would be very curious to see both how a virtual retreat sells, right, delivering the exact same promise, as compared to the course. And also then what the conversion rate would be from a virtual retreat to a live retreat versus a course to a live retreat. I would love to test that. I haven’t tested that yet. I just may, but I have done virtual retreat before, but I haven’t done it perfectly timed to offer a live retreat. 

So we do have one client who is doing this now and I believe it is a great strategy for her. We don’t have enough data to confirm the conversion rates and all of that. But a virtual retreat I believe is a great strategy for the way our market is now and the way lives are now and attention spans are now. 

The other possibility for a format for a gateway, this is going to sound totally different than anything else I’ve said, but you could do an individual paid session as a gateway program. So that might be the thing you do ongoingly. If you’re someone who does intuitive readings, for example, that might be your gateway. 

Maybe you don’t create a course or a workshop, but you have some kind of paid session with you where they’re demonstrating their commitment and they’re getting all of these intentions that we talked about where they get to learn your tribal language. They get an experience of what it’s like to feel both safe and challenged by you. They get to hear your polarizing ideas. You establish what you want to be known for by the way you name that session, you’re delivering some relevant information you want them to know, and getting them present to their gap. Like you can do all of that in some sort of session. 

And you might even do some kind of individual session where they get some short video training before the session and a short followup after the session. And then there’s an invitation to apply for the retreat. Something like that. So there’s lots of ways to do this. You don’t have to just go create a course. If you don’t love online, you don’t have to do online. You can do live workshops in your local area. 

You could have a signature workshop that you travel with. If you have joint venture partners who will promote you in various cities you can do a tour of your workshop and create a series of this workshop in four or five different cities and use that to fill your retreat. So there’s a lot of options and possibilities here. 

One of the things we always do with our clients, we do a series of assessments that really helps us to guide them as to the best possible format for their gateway that really fits with they’re unique design. So there’s lots to consider there. 

In terms of, you know, topics for the gateway, currently I have my Retreat and Grow Rich Virtual. Previously I had a recorded class called The Business School for Aligned Entrepreneurs, which walked through all the different pieces of developing a business model and pricing and messaging and all of that. Before that I had something called Aim For Profit, which they would establish their aligned income map.  I did a program called Destination Sweet Spot. That was my very first gateway program I ever did and that was all delivered live, and it eventually evolved into The Sweet Spot Business School because I was adding in business when I first started back in the day. I was helping people find their sweet spot, which, you know, started out as career coaching. Like, what do you really want to do with your life? And what I found is the clients I attracted all really in their heart wanted to have their own business. And so they started quitting their jobs and starting businesses, which is where the biz school concept came from. So again, your gateway can evolve over time. A lot of the content from these courses as they evolved was similar. 

In other words, The Sweet Spot Biz school became Aligned Entrepreneurs. I just rebranded, but it was basically the same content, right? Just kind of rejiggered a little bit. So you start to develop your way of teaching things and your brand in a way that really works for you. What I want you to know is that in each of these programs I would have anywhere from, it really depended on how we delivered it and how connected I was to the retreat. How good of a job I did timing my gateway to my retreat, which by the way, you know, we teach all this in the course. The conversion rate from a gateway to a live retreat was, when I was delivering live, 70%. When I was delivering recorded content with live Q and A calls and everybody was going through it all at once, it was 50% of people who took the gateway would come to the retreat. 

In delivering everything automated and having a rolling program of Q and A calls it was between 30 and 40% conversion of people who took the course, who came to the retreat. Now more people were taking the course. I didn’t know them. I wasn’t as connected to them. So that conversion rate goes down, which makes sense, right? But I want you to get a sense of this so you can really understand. It depends on your content and who your people are, but people will take your gateway and just have this natural next step to come to the retreat. Especially if you’re designing for it the way that I’m sharing with you now. And it has huge value. Even if they don’t come to the retreat, but they make a decision that they want to close this gap, that has huge value for them.

So let’s talk a moment about the investment for your gateway. This can really vary you, you know, we help our clients to choose a price that’s really aligned for who their market is, and what their personal intention is, and the price of their retreat, which we have a whole formula for and all of that. But it is a paid experience. As I said, I’ve done everything from $97 to $3,500 for a gateway program. 

And this is part of what makes this distinct from what I call drawbridge material, which is your free stuff, your opt in gift, your lead magnet, your freebie. It has a lot of names. I call it the drawbridge, which is inviting people into your castle. So a free checklist or a free ebook or even, you know, my podcast content, for example, that you’re listening to you right now, that’s all drawbridge material, helping people, you know, kind of get some value from you and learn a bit about you before inviting them to the next step. You know, if you are interviewed by people, that’d be drawbridge material. If you are giving a speech, even if it’s a paid speech, if the people in the audience didn’t pay you personally, that’s drawbridge material, right? If you invite them to a workshop where they pay you, that becomes a gateway. And this is, you know, just a way to think about it to help you frame up your experience with your clients.

My last piece that I want to share with you today is about when to focus on your gateway.

This is important. This is, like, one of the biggest mistakes I see so many people making. Especially, even people who have studied with me, if they don’t get that support and that coaching that we offer when we work with you live they can make this mistake, so I don’t want you to make this mistake. And a lot of you will still make this mistake. 

You wanna focus on your gateway in divine right order. So if you are just starting out, do not start with creating a gateway. You want to backtrack, okay? You want to create the vision for your high level program first and then your retreat and then from there you want to start with a short term gateway program. Yes, this is something, it’s temporary that you’re going to offer where you will deliver what you think you would deliver in your gateway, but you’re going to offer it one on one. You can do this for a small number of clients. I like people to have at least six before they start to consider what their gateway should be about or before they offer their retreat. 

So the reason for doing this is, first of all, you can charge a bit more for the one on one, so you start to have more cash flow right away. The second reason is you can, you only need one client to start a one-on-one program. When someone starts out of the gate and wants to fill a group program that they’ve never tested and they don’t know if it works and they haven’t ever written marketing before or anything like that, having a group start at once can be interesting. I’m not saying it’s impossible. Okay. All things are possible and trust your divine guidance, but it’s not likely out of the gate if you’ve never had individual clients that you’re going to know how to market that gateway program that fills. 

The other thing with offering it one-on-one is you can test different program names in conversation with people and see what has resonance. So each client might have a three month coaching program with you, but they all might be in a different program with a different name as you’re kind of testing out, your naming and your concepts of your brand. 

So you can offer this, I love the idea of a three or four month individual coaching program, although some of our clients opt for a VIP day or personal retreat- that’s another way to do it too, to test these concepts. But write down what happens, watch your clients’ progress. Write down their language that they use. Write down the order that they have, you know, certain breakthroughs or awarenesses in or need certain information in. If they need an exercise, create an exercise for them, and this is going to become the workbook for your eventual gateway program. 

And so you’re starting to track that and when you have had enough clients go through that, you have a sense of what the right gateway should be. That’s a great time to create your gateway, although, I have another suggestion, which is instead of then taking your time and that knowledge to create a gateway, instead invite those six or 10 clients that you’ve worked with for three or four months, invite them to a retreat and then you can develop your retreat content and invite them into your high level programs so you really have some great cashflow that you can use then to invest in the developing of your gateway program. That’s the optimal way to do it from the beginning. 

I want to speak for a minute to someone who has an established business with clients and you want to create your gateway program. So you already have one on one clients. You know, maybe you have even done a retreat, possibly, but you’re in the place where you’ve had one-on-one clients and you’re kind of looking to determine your gateway or get that going. 

You can, again, create the concept and test it, selling it first, sell it before you go record it. So unless you are 100% beyond reproach certain about what your gateway should be about, and even then, I don’t recommend this, you want to sell the gateway first and have people actually pay you for it before you create it. 

This does two things. First of all, then you’re teaching to actual clients, so your energy is going to be totally different. Second, you know that people want something before you go create the whole thing. And if for some reason you missed the mark on your marketing, it’s not a big investment of your time to have tested it versus going and creating a whole a bunch of content that people don’t want or need. 

Now here’s what I suggest in terms of testing a concept that could become your gateway. What I suggest is actually launch it first as a retreat and offer it only to past clients. If your past clients who already know and love you don’t want to come to a retreat about this topic, it may not be your best gateway. If they do want to come to a retreat about your topic, amazing. This is a great way to what I call “learn while you earn,” where you can test your ideas, your teachings, your concepts on live people and watch their response. 

And when you’re doing this, this helps you know what resonates and be even better when you record it as a gateway program. The other thing it allows you to do, again, is learn while you earn, is to make an offer for your high level program. Have clients in your high level program. Again, helping to fund the time and energy and systems you’ll need two develop your gateway program. 

So whether you’re just starting out in business or you have a lot of one-on-one clients and you’re established, I don’t recommend that you go hole yourself up and write course content. Okay. So you may or may not listen to that hard one advice, but that is my recommendation there. 

So I just want to recap what we’ve talked about. Your gateway program is really there to help both you and your client to know that they are the right person to come to your live retreat and ultimately the right person to work with you in your high level program, which we’ll talk about in a later episode. 

And you don’t want to start by recording your gateway. You really want to ease your way into it, but understanding that you will have a gateway and the purpose it will serve is ultimately going to help you develop better programs all around. 

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, and please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review if you’re enjoying this series and that way you’ll be the first to know when our next episode releases and help others to know about this work we’re doing here. 

It is my personal vision to normalize transformation on the planet one intimate retreat at a time and I very much appreciate your participation in this mission. Thank you for who you are in the world. This is Darla LeDoux signing off. 

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