Once you’ve decided the type of group (meal or buffet) you want to create it comes down to setting your price, getting members, and choosing the right tools to launch. To serve meals, you’ll need a website, calendar, email, and a place to meet. To serve a buffet, you need a tool that will allow the group to engage in flexible face-to-face communication. Of course, we’re partial to Volley—it's free and available for iOS, Android, and web/desktop.
If you have no idea what the difference is between a meal and a buffet, then you likely haven't read the previous posts in the Masterminds 101 series. If you missed any of the other posts in our Masterminds 101 series, you can find them here.
Part III: Members, Pricing, & Launch Plan (below)
There is a vast range in the amount the mastermind groups we interviewed charged. Some were as little as $100 per month and others were as much as over $100,000 per year. How much you charge is directly correlated to how much someone is willing to pay which is directly correlated to the value your group offers.
The highest ticket groups were certainly well facilitated, but it wasn’t the facilitation that set them apart–it was the members. The value of the high ticket groups was being in an elite group of talented people at the top of their game. Imagine being in a mastermind with Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama. That would certainly be worth paying over $100k a year to be part of.
Our recommendation is to start by tripling the average hourly rate of the members of the group. If this is a group of software engineers that charge $150/hr, then maybe $450 per month might be a good starting point. From there you can begin to research other groups to see how competitive that may or may not be. You can always layer on more value adds to increase the price over time.
Most groups start lower and increase the price over time. The best strategy would be to get the most amazing people to be the core of the group regardless of what they are willing to pay and start increasing the price for each member that you invite afterward.
You’ve probably heard the saying “everyone has 1000 true fans.” This was popularized by WIRED editor, Kevin Kelly in 2008. The principle is that regardless of audience size, there is a core of that audience that is willing to pay top price for everything you do. Oftentimes, you can earn higher revenue creating experiences for your 1000 true fans than you could focusing on anyone else. This concept has been argued that for most people it’s actually more like 10 or 100, but that’s the exact point we’re trying to make. How do you get members? You probably already know them.
People are willing to pay for transformation. Transformation is more than education and transformation requires a guide. If you think through your network and all of your connections on social media, I bet it’s easy to see 10-20 people that would be excited to pay for the transformation you could offer them though a mastermind. And if you charge $500 per month for the experience, that’s an extra $5,000 to $10,000 per month. Could you use an extra $5k to $10k per month? We thought so.
So all you have to do is follow the guidelines we’ve written above, answer a few questions, concept the program and put together a strategy to get the word out.
The strategy of filling your group is most likely a two-pronged approach of first directly contacting the first 4 or 5 people to commit them to the group (rifle), then broadly advertising through social, networking, and word of mouth that you have X seats left and they are going fast (shotgun).
Once you start receiving applications for new members, you can begin your screening process.
Just like building teams, getting the right people on the bus may be the most important aspect of creating a successful mastermind. Here are a few things we learned from the groups we interviewed.
The campfire principle. You know how when you get the right people around a campfire you could stay up all night talking? Now take that same group and add one person who isn’t on the same wavelength or doesn’t know when to shut up and you’re going to bed at 9:30. With a mastermind, you’re shooting for a group that, if you let them, would stay up all night talking (and many do).
Here are the characteristics that were commonly sought after in the groups we interviewed:
Also, keep in mind that if you get this right, your members will recruit other members and be the greatest source of your referrals.
The beauty of a mastermind over writing a course or a book, is you can launch quickly and for little to no cost.
With each format synchronous (meal) and asynchronous (buffet) you’ll need to answer the questions above and make decisions on structure and strategy. We think this could easily be done in 2-3 hours. Then it’s just a matter of recruiting your core and launching. We’ll break each format down.
You’ll need to create your first event or meeting. If you don’t have the full group together yet, it’s alright, but you might want to schedule the event far enough out that you’ll be able to fill the room or seats. Once you have the event scheduled and the venue booked, build a website or an event page on something like Eventbrite to get the word out on social media.
Events - Events are a key ritual in many mastermind programs. Some groups will hold in-person events once or twice a year. Other masterminds meet weekly or monthly to discuss accountability and provide help to members. Depending on how you set up your events (in-person or over a synchronous video meeting) you'll need to set a date, inform your members and plan the experience of that event. Are members flying into a city or location? Do they need hotel accommodations? Where will the actual meeting take place? Can members tune in from out of state and how will they get access to the meeting?
Meetings - Meeting regularly with the other members in your mastermind is essential to it's success. You can use a simple free calendar tool like Google Calendar, or you could connect payments through a premium scheduling platform like Calendly. Either way, you'll want to make sure that your members know when, where, and how each meeting will occur.
Payments - Masterminds come in all shapes and sizes. Some meet often and charge very little for access. Others meet annually and charge six figures. One common theme is that masterminds typically use a recurring payments business model. Most free payments products aren't set up for recurring payments, so you can forget about Venmo and PayPal, unless you'll be sending out payment links every single month to each member. You can configure Stripe and Paypal to process recurring payments, but there will be some setup and fees involved.
Website - If you're going to connect all of the above information, it's helpful to have a place to do it. Building a website is easy right?! Webflow and Wordpress are some of the most popular tools to build a website. But if you're looking for simplicity and ease of use, Wix or Squarespace might be faster.
Communication - Outside of scheduled meetings and events, you'll want to have an open channel of communication for members to discuss and engage one another. Email is an option, although it quickly becomes chaotic for group communication. Apps like Volley, make it easy to talk to members and have group discussions. Slack is also a popular option for this type of communication. Just make sure that everyone downloads the app and gets added to the group, or else they might start missing notification.
Volley for Events - If you have Volley, then you can set up events as a new channel anytime. The upside to doing events in your Volley Space is that members can consume interviews, AMAs, pro tips, tours, and more asynchronously at 2x. So it's super convenient for your group. When Volley users get together for in-person events they say it feels like they've known each other forever since they've communicating regularly on Volley.
Volley for Meetings - If you're using Volley for regular communication then congratulations—you no longer need meetings. Many groups on Volley will set up recurring meetings as a channel and ask members to post either daily, weekly, or monthly an update for the group. Threaded Volleys makes it easy to stay on topic and keep conversations organized and flowing.
Volley for Payments - Volley Grow (launching November '22) comes with built in payments processing. So you can set up your space, connect a Stripe account, and start collecting payments (one-time or recurring) for your mastermind program. It's easy to set up and turns your expertise into monthly recurring revenue. Apply for the beta here.
Volley for Website - Today, the majority of website traffic is mobile because everyone has a smartphone on them all the time, or so it seems. If your mastermind program is built on Volley, there's no need for a website. You can set up your space and invite your members without ever learning HTML, CSS, or even how to no-code.
Volley for Communication - Volley makes everyday conversations easy with video, text, gif, document, and image uploads. Threaded conversations, transcripts, 2x playback, and smart notifications make it easy to stay in touch and on topic no matter how busy you are.
In the past you've probably heard that you need a 5-part funnel, a 30-day drip sequence, and an expiring-offer-squeezy-sleezy sales page to launch a mastermind.
With Volley, now you don't.
All the marketing gimmicks in the world won't make an unsuccessful product appeal to a disinterested audience. It might confuse some people and trap them in your funnel, but it's not going to help you build a long-term profitable business.
All you need to launch a successful mastermind or paid group coaching program is the experience you already have, the structure we've outlined in this series, and your smartphone (with the Volley App, of course).
Josh Little started his career as a teacher then moved into sales training and education roles at three Fortune 500 companies before making the leap into entrepreneurship. Over the last 15 years, Josh built four successful tech companies (Maestro, Bloomfire, Qzzr, and Volley) that have improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people and been able to consult with some of the top brands in the world. He has a firm believe that a great conversation can change your life and with Volley he's making them easier to have anywhere, anytime.