4 minute read

I'm working strictly on a hunch here, but I think there's a connection between the sentiment I tried to express here about not getting lost in the bells and whistles of technology, and this article about "hybrid businesses".

One Foot in the Virtual World, One Foot in the Real World

According to the author, Glenn Kelman, a hybrid business has "one foot in the virtual world and one foot in the real world." However, "this isn't the old “clicks-and-mortar” concept from the 1990s, which put web glitter on an old-school business, building Walmart.com for Walmart. A hybrid business is built entirely from scratch, to be innovative in its online technology and its real-world operations."

I'm trying to envision how to adapt Brookline Tai Chi to the hybrid model or see how Trainerfly fundamentally addresses this shift. Here are some thoughts along those lines:

  • Right now, BTC is definitely in the "clicks and mortar" mindset. The purpose of the website is to tell people about classes and when they take place.
  • Trainerfly could fall into the same trap by simply mirroring the live training sessions, as a "back-up copy" of what happened in real life.
  • Some of the more interesting possibilities I've been exploring with Trainerfly and online learning have allowed me to open up live teaching to people outside of my usual geographic reach.
  • The value proposition for trainers and their clients might be better in a hybrid.

Impact on Your Value Proposition

This last point deserves some illustration: think of the last time you or a friend joined a gym and got "free" personal training sessions with your new membership. If it's been a while, maybe you go through some exercises with the trainer and work out a plan. Great. But now here comes the awkward part. They offer you a $300 option or a $1,000 option. Everyone goes into high pressure mode, you squirm out, and the trainer loses another sale. Clearly, if high-pressure sales are involved, there's a dissonance between what you need and what the trainer is trying to offer you. Is there a middle-ground that works for both of you? I'm guessing that if the trainer's only option is live training, then the answer is no.

In sales terms, closing the sale came down to offering you an "A or B offer", but the trainer had the wrong "A or B". Both missed your real need.

Without a hybrid live and online training model, I don't see how the trainer in this example (I don't know which side of the interchange you're likely to be on, probably both at some point), could offer much variety in terms of their "A or B offer". The choice was only between more or fewer session, not a different type of training.

But that's from a marketing and sales point of view. What about an educational point of view?

Shifting Your Teaching Model

The shift toward a hybrid business model is critically important for independent movement educators. We are constrained by one major factor: our limited teaching time. The problem is that you develop a body of knowledge that is vastly bigger than the mechanism for sharing it, one-on-one time with a client. Your students/clients can't absorb everything you put out in a live training session, but what if the hybrid model makes your knowledge more easily digestible? What if you can share all the information you've refined a little bit at a time, in a way that decouples the actual sharing from your live time with clients? I think the hybrid model lies in that direction....

After reading Kelman's article, I'm more and more convinced that this is the way to go for movement educators. I've already tried to articulate what I'll now think of as "hybrid strategies" here.

On a related note, check out the "Enterprise of One" theory here. It's the crumbling barriers of entry to business technology that are making all of this possible.