Last month I turned 50. It’s a scary number and a time when I can see why others head into their own personal crisis. You definitely get the feeling the clock is counting down rather than counting up.


Anyway, to soften the blow I decided to feed my passion for mountain biking and head off to the Redwood Forests of Rotorua. This time for a change, and as a birthday present to myself, I thought I would invest in three hours of coaching from Annika – a local guide and expert rider.


The way things panned out illustrated how all good coaching experiences work.


First up, a bit on me and my riding style. I am not the fastest nor bravest of riders. I ride for the benefit of long term health rather than short term excitement. So if there’s a jump or a steep drop ahead I’ll scoot around the edges just to be on the safe side.


However, on saying all that, with the clock counting down I thought it was time to scoot a bit less and push the excitement levels up a little notch.


I got onto Annika from her website via a Google search (surprise, surprise!) Annika is about half my age and rides a bike worth twice as much as mine. She enters the same type of events I do. The key differences being she ends up on the podium and has had a good few hours of rest before I turn up at the finish.


We met in the carpark and I told her I wanted to learn how to ride faster around corners and dare to do the occasional drop off. (Think of a drop off as a step down between 30 cm to a scary 300cm.) She listened and then followed me as we rode to the trails from the carpark.


After 20 minutes of following me she pulled us to a stop. Apparently, learning how to corner would have to wait – there were more urgent matters to work on.


First up, there was a problem with how my bike was set up. My seat was too far back and my handlebars were too high. By riding alongside she could see how my back was the wrong shape and my knees were not above the pedals properly.  So while I waited, she got out her trusty tools and in 10 minutes the adjustments were made.


We continued on. Riding felt weird, but in a nice way.


Then we came to our first hill and she chatted away while I panted and struggled to keep up. We stopped, and again she adjusted the seat to move me forward as the adjustments were still not right. However, now I was pushing down with the proper amount of force with my legs and things became a bit easier.


Nevertheless, the hill became steeper, my breathing harder and frustration was growing. When were we going to do the cornering thing? Fortunately, things flattened out and she rode behind me as the trails moved into the classic winding, well-groomed state they are in Rotorua. Annika stopped us again and explained how my legs needed to be straight and my ankles fixed with my heels down. (Apparently, I have bendy legs and even bendier ankles.)


Onwards we pedalled with Annika yelling in her lovely Swiss accent, “straight legs”, “keep those ankles fixed”, “straight legs”. After 30 minutes of this I was starting to get it right. Just.


So an hour in and no cornering. But things were OK. We were making progress and I could feel a bit more confidence growing in my riding. Another hour of the same, with lots of yelling from Annika, and progress was being made.


We finished with her explaining how to ride down drop offs so deep that they would have easily classified themselves in the “ride around at all costs” group. And no, I couldn’t have attempted them without mastering the bits we covered way back at the start of the session.


So how does this experience relate to a success experience with an online marketing coach? 


Firstly, the process your coach follows can be more important than the actual knowledge they impart. Annika had her way which started with ensuring the bike was set up properly AFTER watching me ride it on live trails. Once this was completed then she could move on. Without this, I couldn’t have attempted the things I did later on in the day.


We start out our online coaching process in a set way too. With us, it starts with a focus on Google Analytics. If we can’t get past this stage then we can’t proceed any further. It’s a methodology that has been used successfully dozens of times before.


Secondly, what you want may not be what you need. An astute coach should be confident enough to tell you this and ensure you get the most from your time with them. Customers come to us wanting to drive more traffic to their website. Frequently, we find out that’s not the problem. There can be tons of traffic but few conversions – and improving the site’s conversion rate is where we need to invest their money.


I booked Annika wanting to corner faster. I couldn’t do this without changing bike fit and my overall stance by straightening my legs and locking my ankles.


Thirdly, a good coach will see failure as signposts to more learning ahead, not reasons to hit the panic button. My first attempts at riding down some steep drop offs with Annika were quite comical. I was either too fast or too slow, or both. Luckily it wasn’t too deep so I just picked myself and my bike up from the floor and walked back to try it again.  We didn’t give up – Annika just took out her iPhone, shot a video of my next attempt, and showed me what I was doing wrong so we could fix it.


Failing to get Google’s Paid Advertising to work is not uncommon. Good clean traffic being placed on exactly the right landing page, but still no conversions coming through. With my riding I stopped falling over by leaning forward more. With AdWords it could be about re-working the landing page copy to better match the desires of the visitor.


And finally it’s a lot easier if you have fun along the way. Seeing me disappear into the blackberry bushes for the umpteenth time in my failed attempts kept a smile on both Annika’s face and mine.


Here at Ark we enjoy what we do. Sometimes it’s tricky work that requires a sizable amount of left brain thinking but we still try to make progress something to smile about.


Why not contact us today and see if our coaching style suits your online marketing needs.