How many of you get to create a business and earn a living from a sport that you have followed and loved since your childhood? Not many, we’d wager. But every now and then, it happens. And when it does, it’s worth a mention. A big one.
This month we have a very worthy winner of the Honours List: Nick Ruddock..
If you play football for Manchester united or have managed to surrender large chunks of your life to grab a medal for gymnastics at rio, then you’ll undoubtedly already have recognised the name.
For us less blessed sportspeople, Nick is a gymnastics coach for, amongst others: Amy Tinkler, Bronze medal winner at the Rio Olympics.
He also coaches UK national teams, as well as Germany, Israel and Australia, so his frequent flyer miles have been clocking up at a rate of knots over the last few years.
There’s much to love about Nick’s business, but let’s first focus on his recent Gymnastics Conferences. For such an established sport, these conferences are unique in the UK.
The most recent conference was held at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, during mid-February. It attracted over 230 people from eight different countries, and saw the room full to capacity as Nick and a small band of invited heavyweight speakers took to the stage.
Whilst this was a hugely successful event, the truth is, it was two years in the making. Hard lessons were learned and there were some lows amongst the highs, which is why Nick has come to our attention for this edition.
We must sound like a broken record at EN when it comes to events, but the truth is that they are very bloody difficult to fill.
This is Nick’s second event but, despite the difficulty, both of them were sell outs. That said, even though the events were full, the numbers behind the events are markedly different. Nick is very quick to admit that, whilst not disastrous financially, the first event made a loss. The silver lining on this cloud was the positioning it achieved.
The event endeared Nick to his list, a small but influential band of clients accounting for most of the gymnastics scene in the UK and beyond. This is one reason for Nick’s success..
You see, Nick really knows his market. He understands what they are going through, how they think and behave and therefore what to say to them in order to attract them to his events.
But, by knowing his audience, the approach to his list has had to be adapted.
The use of deadlines has been a major factor: at least six firm deadlines in the space of five months, all of which are genuine, firm deadlines which compel the list to take positive action and buy a ticket to the event.
With so many deadlines in a short space of time, it’s tempting to sell at every communication. But Nick has provided good quality content, published alongside and also as part of the contact sequence so that the relationship is maintained whilst trying to fill the event.
You may wonder why so many deadlines are required, but filling events never happens in a linear fashion. The number of tickets sold comes in waves, peaking at each deadline.
Nick recounts that there was a point before Christmas 2016 where no tickets were sold for days. With the money contracted for the venue hire and the speakers, he started to question if he had made a huge mistake. It was a tough time.
That wasn’t the only low. The advert in a magazine aimed directly at the gymnastics clubs produced zero responses. Absolutely nothing. The same for a podcast which Nick featured the event on, which completely bombed.
It’s the low times like this where some business owners can panic and give up, but nick pushed forward.
In fact, Nick pushed forward so much that the final ticket sale for the sell out event came on the 25th email of a 25 email sequence: the very last opportunity to buy a ticket. This makes Nick the rarest of business owners, most would not dare send 25 emails out in a sequence to their list. All of this just adds to the reasons he has caught our eye.
Nick has also become a dab-hand with his Facebook ads, working out which were producing the results and which ones were best left to languish on the drawing board. He also uses Adesproesso as his favoured tool for making and saving money on Facebook.
It’s all combined to make the conferences an unmitigated and profitable success.
Away from the events, Nick has folded other income streams into his conferences. Private client sessions, speaking engagements and a recurring revenue stream for coaching. All streams are focussed around gymnastics and gymnastics alone. No running off into business sectors that are akin to Nick’s experience.
Spending some time over lunch with Nick, he shares the insight that he’d be coaching even if he wasn’t getting paid for doing it. In fact it nearly caused him a lot of trouble during his college days due to the number of lectures he missed while too busy offering coaching advice down the gym.
So through the setbacks, the highs and lows, here’s a man who walks his talk… and truly lives his passion.
Even Nick’s partner Leonni is from the world of gymnastics. Due to the success of his business, she now joins him as a director where they have recently just returned from a business trip to Australia together.
With a strong partnership, a love of gymnastics, an engaged database, the templates, tools and maps to attract clients from this sector and two successful events under his belt, Nick Ruddock is a worthy addition to the Honours List this month.