It’s a really odd thing. There is a (massively misplaced) sense of superiority amongst the international coaching community. It around the process of finding coaching clients and how offensive marketing can be!
Those who hold higher-level qualifications, particularly those who hold the highest level qualifications, have said to coaches that I’ve spoken to ‘if your coaching is good enough, your clients will come’. That is patently untrue.
Little Black Book
Some people who become coaches have a stellar corporate career behind them and therefore a ‘little black book’ of contacts with whom they already have a relationship. People who already know them, respect them and would seek them out for advice. They consider the idea of marketing themselves to be offensive.
Picking up your little black book of corporate contacts and taking them out for coffee to talk about your coaching business is a brilliant way to start and build a coaching business. If you have that little black book.
The coaches who use this method of building a coaching business are a) very fortunate to have that little black book and b) rarely consider that actually, it was relatively easy for them to build a coaching business. They find the idea of marketing offensive.
Some of our most highly qualified coaches globally have been working within the coach training industry. If you take a coaching qualification, there is a requirement to have some coaching included in that training. For example, the ICF requires that you have 10 hours of mentor coaching for their ACC accreditation.
If the organisation you work with has a new cohort of (let’s say) 50 coaches 3 times a year, then that’s 1500 hours of coaching that needs to be delivered over the year. It is usually delivered by the coach trainers. It’s easy to see how you could, for example, amass the 500 coaching hours required for PCC if you worked for a training provider.
It’s even possible to figure out how relatively easy it might be to get to the 2500 hours required for MCC.
All without ever having gone out and found a single client yourself.
Think about this for a moment. Those trainers who tell you that your clients will come to you if your coaching is good enough have probably never had to find a client themselves – other than the training provider. These people are not equipped to offer marketing advice.
The Rest Of Us!
Those of us who don’t have the phone numbers of HR directors or C-Suite professionals need a different way to find clients.
Training providers will often talk about ‘networking’ without offering any kind of strategy. They won’t offer to help you figure out which kind of networking and where. They also talk about delivering fabulous strategy (chemistry/discovery) sessions as a way of finding clients. Yes, you can always pick up the odd client like this, but not enough for a coaching business that is emotionally AND financially rewarding.
For us mere mortals, we need to learn how to market our professional services business in a way that crosses no personal values. That doesn’t turn us into someone that we’re not and that is comfortable and effective.
Superior Attitudes About Marketing Being Offensive
I found myself delivering a training course online recently to a group of qualified coaches – 40+ of them. We were talking about how to identify your own ideal client for your coaching business.
Someone who fits into the ‘little black book’ category started to tell me that coaches shouldn’t undersell themselves. That he charges £900 per session. That it’s vital that coaches understand their worth and charge accordingly. He said that he had been working as a coach for years and that the problem as he sees it is that coaches don’t charge enough.
Let’s just think about this for a second.
It is perfectly possible to build a website and/or LinkedIn profile that says you’re a corporate coach who charges £900 per session. However, without that little black book of connections to find clients, you will forever remain a coach who charges £900 per session but who has never had a client, let alone one who pays that rate!
Lose the Attitude
This superior attitude where marketing is offensive helps no one. It certainly isn’t helping the coaching community who lose credible, talented coaches every day. These are the ones who give up. Thinking that it was a great idea to have a coaching business, but that they couldn’t make it work.
It is my mission to help coaches create coaching businesses that work. That has a steady stream of inbound enquiries from people who understand what they do. People who want to work with them.
To be able to have access to coaches in sufficient numbers to make the massive difference that I believe the world needs, I need these attitudes from the international coaching community to change. If you have any ideas on who to tackle this, let’s talk? Frankly, I need all the help I can get. I want to make the idea of marketing less offensive.