I keep hearing nonsense, myths actually, about how coaches should find their clients and it really makes me mad.

The reason I get mad is because these myths are perpetuated by coaches, they get repeated to one another as ‘truth’ when they’re really not.

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

Mark Twain 

This Mark Twain quote is so true when it comes what you should actually do to market a coaching business. I feel so strongly about this today that I thought I’d do some myth-busting for you all.

1 – Get Your First Couple Of Clients And The Rest Will Come By Referral

Wouldn’t it be lovely if only it was true?

It’s not true, it’s bunkum.

Marketing a coaching business is a process, not an event. Marketing isn’t something you do once or twice and that’s it. Marketing is something you do every day to build your credibility, your reputation and your authority.

2 – Just Speak To Your Contacts

This is half a myth.

It’s the truth if you’ve come to coaching later in life after a 25+ year career in a particular industry. If that’s the case, you already have credibility, reputation and authority with those of your contacts that you worked with. These coaches are in the minority, but boy, they’re vocal! They are also held up as examples for the rest of us, when actually, they are the exception and not the rule.

If – for example – you spent 10 years of your working life raising your children as a full-time mum, your contacts are other full-time mums who, whilst they were happy to be your client when you were training and you were coaching for free, are not prepared to pay you a professional rate now you’re qualified.

3 – Deliver Lots Of Pro Bono Coaching And Your Pro Bono Clients Will Be Great Referrers

The thing about pro bono clients is that they are great referrers. The problem is that they refer other people who want free coaching. They don’t turn into people who refer those who are going to pay a professional rate for your services.

I can hear one or two of you saying ‘but I got a referral from a pro bono client who pays me!’. Of course, these things are always possible, but they are categorically not probable and there’s the rub. Marketing need to consistently bring you clients, it’s not the basis for the occasional stroke of good luck.

4 – If Your Coaching Is Good Enough, Your Clients Will Find You

This one makes me incandescent. It is the rock upon which the confidence of so many coaching businesses have been shipwrecked.

I will make this next point forever. Your coaching skills are the skills you use when you are delivering your service. Marketing skills – which are utterly different from coaching skills – are the skills you need to create the opportunities to do that delivery. Proficiency in one doesn’t not mean that the other skill is not necessary. You need to be proficient at both to have a financially viable coaching business.

5 – Coaches Should Be Charging At Least £900 Per Session – Anything Else Is Affecting The Credibility Of Coaching

This was actually said by a coach in a session I was delivering. He went on to say that he has been coaching for 17 years and that’s what he charges. He felt very strongly that underpricing is the only reason coaches don’t have clients.

I refer you back to point 2 above. This kind of coaching work is available, but only if you already have the contacts you need and you are 1) credible, 2) have a great reputation and 3) have authority with those contacts.

6 – You Don’t Need A Niche, You Can Coach Anyone

This goes back to understanding that your coaching business has two distinct sides, the delivery side – where all your coaching qualifications sit – and the other side which is where the skills you need to create the opportunities to do the delivery sit – these are mainly marketing and sales.

If you try to market to everyone, no one will hear you. Rather than expand on this here, could I refer you to an article I wrote last week, which you can find here to explain why that is.

7 – Your Niche Will Find You

This is an odd one.

When I ask coaches what their niche is, they will occasionally say to me that I need to ask them in a couple of years, because by then their niche will have ‘revealed itself’ to them. This is often followed by them saying some form of ‘I need some time to discover who I can serve the most powerfully’.

There are two schools of thought here.

One is this: if you can afford to deliver pro bono coaching for a couple of years, by ‘powerfully serving’ people left, right and centre then good luck and let me know when you have had your niche revealed to you.

If, on the other hand, the thought of a couple of years without income makes you go white, then the second school of thought applies.

That is this: your niche is a choice. You choose it.

Yes, choosing a niche is a process and yes, you need to choose a niche that contains potential clients who can and will pay a professional rate for coaching. (Please note, can pay and will pay are two different things. Just because someone has the ability to pay for coaching doesn’t mean that they will want to pay for it.)

8 – I Have An Executive Coaching Qualification Therefore I Can Coach In C-Suite

This one breaks my heart. Just because you have a qualification that means you can – in theory – coach executives, doesn’t mean that executives will want you to coach them. They don’t care about your qualifications – to coach C-Suite you need credibility to them and your coaching qualification isn’t enough.

Again – I can hear the odd coach saying ‘but I coached an executive and I don’t have any credibility to someone at that level – it’s not about credibility it’s about being a good coach’. Once again, this is something that’s possible, occasionally. Marketing makes things probable, often.

If any of this is resonating with you, then perhaps we should talk? This is my diary.