You may have read some of my content around and about in which I say don’t give your coaching away for free as a marketing strategy. Pro bono clients do not lead to referrals that want to pay you a professional rate – they lead to referrals who want pro bono coaching.
Just to be clear, this isn’t me saying don’t deliver any coaching pro bono ever. There’s a time and a place for pro bono coaching and that time is after you have your financial bases covered by paying clients.
I want to reiterate that giving away coaching programmes for free isn’t a great marketing strategy. It rarely leads to the win/win the coach had in mind when they started the programme. In their minds, this was a great idea because their clients would reach their goals and would become a fabulous testimonial.
The truth is that the coaching programmes are delivered for free often (usually?) end with the client fizzling out. The reason for this is that change is hard. What that means is that when it gets hard the ‘free’ client is lacking that extra little bit of ‘stickability’ that paying clients have. Please note – I am not saying that pro bono clients never have stickability. What I’m saying is that when things get hard, those who have paid a professional sum for their coaching have an edge that says this: I want my money’s worth from this programme. It isn’t the be all and end all, but it absolutely is an extra bit of stickability that can be cruicial when the going gets tough.
So Why Do I Say “Give It All Away”?
- If you understand who your ideal client is, you’ll understand the problem they have that you can support them to solve.
- If you understand that problem, you understand how it shows up in your client’s life.
- As you understand how it shows up in their life, you’ll know what they’ve tried to solve it.
- If you know what they’ve tried to solve it, you’ll know why it didn’t work.
- If you know why it didn’t work, you probably have a good idea of a few things that might work – tips, if you like.
- When you know all these things – you should give them away. This is the knowledge I’m talking about.
But Coaching Isn’t About Telling!
No it’s not. But I’m not talking about coaching. I’m talking about marketing – and marketing most definitely is about telling.
It’s about telling your ideal client that you understand their situation, that you know how it impacts on their life and that you know what things they’ve tried to fix the problem. You even know why those things didn’t work!
It’s also about suggesting to them a couple of great ideas that might actually make a real difference to them.
If I Give My Knowledge Away For Free They Won’t Want To Work With Me!
If this was true, then there would be no business books or self-help books etc. They wouldn’t exist because their authors wouldn’t want to give away their knowledge and experience. If this thought process was actually true, all we’d need to do is to read the book, implement the suggestions and voila! We’d have the business/life we wanted.
But we don’t.
We read the book and we don’t implement. Or we try to and realise that it’s not as easy as it seems.
Or we read the book/article/post and we think, Gosh! This person knows what they’re talking about!
Building Credibility As A Coach
I was asked in a recent masterclass, how can I build credibility as a coach? The answer is to find a target client with a problem that your coaching can help resolve – and talk to them about it. Talk to them in person, on social media, in articles or blog posts.
In short – be where they are, with your detailed knowledge of the problem they have. Talk about the problem, their attempts to solve it, why that didn’t work, what they could try instead.
Keep talking, keep demonstrating your knowledge of their particular problem. They will hear you!
You’ll find that you can establish yourself as an authority within your chosen niche surprisingly quickly. You can become the go-to person in that niche. One of our coaches became an authority within her niche in under a year. From unknown, to go-to in 12 months of persistent and consistent showing up. That’s crediblity!
If you never start, you’ll never build that credible authority. If you do start, just think where you could be 1, 2 or even 5 years from now!
Your responsibility once you’re heard is to deliver top-notch coaching to your clients. At that point, your reputation will grow as well as your credibility and from then on, it’s so much easier.