What is outreach marketing, and is it suitable for coaches who want to market comfortably, confidently and competently?

I was chatting to a coach today. He found his way into my diary after listening to a podcast that Clair Pedrick and I made recently about building a coaching business (you can find it here if you’d like to listen). He was telling me that he’d been researching how to find coaching clients, and that there was a lot of information available – an awful lot.

His specific questions to me were that he’s heard of ‘outreach marketing’ and he’s heard of ‘inbound enquiries’. What exactly are these? I wrote an article about them because it’s a great question.

Cold Marketing

Outreach Marketing is an example of cold marketing. It’s reaching out to people who may be interested in working with you via their DMs. It involves sending an uninvited DM into the inbox of someone based on a variety of criteria.

For example, for a coach, one criteria might be that the individual whose inbox you enter, has posted about something that coaching could help with. Alternatively, they may have commented on someone else’s post in a similar vein.

Does It Work?

I know that outreach marketing works for some businesses. For example, a colleague of mine sells accredited training classes. She uses LinkedIn DMs to make her potential attendees aware of the next available class. It does work well for her. She’s selling a tangible thing; a specific one-off class, at a low price, and something that gives the participant a new skill and a CCEU for their ICF accreditation. Those are not explanations that fit well when we’re talking about coaching programmes, are they? Coaching programmes are notoriously intangible and difficult to describe.

I also know of several coaches who bought a marketing course for coaches that teaches coaches to cold market by hanging around LinkedIn searching for the kind of posts and comments I mentioned above and then DM-ing the author. The trainers of this programme confidently state that for every 50 DMs a coach sends, 5 should be interested in a conversation that may lead to a new coaching client. That’s 45 people who are not interested – some of whom will be cross at being spammed. It seems that some of those cross people are incredibly articulate at describing what they think of uninvited messages, and that these responses aren’t nice to receive.

Marketing should never cross your core values, and being yelled at – albeit metaphorically – crosses most peoples values!

An Alternative to Cold Marketing – Warm Marketing!

Warm marketing is what some coaches have referred to as the holy grail.

A warm marketing approach involves sharing your knowledge and understanding of a particular kind of client, with a particular kind of problem (think niche, and ideal client marketing). This sharing builds a picture of you, the kind of work you do and who you help in the minds of your audience. It supports you to work through the ‘know, like and trust’ elements that every single coaching client needs to go through to buy a coaching package.

Better yet, this kind of marketing leads to people thinking ‘gosh, s/he’s talking about me! I need a chat with this person, I’ll book into their diary’ – this is also known as an inbound enquiry. One where the person doing the enquiring comes to you. No hopping into the inboxes of strangers required, because they hop – invited – into yours!

Marketing this way often appeals to coaches much more than the more forward, assertive (pushy? 🤔) cold outreach, because it’s all about building relationships. There’s a school of thought that says cold outreach is about building relationships too, but honestly, I don’t subscribe to it.

Guess which marketing method The Coaching Revolution teaches? Make no mistake, learning a new skill – marketing – can have it’s uncomfortable moments, in the way that anything new does. However, an uncomfortable moment when learning a new skill isn’t the same as core value crossed. Think about when you learned to drive – that was pretty uncomfortable at times, wasn’t it?

If you’re reading this and it resonates, perhaps we should chat? It costs nothing, and it’s always pleasant to chat to another coach. This is my diary.