It’s so hard to know what to listen to in the noise around marketing for coaches, isn’t it?
I’ve been running my Nail Your Niche challenge again for the last week and have spent time with some amazing coaches. Several of them said that they have really struggled to know what to do to build a coaching business.
- Were they supposed to ‘powerfully serve’ for a couple of years before expecting to see any income?
- Should they develop some amazing signature programme, with a pithy name (bonus points if that name is alliterative) that is irresistible to the masses?
- Is ‘6-figure business in 90 days’ realistic with the right training? (Top tip – it’s not!)
In short, what is the right thing to do?
Ordinary Marketing – Honed For Coaches
The Nail Your Niche challenge was their opportunity to learn something different – the basics of normal marketing, honed for coaches.
What we teach at The Coaching Revolution is nothing new, it’s simply ‘normal’ marketing, but it’s honed for an unusual service – coaching.
Why is coaching unusual? It’s the only professional service that exists, where no one knows what we do, or worse, they think they do and they’re wrong. Think about it – lawyers, accountants, architects, therapists, physiotherapists (I could go on) – everyone has a pretty good idea of what they do, which means that everyone knows if they need one.
Not so for coaches. No one knows what we do, so how could they possibly know if they need us? (Quick caveat here, people in corporates may be familiar with coaching, but they are in a minority.)
Where does that leave a coach? From the conversations I’ve been having this week, it leaves them floundering, thinking that their coaching might not be good enough. After all, we’re so often taught that if your coaching is good enough, your clients will find you, aren’t we? (This makes me so mad I could weep, but that’s an article for another day.)
The thing about marketing is that you don’t need the fancy stuff, you just need to learn how to market, but with a special appreciation of the fact that you’re promoting a service that most people don’t understand.
That’s what I’m a specialist in, the ‘honing it for coaches’ bit.
What Is The Normal Marketing Process?
So how do you market a service that no one understands? Well first, let’s look at how you market any service at all.
Whether we’re talking about products or services, people buy for one of two reasons – to fill a need or to solve a problem. With coaching, it’s always to solve a problem.
All good marketing is focused on a target audience and another word for target audience is niche. It’s not just coaches who need a target audience, it’s anyone who has something that they want to sell. Sales and marketing are two ends of the same spectrum. Far finer minds than mine have struggled to define exactly where one stops and the other starts so I won’t try to do that here.
There is a marketing acronym which shows the journey that a potential client needs to go through in order to buy something. That acronym is AIDA.
Awareness – when you start to market something, no one knows you exist so your first job is to build awareness of your service.
Interest – your potential clients are now aware of you and their interest in what you do is growing.
Desire – this is the point where the mild interest turns into curiosity, where they start to go and try to find out more about you.
Action – this is where your potential clients take action towards a purchase (with coaches that would be to book into our diary for example).
That’s the usual marketing process.
How Is Marketing Different For Coaches?
Coaches need to help their potential clients to understand what they do. That does not involve trying to explain the coaching process. I think all us coaches have attempted that at some point and been met with either resistance or boredom when we did.
People who buy coaching are buying an outcome. Our job as the marketer of our coaching business is to figure out what outcome it is that we’re going to help our clients to reach.
Before you rush to say ‘it depends on what outcome they want’, I’m not talking about the delivery side of your business. That’s the side where the client is sitting in front of you and you’re coaching them. On this side of your business, the answer is very much ‘it depends on what the client wants’. However, I’m talking about the other side of your business. The side that is focused on creating the opportunities to do that delivery. On this side, you need to be crystal clear about what outcome your potential clients are looking for. That’s why you need a target audience (or niche).
Your potential clients could be looking for a promotion, or for support in a new promotion, or to parent their teenagers more effectively, or to plan their retirement, or to feel confident enough to speak up at meetings, or….. I could go on.
Coaching can help people in each of the situations I’ve described here but – and this is the crux of it – each of them would need to hear something very different in order to understand that coaching can help. The marketing message for someone who is coming up for retirement for example, would be very different from the marketing message for someone who wants their first promotion.
This Is What The Coaching Revolution Does
And that’s where The Coaching Revolution comes in. We teach coaches how to find a target audience that a) they care about, b) is financially viable and c) can be reached.
Next, we help them to write a marketing message that speaks exactly to that kind of audience, about the outcome they want and how working with us can help.
Once that message exists, coaches need to become visible. Fortunately, we don’t need to be visible to the whole world with our marketing message. We only need to be visible to people in our target audience.
Finally, we coaches need to build marketing into our daily practice. Once the audience and marketing message are sorted out, consistency is the most important thing about marketing. You can have a perfect target audience and marketing message, but if you’re not visible to that audience with your message, they can’t see you. If they can’t see you, they can’t buy your coaching. No matter how much they may have wanted it. If only they knew about it. We teach coaches what consistency means at a practical level.
So that’s the top and bottom of it. Marketing for coaches is different from marketing other professional services. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible – far from it.
If you’d like to talk with me about any of this, I’m always happy to talk.