This is a cry I hear from coaches on a regular basis. To be fair, they don’t usually use these words, but the sentiment is spot on. Coaches feel angry and misled when they realise that being a great coach isn’t enough. But it’s not. Being great at delivering coaching is only half of the job.
It’s not the best coach who will succeed in building a great coaching business, it’s the best marketer. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a statement of fact.
The first time I wrote this on LinkedIn, it lit up the internet. Indignant coaches raged against it and filled the comments, saying that it – and I – was an absolute outrage. They went back to the cliched idea that there’s a whole slew of crap coaches who happen to be brilliant marketers, who are giving coaching a bad name. They were (of course) all brilliant coaches who felt that their brilliance should be recognised and they were raging against the utter unfairness of it all.
The thing is, those crap coaches with fabulous businesses who are giving coaching a bad name don’t exist. (I wrote a separate article about it here). I speak to dozens of coaches each week. Consequently, I think I’m qualified to say that the facts of the situation are that there are lots of fabulous, qualified coaches out there who have no idea why their clients haven’t found them.
Some of these coaches feel aggrieved that their coach-training school didn’t prepare them. The fact is to have a viable coaching business, the majority of coaches will need to learn how to market. They feel let down and resentful. The advice usually given by coach-training establishments might include for you to network or deliver strategy sessions. Even less helpfully, there is an idea that providing your coaching is good enough, your clients will find you. The thing is that networking does have its place; that place is as a single strand of your marketing strategy.
Occasionally coach-training schools do touch upon the idea of an ideal client, but unless there’s as much focus on the client acquisition skills as their is on the coaching (which there never, ever is) it’s not enough.
Some Coaches Don’t Market
One of the reasons that the myth about your great coaching skills being all a coach needs is that some coaches have a massive advantage with client acquisition – monetisable credibility. They don’t realise that they have this exceptional privilege and can’t work out why other coaches don’t just do as they have and have great conversations with their contacts to land coaching contracts. These are those fabled coaches who don’t need to consider niches, or ideal clients (because without realising it, they already have a niche – their old sector/industy/profession). These are the coaches that coach-trianing schools look to and say See? Our coach training is enough – it’s all you need!
The truth is that this kind of coach has a little black book of contacts, usually as a result of a stellar corporate career, and can simply dip into it and book coffee dates with their contacts. These coaches already have credibility and authority with their contacts and so their marketing process – and make no mistake, it is definitely a marketing process – consists of conversations with budget holders who know and trust them and coaching contracts appear as if by magic. If you’d like to read more about this concept of monetiseable credibility, I wrote about it here.
So what about those of us who don’t possess that little black book? What about those of us without monetisable credibility?
There’s No Avoiding It – You Need To Market!
If you don’t have a group of people with whom you have monetisable credibility, you have to create one. You then build your credibility and authority through well-considered, comfortable and effective marketing.
Credibility within the coaching profession comes from being a highly qualified coach. Credibility outside the coaching profession comes from being able to talk about the benefits of coaching without resorting to describing the coaching process. Spoiler alert – no one cares about the coaching process other than us coaches.
Talking about the coaching process, authenticity and values in your social media posts isn’t marketing – it’s posting. You can post all you like about limiting beliefs, mental barriers and holding space, and you’re simply posting. Those kind of posts don’t attract clients.
On the other hand, having a focus and a strategy to your posts and speaking to a defined group of people, preferably a group that you really care about, about something that really matters to them – something that they’re struggling with, that coaching could help to resolve…. Now that’s marketing.
Does your qualification matter? Of course it does! However, it isn’t a marketing tool. Seriously, barely anyone outside the profession has any idea what we do, let alone what the title of our qualification means.
However, taking more and more qualifications in order to have even more value to offer to your clients is a bit pointless, when you don’t have the clients to add the extra value to…
The reason The Coaching Revolution only works with qualified coaches (or those taking a qualification) is that what we teach works and I will not be responsible for the proliferation of low quality coaching. The coaching qualification is our ‘line in the sand’, the benchmark which all our clients have to have.
A Small Thought
If reading this is making you uncomfortable, perhaps we should talk? I can teach you how to market in a way that will have you attract exactly the kind of clients you want to work with. What we teach isn’t scuzzy, or salesy. It’s not grubby, or grabby. It’s comfortable and effective. What’s even better is that once you get the hang of it, it’s really creative and enjoyable!