In the world of coaching, the idea of marketing elicits mixed feelings. For many of us, even the thought of self-promotion and pushing our services can be uncomfortable. It conjures images of flashy salespeople and pushy tactics. This sentiment, however, is rooted in a skewed perception of marketing. It is one that fails to recognise the subtlety and effectiveness of good marketing, which, as I demonstrated recently, remains invisible to those it doesn’t intend to engage.
A Common Misconception…
I wrote an article called From Coach, to Well-Paid Professional (part 1). A coach commented on this documentation of Sarah Clein’s journey. She said that she’d hoped to learn what Sarah had done marketing-wise but didn’t feel that she had from the article. I was confused about this comment, because I put a link to Sarah’s LinkedIn feed. Her marketing is clearly visible to anyone interested in what she does.
This comment highlighted a common misconception about what constitutes good marketing. It’s not about creating a step-by-step guide of actions taken but rather a narrative that reveals the transformation brought about by effective strategies. Sarah’s story isn’t merely a checklist of marketing tactics; it’s an exploration of her evolution from a talented coach who struggled to connect with her target audience to a successful professional who genuinely resonates with mid-life public-sector women. This narrative “shows” marketing that is good, inviting people in her chosen niche to recognise herself in her writing. This narrative generates inbound enquiries for Sarah on an ongoing basis, resulting in all kinds of opportunities for her, not just 1:1 coaching clients.
Yet, the commenter’s reaction uncovers a broader challenge within the coaching profession—a lack of familiarity with nuanced, purposeful marketing. In a world where we are dedicated to facilitating change and personal growth, embracing marketing can feel at odds with these values. The aversion to “grubby/grabby, braggy/boasty marketing” is valid. It contrasts with the genuine and empathetic nature of coaching. However, this perception fails to recognise that quality marketing aligns with these values by focusing on ethics, authenticity, resonance, and connection.
The True Essence of Good Marketing…
The heart of the matter lies in understanding the true essence of good marketing. Unlike its louder, more obtrusive counterparts, effective marketing is finely targeted. It’s designed to connect with a specific audience that shares the values, aspirations, and challenges addressed by the coaching services the coach offers. This alignment ensures that a coach’s marketing efforts are meaningful and impactful to those it is intended for. In this sense, good marketing is a bridge between people looking for solutions and those who can provide them.
The idea of marketing being invisible might sound paradoxical. But this invisibility isn’t about being completely unseen – it’s about seamlessly integrating into our audience’s consciousness. Our brains possess a remarkable filtering mechanism known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). This RAS sorts through the tsunami of daily stimuli we each experience. Consequently, it tunes our attention to what matters most to us, filtering out irrelevant things based on our current interests and beliefs. This is where the brilliance of good marketing lies. It naturally slips through the RAS filter by aligning with a potential client’s interests and challenges. Thus, it becomes part of their conscious landscape.
In Other Words…
Good marketing doesn’t disrupt – it resonates. It doesn’t try to capture attention forcefully – it earns it through relevance and empathy. When marketing is done well, people don’t see it as marketing because it speaks to them. Good marketing aligns with their existing thought patterns and concerns.
In a world inundated with marketing messages, mastering the art of invisible marketing is ongoing. For coaches like Sarah Clein and others who work with The Coaching Revolution, it means recognising that effective marketing doesn’t compromise authenticity—it amplifies it. It doesn’t conflict with our professional ethics. It strengthens them. Effective marketing is about creating narratives that showcase transformation. It resonates with the people you want to work with, those who want the change you speak of. As the coaching profession continues to mature, understanding good marketing as a subtle, symbiotic connection between coach and potential client should reshape how we approach it.
The next time you find yourself shuddering at the mere thought of marketing, or learning how to market, remember that the secret of effective marketing is hidden in plain sight. It’s the art of making a meaningful impact without leaving a trace of intrusion.