Who is your competition as a coach? Specifically – what kind of competition does coaching have?
Let me tell you – probably nowhere near as much as you think there is.
Because no one understands what we do, they don’t know if they need us. Therefore people are not shopping around for a coach.
(Yes, I know there is a tiny sub-section of the population who do know what our kind of coaching is. I know there are ‘executives’ who definitely shop around for a coach, but I’m not talking about them.)
What this means – the fact that no one is looking for a coach – is that our competitors tend to be things like self-help books, a chat with a pal, or a heart-to-heart with a significant other. This means that standing out from your competition is simpler than you might think.
Your Competition Isn’t Other Coaches
Your competition isn’t another coach – unless….
You’re trying to be everyone’s coach. The kind who hangs out at networking meetings and says you help people reach their goals or build confidence/resilience that sort of thing. There are lots of coaches who do this, but they’d all admit (eventually anyway) that this isn’t a great client acquisition method.
If you are firmly stuck in the mindset that says I can coach anyone and therefore I am going to market to everyone, good luck, and I’ll see you when you get bored.
If you’re curious about what I’m talking about, read on.
Market To Your Strengths
I’ve said it before, and I will doubtlessly be saying it for the rest of my professional life, you may be able to coach anyone, but you absolutely and categorically cannot market to everyone.
All good marketing is focused – every single last speck of it. The answer to what do I write to attract coaching clients? isn’t write this… followed by a list of magic words. The answer is who are you writing for? Different people need to hear different things to understand why they might want to pay for coaching.
The coach who tells me that they work with women aged 30-65…. well, they don’t even need to tell me what else they do. Them telling me their target audience spans such a massive age range is enough for me to think no you don’t.
The reason is that they cannot market coaching to women aged 30-65 is this; the woman who is 30 is in a completely different place in her life than the woman who is 65. That means that there is no generic marketing message about coaching that will appeal to both of those women.
But wait! I hear you shout – both could do with more confidence, resilience, and better boundaries – I can help both!!If you’re talking about the delivery side of your business (the side on which you get to coach) then yes, you could definitely coach both.
Could you attract both with your marketing? No, you couldn’t.
Confidence, Resilience and Better Boundaries
How the absence of these things shows up in the life of a 30-year-old woman and the life of a 65-year-old woman is utterly different. And the way that these women experience the lack of those things is different.
The secret to good marketing is based on your knowledge and understanding of, as well as empathy for, exactly what problems their absence is causing. A lack of confidence and resilience and poor boundaries may cause problems at home, work, socially, and health-wise. The manifestation of this is different for a 30-year-old and a 65-year-old because their lives are different. Even if we’re only talking about the seasons of life (which we’re probably not) the way that these women experience the lack of confidence etc is different, and that difference makes them utterly different audiences.
The job of the coach who wants to build a coaching business is to find your tribe. Another way of saying ‘tribe’ is target audience, or niche. You should choose a target audience that you know well. You don’t have to have been in their shoes, but you certainly need to have walked among them and be able to speak their language.
How do you speak their language?
By ‘speak their language’ I mean that you need to be able to articulate the problems they’re grappling with in (literally) the same words that they do. If you can do this, you can join in the conversation that’s going on inside their head, the one in which the problems they’re juggling – that coaching could help them to resolve – are front and centre.
In being able to do that, you position yourself as someone who knows what they’re talking about. That means that you can become an authority for your tribe. Not an authority in being 30, or 65, or being a woman, but an authority in that you can become the go-to coach for the thing that’s troubling them.
Are You Scratching Your Head?
If you feel confused by what I’ve written, or indeed you want to tell me why I’m wrong, please join my challenge in January? It’s not arduous in terms of time or energy, it’s really good fun, it will challenge your thinking and you could even win 5 x coaching supervision sessions!
The most impactful piece of feedback I ever had about the challenge is this:
This challenge has been more valuable than 99% of the gazillions of courses and masterclasses I’ve signed up for over the years – including paid ones!