Today we answer that age-old question, is marketing crucial for your coaching business?
Is marketing for me?
This is a very valid question and one I will try to answer honestly through this blog. In an earlier blog post on my website, I have answered the question of how one should market one’s coaching services, but I have since then realized that some of my readers are unclear about whether they need marketing at all! Hence, my efforts here will be to answer the crucial question: Is marketing crucial for you?
Before I answer, however, let me ask you: Which of the following characters mentioned below needs help with marketing, in your opinion?
Scenario 1: Elizabeth has a natural flair for coaching and pursuing this career has been the best decision for her. The business has been picking up, there is a steady stream of clients and she has achieved the perfect work-life balance. Income is steady and this lifestyle suits perfectly for now. Should she invest in marketing?
Scenario 2: Tim’s business is going steady and the income is sufficient, perhaps a little higher than what he had expected and he always have clients waiting to sign him on. Does he need marketing at all when all his clients are ready to give great referrals?
Scenario 3: Rose is contemplating coaching as a second innings as far as pursuing a career is concerned. Perhaps she is looking at using her great mentoring skills through coaching after her retirement from her steady bank job. Therefore, getting high returns from the coaching business is not going to be her primary lookout. What she wants to do at this stage is give back to society. She is living her life at a steady pace and enjoying the quiet moments. Does she need to rock the boat by aggressively marketing her coaching business?
Scenario 4: Roger is just starting his coaching business and finances are naturally tight. The competition too is fierce nowadays. Does he really need to make separate provisions for marketing or should he concentrate on investing in more real, immediate needs for his business to grow? After all, he needs to feed his family of four from this coaching business!
During a recent workshop when I had posed this question, there was no unanimous answer. Each imaginary character appealed to a segment of my audience. It was perhaps what they were living through and could identify with. And each of my audience members had rational arguments about why their chosen character did not need marketing immediately but needed to plan for it later.
If this is how you feel too, here is my honest answer to your particular life situation.
There is no “perfect” time to opt for marketing. The money will always be tight and one or the other priorities will always weigh heavy on your mind as far as running your coaching business is concerned. In order to understand why you need to incorporate marketing as part of your business plan, allow me to explain to you why a business needs marketing and how it helps in different situations.
The internet is flooded with definitions of what marketing is. But to put it simply, and irrespective of your business type, marketing is identifying, creating and successfully communicating the value of a product or service to a target audience.
Many people claim that marketing is important because it helps you sell your products or services. But I believe marketing is also beyond that.
Irrespective of what your business model is, some of the benefits of marketing are:
Increase awareness and attract the right client – Marketing is more encompassing than sales. Although the goal of both is to generate income, marketing helps you build a target base of potential customers who know who you are, what you offer and where to find you when they are ready to purchase your products or services. An increase in sales is the most visible proof that your marketing campaigns are doing their job properly.
Build and retain trust – This is an essential part of building a brand. People are more likely to buy services from a business which has a trustworthy reputation. A 2018 article states that “two-thirds of adults in the United States (US) say that trust in a brand has a great deal (31%) or a lot (37%) of influence on their decision when making a big purchase, reports Survey Monkey. Adults in the US aren’t alone in the importance they place on trust: a majority of respondents in the United Kingdom (57%) and Canada (69%) also say that trust in a brand has a great deal or a lot of impact on their decision-making.”
It is like this. People are looking for reasons to trust a brand. They will listen to your brand story and remember what you offer and feel good about purchasing from you when they know what you stand for. It takes time to build this trust and reputation for your business. And in return, you will be rewarded with customer loyalty. Once your clients are happy with your services, they will talk about your business. Word of mouth (WoM) is the most effective type of marketing, and it is free.
There are several aspects to marketing and depending on your coaching business need, you may choose which aspects you will choose to invest in. I will discuss this in some detail through my blog.
Every business is different, whether it is in the range of products and services they offer or the scale at which they operate. So your needs are unique and may not fit into someone else’s definition of brand success.
Also, your brand may sometimes be you. In the case of coaching, this is often true. This is why irrespective of your business dreams, life situation and whether or not you want to generate higher sales, marketing helps your cause: building a brand.
How do I market my business?
This is the million-dollar question that should be a part of your initial business strategy when you are starting out. Business writer Peter Drucker points out how important good marketing is to a business: “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two basic functions: marketing and innovation.”
One of the primary goals of any marketing strategy should be to identify and meet the needs of the consumer. Placing the customer at the heart of your business at all stages of the marketing process helps your business to ensure greater customer satisfaction and meets the long-term goal of repeat business.
Here are 10 easy ways to market your coaching business. You may read about these in detail in another blog: https://coachfoundation.com/blog/how-i-market-my-coaching-business/
- Know and sell your USP: Knowing what your strengths are and making customers aware of this makes for a powerful marketing message. In order to be effective, the first step is business market research: Identify the problem areas or lapses either in the market or (if you already run a business) in your own business. Understand the needs of existing customers and carefully analyze why they chose your service over competitors. Making well-informed market decisions about your services will help you develop effective strategies.
- Create an effective elevator pitch: You will hear this term often. Think of it like this: You should be marketing all the time — wherever you are. Hence you need a short and powerful pitch that you need to rehearse and keep ready. The time to grab an individual’s attention is less than 10 seconds so you really have a short span to sell them your services and make a lasting impact. Your objective? Make an impact enough to get a foot in the door by being asked to come over for a meeting.
- Leverage your community: Use the community that you live or operate into champion your cause. What is going on in your community that you can contribute to? You could look at delivering a talk at the local library or community center or volunteer your expertise to mentor relevant students. The impact on people will not only give you a much-needed happiness boost but also pay dividends in the long run when it comes to your business. Think about where your ideal customer usually spends their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of them with your marketing message. Many organizations look for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their teams during corporate events. These can be both business houses as well as universities.
- Collaborate with -minded people: Create a group of synergistic, non-competitive businesses in your area and agree to promote each other’s business. You can use fliers, reciprocal website link mentions, bundled promotions or support each other on your social media platforms. By collaborating, you expand your customer base because you will work with people of different skill sets and will be reaching new people.
- Establish yourself as an expert in your area: Write a column in your local newspaper. Network, network, network. Subscribe to Help a Reporter Out. You can respond to reporters’ queries when they are looking for story ideas and resources. This may establish you as a subject matter expert not only with small media houses but also some major media outlets.
- Ask for referrals: Do not shy away from asking for customer referrals. Most people are willing to provide a referral if asked, but very few take the initiative to do it on their own. And once your clients do it, send them a thank you note. Maintaining relations with former clients even if it is through occasional greetings always ensures great returns.
- Utilize social media wisely: In today’s world of constant communication, staying silent for long means the end, hence frequently update your social media with news about your brand.
It may be wise to seek the help of social media experts when your business is making enough profit, but it need not be difficult for beginners. You can automate your social media posts by subscribing to Hootsuite which will give you the tools of communication. However, you have to preplan the content you will be posting much ahead so that running your social media accounts seamlessly does not drain your energy.
You should also look at starting a blog with insights and market trends and the same content that you could pitch to a newspaper. Recent research by SurveyMonkey has “indicated that consumers aren’t too phased by a brand lacking social media accounts, but a missing website is a bit more disturbing”.
8. Network and then follow up: Cold calls, distributing business cards or opting for email marketing: nothing is too much when you are passionate about being financially successful at your business. Ask customers for their email address when they visit your store or website. Then, make your follow-up communication informative, helpful and professional — something your customers will look forward to receiving.
9. Magic coupons: A little freebie never hurt anyone. Look at this scenario: Coupons are a good way for retail businesses to attract new customers and ensure return visits. Research shows that people will go out of their way to use a coupon, thus expanding their customer base. Similarly, people are often tempted to come back just to use the free coupon they received.
Similarly, if someone has the opportunity to experience your service and are impressed, chances are they will want to come back for more. In today’s economy where budgets are tight, people are more comfortable purchasing something they have been able to experience first.
10. Build on your relationships: Lastly, cultivate the relationships you make along the way. Nothing works better than a well-timed message to an ex-client, during his times of professional success. It will make him/her think of you with gratitude if you have been a good coach. And the chances of being referred go up exponentially! Use social media – LinkedIn, or even Facebook/Instagram to stay connected.
This is where I usually start my workshop. At what stage do you think a brand needs the help of marketing?
My answer: at every stage, right from inception when you are drawing up your brand strategy. This article answers some simple questions about the need for marketing right from the start:
- What are the needs of your target customers?
- How do your competitors meet the needs of your target customers?
- How can you help your target customers understand why your product or service is better than, or different from, the competition?”
The best way to answer these or any questions related to your marketing plan is to keep trying to answer a simple question: What can I do for you? Asking yourself this question will help you build a customer-centric vision while drawing up the business strategy for your coaching business. It will also be your key guide when you are seeking to differentiate yourself in the market and trying to cater to a niche. Have you reached my previous blog about the importance of finding your niche? If not, you may want to read how I scaled up my business even after suffering huge losses to the tune of $100,000.
Depending on your coaching type and coaching business model, there are many types of marketing tactics you could use to reach out to your potential customers. However, I think it is best to have a mix of online and offline marketing styles. I know how important marketing is to my business, as without it I would not have reached the six-figure coaching business that I have established today.
What is a coaching business model and which should you opt for?
Some of the popular coaching types are personal (career, finance, health, life, and relationship coaches), religious, wealth, business (sports, executive). And within these wider categories exist niches such as life coach, motivational coach, etc.
So which marketing tactic should you choose? That would depend on the stage your business is at and your priorities. However, here are a few questions that can help you streamline your thoughts. You can also reach out to me through my blog.
Let us look at the benefits of marketing and then seek to align your needs with them.
As we have already established, marketing ensures that your brand gets visibility and this is where creative and intuitive marketing can get you noticed among your target audience, especially when you are starting out.
Given the tough competition in the market, getting your prospective client to try your services for the first time itself is becoming tougher by the day, isn’t it? Under such circumstances, a marketer’s job is to understand requirements, create needs, influence sales and serve people. So do an intelligent market survey of who your target audience is, what gap you are seeking to fulfill in the market and what gives you an edge over your competitors. Knowing this will be helpful for you, irrespective of which stage your business is in.
Understanding who your ideal customer is, or even drawing one out, allows you to build your entire business, message, coaching services and support around attracting and serving this narrowly defined customer group.
Second, marketing helps you build your brand. Audiences everywhere love a good story and marketing helps your brand to tell a story. A story that audiences will relate to and root for. Ultimately, this is what causes client retention. Again, this has nothing to do with whether you have recently launched your business or whether you are already running a successful coaching business. Remember the scenarios I mentioned above? This is the point that makes marketing relevant to all scenarios.
Even if you are not looking at more income or more clients, for now, there are certain things you can do for the future that does not require a financial investment. However, you will be investing something even more valuable: your time. Are there any returns? Yes, there are. I believe the returns will be profitable, both financially and personally and for a much longer time frame.
And no matter which stage you are at, keep raising the bar on yourself. Keep asking: How can I best serve my customers? And then take action if you want to change your future.
And now let me tell you about my journey as a way to demonstrate that achieving success is an ongoing process. We may not meet with success right at the start but that is why need to introspect and resurrect our business if need be.
In a previous blog post, I have highlighted why it’s important to find a niche. Working to please everyone and target a large crowd as my clientele, I lost $100,000, and this was years ago! All till I realized that I had something to offer that no one else at that time could think of: targeting a very niche crowd and selling them my services. Make sure you learn from my mistakes and proceed!