Branding Your Coaching Business: 7 Ways to Build Trust and Attract Clients
This is a guest post written by Marsha Kelly. Want to contribute? Check out the 2018 publishing calendar.
Coach, mentor, sensei, master… from Mr. Miyagi to Yoda, the role of coach is a celebrated position, and for good reason. Those of us who strive to be at the pinnacle of a profession understand that no one gets there alone. We all stand on the shoulders of giants to reach those hallowed heights.
So, what happens when the student becomes the teacher? You’ve built a coaching business for yourself because you are confident that your knowledge and abilities have intrinsic value to help other people grow and develop, so much so that others would be willing to pay for your services – i.e. your coaching services.
This is a tricky issue.
You haven’t built a cabinet or refurbished an old car that you are selling to the highest bidder. Your commodity is intangible and has no clear metric for value. Essentially you are selling yourself.
The solution is as complex as the problem, but there are a few steadfast standards that will guide you. The following seven steps will help you correctly brand your coaching business, build trust, and attract clients.
1. Get coached (again)
Assumedly you had teachers who helped you achieve success in your coaching business. Now, allow yourself to be taught again to learn how to best teach others. This time pay less attention to the content itself and more attention to how the teacher is passing on content.
For example, if your ideal coaching clients are real estate brokers seek out and attend a seminar for beginning realtors. There’s no need to identify yourself as an expert. Soak up the content as if you were new to the profession, keeping the experience as authentic as possible. You may even learn a thing or two!
2. Narrow your niche
Resist the urge to try and be everything to everyone. Pick the aspect of your coaching practice at which you excel and focus your attention there.
A good tip for narrowing your coaching niche is to succinctly define who you want to coach and how you want to help them. For example, you might want to ‘refine efficiency for marketing professionals.
Since you are selling an abstract commodity, it is beneficial to market your services as concretely as possible. This will also help you stand out from competitors.
3. Be yourself (tell an authentic story)
Coaching is all about authenticity. People won’t pay someone to parrot testimonials or read out of a textbook. When advertising your brand (and meeting with prospective clients), pitch a personal story about your journey from amateur to seasoned professional.
This personal testimonial accomplishes several micro-goals that build your client relationship:
Credibility - Establish why you are a trustworthy expert in your field.
Connection - Tell a story that your client can relate to. Pick an anecdote from early in your career that highlights a lesson learned. Demonstrating vulnerability will allow the client to envision the bridge that connects their position to yours.
Rapport - A personal (and humbling) story will help the client like you.
4. Develop a structured process
Like narrowing your niche, developing a structured process helps to define your ‘deliverables’: what the client is getting for the money.
To be blunt, coaching is a difficult thing to sell. Ultimately, you are marketing the idea that you can drastically and positively change your client’s business, health or life. However, what you are delivering is much more modest: a set number of sessions for a set price.
Break the package down as much as possible and assign each segment a portion of the final cost. The more tangible you can make the process, the more comfortable the client will be purchasing your services.
5. Have a consistent and polished brand identity
Personal internet tools (websites, apps, blogs, etc.) are responsible for at least part of the current boom in the coaching industry. Take advantage of that fact and don’t let competitors outshine you online.
Brand aspects like logos, colors and taglines are as important in this industry as in any other. Consider using crowdsourcing for your logo design. To get the most logo ideas for the best price, read my review of 99designs logo contests.
Take time to polish your online presence and keep your identity in great shape. Update your web content as often as possible. Use consistent font, tone of voice, keywords, and other indicators that play into potential clients’ conscious and subconscious perception of your brand.
6. Offer a complimentary coaching session
You may be familiar with the old adage, “if you’re good at something, never do it for free”. In this case, I’d like to offer a modification to this wisdom: If you’re good at something, do it for free… once.
Offering a free 30-minute coaching session is time very well spent. It demonstrates your willingness to work with the client’s needs and allows them to take a peek behind the curtain.
7. Make your branding about your client
In this industry, your clients don’t buy your finished products. Your clients ARE your finished products. Instead of making your marketing about yourself, focus on the real stories of your previous and current clients.
Gather testimonials and lead with some convincing language straight from the people who you’ve helped. In coaching, more than any other business, word of mouth is the superior form of advertising. Give them a megaphone to sing your praises. Keep your online content updated with fresh material.
If you sculpt the branding of your coaching business around these seven principles, you should be able to quickly, accurately and convincingly answer these three questions:
Who can I help? Who is your target market? What groups would most benefit from your coaching and what groups should you refer to a colleague? Remember, you can’t be everything to everyone. Keep your scope tightly concentrated around your skill sets.
What value do I provide?
After participating in your coaching sessions, what should a client be able to do that he couldn’t do before? How has his life, health, or business improved? The more identifiable and measurable you can make these indicators, the more successful you will be in selling your services.
How is my coaching different than my competitors?
Why should a potential client pay you for your wisdom instead of another coach advertising in the same industry? In an increasingly interconnected world, there is a great deal of chatter. Put yourself at the top of the list with a small number of well-defined and exemplary deliverables.
Remember, coaching is about selling yourself. You are the prototype model of the end-product you are advertising. Don’t let your focus on mentoring distract you from bettering yourself in your own area of excellence. The more accomplished you become, the more effective and marketable you will be as a coach.
About Marsha Kelly
Marsha Kelly sold her first business for more than a million dollars. She has shared hard-won experiences as a successful serial entrepreneur on her Best4Businesses blog, where she also regularly posts business tips, ideas, and suggestions as well as product reviews for business readers. As a serial entrepreneur who has done “time” in corporate America, Marsha has learned what products and services really work well in business today. You can learn from her experiences to build your business. Follow her on Twitter.
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