How to Find Communities that are Interested in Coaching
A few years ago one of our star employees, Jesse, quit his role at Noomii to move onto other ventures. His inner entrepreneur was screaming at him to start his own thing and with great gusto, he plunged into the next chapter of his life, not really knowing what it was going to look like. All he knew was that he wanted to start a fast-moving, exciting, cool, startup.
Over the next 18 months, Jesse immersed himself into the local startup scene, got to know all the key players, and found ways to be of service to the community. He didn’t just participate in the community, he became a vital cog in the community.
He became very active by hosting and co-hosting a number of different groups, everything from entrepreneurial meetups, incubation hubs, to advanced functional programming groups. In so doing, he built a trusting relationships with many of the entrepreneurs, angel investors, government granting body representatives, and computer programmers in town.
Within two years, due to all the relationships he built, he founded an exciting startup, raised over $1M in capital, and hired some of the most promising technical staff in town.
Jesse reached his goal by employing one very important guiding principle that is relevant to coaches who are interested in finding a community of people who could benefit from coaching. The principle is to build relationships.
Too often coaches (and many other marketers) want to jump from an introduction to asking for business much too quickly. The assumption is “there are lots of people who are ready to buy my services, they just need to meet me.”
The error in this thinking is particularly relevant to coaches because so often, prospects are not specifically looking for coaching. Unlike plumbing, the connection between the problem (I have a leak) and the solution (I need a plumber) is weak when it comes to coaching. Millions of people face problems that can be solved with coaching but they don’t think of coaching as a potential solution.
Therefore, when you immerse yourself in your community of people, the catalyst that you need to move prospects down your sales funnel to becoming a paying customer is trust. How do you build trust? By building powerful relationships and knowing that over time, people will start to inquire about your services and refer other people to you. Rather than think about getting 20 paying clients, think about building relationships with 200 people (or 2000 people) who each know 100 people of their own. That way you only need to sell to a small percentage of a much larger pool of potential clients.
Okay, so now that I have hopefully convinced you to adopt a relationship building mindset, let’s address the more burning question that a lot of coaches are asking…
Where can I find a community of potential customers?
Many coaches ask us if the best channel for marketing is Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. They’re not sure if they should be paying for ads in a local newspaper or doing blogging. They wonder if it would be more effective to host a workshop or attend local networking events.
The short answer is it depends. Prospective coaching clients are everywhere and can be accessed through just about any marketing or advertising channel. We’ve talked to dozens of six-figure coaches and they’ve gotten clients from a surprising variety of sources. Therefore, figuring out the best place to find a community of your ideal prospects depends on who you work with, what their problems are, and how you best serve them. In other words, you need to figure out your niche first.
Once you can identify your niche, finding communities of your ideal clients becomes so much easier. Let’s look a couple examples to demonstrate the power of niching.
Let’s say you work with stressed out doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Where do these people hang out? Easily, I can think of options such as local hospitals, the professional associations that they belong to, conferences geared to healthcare professionals, and more.
Another example could be college students with ADHD. Where do they hang out? Colleges, obviously. But we can get more specific than that. There are probably on-campus student support service centers, groups for parents of children with ADHD, and national ADHD associations. All of these would be great places to start building relationships.
Now lets consider the specific questions coaches have had with these two example niches.
Which niche is more likely to be on Twitter? I’m pretty sure it’s the students with ADHD.
Which niche is more likely to read the local newspaper? Probably the doctors and nurses.
Which niche is more likely to be found at a speed dating networking event for local businesses and co-op students? The students, for sure.
The bottom line is that finding your community of people becomes way easier when you know who they are.
If you’re stumped about where to find communities of your ideal clients, write a comment below and I will brainstorm at least five (5) different possibilities for you. Just make sure you tell me who your ideal clients are.
What to do once you find your tribe
Once you get more clear on your niche and you’ve brainstormed places to find communities of your people, start to build relationships by being helpful and demonstrating your skills and abilities.
Here are ten different ways to do that:
Ask for informational interviews - The best first step to penetrating into a new community is to ask for informational interviews. Put on your curiosity hat and figure out who the key players are and ask for advice. Most people are open to helping.
Offer free sample sessions to key individuals, no obligations - The best way to have people understand the benefits of coaching is to experience it. Well then, offer key individuals a free sample session so they better understand what you do. Sure, it’d be great for them to hire you but the next best thing is for them to refer others to you. That might be an easier sell, especially at the beginning.
Write a guest post for a blog that targets your ideal clients - Many communities develop around popular blogs. Find your favourite blogs and offer to write content for them that is relevant to the service you offer. This benefits the blog host and their readers.
Volunteer for an association that serves your ideal clients (e.g. a local startup community, your church, etc.) - Get out there, be helpful, and get known.
Offer to deliver a free webinar for an existing community - Here are Noomii we’ve partnered with many different individuals to deliver webinars. It’s great because it creates value for our members and saves me time. Thumbs up.
Apply to give a talk at a conference - Most conferences will have a call for speakers months before the event. Get in early and show them your stuff.
Provide coaching gift certificates as door prizes to events attended by your people - Giving your coaching services away as a door prize or silent auction item is a great way to get out there without having to pay for advertising or sponsorship.
Find complementary service providers and ask them to refer business to you (and vice versa) - Get to know other service providers such as web developers, financial advisors, or physiotherapists. Together, you can offer a more comprehensive set of solutions for your ideal clients.
Develop a signature service that addresses the biggest challenges faced by your niche - Once you know who your people are, you can more readily create a program that is perfect for them.
Ask to be a guest of a relevant podcast - If you’re a strong speaker, find podcasts that appeal to your ideal clients and offer to be a guest speaker. Podcasters are regularly looking for great guests.
One more thing…
We are launching our 10-module program to teach you how to build a thriving six-figure coaching business very soon (like, in a week). It’s going to be included in the price of an annual Noomii membership, thereby making the best deal in coaching even better. Make sure you subscribe to the blog to be the first to find out (to subscribe click the checkbox at the top right of this post).