As a coach and speaker who travels the country for a living, I’m often asked what’s the best way to generate new coaching clients.
Because truth be told: Being a coach isn’t easy.
There are literally thousands of people out there saying they can perform a very similar service to yours. So, the question becomes, “How can you ethically market yourself in a way that differentiates yourself from others, while generating more coaching clients?”
This is a great question, and one I’ll answer with my 3-Step Client Acquisition Plan. Think of it as a guide, based on my 15 years of experience as a coach.
STEP #1: DETERMINE YOUR SPHERES OF INFLUENCE
This is huge because spheres of influence, or target markets, are the people who are most likely to want to work with you. A lot of times I see coaches try to be everything to everyone in an effort not to limit themselves or let business fall through the cracks.
I totally get that.
However, in so doing, they sometimes muddy the waters of who their ideal client is and how they can best help.
Here’s what I recommend for my clients: Identify three target markets of people you would like to coach, along with some specific benefits that group will receive as a result of working with you.
For example, a Business Coach might have the following markets:
Busy Entrepreneurs who are struggling to market themselves and get more business,
New Entrepreneurs (< 2 yrs) who are thinking about starting a business or who have recently started one, but have no idea how to get it off the ground right, and
Experienced Entrepreneurs (10+ yrs) who have a fully functioning business, but are looking to get out of the “day to day” and want to implement more systems so the company can run without them.
You see how we have three specific groups that cover a wide range of folks but still isn’t “everything to everyone?” Could this coach work with corporations or salespeople who have similar issues?
But considering the limited time, money and energy, those specific areas is where the coach is focusing their efforts, including when someone asks, “What’s a good referral for you?”
STEP #2: MARKET YOURSELF TO THOSE GROUPS
Sounds easy enough, but as we all know, “marketing” can be quite the task.
Here’s how I make it easy for my clients. First off, I tell them that there are three main client acquisition tools that they need to consider as a coach. Of those three, only two need to be implemented initially. Here’s a quick description:
Word of Mouth Marketing: This includes networking, referrals and building your practice through referral marketing.
Public Speaking: The process of generating clients through public speaking engagements or events.
Content Marketing: This includes blogging, publishing an online newsletter and posting content via social media.
So, the question becomes, which two marketing tools do you want to focus on and really execute well?
In my experience, that’s the major problem facing most coaches: In an effort to be everything to everyone, they try to market to “everyone,” and disperse their efforts to the point where they’re not able to achieve a meaningful result in their practice.
If you’re a real “people person” and like talking, then I’d recommend Word of Mouth and Public Speaking as your two client acquisition tools.
If you’re a little more introverted and are open to growing into meeting more people, then Content Marketing and Word of Mouth would be more your speed.
The important thing is to pick a couple and move forward!
STEP #3: DEVELOP AN ASSOCIATED MARKETING PLAN
If you’re a regular reader of the ICF Blog, you’ve already seen my 2017 Marketing Plan. I’m all about putting stuff down on paper.
Not only because it helps you stay on track, but also because when things get written down, they often elicit a higher level of commitment by that person.
For me, I have a Marketing Calendar that I use for all my marketing activities. It’s a “month-at-a-glance” calendar where I have planned and listed all my online articles, podcasts and social media content that’s going out that month.
If you want, you can put your speaking engagements and networking activities here as well (I’d recommend using a different color pen), that way you can have all of your “marketing” in one spot.
Regardless, this calendar becomes your Marketing Plan and something you execute against for the rest of the month.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Generating new coaching clients isn’t easy. When done from a place of integrity and confidence, you’ll find that working with more clients doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge.
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