by Heather Markel, CPC, ACC
Originally published in v11n2 and reproduced with the permission of choice, the magazine for professional coaching
Marketing shifts before our very eyes and this year is no exception. Facebook changes its rules more frequently than you change
clothes. Former success strategies become “old news.” So, how do you successfully market your coaching business amid all this flux? I’d like to offer three strategies to bring out your inner marketing genius.
1. Know the Basics
Certain marketing fundamentals never go out of style. Here are a few you can rely on: Know your offer. What you offer your clients is the key to attracting them. Make sure your message is clear. You’ll know you’ve got it right when the people lining up to work with you are, repeatedly, the kind you love working with.
Figure out who needs you. Once you’ve got your offer, you need to know who it’s for. Often times, this is not just the small target market you initially think of. As you open to opportunity, parallel target markets present themselves. The more creatively you can share your offer, the more people you will attract.
Find those people. Once you know who your offer is for, you need to know where and how to find them. This is where you put on your thinking cap and find where your people “hang out,” what they read, what public transportation they use, what public facilities
they frequent, etc. These places become potential advertising targets and places you can try to publish an article, as examples.
Get their attention. Advertising and writing are great, but are you getting a response? If not, it’s time you figure out how to step it up a notch. Consider interviewing people in your target market and ask them what would get their attention. Respect that this phase
is a learning process and takes time to get it right. Speak their language. Make sure that when you phrase offers and benefits you put yourself in your potential client’s shoes. When it comes to coaching, people buy results. Your messaging should clearly state the
gain clients can expect from working with you. Ask for advice. This is the most overlooked, and basic, component of any marketing campaign. A lot of business owners believe they are in a vacuum and have to think of everything themselves. However, you have friends in your target market, mentors, and other business owners to take advantage of! Don’t be shy about asking the right people for advice to help you succeed. You can ask these same people to spread the word about your business. We all know that word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful kinds.
2. Keep Up With Trends
You don’t have to know all the trends, but it’s a good idea to have at least a high level understanding of them. As of the writing of this article, we can see that social media is moving from a written focus to a more visual one with the popularity of Vimeo, Pinterest and Instagram.
LinkedIn has made changes to our profile pages so that we can now add videos. This is another example of the shift to visual marketing.
Over and over, we are confronted with the expectation of a visual way for people to experience us. Facebook is about to make changes to its news feed. (By the time you’re reading this it will have happened!) Changes like this impact the time and frequency you post information, and in some cases, the type of information. (Consider the change made in January when they reduced allowable text in a graphic image to 25%.)
Another development we’ve seen is the shift from person-based marketing (you may have heard the term “avatar”) to community-based marketing. In the old model, your messaging was based around the age, gender, job, and problems of the person you wanted to attract.
Now you need to understand how to connect to a community with a shared experience and the greatness they want to accomplish.
Understanding trends is essential in determining which marketing tools to use, and more importantly, how to use them.
3. Be Original & Make It Yours
The essence of a brilliant marketing plan is to find an original way to work with the basics and trends. One way I teach people to do this is to get in touch with advertising they like. Consider Apple. What about their marketing inspires you? You might associate them with being innovative, colorful, prolific, thought-provoking, etc. Once you’ve identified these inspirational qualities, you would apply them to your own marketing. Using the Apple example, you would brainstorm ideas of how you can be innovative, colorful, prolific and thought-provoking in explaining what you do (your niche), who it’s for (your target markets) and why they need you (how your coaching helps them achieve the greatness they strive for). I believe our personality is the seed of our originality. There is no single person in this world that is exactly like you. To stand out from the crowd of other coaches that focus on the same areas as you, all you have to do is be you. This can be scary because, by nature, it means you will be different than everyone else. Being different conjures up the belief that we will be rejected. This is because we’ve been raised to believe that acceptance is based on blending in. In marketing, though, blending in to the crowd isn’t going to get you clients. It’s time to step up to the fact that the world is craving your originality.
I have come to believe that one of the greatest ways to grow in marketing, as in the rest of our lives, is by daring to fail. Instead of copying someone else, do something different. Instead of fearing negative judgment, try out that crazy idea you’ve been thinking of for years. Depending on who you are, you might add a marketing twist that is goofy, bold or funny. Don’t hold back. There is no greater learning experience than failure, so relish it in your marketing as you do in your business. You could be just one spectacular failure away from the most brilliant marketing campaign of your life!
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