Share your ideas directly with me at Lyssadehart at gmail.com
Lyssa Danehy deHart, MSW, LICSW, PCC
Dear Master Coach
Dear Master Coach:
I’m ready for a full practice. How’d you do that? I mean, you’re well-respected, you’re not smarmy, I’ve heard you talk about how really good work keeps finding you and doggone it, people like you.
I know. Wouldn’t it be nice if after all the work of getting the ICF seal of approval you just started getting email from people who were desperate to work with you?
There are ten things I started doing 20 years ago. Here are the first five (I’ll tell you about the second five next time):
1. Keep your day job while you feed your passion. Don’t follow your bliss--but keep it in sight. If you load a bunch of financial pressure onto your young coaching practice you might smush it.
2. Make sure your biggest fans and referrers (family, friends, colleagues, strategic alliances) know about your new work so they can help you. They already want to be in your corner—you just need to help them know how to be. For me this involves email and web presence that educates people about what I do. It also involves lunches, walks, complimentary sample sessions, Rotary presentations, auctions and hand-written thank you notes. Make people proud and grateful to know you. They’ll jump onto your bandwagon. Then they’ll tell their friends because you’re going to make them look good.
3. Coach a lot. All comers. Get really good at both the craft of coaching and in your coaching presence. And along the way, start to notice which clients you look forward to working with. Study their outcomes and concerns, their sector and their vocabulary. What do they want to work on/get better at? Then develop things to that will delight them. This must include stuff you find fun and interesting and compelling. Without that, the 10,000 hours rule won’t make you a better professional, just an older one. If it’s fun, you’ll be more likely to create services, resources, workshops and groups that will delight these people (this is way more fun than “finding clients”).
You can do this!
Listen to Patty’s “Dear Master Coach” quarterly 3-4 minute answers at:
The Business of Coaching
What’s Your Purple Cow?
By Beth L. Buelow, PCC, TheIntrovertEntrepreneur.com
Coaches, what is a creative or unusual way you have used or seen to create a new client? My motivation comes from Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow, and Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich, who said when you enter a market see what everyone else is doing and do something different. I am looking outside of networking, business cards, contacts from former profession and all of those lead generation offers on LinkedIn. I am looking to stretch myself even more as I grow my practice.
Founder and Life Coach at Tommy Price, Life Coach at Journey Beyond Average, posted on the ICF Washington State FB Group Page (June 2017)
It’s a challenge almost all coaches have: creating meaningful differentiation in a crowded marketplace that the uninitiated prospective client base tends to generalize. The prospect blurs us all together as “life coaches” or “business coaches” and can’t quickly determine the often-subtle differences between us. Often, we do little to help them see us as uniquely positioned to support their specific journey. When we’re a big blur, our go-to business development activities lack efficiency and effectiveness.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the more traditional business development strategies. It’s like PowerPoint: you can be creative with it, or you can be lazy with it. It gets a bad name because more do the latter rather than the former! The same is true for networking, business cards, LinkedIn, etc. If you’re committed to creativity, then there’s an opportunity to look at available tools with new eyes.
Being a Purple Cow is about marketing disruption; it’s also about being remarkable, memorable, and worth talking about. If you are those things, you’ll be able to show up in traditional settings and stand out through your nontraditional ways.
The methods aren’t the innovation; you are.
If you’re feeling a bit stuck in your business development efforts and looking for a way to expand your perspective, here are three invitations to get you started, offered in a “Purple Cow” spirit.
Claim your niche. If you are trying to be all things to all people, your message is bound to be vague and squishy. For someone trying to figure out if you’re the right fit, you’re not giving them any information to work with. A confused mind always says “no.” For anyone who’s read my past newsletter contributions, that statement is familiar. It’s worth repeating, because it’s undeniably true!
I don’t mean to offend with what I’m about to say: “women in transition,” “people in transition,” “leaders,” “people who want to go to the next level,” “people who want to make a difference in the world,” etc. are not niches. You might feel like you’re creating a target market, but each of these frequently-cited markets is too broad.
Those markets are the starting point for going vertical. Take that community of people and keep drilling down. What kind of transition? What kind of woman? What kind of difference in the world? What kind of leader? Look at others who have defined specific sectors or situations (new moms, empty nesters, newly single, lawyers/health care/nonprofits/educators, family businesses, for example) and examine their positioning. What about their message works? What would you do differently? Where is there a missed opportunity, emerging trend, or gap in the market?
In looking at the broader landscape, where do you see new conversations happening? And what themes do you notice with your current clients that can inform a niche? That’s how The Introvert Entrepreneur came to me in 2010: I noticed most of my clients were introverts. While it took six months from that noticing to the realization that they were my market, when it clicked, it was almost an instant Purple Cow. I didn’t know at the time that the introvert conversation was going to go mainstream in 2012; what was more important to me was that the market reflected my truth, my strengths, and what I’d learned from those I was already coaching.
Don’t “try” to get clients. We often do our best and show up most authentically when we’re being ourselves, with no agenda and without “trying.” My biggest client lead generator is my podcast. I think there are two reasons for this. First, while I don’t coach my guests, I do ask open-ended questions, hold a safe space, and create intimacy and trust. Listeners experience a coaching container, giving them a glimpse at what a conversation with me would be like. Second, I am generous with content with no expectation of return. I use a light touch to remind listeners they can connect with me to learn more about coaching, avoiding overt sales pitches or pushing an agenda. Without “trying,” I estimate that 75% of my clients come from my podcast audience. Consider: where can you generously demonstrate your coaching presence in a way that connects with your community?
Meet them where they’re at. You can interpret this two ways: meet them where they’re at psychologically, and where they’re at logistically. From a psychological perspective, you’ll cut through the noise if you are clear on your prospect’s pain point. What do they most want to change in their life? What’s getting in the way? How can you acknowledge that pain or fear, while also offering a way through it? Too often our messages cut straight to the aspiration and solution. We miss an opportunity to demonstrate empathy and let the prospect know, “I get you.”
Next, take that empathy to where they are hanging out. That might be networking, professional associations, conferences, and other in-person gatherings. Online, consider all platforms and narrow it down to two (or at most, three) where you can have a sustainable, consistent, engaging presence. Don’t assume you must be on any one platform (Facebook works for some, not for others), and don’t assume another will be a waste of time (if you’re a coach for creative types, for instance, a strategic Instagram presence might be a perfect connection point).
I’ve far exceeded my word count, and you might feel disappointed that I haven’t offered many concrete ideas. I decided it was more important to invite strategic thinking than to offer tactics and to-dos. The challenge is that what’s a stretch for one person might be easy for another. What you do to stretch depends on who you serve, where they hang out, and what your strengths and growth edges are. And before you start doing, you must be clear on how you’re being. An unwavering commitment to being remarkable, generous, empathetic, and accessible will go a long way to giving you the differentiation – and the clients – you desire.
© 2017, Beth L. Buelow
Save the Date!
Simply Your Social Media Strategy For Success
reprinted from coachfederation.org
With so many social networks in existence, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all of them or to even know which is the most popular at the moment—especially when you already have so much going on as a coach. So, let’s simplify it. You can create a successful social media strategy for your coaching business by remaining mindful of two key factors: consistency and branding.
Don’t take on more than you can handle. It is better to be on just one social network with consistent messaging than to be present on many social networks with sparse, inconsistent messaging.
Choose a network that fits your brand and niche. For example, if you are a Life Vision and Enhancement coach with clients who enjoy lots of contact and quick snippets of motivation, then Twitter may be a better option than Facebook or LinkedIn. If you are an Executive or Career Coach, the professional network LinkedIn may make sense. Instagram could be a great choice for you and your clients if your coaching engages visual qualities. Facebook is still the most popular platform for business-to-consumer connections and will most likely prove beneficial to you in any case.
Once you have selected the best social media network for you and your target clients, you will want to begin sharing content on a consistent basis (see “How Often Should I Share?,” at bottom, for recommended frequency). Consider using a social media management tool such as HootSuite or TweetDeck. These tools let you schedule messages in advance, so you can ensure you are sharing content on a consistent basis. You may find it helpful to block off a small chunk of time each week to find and create content. Then, you can upload a week’s worth of messages into the scheduler all at once.
You can also access any account activity via your social media management tool. You should check your social media at least once a day for any messages or comments. Be sure to reply even if it is a simple “thank you.” People who use social media to connect with businesses are looking for an interactive experience. Also, if applicable, reshare or comment on content that your followers share. These actions can help you build a relationship with your followers.
It’s important to keep the social media profiles for your coaching business in line with your brand. Use your business logo and name so that your profile is easily recognizable to active and potential clients. It’s also best to keep your business profile separate from any personal profiles you may have. (The exception is on LinkedIn, where you should only maintain one profile.) You want to keep content on your coaching practice profile and your LinkedIn profile strictly professional. When you use one profile for both professional and personal purposes, it can confuse your current and prospective contacts and detract from your credibility. If you do want to use just one profile for both professional and personal purposes, be sure to keep all content professional. Avoid sharing your views on polarizing topics, such as politics, or using the network to complain; potential business leads or current clients may be turned off by this type of “sharing.” Once you feel comfortable with your frequency and branding on one social network, consider joining another one. Keep it simple for success.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I SHARE?
Do not feel pressured to share content for the sake of reaching the following numbers. Only share content that is valuable to your followers. If you can’t meet the recommendation, just be sure to be consistent in whatever you do. Also, as a business, do not feel compelled to post on weekends.
Facebook 1-2 times per day
If you post twice a day, it is suggested to space posts apart by approximately 5 hours for optimal reach.
Twitter 4-12 times per day
It is suggested to tweet every 2 hours for optimal reach.
LinkedIn Once per day
Google+ 1-4 times per day
Instagram Once per day
About the author: Lisa Cunningham is ICF’s Social Media Specialist, as well as a freelance writer and social media consultant. She holds a master’s degree in professional writing with a focus on web content development from Chatham University and a bachelor’s degree in English writing and communication from the University of Pittsburgh.
The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.
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