This is part five of a six-part series on how to build a successful coaching practice. You can find part 4, on how to sell to clients, right here.
Want to know the secret to being a successful coach?
People have to know that you exist :).
So…marketing. Yep, you’ve got to put yourself out there.
When I first started my coaching practice I was overwhelmed. How on EARTH were people going to find me? How should I put the word out?
Advertising? (I didn’t have any money for that, and I wasn’t sure how to do it anyway).
Knocking on doors (I like to wear pajamas at work).
Content marketing? (I actually didn’t know what that was at the time… *ahhh* I was so young :)).
It’s really hard to figure out where to begin to market your business. And you can end up exhausted and burned out if you try to do to much.
But don’t worry – you have me :).
The 80/20 rule of life also applies to your marketing – so what I mean is this: 80% of your clients are going to come from just one or two marketing activities that you do. This is GREAT news for you, because it means you can do less and still have a thriving business.
So let’s talk about how I want to change your thinking and also make your life easier at the same time. Ready?
I want you to stop thinking about marketing, and start thinking about developing your PLATFORM.
What is a platform?
A platform is the intersection of what you do well, with where your potential clients already are.
If you look at some famous and big name people in the coaching and business arena, they all have a primary platform that contributes to a lot of their success.
Marie Forleo: She’s famous for using video, and her weekly youtube videos have had millions of views. Does it make sense? Absolutely! She’s great on camera and watching her in action plays to her strengths (and what her audience needs).
Jeff Walker: He’s done a lot in terms of changing how we view sales and launching, and a huge amount of his success has come from working with partners and affiliates. He’s more of an introvert, and while he absolutely does well on video, he’s also been amazing at building partnerships with big names as his platform to help him promote his products.
John Lee Dumas: The man behind podcasters paradise relies on….podcasting as his main platform for reaching his fans and folks who are interested in learning how to podcast.
I could go on and on. In some ways the platform doesn’t matter – it just matters that you have one. You could have a TedTalk, write on Eharmony, give speeches locally, have an insanely strong referral network, almost anything can be a successful platform.
For example: I’m a career coach who loves to write. It makes sense that I’ve got well over 10K followers in LinkedIn now – it’s where the intersection of what I love to do (write) meets where my clients already are (on LinkedIn looking for career help).
On the other hand, Facebook is a TERRIBLE platform for me. I’m not a huge social media fan, and my clients aren’t really looking to have deep career discussions on a public platform that is more about life. Another career coach who really likes Facebook might have a lot more success, but since I don’t (and I don’t think it’s where my clients are), it’s not working for me.
Step 1 of developing your platform
When you first start out, you are going to have to try out a few things in order to figure out your sweet spot. I don’t know of any coach who landed on theirs in the very first try, so if you fail at one or two things you are most definitely in good company.
What I want you to think about now is what you are naturally good at and enjoy in terms of marketing.
Like to write?
Like to talk to people on a one-on-one level?
Like to give speeches and talks to live groups?
Like to present on video and webinars?
Love the idea of being on the radio or hosting a podcast?
Like spending time on social media?
Like to work behind the scenes and develop partnerships?
Like to work with analytics and numbers in terms of google or Facebook ads?
Take an inventory of what you like to do in the area of self-promotion, and choose the top two.
Step 2 of developing your platform
Okay, you’ve got what you like, now it’s time to couple that with where your clients are.
So, for example: If you landed on writing and webinars as your two most comfortable and strong areas of self-promotion, it’s time to find the right platform for those.
Let’s start with writing:
If you are a date coach, what websites can you publish on that already have your audience? Think big (like eHarmony) and small (like other date coaches or bloggers). Start guest-posting and tracking who sends people back to your website. Very quickly you’ll know where to spend your time writing (and where to pass).
And now for webinars:
It’s time to start pitching some talk ideas to different groups and organizations. If you are in the career coaching or leadership field, you might look into your alumni organization or group as a great place to begin. Or you can google for organizations that have regular virtual meetings and need speakers, and then reach out and pitch yourself.
As you start to land engagements, you can see where you get a lot of traffic back to your website, and where you only get a little and start to adjust where you speak accordingly.
The most important thing about your platform
Well, there are actually two things: the first is that you remember to enjoy it! This is a huge part of your business, and you won’t succeed unless it’s *a little bit* fun.
The second is to remember to review how your efforts are paying off. Over time, you’ll soon realize where your clients are coming from and which platforms are the most successful for you.
It takes a little bit of trial and error, but you’ll start to see a pattern, and you’ll be famous before you know it. So take a deep breath, and get on out there!
Want some concrete help to grow your business? I’ve got some free worksheets on the 4 most important areas of any coaching business, plus a sneak peek at how one works. Grab ‘em right here!
Christie Mims is a professional Career Coach, founder of the Forbes Top 100 Website The Revolutionary Club, and lover of anything covered in chocolate. Her other big love? Business building! (Because world domination is fun). She’s been paid to speak, write, and help other coaches build their businesses (and make thousands) – because more than anything else, she wants you to have work you love. In her opinion, owning a successful coaching business is a dream more people should be able make a reality.
Want her chocolate-covered help to solve your coaching business issues? Check out her magical coaching mentoring and her sparkly website right over here. CLICK. (It’s waaaay more fun than feeling stuck in your business).