Some questions for all the Coaches out there

I see more and more people, many of them coaches, offering to show me the “one, guaranteed way” to gather lots of new clients.

Maybe I’m “the best kept secret” in coaching, or maybe I need to learn how to move from “one-to-one to one-to-many”. Maybe I need to learn how to package my knowledge or funnel my products or create my irrisistible offer, or do any one of a number of other catchphras-ey things.

But whatever it is I need, lots of people are all convinced they’ve got The Thing to help me.

And The Thing is ALWAYS the same at heart – whoever’s offering it and whatever they call it.

The Thing is a pattern of marketing that begins with doing free teleseminars that always include a special offer only available to the listeners. Then you move on to selling ebooks and recordings of your teleseminars, always with another special offer included. And so on you go, building up and selling up until you’ve got people begging to be allowed to pay you thousands of dollars to fly half way around the world to come and sit at your feet.

Now don’t get me wrong. I mean no disrespect. For some people this approach has clearly worked wonders.

I’ve tried aspects of it myself but never really bought into it as a concept – and certainly not as THE ONLY WAY to get yourself known as a coach. If that means I’m doomed to a life of muddling through and never making that magic “Seven-Figure-Income” that keeps on getting bandied about then so be it.

But what strikes me is how more and more coaches seem to be turning their practice into churning out this advice, in their own words, and trying to sell it to other coaches.

There are a number of things that could be going on here:

  • this method really IS the only one that works, it’s been enormously successful for these coaches and they now want to share their good fortune with others
  • selling “the formula” seems like more of a sure-fire winner than keeping on trying to get coaching clients and it’s clearly bringing in loads of dosh for other people so why not give it a try…
  • something else I haven’t thought of

I’m interested to know what other coaches think about all this.

Do you use the standard formula, and has it worked for you?

Do you use other methods to attract clients, and how do they work for you?

And what about potential clients? If you’re looking for a coach, what attracts you to one in particular?

What kind of marketing works for you, and when do you feel like you’re being “sold to”?

Please comment – I really do want to know what peoples’ opinions are on this subject.

11 responses to “Some questions for all the Coaches out there

  1. Coaching is personal. It has to be. It’s possible to coach small groups (like 4-6 people, maybe more if you’re really good) but you have to be able to make a connection with each of your coachees and make them feel safe enough to do the really hard and vulnerable work. This necessarily limits the number of people who can be involved at once.

    I fail to see how anything which doesn’t generate that rapport can possibly be considered coaching. Ergo, what most of these packages are selling is not what I would call coaching. It might be an effective path to personal development and self-help, but it’s using a different mechanism to deliver that.

    • That’s an interesting point – a lot of what this funnelling technique encourages coaches to do is to basically start incorporating teaching into their practice – that way you can do away with the personal element entirely. I’m happy to do a little of that (as you’ll know, because the online package you’re working through has a small amount of “teaching” in it) but I feel very wary of removing that personal contact. I love running workshops but only with small numbers of people because I want to retain personal contact with my clients.

  2. Hi Cathy
    As a new coach, I have noticed lots of these services, and they do seem quite appealing, as when you start out, all advice is welcome. Marketing is a challenge, and one that I am taking tentative steps into- embracing things like Twitter (which i really enjoy), writing a blog or two (something i love) and flirting with Facebook pages (which mystifies me!).

    The thing is, I trained as a coach because I want to help people have better lives. I am certainly not in the position of being able to give advice to coaches about how to market themselves, and I suspect that when I am more experienced, it won’t be an area that I would want to. I think for me, it depends on whether you want to be a ‘coaches coach’, or focus on other types of clients.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love reading some of these sites for coaches,and there are some great ones out there, but I know the next step for me is to leave the comfort of my house/computer/coffee cup and go out and meet some people!
    Now if someone could help me out with face to face marketing, that would be great!!
    Enjoying the blog posts as always

    • Sue, I think you hit the nail on the head there with the comment about whether you want to be a “coaches’ coach” or not. It seems to me that an awful lot of people are turning into “coaches’ coaches” (if you see what I mean!) and I do wonder what will happen to the industry if that trend continues – will it disappear up its own backside?!

  3. Hi Cathy,


    Rule #1 – don’t listen to those that talk about it! Take note of those that do it!

    There are so many people out there who are more than happy to tell you how to grow your coaching business (or any business, for that matter), but who don’t actually work as coaches themselves. Which leaves me asking, “If they really are good at coaching, how come they put so much effort into trying to tell people how to build a business?”. The two things are simply not congruent.

    As you know, I’ve been in this game a fair while now, and I’ve looked at so many different ways of how other people claim to build businesses, and how successful coaches have built theirs. What I have found is that the two things are very different.

    In my humble experience, there are only a few things you need to do to grow a coaching business:

    1: make sure your coaching is of the very highest quality and that you stick rigorously to the most exacting standards – with so many ‘coaches’ out there of variable quality, the good ones get a justifiably good reputation
    2: you have to go and find clients (at least for the first few years), they won’t generally beat a path to your door unless they know you’re out there
    3: sticking to one method of marketing yourself (which is after all what you really are marketing), is a very high risk strategy
    4: rarely will what other people do be exactly right for you – by all means learn from what others are doing, but, ultimately, you have to develop a style and process that is truly your own
    5: if it doesn’t work, don’t worry. Learn from the good/bad/ugly bits and try again with something else
    6: look after your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone! 🙂

    Thankfully, these days almost all of my coaching clients come to me via word of mouth referral. But it took a huge amount of effort, over several years, to get to that point.

    Some coaching training programmes will encourage people to offer free coaching to get word out that you’re a coach. At the beginning, I didn’t do this – but I did offer as many people as I could a couple of coaching sessions for a nominal fee (e.g.: £10 each), which proved very worthwhile in (a) keeping my skills ‘up to speed’ and (b) having ‘clients’ who could give me testimonials and/or spread the word – things that are free tend to be a reflection of what they are worth!

    Needless to say, there are a squillion other things that I have picked up along the way – and the important thing is that I have collected them through experience, not listening to those who want to tell me how to do it – but I hope that helps start the ball rolling for now.

    All the best!

  4. Cathy, I am not a coach or anything, but as a possible customer, I know I would run a mile from anything that smacked of being “marketed to”, with lots of free this and that and bells and whistles. It’s all so SHOUTY. I would always seek out someone who was (a) personally recommended, someone who (b) really cares about their client and (c) charges the going rate or even a little more, for a job well done. Coaching isn’t washing powder and we need to feel safe we someone we trust – you are more like a doctor than a stall holder, so I thought Adrian’s advice was very sound and he would be the sort of person I would consult – as, like you, his sincerity and integrity come across with every word. That’s what I would pay for and recommend to others, because talking about your heart and soul and trying to fix your life is too important and too personal to be squashed into a formula or a cheap marketing trick. I don’t know what the solution to getting more clients is, though – I am personally hopeless at selling anything! Just talking as a potential client.

  5. Adrian’s advice seems spot on to me, thanks!

  6. Lots of questions to answer 🙂
    I’m always coming across groups and people who want to tell me “THE” way to get clients/ fill a class etc. Some I even believe use that method successfully and are passionate about what and how they do it.
    There is only a very small percentage that I actually explore their work deeper. The ones I say yes to are the ones who:
    1) appear to provide a solution to the problem/question I’m looking for.
    2) They are also ones who communicate that so that I see that’s it’s possible to use their solution successfully.
    3) I know that they exist and are already known to me – either via a teleseminar/talk/blog posts/free resource etc or it’s come from a trusted personal recommendation.
    I am increasingly working more with coaches. It’s something that I actually resisted for several years and resisted doing anything that could havve been seen as marketing that would attract that group – even if it was something I’d enjoy! But they found me anyway through referals etc.
    My current take is that there are 3 aspects that can play a part:
    1) I think being great at what you do certainly helps 🙂
    2) I also think that communicating what you do in a way that makes your potential customers drool at the prospect of being involved is a second skill.
    3) The third aspect is to tell lots of people – the more people who know what you do, increases the chances of more people saying yes.
    I don’t believe that there is just 1 method of attracting clients. I see too many coaches successfully using lots of different methods and strategies to “buy into” that.
    I’m not a “marketing coach” so give my advice as much weight as you think it deserves. My suggestion is that if you are a coach that would like more clients, use a method of “marketing” you actually enjoy. If it’s something you hate, makes you physically sick at the thought of doing etc, realistically, how much are you going to do? And if you aren’t doing much, how many people are even going to know what you do to be able to say “yes I want to work for you”?
    That doesn’t mean you can’t play with methods/approach/wording to see if you can get more ideal clients drooling at the prospect of working with you quicker, get better conversion rates etc. I just don’t believe you have to torture yourself to be successful.

    • Thanks Jen, I couldn’t agree more. I guess part of what’s worrying me is that I’m wondering whether we’ll end up with coaches who do nothing but tell other coaches about the “one guaranteed way” to get more clients – and that can only be bad for the industry as a whole.

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