First of all I want to say congratulations for taking the daring leap of faith that is entrepreneurship. I’m sure you’ll find it a journey that is incredibly rewarding as well as very frustrating. I know I do."The more challenging the goal the more obstacles you are going to cross." - Jeff Hawkins (Palm Computing) Click To Tweet
As you are aware the first step for building up an audience for your coaching business is your website. All of your online marketing efforts will either start there or, more likely, end there as people see your marketing, visit your website, see if it looks professional, and then sign up for a consultation.
Before you start work on your website you need to figure out what you’re going to say on your site. That begins with what is called the value proposition.
All marketing is selling somebody on a better version of themselves. This is true for car commercials, purse ads in magazines, and insurance commercials on the radio (saving money makes a richer you). With your marketing for your coaching services you are doing this literally.
With that in mind let’s first look at your value proposition. Here is one formula (from Steve Blank at Stanford) about coming up with your value proposition:
“We help X do Y by doing Z”
X = your audience
In this case the X is your audience. Who are they specifically? You need to have a very clear idea about this for two reasons:
- It is easier to tailor your message when you can picture your audience. (Check out this article for more information about customer development.)
- Your first instinct is to not limit your possible customer base but that is exactly what you should do. You can pick out a niche (a smaller segment of your overall audience) and own it with very targeted messaging. Once you conquer that niche (be the big fish in a small pond) you can expand. Or, said differently, if you try to sell to everyone you’ll end up selling to no one. Instead start by selling to exactly one person (a niche of your niche).
Y = the better version of themselves
Be specific about what this is. “Achieve your goals” or “find success” are very vague and mean different things to different people. “Smile more”, “sleep better”, and “secure a promotion” are bit more specific goals that somebody might have. (I haven’t done coaching but I imagine the more specific the goal your client has the more actionable the advice you give can be. And the more actionable the advice the more likely they are to follow it and achieve a positive outcome.)
Z = that action required to achieve Y
Your coaching services but what specifically does that entail? Weekly or monthly meetings? In person? Over the phone? Is it an x-step process?
“Renew the adventure in your life with one small step a day.”
A way that I came up with to reach a value proposition is using the “Five Whys?“.
This website visitor wants to hire a coach.
To gain confidence.
They feel overlooked and/or taken advantage of.
Nobody asks them for their input at work.
They are not viewed as an authority/leader.
They keep to themselves and do not attract attention.
So, in this example (and it is just an example) they think they want to gain confidence but they really want more attention, recognition, etc.
“The path to wins, recognition, and accolades starts with one step.” (signing up for a free consultation)
tldr: be specific about your service and the outcome right at the top of your page."Resilience is something you do. Get up and go forward every day with hope and optimism." - Jackie Speier (U.S. Congress) Click To Tweet
Back to selling somebody a better version of themselves I would recommend that your site use images with bright colors. Show them the person they want to become. Specifically for the first image I would use an image of an attractive female smiling (research shows both men and women are more likely to click a button on a landing page that features an attractive woman).
You can use Unsplash to find images to use on your site. I like this one if it were to be inverted (so she is facing left to right):
This one also seems appropriate for coaching and could be used further down the page:
Testimonials are great (they form what is called social proof) but they are even more effective with the picture of the person. Your testimonials should be on the front page of your site and, if you can, put smiling pictures next to each one."Expect the unexpected and whenever possible be the unexpected." - Jack Dorsey (Square/Twitter) Click To Tweet
As much as you possibly can you want to write your copy about the visitor rather than you. A good exercise it to replace “I” and “we” in your copy with “you”.
Secondly, be confident. Phrases like “I think” and “I believe” weaken your message.
Finally, tell me about what the process will entail for me as a client. What happens day one? Is there a plan tailored to my goals and time frame?
Traffic and trust:
Most entrepreneurs learn fairly quickly that putting up a website by itself does not actually result in any customers. This is particularly true for service businesses as opposed to ecommerce businesses. You likely will get some business from people you know and referrals but you will not initially get any from strangers on the Internet.
But you can change that!
You can build trust with your audience by developing a relationship with them and building your brand. Typically on the Internet that is done with social media, blog posts, email, videos, podcasts, etc. Focus on one or two of those.
Basically you need to put in a lot of hours and give everything away for free at first. The people that connect with you the best will be the ones that become your customers.
I strongly suggest email being one of your ways of building an audience, and a relationship with them, because it is a direct line to your audience that you own. You’re going to need to start with an email marketing platform. I really like Drip but there are others out there (Mailchimp probably being the most popular).
Sign up for Drip and create a five-day educational email course where you go in depth about a single sliver of what you cover in your coaching. Five lessons on meditation might be something that would be popular. Five lessons on workplace communications, going back to work after having a baby, marital nitpicking, etc. There are lots of problems that people would love to learn to handle better. Write up five emails about a topic and then on the last email mention that if they would like to explore further they can reply to the email and set up an appointment.
Put an opt-in form for this email course on your homepage.
Another way to get people to signup for your email list is by giving away an ebook. They don’t have to be long but, like with an email course, you are demonstrating what you are an authority and why somebody can trust you. (This is my guide to creating an ebook.)
I might recommend podcasting as your second avenue for building an audience as it is really hard to standout in the blogosphere these days and it is less work than video. Possible formats for a podcast:
- Q&A (either with a “caller” or where people write in with questions and you answer)
- Book reviews
- Discussions on books, academic papers, etc.
Stick to one format for your podcast (you can launch more if you want) as I hear it is good to get into a rhythm for them and it allows you to be creative inside constraints."Creativity loves constraint." - Marissa Mayer (Google) Click To Tweet
Instagram could be a powerful platform for reaching your ideal client and seems to be a place where inspiration (and self-help?) thrives.
Eventually you are going to want to track the number of people who visit your site and how they find you so install Google Analytics.
Some days I struggle to find the motivation to work on my business and do my ONE Thing. One thing I posted on my business dashboard is a question, “Why are you trying to help and how can you best help them?”
If you needed any further entrepreneurial inspiration check out my book, Passion and Perseverance, which is a collection of advice from entrepreneurs much smarter and more successful than myself."Your best day is always in front of you." - Mark Forchette (OptiMedica) Click To Tweet
Creating your ideal customer profile is an important step in developing your marketing plan. It helps you develop your strategy for finding your customers and how you are going to market to them. For planning the content that you are creating, and the medium you are going to deliver it, I am going to recommend using what you learned about your ideal customers and using it in a mental exercise.
After creating your customer profile the next step is to actually visualize your customer’s day. Here are a few questions to help you along:
- What emails are waiting for them in their inbox in the morning?
- What is their ONE Thing for the day?
- What do they need to learn in order to accomplish their ONE Thing?
- When during their day are they going to have time to learn?
- What obstacles stand in front of them?
If your target customer is a sales executive at a major organization then her day might start with getting ready for work, getting the kids breakfast, and dropping them off at school before she even starts her work day. She gets to the office and has a few fires waiting in her inbox that need her immediate attention. A couple of those emails lead to scheduling some calls and before she knows it it is almost lunch time and she has not got started on her ONE Thing let alone had time to read any blog articles or ebooks.
Based on all of that this busy sales executive does not have a lot of time to consume content. Maybe she can squeeze in a podcast in the car on the way to the office after dropping her kids off. Or, she could read a blog post while having lunch at her desk. If she does end up seeking out content it will like be very practical in nature and that will help her accomplish whatever her task at hand is. A short how-to guide, an implementation checklist, or some sort of template would all be things that will make her day better by saving her time and moving her closer to her goal for the day.
This comes back to the truth that you cannot spend too much time getting to know your customers. Not only does talking with your customers shapes your product but it provides you the opportunity to learn exactly what kind of content will provide value to them.
If you are like me you are constantly consuming content (like this very post) looking for that one piece of advice that will take your business to the next level. Very, very rarely is that what happens. That is no fault of the advice though. Why it fails to convert for you usually comes down to one of three reasons:
- You don’t have enough traffic for it to move the needle
- It does not fit with your brand and/or your audience
- You half-assed the implementation
The first two reasons stem from the fact that there is no silver bullet. No two businesses are exactly the same. What makes your businesses unique (as well as being the solution to the third issue) is:
Your passion comes through in your marketing. In your copy. In your emails. In your content.
“If you’re doing something you’re not passionate about you’re flunking a cosmic I.Q. test.” – Ron Conway
When you are passionate you go the extra mile which really shines through in quality. You always find the best images for your blog posts, your product videos look like a professional created them, and your mailing list emails come across as genuine rather than salesy.
Not only is your passion reflected in the quality of the content you produce but also in the quantity. When you are passionate about something it is all you want to talk about. Not only will you write blog posts but you’ll be giving presentations, going on podcasts, and shouting from the rooftops to anyone that will listen. A great conversation about my industry with a peer makes my day. Turning them into a customer is the cherry on top.
To reignite your passion answer the two following questions:
- Who am I trying to help?
- What is the best way to help them?
By revisiting your motivation you will have more success with the methods for taking your business to the next level. Answer those questions whenever you are creating new marketing content and you will have an easier time taking something good and making it great.
Up until Don Draper and Sterling Cooper started gracing our airwaves a lot of people did not understand the distinction between sales and marketing. Many still don’t. It is understandable as to outsiders they both have the same purpose: to get people to buy the product. Even in small companies where you might not have separate sales and marketing teams it can be confusing. As your company grows (or you find yourself working in one) you will find that the distinction exists and often for a good reason.
As an underdog entrepreneur it is important to make the distinction between sales and marketing early on so that when you do start hiring people for specific roles in those departments they are stepping into structure that already exists and build upon what has already been done instead of reinventing the wheel. So this is written with that in mind.
Sales -> Marketing
Sales gives marketing one crucial thing it does not have which is the customer’s voice. Sales talks to customers and potential customers all day every day. They hear what problems people face, what they are looking for in terms of solutions, and what it will take for them to pick your solution. In short, what sales can give marketing is information:
- Any product questions
- Most common objections
- Current solutions/providers that customers use
- Words, language, jargon that customers use
Additionally sales can, and might be already, monitoring their leads’ blogs, social media, and any news about them (you can use Google Alerts to do this for free). When they learn about problems that the leads face they relay those to marketing. If it is deemed that a decent number of customers would have those same problems then there might be a good opportunity for a piece of content.
Marketing -> Sales
The main thing that the marketing department can deliver to sales is content that helps them move prospects further down the funnel. This content can be product information pieces, materials that speak directly to customer objections, and industry/market data and projections. I think those last ones are particularly good for for what I call conversation pieces and can be turned into SlideShares that can be shared on LinkedIn and that sales can send to prospects that have fallen out of the funnel in order restart the conversation and bring them back in.
Here are some ideas for materials marketing can create:
It will take time but be sure to set up tracking so you know what each prospect has been sent and by who. This will help you cull the content that does not convert and double down on the content that does.
There will be some pieces that will be more effective if they can be customized with the prospect’s name and data. Content that has projections or comparisons to industry averages are examples of those. In those cases if possible give sales the content in a format that they can customize themselves.
The more data that is shared between sales and marketing the better each department will be at segmenting customers. That will allow more targeted communication and content which will result in more leads for marketing and more customers for sales.
Without veering too far down the lane towards Office Space and TPS reports, it might be beneficial to have a set list of deliverables for sales to bring to marketing for a monthly meeting between the two departments. Those might include some of the things that we just discussed. Additionally once a quarter have marketing sit in on a sales meeting and vice versa. That sort of cross pollination can lead the kind of initiatives that deliver the big results you crave.