How to brand a blazing hot coaching business

Over the last 10 years I’ve worked with dozens of coaches, helping to brand, market and support their businesses.

These clients have been business coaches, career coaches, life coaches and even alternative coaches.

It doesn’t matter what type of coach you are, in the coaching world you’ll face the same problem as any other coach will…attracting new clients.

I’ve witnessed trends and pitfalls specific to the coaching sector and figured out what works and what doesn’t when marketing a coaching business.

There’s not one generic tip to become a successful coach and unfortunately, it’s not just about being a good at your job.

You need a holistic approach to positioning, defining and promoting yourself, but it’s something every coach can do.

How to create and brand a blazing hot coaching business

Branding & Business Strategy

 Marketing & Business Development


Become a successful, super confident, celebrity coach brand

No, that doesn’t mean you have to coach celebrities.

It means that you, as a coach, need to become a bit of a celebrity yourself.

Some of my most successful coach clients have somewhat of a celebrity status and they’ve worked hard to get it.

This celebrity status comes through a mixture of good branding, promotion, expertise, contacts but most importantly confidence.

Their coaching skills may have had something to do with their celebrity success but it was secondary to how they positioned and marketed themselves as a coach.

People who hire coaches are looking for some type of success, so the coach that they pick needs to look successful.

If you’re an unknown or new coach then don’t worry.

We’ll be working on ways to make you a successful and confident coach with celebrity status in the branding section below.

But we can’t do that until you believe it yourself.  So, to begin, you need to be positive and think of yourself as a superb coach, right now.

Your confidence and personal outlook on yourself will have a big impact on how successful your coaching business will be.

That’s why you need to start building your confidence now, by acting and feeling like a coach that deserves attention.

If you find this idea materialistic or fake then don’t worry because you don’t need to be fake to gain a successful super confident celebrity status.

You just need to be a nice, honest, credible and a confident person.

You need to be the best version of yourself and follow the next sections to see the over-arching plan to build a blazing hot coaching business.


Coaching Contracts

Coaching is a service-based business with a short lifespan for each job.

You win a client, serve the client for days, weeks or months and when your work is done, so are you.

Your next job will be looking for more work again.

It’s a vicious circle of uptime and downtime for your business but it’s something you can overcome by:

  1. Taking on contracted work
  2. Creating new contracted offerings

To boost your coaching business, target organisations and win coaching jobs for an entire company as oppose to serving individuals.  This will help you to build a business and receive steady income.

Alternatively, develop long term services for individuals.

Rather than serve them for a few months, create long term contracts so you can serve them for a year.

Even better make it an ongoing contract.

Coaching is seen as a one-off service and because of that you’ll always be scavenging for work.

The only way to change that is to change your business model and the coaching sector itself.

Go after long term contracts or invent long terms offerings.

In doing so you’ll see an immediate improvement in your coaching business.


Pick your coaching niche and define your coaching brand

The coaching sector is over saturated.

Yet, the coaching sector is still growing.

You have life coaches, business coaches, career coaches and personal development coaches to name a few and each one has thousands of practitioners.

You’re likely to be another competing coach.

Rather than compete, why not create your own space in the marketplace?

A great way of doing that is by finding a niche area of coaching to focus on.

This doesn’t mean that you have to come up with a completely new target audience to coach or a new-fangled way of coaching (although both will help exceptionally).

All you have to do is define your service so you can make your mark.  Ask yourself:

  • Who will you ideally coach?
  • Why you will ideally coach them?

Let’s take Business Coaching for an example.

Business Coaching is an over-arching sector and within it we could find niches such as:

  • Business Coaching for Large companies
  • Business Coach for the Self-employed
  • Business Coaching for Start-ups
  • Business Coaching for Managers
  • Business coaching for Women only

By marketing your services towards a niche segment, you’ll find that:

  • There’s less competition
  • Your service is more unique
  • You can talk directly to the customer
  • Your marketing will be easier
  • You can position yourself as an expert in that specific field

It allows you to create the successful celebrity status as a coach for a smaller community, quicker and faster.

However, these niche segments can be overcrowded so let’s drill down deeper to create a more refined niche.

E.g.

  • Business Coaching for Self-employed women
  • Business Coaching for Industrial waste businesses

The more niche you can be, the more specific your brand will be, helping you to clearly communicate:

  • Who you will coach
  • Who you need to market to
  • Why they should hire you
  • What your brand stands for

After looking at niche segments you’ll have to pick one and you’ll likely end up with three options moving forward:

  1. Targeting a niche segment which reflects your background and experience:
    This is a great option as it gives you immediate credibility as a coach but it might mean entering a crowded market.
  2. Targeting a new niche segment:
    If you’ve discovered a new niche segment then that’s fantastic, positioning you as a new, fresh and innovative option in the market.  The danger here is validating your new niche segment.  Does this niche have a need for coaching?
  1. Targeting a new niche segment in which you have background and experience in:
    It could be that you’ve found a new niche segment that slots into your past experience perfectly.
    It encompasses the pros and cons of options 1 & 2

In any case you need to do the research and make sure there’s a need for your service within that niche.

Once you’ve done that you’ll have formed a solid basis for your brand.


Your coaching brand’s differentiator

Coaching is an ever-evolving profession.

It used to be a service that was looked at like a made-up job.

Then it went through a corporate phase, attached to a corporate etiquette where mixing personal and business coaching was a no no!

But now that mixture has become a natural requirement for customers as business and life coninues to merge.

To supportthe above, I’ve seen spiritual coaching become a core function in executive coaching.

Ten to fifteen years ago this would have been laughed at or frowned upon but today, people are more open minded, meaning that you can be more creative with your services and offerings.

Creating or implementing an alternative discipline within your coaching business is something to think about.

Your business doesn’t need to revolve around this tactic but integrating a small alternative method into your coaching mix could help to position you in the marketplace.

The same goes for the type of people you coach.

Most coaching is dedicated to business or life.  This basically means employed or unemployed people.

You can look outside of those categories to reveal many hidden people who need a coach:

  • The Youth
  • Ex-Army
  • Newly self-employed
  • Health
  • Phobias

The list is actually infinite.

Take a good look at niche audiences and hidden segments to find sectors of people who you could apply your coaching to.


Defining Your coaching audience

Selecting a niche will help tenfold in defining your audience and marketing your coaching business.

But depending on how niche your niche is, you may still have some hard work in defining who will be using your services and how you can target them.

To solve, let your niche choice reflect your overall target audience and then break down sections within it.

E.g. Let’s say you’re a career coach.  Let’s break down your target audience and niche.

General Area > Coach

General Niche Area > Career Coach
Niche Area > Career Coach for Law Firms

More Niche > Career Coach for Commercial Law Firms

Super Niche > Career Coach for Commercial Law Solicitors

Super Niche > Career Coach for Commercial Law Partner Solicitors
Super Niche > Career Coach for Female Commercial Law Solicitors
Super Niche > Career Coach for Male Commercial Law Solicitors
Super Niche > Career Coach for newly qualified Commercial Law Solicitors

Promoting yourself as a career coach for people who work in the commercial law setting is a niche segment but by drilling down further on individual audiences you can create a brand or specific marketing collateral for specific customers to reinforce your position as a successful expert coach.

To help define your audience and create your blazing hot business strategy, create data sheets of prospective clients.

DATASHEETS

Data Sheets for brand research
Datasheets for 2 individuals
Data Sheets for brand research
Datasheets for another 2 individuals

From these datasheets we can see that:

  • 3 of the four interviewees were female.
  • 3 showed keen interest in coaching.
  • 1 showed general interest
  • All four are 25-35 years of age
  • Each have a shared common interest in Travel
  • Each is eager for career development or change
  • Each earns over £26,000pa

Research, interview and speak to potential clients to find a need for your service and what commonalities those people share.

Ask genric questions to build an idea of demographics and ask questions specific to your business to see how you can solve their problems with a brand and service offering.

This will mould your brand and design communication, and your service offerrings to make your marketing much easier.

It will identify what service you can provide, at what cost, how and why.


Your coaching business, brand strategy

Finding a niche and defining an audience forms a big part of your new business strategy but we need to make it definitive of your brand.

What is your business:

  • Objective
  • Story
  • Voice
  • Purpose

What are the differentiators and benefits of your coaching brand?

Ask yourself the above questions and ask potential customers as well, using the datasheets.

What’s their objectives, stories, voice and purpose? Why should they pick your brand over another?

We want your brand to have meaning so ask yourself, what values and principles does your coaching business hold and if it were a person, how would it react to any given situation?

This might sound like a lot of mumbo jumbo but it’s not.  What it is, is:

  • Communication
  • Personification
  • Psychological Marketing

It’s the voice and action of your coaching business, defining how your customers can identify and relate to you if you were invisible.

This level of detail solidifies your brand beyond brand imagery and design communication.  It’s:

  • Your purpose for existing as a business
  • Their purpose for choosing you as a service provider
  • The benchmark from which your business operates from.

If you had no friends, family or responsibilities, your brand strategy would represent the sole purpose of your existence.

Answer all the above and define your brand before creating your brand identity.


Brand Design – Out with the old and in with the new

100% of the coaches that I’ve worked with were ex-employees going self-employed and that past employed life had a big impact on their outlook of marketing.

In terms of branding, marketing and design most were either:

  1. Reluctant to move away from an old stuffy and corporate look
  2. Or Fixated with what they already had

The problem was that they thought that they knew how they should look and market themselves based on their own past experiences.

They didn’t consider the professional opinion of an expert who works in the field today i.e. Me! Or any additional data to confirm how their brand should be perceived.

This leads to bad branding that doesn’t work for your coaching business.

To create a great coaching brand, you need to forget whatever past experiences you’ve had with branding, design and being an employee, and step into a new world where you’re the brand, catering to a new audience.

Your brand image can’t be old, corporate and stuffy! That’s yesteryear.  It needs to be:

  • Fresh
  • Modern
  • Friendly

Regardless of who your targeting, those three terms above must be present in your branding.

People who hire coaches are not attracted by corporate companies, they’re attracted by unique individuals with a personal touch.

If you don’t go for fresh, friendly and modern, you’ll find yourself rebranding in a years’ time or slowly mish mashing up your brand.


Brand Identity Design

I’ve learnt that each coach is very different.

They may be working in different sectors, targeting different people but the difference goes deeper than that.

Each coach has a unique style of coaching that’s true to their personality.

This sense of individualism is the making of your coaching brand because when someone hires you as a coach, it’s you that they’re buying into.

You’re a core asset to your business and your brand strategy, which will help you to differentiate yourself in the marketplace.

To make this effect even stronger, it’s essential that your branding reflects your style and personality too, so you can attract clients from afar.

That being said there are a few rules to successfully branding your coaching business.  Your branding:

  1. Can’t be an old corporate style
  2. Must be fresh, friendly and modern
  3. Needs to reflect your personality
  4. Needs to reflect your niche audience in one way or another
  5. Needs to make you look like a friendly and approachable person

Combining all of these factors into a brand identity is a difficult task. It’s about tweaking and tweening elements to get the right brand image for you and your customers.

To do this you can use colour, line, shape, form and typography to create a brand identity.

A brand identity is a visual theme that does one thing:

  • Creates relationships with potential customers

And it does it via marketing psychology:

  1. Colour
    Things are commonly identified by colour and become iconic because of that.
    e.g. Red London bus, Red London telephone box
  1. Shape & Form
    Shapes are instantly recognisable and interpretable as oppose to sentences. It’s the way we identify objects.
  1. Typography
    Much like colour, shape and form, typography has the ability to communicate specific emotions through its visual appearance.  If you were to remove colour and shape, you could still create a strong identity using typography
  1. Consistency
    By combining all of the above into a consistent theme and consistently using it, you’ll create a repeating message that customers will become familiar with.

Your brand identity will create a relationship with your customers without them even knowing it!

The above is the basic psychology behind design communication but the practice of design and developing a blazing hot brand image goes much deeper.

Colour is produced via formulas and rules to create colour harmonies and tones, resulting in colour themes that are naturally pleasing to the eye.  You can’t just use any random colours!

2 different colour harmonies with tones created by an analogus rule
2 different colour harmonies with tones, created by an analogue rule

 

Likewise, typography needs to be mixed and matched to create complimentary typesets that work well together, yet create contrast for eligibility whilst representing a tone of voice.

pairing fonts
Pairing fonts to create a consistent typeset to represent your business

Style, skill and ideas are brought into the fold to create an overall look and emotion.

coaching logo utilising, colour, shape and typography
coaching logo utilising, colour, shape and typography

Design communication is a creative discipline.

There is best practice and guidelines but each element above can be manipulated and used wisely to produce an identity that encompasses you, your business, your style and your customers desires into one iconic theme that’s original and unique to your brand.

To enhance the effect of design communication there’s still one more element that needs investment.

You need great photos of yourself.

Invest in professional photos and make sure that:

  1. Your genuinely happy and smiling in each photo
  2. Your wearing clothes which feature your brand colours
  3. Whether inside or out, casual or professional, the overall photoshoot is bright fresh and friendly
  4. You take lots of photos in different positions and formats (headshot, waist up, full length)
  5. Get photos that are not clipped.

Once you have your logo, colour theme, typography and brand imagery set, you’ll have a brand design that

  • Makes you look professional
  • Makes you look like an expert
  • Bonds with your customer
  • Makes you look like a successful coach
  • Makes you look like an approachable coach

Now all you need to do use it and make the sale.

To learn more about branding and psychology, check out our free download, 101 Tips to better branding and communication


Marketing & Business Development

Coaches struggle with marketing their businesses for two reasons:

  1. They’re usually tying to target too many different people with a single generic benefit
  2. They over complicate their offerings

If you’ve followed my advice so far, you’ll have found a niche segment to work within, defined your audience and produced a brand geared towards that specifc target market.

This should have, simplified what you’re offering and specifically to who.

This makes your marketing much easier, increasing the chance of success for each piece of marketing material.

Now we’ll look at ways that your coaching business can use of all of the above to market itself.


Utilising Technology within your coaching business

Coaches have never been shy of utilising new technology, and successful coaches actually jump on the bandwagon first, to add something new to their marketing mix as soon as possible.

To make your blazing hot coaching business, make sure you keep abreast of new marketing methods and utilise existing ones.

  • Use social media
  • Produce podcasts and webinars
  • Create Facebook pages and groups
  • Utilise Video and YouTube

Don’t forget old technology like tv, radio, print media and events.  These will be effective in building your credibility.

All of the above is not that useful unless you have a following of people who can see your marketing material.

But to build a following of people you need to start putting out that marketing material.

Once again, the celebrity status will come into play.

Use all of the above techniques to start promoting your business and building your credibility as a coach.

You can build traction as a professional service provider and with the right attitude and branding you’ll be seen as a celebrity expert of sorts.

The go to person for a specific problem.


Utilising Social Media for your coaching brand

Most of the successful coaches that I know are extremely active on social media.

It’s their best source for marketing.

They have a group of followers who are like minded coaches and colleagues.

Then they have a group of followers who are potential customers.

The goal is to just build a following and build that illusive celebrity status.

To learn more about how Twitter works check out our article Print Vs Social Media.

If your new to social media then here’s some tips and tools you need to know.

  1. Use hashtags
    By placing a hashtag before a word in most social media sites, makes that term searchable.  By placing that hashtag term in your social media post means that anyone searching for that term will find your post.
  2. Use your brand design to create social media profile pages
  3. Timeframes
    A tweet on twitter has an average lifespan of 18 minutes so you need to be active on social media. Post up at least 5 times a day to begin with.
  4. Be active on social media
    Your social media response will be much greater if and when you respond to others posts.  Even a thumbs-up response can do wonders
  5. Utilise existing contacts.
    Follow or befriend your existing friends and family
  6. Follow and follow back
    Follow other coaches and follow people back who genuinely interest you.
  7. Tools
    There are many tools to help you stay active and productive on social media. Check out tools and a good way to create sharable content in my article Social Media for Introverts.

Use social media as your post office to send out thoughts, tips, news and your marketing material.

It’s a must for successful coaches.


Expanding Services – Events

People see coaching as a one on one service but true success for coaching businesses’ actually come from group coaching activities.

Some coaches do seminars and some do workshops and both are great starting points to creating your own events.  Many become natural guest speakers.

After doing so the best form of event you can do to boost your business is a retreat.

Retreats are short holidays where you take a group of people, maybe potential clients or existing clients and hold both a seminar and workshop during that time for a specific cause.

All of the above events are pretty much taster sessions to create sales leads for your coaching business.

Each event provides the opportunity to market your brand to a group of people who are already interested in your services and these events allow for re-marketing, lead generation and referrals.

The cost-effective way to create your first event is via a webinar.

You’ll have no overheads for premises or additional admin and organisation that a physical event holds.

If you can get potential customers into a webinar then you can hold physical seminars, workshop and even a retreat.

Build your on and offline marketing to create a following and then then look to create an event.


Write a coaching book

I don’t think I’ve ever met a successful coach who didn’t self-publish their own book.

By writing and self-publishing, a book, your customers have another way of finding you, looking at you and buying into you with little investment before hiring you.

A book shows expertise, builds your credibility and helps to create that celebrity status.

In all honesty though, self-published books don’t tend to sell millions of copies.

Truthfully, you may be lucky if you sell 100 copies, so don’t get your hopes up as an author but remember the real reason why you created a book.

A book will be your sales lead generator and maybe provide some supplementary income but to do that the book must be professionally produced, promoted and used correctly.

  1. Production
    There are many ways to self-publish a book online, where you don’t need any help at all. You write it, design it and produce it all by yourself. This is a cost-effective way of doing it but most self-publishing authors will get professional help in producing a book via self-publishing houses. These guys are copywriters or coaches themselves and can help to make your book a professionally authored piece of literature.
  2. Promotion:
    The reason why self-published books don’t sell well is purely down to promotion. Once you write a book, you need to promote the hell out of it. This is not that easy though. You need to hire a book promoter to get you rbook into the nads of the right people (like reviewers), but you can still do your part.  Promote it to your friends, family, book reviewers and other authors yourself to get the best chance of success.
  3. Using it:
    Sales from a self-published book is great but you’re probably not a full time professional author who wants to write books constantly.  You’re a coach looking to improve your business. And that’s what a self-published book is for. Take copies of your book everywhere you go and give them away for free. Hand them out at interviews and meetings. Use them like a sales brochure to reinforce your credibility and status.

In doing so the power of your book will transfer back to you in the form of sales leads.

 


Collaborate with other coaches

For as long as I can remember, I’ve seen coaches work together.

More often than not they form an alliance with one another and fill in gaps when needed to fulfil services and prepare for growth.

These alliances tend to be short lived though.

Coaches are usually doing a million different things at once to promote their own business so they don’t tend to go all in and collaborate with others fully.

Build your coaching connections to see where you can support your colleagues or how they can support you but don’t be whimsical about it.

Try and put your full support and expertise into the job and you’ll find that you’ve created a stream of ongoing work or future sales leads by collaborating with other coaches.


A Coaching Social Enterprise

The entire nature of a coach should be one of a do-gooder.

You have a passion for helping others and you’ve created a profession out of it, hopefully to profit from it.

Profit is not everything though.

Many of the greatest coaches, mentors or helpers in history did it for free!

And that’s what you need to do as well.

Remember why you became a coach and the feeling you have in helping someone else.

Now,  give something back.  Create a social enterprise and do it for free.

Find someone or some area that you can help and build a free offering around it.

You’ll be amazed at the help you can provide but also at the rewards it can reap back to your business.

Social Enterprises make for blazing hot business brands.


Web sites for a Coaching Business

You already know that you need a website but what you may not know is how it should work?

What should go on it and how to attract clients online?

Your brand can take on a whole new level of communication when it gets online.

You’ll have your brand design laying out the foundation for the style of your website but what about functionality and sales?

Your coaching website needs to tread a fine line in how its presented and works.

Remember that you’re the face of the brand

Your website needs to put you in centre stage.

Use those great photos of yourself and create a page that glorifies you.

The idea is to confirm that successful celebrity status and inform users about yourself.

People buy into people, especially when hiring a coach.

It’s you that they’ll be working with so it’s you that they want to know about, probably before any specific services features and benefits.

However, it’s not all about you.

It’s easy to make the site all me, me, me!

Cater to your customers’ needs and give them the info that they want. Not the info you think that they want.  Give answers to specific problems within your services pages and be sure to break down each service itself as an individual page.

Make each service offering a package or brand in itself, and keep language simple and easily understandable.

This makes the desision of hiring you easier to buy and more enticing for the user.

Create a PR hub and a self-help hub.

Your PR hub will be your blog, used to promote you.

Fill it constantly with lots of content, videos and webinars.

Make it an active site where people turn to for help.

Each piece of content will become a lead generator providing help.

If you can give a potential customer then there’s a better chance that they’ll become a customer or refer you.

If you need ideas on how to create website content, check out our free e-course How to attract clients online.

Overall your site needs to resemble your brand by being, fresh, friendly and modern.

Resist from overcrowding the design and focus on your niche segment.

If possible, invest in SEO to get hits and then analyse what users are doing.

With this new data you can tweak your blazing hot coaching brand.


Support

One of the biggest downfalls of any coaching business is the lack of technical and creative support.

The clients who took on my creative and technical support for their coaching business saw expedited growth in their business.

Those that didn’t, never really started their coaching business as they didn’t have the support to put all of the above into action.

Don’t sit there trying to figure out how to create a webpage which will take you hours and don’t waste time trying to create an effective peice of marketing material.

Get professional help to do it instead.

You may end up spending out on these services but you’ll save time and actually make a return on investment by using a supportive professional.

For our coaching clients, we’ve produced:

  • Brand Identity Systems
  • Brand manuals
  • Logos
  • Stationery
  • Business cards
  • Websites
  • Sales pages
  • Integrated e-commerce
  • Print Brochure
  • Print Flyers
  • Workbooks
  • Promotional material
  • Exhibition displays
  • Social media graphics
  • Book covers
  • Book websites

When you need a piece of marketing design, have a website problem or need a new webpage, we take care of it all, ad-hoc and on time so you get what you want, when you want it.

This leaves you free to think, act and do business.

To create a blazing hot coaching business, make sure you get technical and creative support and use it.


Conclusion:

 

As an outsider looking in on the coaching sector I can say that successful coaching businesses are based on 6 things:

  • Your perseverance
  • Your attitude
  • Your positioning
  • Your branding & marketing
  • Your credibility and contacts
  • Your ability to be liked

To create a blazing hot coaching business:



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