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The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Coaching Niche

Posted by Julia Stewart

Find Your Niche

One of the biggest hurdles most coaches cross on the way to filling their businesses with  clients, is finding their coaching niche.

Other terms for this include finding your target market, finding your ideal client, or identifying your avatar, persona, or favorite client. These are the people you do your best work with, who you enjoy coaching, who succeed at their goals, and who send their friends to you. Marketing gets easier once you find your niche, but not necessarily for the reason you think.

Some coaches turn "finding my niche" into a massive problem that stops them from succeeding.

That's the real problem. It doesn't have to be that way.

Here's a story:

One of my students asked me to coach him in class. His goal was to find his niche. His problem was that he couldn't get his marketing focused without a niche so he was coaching all kinds of people. I asked a few questions and found out that my student already had more clients than he ever thought he'd have.

So I shared something I learned from Thomas Leonard, the Founder of the Coaching Profession, while I was studying with him. Thomas said you don't need a niche, especially when you're starting out. He said plenty of generic life coaches were doing fine without finding their niche.

I suggested to my student that since he already had plenty of clients, maybe he didn't need a niche. He was immensely relieved and immediately reoriented around serving the clients he already had instead of obsessing over getting a niche.

Even if you have plenty of clients, identifying a marketing niche can be useful, so here are the two main paths to finding one:

1. Pay someone to help you identify your niche. I know a coach who hired a branding expert to help her identify her niche. Together, they found a very specific group of people who had problems the coach was familiar with. In fact, the coach belonged to that group and struggled with the same problems. She found a snappy and memorable domain name, set up a website, and soon had a full coaching practice. But she hated coaching her clients. So she fired them all! She said she got tired of listening to them complain because they didn't want to change their lives. She and her coach made two mistakes: They didn't identify a niche that was ready to change and they didn't realize that she wasn't ready to work with those clients, without judging them, because she was still struggling with the same issues, herself. Not everyone who pays a coach or marketing expert to help them find a niche will find their niche and not everyone who finds one will fire all their clients, but it's not uncommon.

2. Get paid while you find your niche. I know another coach who started coaching without a niche. One of his clients was so successful with his help that they referred several colleagues to him to coach on the same topics. The new clients, were also successful with his help and referred more. He had found his niche! He soon had so many clients that his business grossed over one million dollars per year. Not everyone who finds a niche this way will have a million-dollar coaching business, but it can happen.

You can start coaching without a niche.

If you just start coaching, your niche will find you. Over time, notice who your favorite clients are. Make note about what it is you like about them. In particular, notice the clients who refer more clients to you. Think about who they are, how they are, and how you communicate with them. Design a website just for them. Ask them for testimonials. Ask them to review your site and tell you what they like and don't like. Edit until they love it. That's how to market to your niche. Easy when you know how.

Our Coach 100 Business Success training program is included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program and the Certified Neuroscience Coach Program, at no extra charge. It'll help you identify your niche, fill up your coaching practice, get referrals and testimonials, become a better coach, get ICF certification if you want it, and more.

 

Download the free eBook to learn about Coach 100:

Get Paid to Find Your Niche. Join Coach 100.

 

Topics: coaching niche, certified neuroscience coach, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Coach 100, ICF, coaching business, coaching success

How to Become a Successful Life or Business Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart


How to Become a Life CoachWondering how you can become a successful life or business coach?

There are three main approaches to becoming a successful business or life coach. The first, I call the Entrepreneurial Coach. The second, is the Professional Coach. The last is the Sweet Spot. Let me explain:

1. The Entrepreneurial Coach* usually has a strong business, marketing and sales background and either a juicy niche or a smoking hot specialty. This coach knows how to attract the right clients and how to encourage them to buy. However, if s/he over relies on her business smarts, s/he can get caught on the hamster wheel of constantly having to market and sell, in order to keep his/her coaching roster full.

Why? Unless clients experience fantastic results quickly, or at least maintain their motivation long enough to experience extraordinary results, they tend to drop out of coaching within a few months. That means the entrepreneur coach has to constantly close new sales just to maintain a good income. For most coaches, this is exhausting and unsatisfying.

Worse yet, if clients quit before they're delighted, the entrepreneur won't maximize their number of all-important testimonials, case studies and viral buzz - the stuff that makes for a friction-free marketing and sales engine.

2. The Professional Coach*, on the other hand, has great coaching skills, either from decades of coaching or from a few years of coach-specific training. S/he knows how to elicit amazing results for his/her clients and as a result, clients stay month after month, or buy again and again. However, s/he may know little about effective marketing and sales strategies and as a result, too few clients ever sign up in the first place. That means too few potential clients ever find out about the professional coach, so s/he's constantly searching for that rare client who's willing to pay his/her fees.

Sadly, this coach may have spectacular results to point to, but often fails to share them with potential clients, who increasingly, are looking for 'proof' that their coach really knows what s/he's doing.

* In both cases above, the coach is forced into a situation where s/he needs his/her clients. The entrepreneur always needs new ones. The professional needs to hang onto the ones s/he has. Otherwise, both risk losing their incomes. When you need your clients, your focus is on yourself, instead of on helping them. To reach the coaching sweet spot, your needs must be met, so you can focus all your energy on helping your clients get those awesome results. Otherwise, something's got to give. It's way harder to maintain a sustainable coaching business when you have to focus on your own needs instead of clients' needs.

However, there are some entrepreneur coaches who really are good at coaching and most of their clients are quite happy and loyal. And there are professional coaches who get it when it comes to marketing and sales, so they're not desperate to get and keep clients. These exceptional coaches are moving into the Sweet Spot.

3. The Sweet Spot: This is the coach who has the skill to produce awesome results quickly and to keep producing results for months or even years. That keeps current clients wanting more and paying for it happily. At the same time, this coach has his/her marketing message down cold, has expertise that new people will buy and knows how to communicate and form client relationships (a.k.a. marketing and sales). Of course, those ever important testimonials, case studies and viral buzz come easily to this coach.

When you reach the sweet spot, you aren't desperate to make new sales and you don't cling to your old clients, trying to squeeze out a few more more dollars. You naturally meet your own needs and you can focus all your energy on meeting your clients' needs and helping them get what they want. Happy clients attract more happy clients.

I call this coach The Master. Everything we do at School of Coaching Mastery is designed to move our coaching students into the sweet spot by helping them become masters, faster.

Marketing programs help entrepreneurs communicate and sell to clients, but are useless when it comes to the critical skill of getting coaching results and keeping clients.

And most coaching schools will only get you started on becoming a professional coach - who may never get clients. At SCM, we give away that part of our program for free and focus our real attention on helping our paid members become masters and enjoy that sweet spot, sooner.

Turn your five-figure business into a six-figure coaching business and turn your six-figure business into a seven-figure coaching business: Become a Master Coach.

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Topics: professional coach, become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, coaching clients, Become a Master Coach, master coach, coaching skills, coaching niche

The Science of Attracting Coaching Clients

Posted by Julia Stewart

Double Dutch by PitsLamp resized 600

 

As a professional service provider, there are two things you must learn in order to succeed with coaching.

1. How to coach professionally: This includes polishing your coaching skills until you provide value worth approximately 10 times what your clients pay.

2. How to attract coaching clients: This includes filling your client roster for the first time (usually the toughest) and then keeping it full or even maintaining a waiting list of eager clients.

 

Obviously, #1, providing 10 times the value, will help you with #2. But did you know that #2, attracting lots of coaching clients, is the key to #1?

 

The data tell us that these two skills, delivering coaching value and attracting clients, comprise a constantly repeating feedback loop. One builds on the other and visa versa. That’s why some coaches are extraordinarily successful, while others seem to struggle forever.

 

You’ve got to step into that loop and stay there. Kind of like Double Dutch

 

If you learned Double Dutch as a kid, you know that just getting into the game is a challenge, especially for the newbie. It takes courage, lots of energy and great timing. And staying in the game requires 10 times as much of all three.

 

But that’s what makes it so darn fun.

 

You might not think that science and data are fun or even appropriate for coaching. After all, coaching done well is an art form. But when the data teach you what to do more of and what to do less in order to succeed quickly, you get more of what you want faster. And your clients get more value.

 

You’re in the loop. That’s more fun.

 

Unfortunately, most coaches, especially those who are new, do not have access to data that helps them get what they want. You need a large sampling from your own business to get actionable data that can guide you. This requires that you start experimenting early and often.

 

Think of experimentation as Play + Feedback = Rapid Growth.

 

I’ve recently collected data on 22 coaches who have participated in Coach 100 in the past year. Coach 100 is a long-term experiment that teaches coaches how to get clients by offering complimentary coaching sessions. This gives them a large enough sample to get actionable data.

Some Coach 100 coaches in my sample were brand-spanking new when they started the program. Others were long-time veterans. Collectively, they offered 464 complimentary sessions, or an average of 21 per coach. The most sessions offered was 106, by one coach, and the least, just 1 session each, by four coaches.

Between them, they got:

  • 219 testimonials (gold, especially for the new coach who needs evidence to prove their ability)
  • 75 referrals for potential clients (again, gold, especially when you’re building a new business)
  • 162 clients (gold, period).

That’s more than seven clients, each, or one client for every three complimentary sessions. That’s the average. Interestingly, the newbie coaches did almost as well as the veterans, especially the ones who coached the most people. That suggests they're learning really fast.

 

Could you use 7 new coaching clients?

 

Of course part of the treasure that the coaches receive is in the feedback they get privately from each person they coach via their Coach 100 Feedback Survey.

Their individual feedback data help them:

a. find their niche and specialty, which makes future marketing much easier

b. helps them learn to sign on clients with finesse, which brings all-important income

c. helps them become master coaches and even get certified (remember: 10 times the value).

Last but not least, Coach 100 gets coaches into that all-important feedback loop where they’re playing full out and simultaneously learn to deliver amazing value, while attracting plenty of clients. That’s where extraordinary success happens. Why?

 

See those master Double Dutch players doing back flips, above?

 

They’re performing in exhibitions and competitions. Think they practice hundreds of hours for those events? If they want to win, they do. Think they hone their craft with the feedback they get during every competition? Again, if they want to win. Lots of practice, lots of events, lots of feedback (data). That’s how you master Double Dutch. That’s how you win. 

Coaches need similar structures to get them into that feedback loop so they can master coaching sessions and master the science of getting coaching clients. The Coach 100 process does all that and gives a certification, too.

Could you coach 100 people without the program? Theoretically, yes, but I’ve never seen anyone do it. It helps to have a structure that streamlines the process and supports the coach through to the end. Coaches need structure and systems to succeed, just like their clients.

 

Want to win at master coaching sooner, rather than later?

 

You may want to join a small group of high performers who are focused on filling their client rosters in about three months. I’ll be your personal mentor coach.

runner small

 

Master the science of attracting coaching clients here.

 

Double Dutch photo by Pitslamp

Topics: coaching business, group coaching, Coach 100, coaching clients, make a living as a life coach, Coaching 100, marketing and sales, master coach, sales training for new coaches, coaching niche

Urban Coaching Myth: You Need to Find Your Niche

Posted by Julia Stewart

Urban Coaching MythsYou'll never find success wandering down blind alleys.

That's what Urban Coaching Myths are: blind alleys for you and your coaching business. Coaches beware!

This particular coaching myth is so insidious and so routinely embraced, that it has probably hamstrung dozens (if not thousands) of coaching businesses. What a crime!

It's sourced in half-understood truths about marketing, a failure to make important distinctions, hearsay and just plain bad coaching. I may get hate mail for saying this, but somebody needs to tell the truth!

The myth, "You need to know your coaching niche before you can market your coaching business", is a lie!

How do I know this? I've experienced it myself and I've coaching zillions of coaches who have been stumped by this bad advice.

For example, Chris Barrow, "The Million Dollar Coach" built his million-dollar grossing coaching business by specializing in coaching dentists in the UK. He didn't know that dentists were his niche until he had coached a lot of them, realized that he had become an expert on building a thriving dental practice in the UK (previously he knew nothing about dentistry), and noticed that dentists were referring a lot of friends to him. Then he started making a million dollars a year. That's a real niche. Anything else is just play acting.

Trying to find your niche before you've coached a lot of people is really just putting the cart ahead of the horse. It's a waste of time and energy because the truth is...

  1. You need to coach a lot of people, first, in order to find your niche.
  2. You can build a successful coaching business even without knowing your niche. 

Which do you really want, a coaching niche or a successful coaching business?

Where does this myth come from? Here's an assortment of possibilities:
  • Internet marketing "gurus"
  • Marketing courses
  • Inexperienced mentor coaches
  • Buddy coaches
  • Coaching listserves
  • Coaching chapters

It's the old "they say" circuit that's been a source of misinformation of all kinds since the dawning of human communication. None of the above is bad in and of itself. Used well, all are very good. However, ineffective advice never helped anybody.

And those distinctions I mentioned? I've placed a few them in a quick quiz to help you distinguish whether you really need a niche in order to coach, or whether you need to coach before you'll ever find your real niche.

Quick Quiz

1. Are you:

a) A professional coach

b) An internet marketer

2. Do you want to sell:

a) Your coaching services

b) "Widgets" and digital products

3. Do you want to focus on:

a) Building a long-term profitable coaching business

b) Making a quick killing selling a product

4. Are you:

a) Someone who is smart and sensible

b) Someone who believes everything you hear

 

If you answered mostly "b", you need a niche to succeed. If you answered mostly "a", you need to coach in order to succeed. (Okay, maybe question #4 was unfair.)

If I sound a bit cranky, it's because this myth is very costly to coaches and their potential clients. Don't be blinded by it. If you're going to wander down dark alleys, at least carry a flashlight.

AsteriskGet a flashlight: Take Coach 100 courses to learn a lot more about what it really takes to build a successful coaching business.

Topics: coaching business, become a coach, Coach 100, Coaching 100, coaching success, successful business, Million Dollar Coach, coaching niche

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