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This episode is the second ON AIR COACHING session where you can listen in while I work with a coach to narrow her target audience and uncover clues about her coaching niche.
Cynthia Brown recently graduated from Coach Training Alliance where she met one of my clients, Audra, who referred her to me. That and my podcast encouraged Cynthia to apply for On Air Coaching with me.
Let me introduce Cynthia Brown …
Cynthia is the founder of New Lane Coaching. One of her main concerns is that women business owners often sell themselves short. She wants women to know that their small businesses can become more than they originally dreamed. All it takes is one small step each day.
Cynthia is currently involved in Toastmasters International to learn to speak at women business own associations. She’s a certified coach and member of the International Coach Federation.
While Cynthia has initially targeted a broad audience — women small business owners, she wasn’t certain about it, partially because she had another audience that was tugging on her heart strings:
high school students to help them transition to college or a career
When she thinks about that audience she feels sheer excitement!
But she had big doubts about this choice for a coaching niche.
We took some time to investigate whether that audience would be viable. In other words, would it pay off in income and clients.
We ultimately agreed that audience wouldn’t sustain her financially.
Parents might invest in her help if her goal was to help those students get into a good college or university. But they might not be as excited about investing much to have Cynthia help their kids choose a vocation.
In our conversation, Cynthia became certain that it was best to only serve the audience of high school kids as a “side gig” where she’ll offer support for lower fees as she has time and inclination.
Cynthia wants to have a thriving business and not be held up by struggling to convince parents.
We talked about the old “follow your passion” adage and how important it is to look for an audience and niche that both feels joyful and will pay off.
Sometimes that means going with your second choice unless earning a living isn’t important to you.
Next, I prompted Cynthia to share a personal story about a previous employee she helped to formulate his career path. Years later he wrote her a thank you note for how her support influenced him.
It was a peak experience for Cynthia that touched her deeply. And I wanted to earmark that story as a potential clue for her niche.
Then, we shifted to talking about the broad audience that she’d set for herself in New Lane Coaching, working with women small business owners.
Cynthia felt it was too broad. And so did I.
First, we looked at whether it was important to her to limit to women.
Cynthia decided that, no, it’s not.
Many coaches are inclined to specify women as a way to narrow their niche. That’s a good idea if it really matters to you, the coach.
If you feel more of a solid affinity with one gender or another, go ahead and narrow that way. That alone won’t help you stand out though.
But there are other ways to narrow an audience that will help you more than simply narrowing by gender.
And narrowing is a good idea if you’re targeting business owners or entrepreneurs because it’s a broad audience that is so highly marketed to, it’s critical to stand out in some way.
Isolate a particular type of business owner, such as an industry or a professional position.
And/or add an adjective that helps to narrow. For example, when Marshall Stern, a coach I interviewed in Episode 11, narrowed by adding the word “driven”.
A personality based adjective can help because not all business owners will self-select to that group. Still that may not be enough to help you stand out in the crowd.
I knew from Cynthia’s life story that she’s a devoted Christian and she could narrow like this:
Christian small business owners
Cynthia didn’t jump at that defining adjective for her audience. But, if a coach wanted to it would greatly help to narrow based on affiliation this way.
Next, I asked Cynthia to tell me about her favorite clients to give us clues to a potential industry she might want to pursue. Cynthia shared about a client who is a hair stylist.
What Cynthia loved about working with her is that this client is clearly a go-getter and wants to be more than a stylist.
We realized that this client is imminently coachable and that’s what excited Cynthia about working with her.
That’s not a good descriptor to put with a specific audience.
But it is important for all coaches to work with clients who are coachable — they:
- show up
- take the coaching
- run everything through their own integrity to make choices for themselves
- take action and move forward
We agreed that hair stylists as a group may not be able to invest at a level that’s high enough for Cynthia to earn.
I asked her if she’d considered specific industries.
She has a personal interest in Financial and Real Estate professionals. So we explored this group for Cynthia.
When I asked Cynthia to close her eyes and feel into working with people in Financial and Real Estate she said she was EXCITED!
Because of the powerfully positive energy in her voice, I asked her if anything was in the way of deciding to work with that group.
That was the only thing in the way of her choice.
She worried that she wouldn’t measure up with that audience.
I asked Cynthia as a Coach how she manages fear.
She said she puts it behind her. She’s an old hand at moving through fear.
She’s got this!
Listen … everyone has fear whenever we’re entering new territory.
Fear is not meant to stop us from doing what we want to do. In fact, it’s often a signal that we’re approaching something important to us.
Cynthia’s formula for moving through fear: “Readjust, re-evaluate and step back into the arena.”
Cynthia wondered if she should choose one or the other — Financial professionals or Real Estate professionals.
Not necessarily. They are related fields.
The whole idea of narrowing an audience is for your benefit as a coach. So that you know how to market, what language to use to attract clients and how you serve a big enough problem that group has.
Deciding about how to narrow is all about ease for you.
The next step for Cynthia is to do some market research. This is a step I help my clients with because it’s from that market research that all messaging is created. Unique benefit statement, copy on websites, email and social media marketing!
When I asked Cynthia if she was ready to click on the certainty button for Financial professionals and/or Real Estate professionals, she gave a resounding YES!
The Next Episode is: The Success Factor: Is It Working for Your Coaching Business?