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This episode is about how to be authentic in your coaching business and share your personal story to attract ideal clients.
Vulnerability Wasn’t Always Prized
When I launched Prosperous Coach, sharing your mistakes or shortcomings was not a great strategy. Unless you were famous already, sharing that you went bankrupt, ruined your marriage or lost your business wasn’t received as a reason to listen to what you have to say. Marketing and selling had a different style and come from.
Facebook had only been around for two years. And few people were sharing selfies.
If you were looking for help to achieve something you were looking for an expert who had significant credentials and social proof in the old fashioned way.
And if you wanted to attract clients you needed to toot your own horn without much airtime, if any, on the zigzag it took you to get to where you are. Trust was built by showing people how you have everything figured out.
So coaches and anyone selling a personal or business growth program were a bit more buttoned up. You pushed your knowledge and successes out ahead of you keeping more personal things to yourself.
I’m not exactly sure when things changed. I’m guessing it was around 2010 — but I know that it was revolutionary when it became okay to be vulnerable with prospects and clients.
More than that … vulnerability is now appreciated and even perhaps expected in many spaces. Thank you, Brene Brown!
I was a late adopter of that in my business and it contributed to a slow down for a few years. I found it more difficult to drop the shield and even had some judgment about the messiness of other coaches and other people marketing approaches in a really loose and personal way.
More Authentic Marketing for Coaches
Now, I’m a total convert and can easily say that it’s a relief to just be me all the time. Not omit or hide anything. And I often have coaches tell me how much they appreciate my authenticity … how much they appreciate that I keep it real!
Most of my clients worry that their faux pas or so called failures in life are not going to be well received.
I was talking to one of my VIP clients the other day and she was concerned about whether her personal story would turn her clients off. But she had chosen a target audience and niche that’s related to those difficult times in her past. I could clearly see that sharing her story would build trust with her audience.
Trust … that’s what creates followers and enrolls ideal clients. Think about it … if someone cannot see you as trustworthy, they certainly cannot hire you.
You’ve heard of the know-like-trust factor. Bob Burg wrote a book called Endless Referrals and coined that term. But it’s an OLD concept. Yes, you can get referrals if people trust you. But that’s not the only benefit of trust.
6 Powerful Questions Coaches Can Ask
When I’m helping my clients choose a target audience and develop their coaching niche, I ask questions to uncover their skills, experience and expertise, their interests and personal story.
Often it’s their story that reveals the juiciest audience and niche for them. And while it’s wonderful to be able to leverage expertise in your coaching business, if you don’t really have expertise yet it doesn’t mean there’s not something else in your life to help you build that all important trust with people.
So, what’s your personal story? Take some time to think about this. Ask yourself these 6 powerful questions and see what comes up:
- What were the turning points in my life that lead me to where I am now?
- What or who made the biggest impression on me over the years and why?
- What are the biggest challenges I’ve had in my life that I’ve made strides to overcome?
- How have I felt misunderstood by others and learned to excel despite it?
- What personal experiences have forced me to learn more than the average person about something?
- What repetitive lessons has my soul been trying to learn?
A few caveats about this …
- The answers to these questions may or may not reveal the most lucrative direction for your coaching business.
- Some life experiences are too obscure to find a viable audience to serve.
- And some topics are not ideal for the coaching realm.
Still … often the pain we experience in lives become our greatest victory. Like Oprah says: “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Or, with a bit less elegance: “When life hands you lemons make lemonade.”
If you can help others move past a mighty struggle that you overcame, that’s a life purpose.
Here are some ways that some my clients have turned their past challenges into a fantastic coaching niche:
- Helping families of addicts embrace their own recovery
- Helping Executive Directors strategically run their nonprofit
- Helping big 4 consultants quit the corporate games
- Helping scholars write and publish academic books
- Helping midlife couples cultivate deeper intimacy after the kids are grown
- Helping stepparents transform chaos into harmonious co-parenting
Well, I could go on and on. Most of my clients have found a way to leverage their past challenges in their business. And in their blogs, podcasts, videos and other platforms they’ve shared their personal stories to help their clients understand they are not alone. That’s another way — a powerful way — to build trust. What will you do with your personal story?