Subscribe to the Prosperous Coach Podcast
This episode is part of the series called Smart Mindsets & Habits.
Mindset is a huge driver of success. When you have powerful mindsets motivating you AND you’re taking strategic actions — that combo will get you anywhere you want to go in life.
This episode is about market research — an often skipped over strategic action that helps you attract clients who want what you offer.
I’m also going to cover 2 mindsets related to market research that will literally make the difference in whether you’ll have a thriving coaching business or not.
So let’s start with 2 mindset shifts that I encourage you to make, if you haven’t already. These mindsets help you to embrace the idea of market research and other strategic actions.
Act Like the CEO of Your Coaching Business
When I finished coach training, I launched a coaching practice rather than a business. I hung my shingle as a coach and I was open for clients.
That mindset kept me from what I really wanted for nearly 3 years — to be serving clients masterfully while earning well.
I spent all day every day chasing my next coaching client. My website was all about coaching. My marketing efforts sold coaching. I didn’t target a specific audience, I had no niche, no strategy, no focus.
I had lots of practice clients. People who were more or less doing me a favor because they could see how enthusiastic I was about coaching and so they hired me for a month or two at low prices. We did some good work but it wasn’t deep lasting work. They weren’t wholly committed to the process because they didn’t really buy into the idea of coaching — which is what I was selling.
Then, realizing that what I was doing wasn’t working, I shifted to acting like the owner of a business. I started doing what all business owners do.
That shift in the way I thought about my time, my energy and my actions changed the way others perceived me too.
When you step fully into the role of CEO in your own business you’re no longer just floating and hoping.
Instead your day-to-day is all about building traction, leveraging your efforts, becoming a recognizable brand and offering something that’s truly wanted.
You’re attracting clients and profits, not just for today, but for your future too.
What can you do right now to take ownership of your coaching business? Here are 3 suggestions that fit the start up phase. Maybe you’ve done some or all of these.
1. Create a home office. You need a door, a desk, wifi, a computer.
When you make a physical place for your business, it signals to yourself and the world that you are in this for the long run and not just playing about.
2. Set work hours.
When you give your business significant time, it will grow. If it’s only squeezed in to whatever time you have left over, it may never really get off the ground.
3. Set your business up for success.
Do the things that business owners do to build a solid foundation before launching:
- Target a viable audience.
- Conduct market research.
- Then tailor make everything accordingly.
Yeah, these things can feel a bit scary because you’ll make decisions that set a strong course for your business.
This way of doing things give your business a fighting chance of making it. And it builds your confidence because you’ll know what to do to attract clients.
What is Market Research?
It’s gathering an understanding about what your target audience wants and will buy. First you need a specific target audience to research.
Imagine feeling confident that what you’re offering is wanted. To know that your audience is likely to invest in your services because they are out there searching for solutions that you can help them achieve.
When coaches find me one of their most common laments is “Where are the coaching clients who get the value of coaching enough to invest in it?”
My answer to that might be a bit shocking.
Which brings me to mindset shift #2 …
Coaching is a Tool, Not an Outcome People Buy
One of my most popular podcast shows is Episode #7, which is called – Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?
Have you ever noticed that coaching isn’t easy to sell?
That’s because coaching is a tool in your toolbox, not an outcome people know they want.
So I have this metaphor to help you with this mindset shift …
Let’s say you’re remodeling your kitchen and you want custom cabinetry. What do you go looking for? Well that’s obvious isn’t it. You look for cabinets that fit your vision of what you want your kitchen to look like.
But you could care less about the tools that actually made those cabinets. You don’t care about the sanders and lathes. It’s the OUTCOME you want, it’s the outcome you’ll search for.
Coaching is not an outcome. And it’s not a solution to a specific problem. Coaching is part of your toolbox. It’s a valuable skill set among other skills and knowledge that you have that will be helpful to your clients once they’ve hired you.
But people don’t search for coaching. At least it’s very rare.
So that’s why it’s not all that effective to put up a website about your type of coaching and start chasing coaching clients. That approach often ends with you giving up on your business and going to get a job.
But a sea change happens when you stop trying to sell coaching and instead think of how to apply your skills to help a specific audience reach a specific outcome they really want.
Suddenly you’re thinking like a business owner and creating a pathway or system — steps and milestone to help your audience achieve their goal.
Everything comes into focus, both for you and for your target audience. They see you because you’re speaking to them and what they care about instead of talking about coaching. And you build a community of future clients rather than enrolling one person at a time.
And market research is what gives you the insight to speak their language, to attract them into a community.
Who is Your Target Audience and What Do They Want?
So, first, here’s some relief for you … market research is not asking people whether they’ll buy your coaching services. Not even close!
When I teach my clients how to do market research they’re always glad to know that the spotlight is completely off of them and on the people they’re interviewing.
Interviews are the best way to conduct market research because it’s a real time conversation.
It’s the unrehearsed, candid words that your target audience uses in those off guard moments that are most powerful to use in messaging, web copy, social posts and emails.
If you are or have been your target audience then having someone interview you might also be helpful. But hearing from people in your audience that you don’t know is an important confirmation that you’re on the right track.
The information we most want to uncover in market research is called psychographics. Have you heard of that word before?
Psychographics ultimately reveal what your audience wants and will buy. A useful thing to know, right?
Market research helps you to fully understand:
- what are their driving values
- what makes them tick
- what specifically do they want
- what specifically do they NOT want
- what’s causing them acute pain or frustration
- what keeps them up at night
- what are their spending habits
- what motivates them to buy
- where do they go to find what they want
You can see how knowing the psychographics of your audience helps you create branding, messaging and offers that will strike a resonant chord and inspire investment.
Now, you won’t ask them these questions directly but rather craft questions that have to do with your coaching track, areas of interest, and your likely niche that will elicit this information in a friendly, connective way.
And by the way, people you interview for market research very often become your first paid clients in your business. You develop a warm connection and their curious about how their input will help you.
Demographics is another important set of data. It’s things like gender, age, stage of life, marital status, household income, where they live, children and more.
Knowing those things also helps you create effective marketing. But the great thing is, when you choose a specific enough target audience, you’ll automatically understand most of the critical demographic points.
For example if you are a health coach and you’ve targeted menopausal women it gives you a strong sense of the circumstances of their life that you’ll help them affect or change for the better.
It’s also helpful to create an AVATAR. This is a description of the type of person you most want to serve that gets into even more details. Then when you’re designing your programs, coming up with pricing and more, you’ll have a picture in your mind of this person that represents your target audience.
So just to review, the two powerful mindsets I spoke about today are:
- thinking and acting like a business owner
- realizing that coaching is not what people buy
With those mindsets to guide you, I hope you can see why market research would serve you beautifully and set up you up for long term success in your coaching business.
If you’ve already put up a website and you’ve realized that you’re selling coaching, even a specific type of coaching, consider taking the time to target an audience, conduct market research and recalibrate your website and offers to align with what you discover. It’s not that hard, especially with guidance. And you know I’d love to help you with this.
Grab a Strategy Session with me. It’s a great way to start making the shift to being the CEO of your business. And I can help you with research, messaging and offers you audience will buy.
The Next Episode is: 3 Ways to Quickly Build Your Confidence As a Coach