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This episode is part of the On Air Coaching series where I coach coaches while on the air.
What follows is a transcript of our conversation.
Rhonda: I’m so excited to be talking to a young woman who has so much to offer and she’s here to talk to me about her coaching niche and target audience. I know you’re going to get great value from listening.
Welcome Alexia Mellor! Alexia, I would love it if you would tell everyone a little bit about what led you to this moment where we’re having this conversation and that can be anything about your background.
Alexia: Sounds good. Well first of all, thank you so much for having me here. It’s such an honor and a privilege to be able to share the space with you. So thank you so much Rhonda.
So I have a bit of an eclectic background I think career wise and life wise, that has taken me on lots of lovely detours that’s led to this point. But I recently finished my PhD where I was looking at the potential of participatory art practices — where you’re working with people not necessarily making objects to look at.
We actually start to deal with some really complex issues like climate change, how do we make something that seems rather abstract and really large, more accessible to the individual and create spaces for them to start to take action for themselves. And that kind of led me to this moment where I was really kind of questioning what is it that I want to be doing next.
And at the same time I have also been a practicing Tarot reader for about 15 years and I had one of those kind of dark night of the soul moments where I just kind of questioned everything that I was doing.
And a lovely friend of mine who I have done readings for about five, six years said to me, have you ever thought of being a coach? And I thought, no, and you know, I can’t do that. Like, what are you talking about? And she said, yeah, your readings are a lot more like coaching sessions in that you are helping me to think differently about the issues that I’m facing. You’re giving me practical things to do to take away and I get so much value out of having a reading with you.
And that kind of sparked a little thought like, huh, okay, maybe this is a possibility. And she actually dared me that she was going to find 10 people for me to do these readings for. I took her up on it because I didn’t think that she would find 10 people. And she did. And every single reading was just mind blowing like magic. And I thought, okay, there’s something to this.
One of the people that I did a reading for actually contacted me about working together with me and I decided I’m going to put together a program. Really the aim was to help this one individual. Initially she worked through the issues that she was facing around career stuff.
And I ended up kind of creating this model that draws upon my intuitive work, my academic background and my art practice that I call Intuitive Wayfinding, which is essentially a process that walks you through really getting in touch with the deeper whys of what it is that you want from a job and a career.
So that’s what’s led me to here. And as I am fairly new in the kind of coaching realm, I definitely realized that it is a struggle when you don’t know what your ditch is. And I came across your podcast and binge listened and got so much value out of it that I thought I would love to have a conversation.
Bringing Your Skills and Background Together into Your Coaching Business
Rhonda: What a wonderful journey has brought you here. I, you have said so many things I just wanted to touch on. Thank you, Alexia.
First of all, thanks so much for binge listening to my podcast. I love that. I hear that so much and you can’t imagine how it just makes my day. So thank you so much.
Alexia: Thank you for great content. I mean it’s really super helpful.
Rhonda: Yeah, you are so welcome. My pleasure.
And I also just love that moment when a friend of ours, someone we care about who knows us well, clues us into our next step. That’s such a beautiful moment.
And I love the way that you’re bringing together so many parts of your background, your skills and talents and passion into something that you really want to do.
Alexia: Being an artist, a freelance artist, is very entrepreneurial, but this is moving into a different space where before I might’ve been commissioned to do something and now it’s like, well, I get to be completely in charge of this. What do I want it to look like?
Rhonda: Yeah. That’s the way to approach it too, to come up with a vision that’s really going to fit for you and then start figuring out “the how” after that.
Let’s pause for a second and tell everybody what Tarot is …
Alexia: Definitely. It is a set of cards that follows a system really that is designed to help you connect to your intuition. So I should say that I don’t use the cards to fortune tell or anything like that. It’s a vehicle that actually works really well with my experience as an artist where the cards are, have all of these different images that are essentially telling the hero’s journey, our, our own journey through life. And they allow for a kind of openness and an introspection that I find incredibly useful for helping somebody to kind of delve deeper into what is underlying some of the questions that they’re asking.
Rhonda: Well said. I would also say that it can be like a touchstone or, or a touch point. Something to start the conversation rolling. And I can imagine how it would be really valuable in coaching and the coaching would be really valuable for Tarot.
Alexia: Absolutely. It’s a nice marriage.
Honing In On the Target Audience
Rhonda: It is a nice marriage. And now tell us a little bit more about what else you’re thinking about because you and I have shared a couple of emails when you decided that you were interested in On Air Coaching. You went and filled out a form on my website and gave me a lot of wonderful information. And what are the things you told me is this idea you have for a target audience and how you want to help those people?
Alexia: Well, what, what does kind of come up for me is I have, and it’s probably helpful to say that after this first beta clients that I worked with and she had such an amazing experience, I decided that I obviously needed to test it out to see was it just a fluke? And to get a little bit of validation.
So I ended up working with three other women who, again, in this kind of serendipitous way found me, came across what I was doing in a variety of different ways, including I met somebody on a plane, which was fantastic, and I this, the sessions all worked really well with all of them.
But I started looking at what were the common elements that they had. What did I enjoy most about working with these women and what might I want to be looking for in terms of an ideal client to kind of target audience.
And I wasn’t really able to identify specifics in terms of a particular industry that they worked in or they were around about the same age, but there’s still about a 10 year difference between them. So it wasn’t necessarily a generational thing, but what started to come up was that these women were really unhappy in the particular positions that they were in.
And one of the big reasons they were unhappy is because they weren’t making the impact that they thought they would be able to make and that they would like to make.
And that really chimed in well for me with my interests, going back to my doctoral research around how do we start to tackle some of these big problems that we’re facing in the world?
How do we see ourselves as all part of the solution for it? So that kind of got me thinking about, particularly in the conversations I was having with them, that they didn’t necessarily see themselves as leaders until we had moments of reflection where I could help point that back out to them.
And then all of a sudden it was like they sort of blossomed with recognizing their, their own power within that. So I started to look at how can I bring together these these elements, which are, that these women tend to be maybe more empathic, more intuitive that can show up in the form of even people pleasing. I’m somewhat introverted at times, but wanting to make an impact, wanting to make a difference in lead that leave a legacy in the world, but they’re not necessarily at the kind of say higher management levels where they can be implementing policies that they want to be seeing or helping to support a different form of leadership emerging that’s more collaborative versus competitive.
So I, I’ve started to kind of look at how that might create a space for me to start working with women to kind of explore what new forms of leadership might exist and how they can be part of bringing that into creation.
Rhonda: Well, I love the way you’re thinking and I think that more and more we’re finding that human beings just don’t want a career or a job if they’re not going to get something out of it that, you know, gives them a sense of purpose, gives them a sense of belonging, gives them a sense of contributing in a meaningful way to either world problems or community problems or even personal problems. So that makes so much sense to me.
I had given you an exercise — it’s part of my program called Your Highly Profitable Niche — something I don’t actually have available online right now anymore, but I use it with my private clients. And, I had given you an exercise to do to see if we could come up with some specific target audiences.
Why Coaches Need to Narrow Their Target Audience
Here’s why I’m such a advocate for the idea of coaches having a narrow specific target audience … because we are in a marketplace that is so full of entrepreneurial messaging, so full of marketing.
It doesn’t where you are, whether you’re just looking at your phone or your inbox or your social posts or wherever it is. There’s so much coming at us so fast and we as human beings tend to look at things in somewhat of a trance when we’re online. We scroll and scroll and we don’t pay any attention to anything unless it reaches out and grabs us with a powerful force.
And so this is why I advocate a narrow, specific, viable target audience and then finding out what it is that audience wants so much that they’d invest in your help to get it. And when you pair those two things, a viable and narrow target audience with what they want so much, then you have a smart, profitable niche.
Will People Invest in What You Love to Coach About?
So you have a great idea for what you’re going to help your people with. You have the idea of the value that you can bring to the table and you’ve done some beta testing and it got great results and that is all really good and please know that I think that that was brilliant that you did that.
And I, I believe with all my heart that those people got great value out of your process, your system, your way of being with them.
The challenge comes in that those people were not paying for it, right?
Alexia: They were paying a really low amount that was just designed to convince them to stick around for 12 weeks testing it.
Rhonda: Yes. And I remember reading in an email that you shared with me, you said they weren’t all ideal clients because they couldn’t afford to pay for it at a level that would pay you well, right?
Rhonda: So this is the rub, right?
This is the difficult place where we’re almost all coaches get to where on the one side they have all this passion and skills and talents and things to bring to the table and they know that what they do is valuable because they’re getting the feedback from beta clients or clients that are paying lower or are not paying it all.
But then we try to take that and put it into the marketplace in a way that is going to grab attention get people to not only go for free stuff, but also to invest at a high level in their own personal transformation. And this is where it’s always challenging.
I want you to know, my heart goes out to all coaches because this is the biggest challenge that you’ll face in the first few months of deciding to become a professional coach … how do you take what you love to do and make it marketable?
And that’s really where I come in.
Yes, it is hard to be thinking in terms of specific positions and industries and things, but it’s almost critical if you don’t on some level then you really only have a couple of pathways to attract your clients.
Why Your Coach Archetype Changes the Way You’ll Market
One of the podcast episodes I put out is What Coach Archetype Fits You? Did you happen to listen to that one?
Alexia: I did. And that was actually really eye opening for me.
Rhonda: Yeah. Tell me about how it opened your eyes.
Alexia: You had mentioned that there’s the potential of being a blend and I do think that I am a blend. I resonated with the Teacher [Archetype] in terms of taking complex ideas and distilling them and creating a model, which was my kind of go to for even starting to develop something to coach somebody with. The Healer [Archetype] is a little bit in there as well I think.
And then I actually kind of surprised myself because I wouldn’t normally have said this, but I really also resonated with the Icon [Archetype] in terms of being interested in these big ideas, wanting to reach a broader audience, wanting to have multiple platforms in which coaching is one part of the bigger vision, but also writing a book or going and speaking and doing workshops that really appeals to me as well.
Yay! I was actually hoping you would say just that.
And so what Alexia is talking about is that for her, she related to what I call the Teacher Archetype. And that’s a person who tends to want to come up with models and systems and steps of how to accomplish something. It doesn’t have to be a nuts and bolts thing. It can be an internal kind of process, anything like that. And then show others how to do that.
So then there’s the Healer Archetype, which is similar except the come from is from a healing standpoint, healing people healing in some aspect of what’s giving them pain, whether that’s internal, external, physical. So blending those together.
And then with the Icon Archetype — the icon is someone who is willing to get on a big stage. When I find someone like you, Alexia, who resonates with all three of those, I think that’s great, especially for this idea that you have for your business.
So you had said once to me “spiritually minded women”. You’ve also talked about “conscious leaders” as as a target audience. You’ve also talked about mid level managers or mid level leaders. I’m wondering, is one of those three more attractive to you?
Alexia: f I were to kind of do a Venn diagram in a sense of the things that I think would be important for, for somebody to really get value out of working with me, the spiritually minded one is a big one because it’s very much the reference point from which I’m coming from.
The other parts, the reason I was thinking about mid level managers is because it’s, I’m almost seeing myself as being able to help those aspiring leaders. They might have some experience of managing or leading, but I know especially women really struggle with passing that mid, that mid-level mark for a variety of reasons.
And I think a big part of it actually comes down to lack of confidence. Imposter syndrome creeps in even lack of boundaries, all of that kind of stuff that then often deters us from moving into higher levels of leadership as well as the fact that the models that we have of leadership, to be quite honest, are not necessarily appealing. So I think there can be those, those sorts of barriers that present, present themselves for, for women around that mid level kind of position.
Rhonda: Yes, I agree with you. I think people at that level often just need some encouragement and a little leg up and some ways to manage their mindset and strategize and a partner to talk things over with. Things like that.
The challenge comes in whether these people will invest at a level that will pay you well. So I’m wondering about your financial goals. If you’re comfortable saying it, what are you hoping to earn on an annual basis with just coaching?
Alexia: I would like it to eventually be a full time, really well paid position. You know, six figures is something that would be nice to be aiming for to be honest.
Rhonda: Yeah, absolutely. So there are a number of things going on in my mind I’ll just let you in on it …
Number one, how do you actually reach mid level managers? How do you get in front of them that doesn’t involve going into corporations? So that’s one question that I’ve got going on in my mind.
The other question that I have is whether it really helps to focus in on that group. If you are willing to use speaking, writing books, doing workshops, things that can get you out in front of these people, do you really need that mid level descriptor?
Alexia: Not necessarily. I think part of when I was going through the exercises that you had given me and we were looking at potential sub-markets, that was just something that kind of popped into my head in terms of resonating with not necessarily and, well certainly not entry level, but people who have had a bit of experience and they’re recognizing I’m not happy with what it is that I’m doing. I thought I was going to be able to make the impact that I wanted to make and I’m not, but they’re still hungry to do something.
Rhonda: Yeah. Which makes me wonder if what you said earlier with a slight tweak might be a good way to go. Maybe it is aspiring conscious leaders. Now if you tack women in there, it gets long — aspiring conscious women leaders. That’s a lot of adjectives.
So what if it was conscious women leaders?
Alexia: That sounds good.
Rhonda: Okay. I remember in something that you shared with me … to make a greater impact in meaningful careers, not just jobs.
Alexia: One of the things that I use to describe intuitive wayfinding is that it’s where the career path meets your awakening path. And how this is about supporting women that are looking to reframe the conversation around jobs. So it’s not just job, it’s about the work that we’re here to do in the world. And that’s what’s driving them.
Rhonda: Yeah. So I think what you have with that is a tagline. Where the career path meets the awakening path. It’s a great tagline!
There is a difference between a tagline and what I call a Core Message or what some people call a benefit statement. A benefit statement is more like:
Helping conscious women leaders to make a greater impact in meaningful careers and not just jobs.
So when you hear those two things, your tagline and this idea for a Core Message, how do you feel?
Alexia: Pretty good!
Rhonda: Yeah, it does to me too.
Now I just want to caveat that if you were not willing to go the icon route — to look for and pursue and be willing to do workshops, speaking gigs, you know, ways to get in front of big audiences of women leaders that aren’t just social media and those kinds of things — then I would say you would need to narrow in more.
But I think that if you can go towards that icon route, even though you have this somewhat broad audience — conscious women leaders — it’s narrowed down enough that I think you could get purchase out there.
Alexia: That sounds great. And that feels really resonant for me!
Rhonda: Oh good. We’re done!
Rhonda: Well, you were 95% of the way there. Had you not resonated with the idea of that Icon Archetype, I would have pressed further for more narrowness [in your target audience]. If you can get into the world a little bit more offline than online, then I think that you will have a good entree into this.
Once you become known for some keynote talks and workshops that achieve a very specific goal for those people, then you’ll start to get traction and then the online piece will come.
Rhonda: I love the online world, but I got in early. I got in 20 years ago before everybody was online and before all this marketing was happening and before everybody was coaching coaches and everybody was talking about how to have a successful business. And, that gave me a foothold. These days, focusing entirely online can be a little bit of a downside because it takes longer.
It takes more cleverness to get noticed [online] and I think an awful lot of coaches work very hard on social media and other places to get their message out, but they’re not getting any traction because their message sounds just like everybody else’s.
But the offline world is actually the less traveled world now, which is odd, isn’t it?
Alexia: That’s really strange.
Rhonda: Yeah, it’s less traveled. So you know, if you can develop some keynote talks that really focus in on hot topics these conscious women leaders are going to pay attention to, and design those talks in such a way that there are natural enrolling moments into your program, then I think you’re going to be able to get traction.
Alexia: That’s so exciting!
Rhonda: It is exciting and I can’t wait to see you do it. Congratulations! You have landed [a solid target audience and coaching niche] and can now move forward with confidence. Thank you so much, Alexia. I really appreciate you.
Alexia: Thank you, Rhonda. I appreciate you as well. Thank you for your time and your help!
In the Next Episode: Are You Turning Away Coaching Clients With Your Pricing?