How to Own Your Coaching Niche

Is your coaching perceived as essential or as a luxury? Your market tells you how they see you every day by either buying what you sell, or passing.

If you’re a generalist selling life coaching, or you’re aiming at a broad market that’s hard to find and doesn’t have you top-of-mind, it’s time to sharpen your focus.

Focus your coaching services on one unique coaching niche — an accessible group of people with a critical problem you can help them solve. That’s how you “own” your market.

My post on Four Roads to Coaching Success covers the four proven approaches to building a coaching business. This post zooms in on the one that anyone can use to get reliable results.

Results That Speak for Themselves

When you’ve hit that “essential” spot with your market, you’ll know because:

  • You’ll have little or no competition
  • So you can spend much less time and energy marketing
  • And yet you’ll keep your coaching business full
  • And keep clients longer
  • Which builds your confidence and expertise quickly
  • So you can charge higher fees
  • Your articles and ezines practically write themselves
  • You can re-purpose that writing to products and programs that your market craves
  • You get a lot more pre-qualified referrals

WHICH MEANS = Your income is higher and you have time left for other things in life!

Who First, Then What & How

Lots of coaches focus on the what – what they want to coach around – and try to sell that. It rarely works. But if you let go of that approach and instead focus on a who – a target market – you’ll enjoy the success you’re working so hard for, without so much hard work.

Here are real life results of coaches that finally locked onto one very narrow and viable market after floundering for years:

Coach #1 tried to attract enough clients in a variety of niches without much success:

  • Women in Transition
  • Women in Mid-Life Transition
  • Divorced Women

None of these proved to be viable niches. There just wasn’t enough perceived value to get prospects to pull out their wallets. Then, she zoomed in on a very unique, narrow market. “All of that time I was ignoring my background and what would be a natural market for me – Association Executives. BINGO!”

You might think that’s too small a market, but it isn’t. This coach tripled her monthly income when she narrowed her focus to Association Execs.

Coach #2 is an ace networker. Most of his clients came from referrals. He was the top-of-mind coach for everyone in his network. But he wasn’t getting enough clients to feed his family. So he decided to take my advice and focus on one market. He chose Financial Planners – again notice how narrow a market that is.

These are early results after focusing on his target market:

Before After
Avg monthly fee for 1:1 coaching: $1500 $4500+
Avg length of time with clients: 1-2 months 1 year

A dramatic turn-around after years of struggle. And here’s a key point: He knew nothing about Financial Planners before he chose that market. He didn’t need to. They taught him all he needed to know!

Notice these are both business markets. Business markets are the most viable. That doesn’t mean you have to learn to do business coaching. You’ll find you do life coaching with these folks, while you build savvy about their industry and how to provide compelling solutions for them.

Here are other bonuses reported by coaches who focus on one target market:

  • They are doing their most soul-satisfying work with their clients over long terms.
  • They know the movers and shakers in their market and are an integral part of the industry.
  • They understand their clients’ challenges and know how to speak their lingo.
  • They know what these folks care about, and have developed expertise to serve them.

Is your coaching market viable for this economy? If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of these questions, you’ve got a great market.

1. Is the group accessible – do you know exactly where to find them?
2. Do you know exactly what’s standing in the way of their success?
3. Do they have the disposable income to invest in your solutions?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of these, it’s time to choose a better market. Don’t worry if you don’t have expertise or knowledge about their field. Remember, you’re a coach – it’s all about drawing out your client’s wisdom. They will teach you what you want to know.

Want help with your niche?

Start by grabbing my free ebook 5 Secrets to a Highly Profitable Coaching Niche You’ll Love. It will help you test your coaching niche to make sure it will go the distance for you. Also share your story as a comment below. If you’ve got a target market, share who it is. If you’re totally flummoxed, I want to know. I’m the niche market wizard. I’ve got something up my sleeve for you too!

  • Rhonda

    What a GREAT article. The “who first, then what and how” really hit home for me. Thanks for the tips and keep ’em coming 😉

    Tom

    • Thanks Tom! Yeah, for coaches, getting hung up on what and how and forgetting the who is the root of the client attraction struggle.

  • Rhonda,

    I must say very new ideas to me. I have been labouring at my coaching practice for over a year now. I find if difficult to realise what area I could concentrate on as I feel I would be restricting myself too much? I see your priority is to concentrate on WHO. My budget for training is nil as my business has not been booming unfortunately.
    Thanks again Rhonda

    Nuala

    • Think of target marketing like focusing your energy and leveraging your time rather than restricting you. The budget issue is a circular one. The longer you labour without a decent income, the more likely it is you’ll give up and not experience the soul-satisfying work and income you want. I do understand and what I’m suggesting is let go of what doesn’t work and follow the approaches of the successful coaches who have gone before you. You can coach anyone, so why not give yourself the advantage of coaching a unique group who will become your raving fans? http://ravingfans.biz

  • Anita

    Rhonda,

    I loved your article on How to own Your Coaching Market. Unfortunately, I’m one of the totally flummoxed ones! My background is somewhat “all over the place,” and I know that if I could discover my target market and their challenges, etc. I could really start to work. Is there a “secret” formula/exercises for one to figure out who their target market is? Thank you for all your help to date!

    ~Anita

    • Hey Anita,

      I know it’s painful to not have a great focus for your marketing. That’s why I created my workshop — How To Cultivate Raving Fans Who Crave your Coaching. Sorry you missed it. The six week workshop began June 9. That’s the perfect way to get the support you need to choose a viable market. I’ll be running it again in fall. Stay tuned.

  • Rhonda

    I want to thank you for your wisdom during the recent Raving Fans workshop! You’re so ‘right on’ in helping us in determining a niche (as difficult as it is) that I’m already seeing markedly improved responses and conversion rates. I’d highly recommend your workshop

    Greg Ramsey
    Human Resource Strategist

    • Greg, I’m delighted you’re seeing better conversion rates. I’m not surprised. The combination of focusing on one narrow market, championing their success is bound to bring lasting success to your coaching biz!

  • I’m developing my niche-working with professionals who need to respond to bullying (workplace mostly). It’s based on my 20 years of work in the underbelly of work and education and is so inspiring. I can’t wait to get to work when I have these clients because their successes and growth is absolutely amazing to watch. I’ve never seen so much progress in any of my clients. We go from angst to anger to assertiveness and then success. I have some clients who have been expressing bullying behavior and have come to me for ‘reprogramming’. But, it’s all about bullying.
    .-= Kathleen Schulweis´s last blog ..Hello world! =-.

    • You are a powerhouse, Kathleen. Your Confidence Connections website, ezine and programs for Executives are so high quality. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Val

    Hi – Lots of helpful info on your blog. You get my vote! Thanks for sharing.

    • I'm delighted and grateful. Many thanks, Val!

  • Karen Richardson

    Hi Rhonda, I have recently completed my certification with CTA in April 2010. During the class I struggled with identifying my target group. I have am now looking at two possible target markets coaching female physicians or long term care administrators. My research shows the issue of balance between career and family as their number one challenge.They have many sub-challenges as well. Choice of specialty that allows time for a family, when to start a family so it doesn't jeopardize their career momentum, providing quality time with children and spouse this is just to list a few challenges. In my past life I was a long term care administrator and know their challenges and can speak their language. I'm just not clear how to get in front of these group. So I'm in stuck mode right now. I find both of these groups extremely interesting

    • You're so smart to choose a target market. I know that making that choice can be tough, but once you do everything gets easier. Consider taking my workshop — How to Choose and Champion Your Ideal Coaching Market. In addition to exercises that will help you choose, I also show you how to interview folks in your market then turn that data into client-winning marketing language and offers they will buy. Hope to work more with you there. We start June 15. http://idealcoachingmarket.com

  • Gettingtofutureyou

    Hello Rhonda-Great info everywhere here!

    I am having difficulty, however in wrapping my head around the concept of not needing to be an “expert” in the market one chooses for their niche…I see that in one of your examples above a coach chose “financial planners” without knowing about BEING a financial planner. I'm trying to just let it sink in…but my brain is saying “but, but, BUT…….” Athletes, actors and musicians…I can see coaching them, but business people? ack!!! 🙂 I realize that my brain just needs a clue to get over this block. I will continue reading, listening and learning.

    • It really is a mindset shift. To go from believing coaching is about expertise to it being about having a thinking partner to draw the client's wisdom out. What drives coaches to try this proven approach is that what they are doing — trying to sell coaching and coaching concepts — doesn't result in a sustainable business. They try this approach and it works! That's because it's all about what the client knows (ie: what your market knows), NOT what you know. Athletes, actors and musicians is 3 huge markets, but you could choose one of them. The question is, would a musician, actor or athletes invest in coaching as a solutions when actors and athletes already have coaches of a sort. Business people really are just people. You might still think you have to know more than they know or coach them about business. Not so. I invite you to let that go.

  • Gettingtofutureyou

    Hello Rhonda-Great info everywhere here!

    I am having difficulty, however in wrapping my head around the concept of not needing to be an “expert” in the market one chooses for their niche…I see that in one of your examples above a coach chose “financial planners” without knowing about BEING a financial planner. I'm trying to just let it sink in…but my brain is saying “but, but, BUT…….” Athletes, actors and musicians…I can see coaching them, but business people? ack!!! 🙂 I realize that my brain just needs a clue to get over this block. I will continue reading, listening and learning.

  • It really is a mindset shift. To go from believing coaching is about expertise to it being about having a thinking partner to draw the client's wisdom out. What drives coaches to try this proven approach is that what they are doing — trying to sell coaching and coaching concepts — doesn't result in a sustainable business. They try this approach and it works! That's because it's all about what the client knows (ie: what your market knows), NOT what you know. Athletes, actors and musicians is 3 huge markets, but you could choose one of them. The question is, would a musician, actor or athletes invest in coaching as a solutions when actors and athletes already have coaches of a sort. Business people really are just people. You might still think you have to know more than they know or coach them about business. Not so. I invite you to let that go.

  • I get it now!! Your website has been such an eye opener for me! I was trying to avoid a niche so I didn’t limit myself, and getting no where. No with the simple reframe of targeting a market, a ‘who’, the lights have come on.

    I really want to coach couples who want support in recovering their damaged relationship but I’m not sure if I need to narrow this more. I initially started out thinking I would work with partners and spouses of addicts but this hasn’t been a well converting niche. I feel like if I broaden it to targeting couple recovering from ANY relationship damage I might do better.

    I will work it out. With the fantastic help of your website!

    • Hey again Rachael. Love connecting with you here and it seems like you’re gobbling up all this great info. Nothing makes me happier! ; ‘ )

      I was wondering if you’re a therapist as well as a coach? I noticed your thinking about some therapeutic topics — any kind of “recovery” is usually best left to therapists as they would be the “top of mind” resource for those issues. Plus, you can find yourself in an uncomfortable liability issue coaching about those topics.

      So, are you on the “health” or “relationship” track? In any case, be sure to choose a target market that’s viable — easy to find (and I mean 100s of people at a time), narrow and full of seekers — people who do invest money and time into their personal/professional growth. Hope this helps. Did you grab my freebie — 5 Secrets No One Ever Told You About Your Coaching Niche…?

      • Thank you for the reply Rhonda. And yes, I have been gobbling all your great information up. My husband commented that I seem to have reignited with my coaching and he’s right. I have to thank your work here for that.

        No, I’m not a therapist and your questions helped me to brainstorm and better define who it is I want to work with last night. Recovery is certainly the wrong word but one I tend to default to given it was literally a path of recovery for my husband and I to get where we are today. Thank you for questioning this term.

        We are lucky in NZ that we don’t tend to have a huge culture of liability claims but I still don’t want to venture into territory that is well out of my depth. What I do want is to help couples revive the passion, commitment and love in their lives together and move away from old patterns that keep them stuck in a “it’s not bad” relationship. My thinking is that I can appeal to those who don’t want to feel ‘broken’ and go down the therapy path which is funny given my words seemed suggest heading that way. I will keep working on my elevator speech until I get just the right angle.

        Anyway, THANK YOU again and I will be wandering through the rest of what I haven’t read yet, including your 5 secrets sitting in my inbox ; )

        • Couples reviving their passion is a great niche market and topic. Before you try to figure everything out in your head, go and interview a bunch of couples about their biggest challenges (clue: the kind they would pay to fix). You want to strike a deep chord to encourage them to listen to you, engage and enroll in your programs. I teach coaches how to interview their market and use that language in their marketing and offers in my Ideal Coaching Market program. Check it out on my site.

  • Wendy

    Great article and comments, as always – thanks!

  • becky

    Hi Rhonda, I have just found your site as your byline hit my pain point straight between the eyes!  And, what an excellent site – well done.  I was a former elite pro athlete so my niche could be anything in the fitness or self dev to sport markets….What do you think of this: target market: women entrepreneurs (as they are in business BUT so are ‘women who work from home) on mental toughness…or, high performance (by adding the diet & fitness to mental toughness) is this too broad in subject or should I stick to just mental toughness? I love helping people (women especially) strive for Excellence and just want a way to get my message out via videos and eventually sell a few products and services. I wonder about targeting this towards women who work from home instead though, as I know i can get in front of these women easily.  Am I on the right tracks…any tip would be gratefully appreciated.  Becky

    • Hey Becky, thank for joining in and sharing your idea. The question is always this: will people buy what you want to sell? Will they wake up with the desire and then hire you? Or will you have to convince them, which is exhausting.

      So I show coaches and other entrepreneurs how to zone in on a target market that is easy-to-find (gathers in groups) and then do info interviews to find out what transformation they KNOW they are hungry for.

      I’m not sure if people wake up wanting mental toughness or high performance. Instead they wake up wanting the OUTCOME those things can get them.

      So if your target market is women entrepreneurs, do info interviews with 10 or more of them to find out what they already know is really important to them and then help them get there. Diet, exercise and mental toughness are the tools not the outcome they’ll buy. Make sense?

      FYI women entrepreneurs is a very large niche market. How about narrowing to some sub-group so you can stand out in the crowd?

      Also, for more information and support on how to choose a valid niche and put together messages and offers they will buy, check this out: http://prosperouscoach.com/instant

  • Fadja

    Hi Rhonda!

    I love your website and your articles. They are packed full of information. Great value! I started my business one year ago in the gardening industry. Here I show gardening beginners and less experienced garden owners to design their own stunning garden by getting to know it first.

    What do you think about this niche? I am still struggeling to get clients, but I found that I haven’t reached enough people yet. Your website was an eye-opener. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much Fadja! Are you a coach? I’m not sure that gardeners have a strong enough desire to invest much in creating their own garden. Most will learn from friends, from a book or hire a landscaper. If you’re a coach, I’d recommend choosing a more viable market. That said, if you love what you’re doing and you’re okay with what you’re earning stick with it!

  • Fadja

    Thanks Rhonda for your comment! I am a garden coach and I show people what’s possible in their garden or help them choosing and arranging the right plants, give them hands-on help with their garden projects. I am also a garden designer and create designs for those who want a good design from the spot, but want to build the garden by themselves.

    Here in Germany it is still a mission when I tell people what I’m doing. It’s common to hire a landscaper or a landscape architect. I want to fill the gap between those two and want to show garden owners that it’s possible to create and build a garden without spending a fortune. All they have to do is making the right decisions and learning the right things.

    • I understand, Fadja. Many blessings! I hope you are able to make a sustainable business from it. Very unique!

  • Trev

    Hi Rhonda,

    I stumbled onto your website today and am so thankful I did. I’ve been struggling for months to figure out what I do and finally figured out I’m a coach and then spent time figuring out what kind of coach I am and have been struggling with that.

    Reading what you said about figuring out the “who” first was awesome. Like you have said, coaching is coaching at the end of the day and figuring out who to do it for that will be inspiring for the long term is the key.

    Thank you thank you!

    • So glad to see you here, Trev. Targeting a specific and viable niche market or “target audience” really helps you uncover how to add value to their lives that they will invest in. Come back and chime in anytime!

      • Trev

        Thank you Rhonda!

        I got an inspired nudge this morning to focus on bank managers and wrote a short three step process on how to transform any moment of stress into inspired action. I’ll give that to them as a freebee and relationship builder and see how I can help them in other areas.

        Thank you again!

        • Trev, nicely done on your choice of a target audience — bank managers. It’s narrow, specific and likely to be a group that’s easy to find and motivated to invest.

          For your freebie, consider zoning in on a specific outcome that bank managers KNOW they want. Inspired action alone may not motivate them to sign up for your freebie and enroll with you. A good way to find out what your target audience wants most is to do a dozen informational interviews with them to uncover their pain and desires. Then you can create messages and offers that speak to them where they live. That’s how you attract an endless stream of invested clients.

          I walk coaches through how to niche powerfully and create those irresistible messages and offers in Your Highly Profitable Niche so coaches rock their businesses. And if you want private support to ace each step, you can have that too. https://prosperouscoachblog.com/niche/