After coaching professionally for twelve years and helping hundreds of coaches create successful businesses, my answer to this question is surprisingly and unequivocally – NO!
On the other hand, if you’re wondering: “Is coaching a viable business?” Absolutely – YES!
But, here’s the thing… financial success in coaching has little to do with coaching skills and everything to do with setting yourself up for success through best business practices. The result you most want – lots of ideal clients – will come to you by learning the business of coaching.
Think Like a Client, Not a Coach
If you want to attract coaching clients – and not just clients for today, but clients for all of your tomorrows – learn to think and talk like your ideal clients. First you need to know who they are and what makes them tick. That means choosing a well-defined niche market.
Next, you need an evocative answer to this question: What do you do?
If you stumble around when answering this question, you’re not alone. Few coaches master the ability to articulate what they do for clients in a way that leaves prospects wanting to hear more.
Most coaches try to sell life coaching, so they talk about what coaching can do for the prospect. But, while you might get some polite nods, that approach rarely results in a committed client. You haven’t spoken their language yet.
You’ll know you’ve hit the mark when it’s easy to attract a steady flow of new clients just by talking to prospects. Articulating what you do in a compelling way will distinguish you from all the other coaches and service providers vying for your prospects’ money and interest. And you can turn that skill into powerful written marketing too.
Assess Your Unique Benefit Statement
Take this quick assessment. Give yourself one point for each statement you can answer ‘yes’ to:
- I can describe my target market in five words or less.
- I know three distinctive things that my niche market wants.
- I know all about the top challenges faced by my niche market.
- At least a dozen people refer ideal clients to me.
- When I tell people what I do, they want to know more.
- A fifteen year-old can understand what I do.
- I understand what motivates my target market to buy my services.
- I know my services are worth my full fee.
- My friends, colleagues and family can explain what I do to someone else.
- Whenever I get the chance I tell people what I do.
1–4 Try a different approach. (See below.)
5–7 Keep refining and practicing!
8–10 You’ve got a winner!
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these, you’ve got something to celebrate! And here’s more good news: Whatever you didn’t check, you can learn.
Here’s a simple formula to articulate what you do in a masterful way:
I help __________________ (Describe your distinct target market in 5 words or less.)
to __________________ (Dynamic verb) __________________ (Describe the pain you’ll help them avoid or the outcome you’ll help them achieve.)
Sometimes you’ll want to add a phrase that describes how you’ll help them, unless it’s implied in what you’ve said above. That would look like this:
I help ______________ (Market) to ______________ (Dynamic verb) ______________ (Pain or outcome)
by __________________ (Describe the strategy or approach you’ll help them implement to provide real solutions to that challenge/desire.)
When you create your unique benefit statement, fill in the blanks with dynamic verbs and phrases that have the greatest impact in as few words as possible and use appropriate syntax. The temptation is to use broad and generic language that might apply to everyone – a big mistake! Word-smith your statement so that:
- It’s streamlined to no more than 20 words.
- It sounds right to you when you say it aloud.
- Every word is 100% relevant to your coaching niche market.
Let’s look at a few benefit statements and see what makes each one a winner or a dud. Notice that none of these talk about coaching! And sometimes, if the sentence is creatively phrased, the ‘by’ part is not needed.
I help new authors get their book from their minds onto the shelves.
– Winner! It describes, in the most streamlined and visually creative language, a specific challenge/desire and an implied solution that applies directly to this unique target market – new authors.
I support professionals to find balance in their work and home life.
– Dud. Professionals is a vague target market describing too many groups with different top challenges and wants. For example, a lawyer and massage therapist are not motivated by the same things even though they are both professionals. Few people will be compelled to hire a coach to gain balance. It’s just not a sexy enough outcome to invest in.
I work with college administrators to make significant contributions to their institution by matching their strengths to the best opportunities.
– Winner! Notice the narrow target market and how this statement speaks only to what would motivate this group.
I think you’ve got the picture. When you focus your language on what your coaching prospects most want, they’ll be intrigued with you and your services. Then it’s effortless to invite them into your practice.