Ep 44 – Craft a Compelling Benefit Statement for Your Coaching Business

This episode is part of the Client Winning Coaching Website series.  

In the last episode I described 3 approaches to choosing your brand or company name and domain.

Today we’re diving into how to create your benefit statement so that it’s attention-getting. It’s the second thing your web visitors should see on your website to help them feel at home and interested in what else you have to say there.

 You’ve no doubt heard the concept of a Benefit Statement. It’s a single well-crafted sentence that describes specifically how people in your target audience will benefit from working with you.

I like to call it a Core Message because it identifies your coaching niche and all of your other messaging and offers will stem from the concept. But for the purpose of this episode, I’ll stick with Benefit Statement.

If you’ve ever done any live networking, you’ve probably experienced that dreaded moment when it comes around the table to you and you’re supposed to say what you do.

I remember times like that where I literally snapped to attention when someone introduced themselves with style. That’s the power of a well-crafted Benefit Statement.

But I’ve also heard and read a lot of there statements that lack inspiration and won’t help the coach attract clients.

Obviously, you want yours to be highly relevant and compelling to your target audience. 

 So in today’s episode I’ll explain 4 main things:

  1. What makes a Benefit Statement COMPELLING as well as how to avoid that “MEH” response.
  2. What a well-crafted Benefit Statement will do for you and your target audience  plus why it will help you get engagement and enroll clients from your website.
  3.  A bunch of Benefit Statements that are beautifully word-smithed for impact as well as some that are duds so you can see the difference.
  4.  The pre-work and basic formula for crafting your own Benefit Statement.

 So first, what does a Benefit Statement do for you and your prospects?

 Your Benefit Statement is an attention-getter. It’s the centerpiece of your marketing. When you share an effective Benefit Statement, people will understand exactly who you serve and why those people would want to hire you.

You want colleagues and friends who hear it to say:
     “Oh, I know someone who could really use your help!”

You’ll use your statement a lot over the course of your business, including as:

·      The first marketing message in the header of your website.

·      The first sentence that you say to introduce yourself to prospects.

·      The beginning of your “elevator” speech when you share what you do in a networking meeting.

·      One of the first sentences within your “bio” for a presentation or your by-line in any kind of guest article or promotional material.

·      It’s also what you’d say if someone asks what you do for a living.

What Will Your Core Message Do for You?

·      Make it easy for you to articulate how you benefit your target audience.

·      “Weed out” non-ideal prospects. 

·      Spark interest with ideal prospects in seconds.

·      Evoke the response “That’s me!” or “I want help with that!”

·      Invite them to take a step with you.

·      Open potential for an enrolling conversation.

What Will Your Core Message Do for Your Coaching Audience?

·      They feel that you understand them and what they urgently want.

·      They recognize you as a potential go-to resource for them.

·      They begin to know, like and trust you (or move on).

Wouldn’t it be grand to stop having those awkward moments of trying to explain feebly what coaching is and why someone wants it.

In fact, and this is important … the word coaching doesn’t show up at all in a powerful Benefit Statement.

So before I go further let me share some actual Benefit Statements used by successful coaches.

As you listen to these, notice how each begins by specifically naming a target audience, then artfully goes on to name a challenge that target audience has which implies an outcome they want.

I help mompreneurs make more money doing work they love while taking care of priority #1: FAMILY.

I help parents empower their teenage daughters to build confidence, integrity and resilience for all of life’s adventures.

I help authors get their books out of their head and into bookstores.

I help restaurant owners and managers keep the staff and patrons who keep them in business.

I help divorced women move forward with vitality and a positive sense of self.

I help financial planners confidently build a lifetime of value with multi-generational clients.

So, do you see why those would snap the specific audiences mentioned to attention and pique interest?

What Makes for a Top Notch Benefit Statement?

Those were all top notch Benefit Statements. Why?

1.     Its one single sentence streamlined to 10 – 25 words max.

2.     It has the fewest possible prepositional phrases.

3.     The target audience is defined in the first phrase. I help _____

4.     The rest of the sentence names 1 to 2 SPECIFIC challenges and/or desired outcomes for your target audience.

5.     It flows mellifluously off the tongue. In other words it’s easy to say and read.

6.     It’s emotionally evocative.

That last one is critical if you want your statement to inspire action.

The words and concepts are highly relevant to the target audience and the syntax of the sentence is crafted mindfully.

That’s again why it’s really helpful to do market research in the form of info interviews to draw out from individuals in your target audience what specifically they say — how they language pain points and desired outcomes.

If you take nothing else away from today, I want you to hear this: Specificity grabs attention!

That applies to all messaging, whether you’re creating a Benefit Statement, writing web copy, blogs, social posts. You name it.

It’s so tempting to go with bland, broad, vague and abstract words. But those don’t grab attention or inspire action.

I think what happens for a lot for coaches is they want to leave the door open. They want their message to cover all bases. But that’s a misstep. Because broad, vague and abstract words and concepts don’t move people to action.

Let’s look at some of the Benefit Statements I read before one at a time. First, I’m going to dumb it down by replacing specific words with more broad, vague or abstract words. Then I’ll read again the crafted statement.

Here’s an example of how vague and broad misses the mark.

I help women get through divorce and thrive in their new life and relationships.

It’s not bad, just not attention getting. Now here it is with more specificity in the words:

I help divorced women move forward with vitality and a positive sense of self.

Instead of trying to cover everything — thriving in their new life — this statement hones in on vitality and positive sense of self, something all divorced women would want. 

Here’s another Benefit Statement dumbed down with abstraction and vagaries:

I help moms find fulfillment and joy in their businesses and family.

Starting with the audience as moms is too broad. The words ‘fulfillment’ and ‘joy ‘are too abstract, especially when used in a sentence that doesn’t get to a tangible benefit.

Tangible benefits get more attention. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also have emotional benefits included. 

See what I mean with this emotionally evocative Benefit Statement:

I help mompreneurs make more money doing work they love while taking care of priority #1: FAMILY.

See how much more powerful that statement is?

We know the previous statement was talking to moms with businesses but it didn’t make it as clear as it could. And what do business owners want? To make more money doing work they love. But since she’s a mom she also wants to take good care of her family.

Listen to one more set of Benefit Statements that goes from so-so to fantastic!

I help authors write with ease and grace so they can publish their books.

Okay. Not horrible. It names the target audience and something want, but it’s lacking emotionally evocative words. So this one infuses that emotion with a sense of motion:

I help authors get their books out of their head and into bookstores.

The Basic Formula for Your Benefit Statement

It might surprise you to know that a highly effective Benefit Statement is NOT:

·      About you.

·      About your skills.

·      A laundry list of how you help your clients.

·      The same as a tagline. That’s a different device altogether.

When you write your Benefit Statement:

1.     Begin with ‘I help’ or ‘Helping’.

2.     Then describe your target audience in the fewest possible words.

3.     Lastly describe in evocative language a specific tangible outcome they know they want that implies a related challenge they’ll move beyond.

CAUTION: Testing your Benefit Statement on people who are NOT in your target audience or who are not experts in marketing won’t bring you useful feedback. Well-meaning people who don’t understand what you’re doing may try to dissuade you from targeting and using specific language.

Okay, go forth and word-smith a compelling Core Message!

In the Next Episode: Custom Coaching Website Vs. DIY Template with Guest, Nichole Betterley, Chief Web Wiz

I’ll be interviewing Nichole Betterley https://npoweredsites.com, an ace web designer, the best I’ve found for coaches. We’ll talk about the real differences between DIY websites and custom professionally designed site. We’re biased for good reason.

Ep 43 – How to Brand Your Coaching Business

This episode is part of the Client Winning Coaching Website series.  

In the last episode, I detailed exactly what your website needs going for it to be a client-winning website — the type of site that helps you attract and enroll new clients.

Branding is the first thing people will see on your website and you want to leverage it by having it be on every page, plus anything else you create — a blog, a podcast, a business card, social profiles, letterhead. You get the picture.

What is a Coaching Business Brand?

It’s best known as your company name. You’ll have a logotype made for your brand. But branding goes deeper than that. It’s about the personality of your business.

Words are powerful!

When I first launched my coaching business, the brand I chose was Bubbling Well. That’s still my dba and what I use for the legal entity, copyright and other official things.

But, while the word is lovely, it only meant something to me. And it didn’t help my clients — who are coaches — to find me or understand how I can help them.

So in 2006, I changed my brand to Prosperous Coach, because helping coaches reach financial prosperity is my mission.

Branding a critical phase in your coaching business. It’s an opportunity to design a lasting brand that artfully describes your target audience and your coaching niche.

It’s best not to create your brand until you’ve chosen your target audience and designed your niche.

Every step leverages the next.

Here’s the secret … the narrower and more focused your brand, the easier it is to remember. 

Which of these brand grabs your attention most? And which do you think is most memorable?

Rhonda Hess Coaching
or
Bubbling Well
or
Prosperous Coach

You can tell that I felt the last one was most memorable. And indeed, it was somewhat magical when I made the shift how much easier it was to attract prospects who were ready to work with me.

3 Guidelines to Choose Your Brand

  1. It’s meaningful to your target audience.
  2. You love it!
  3. No one else has a similar brand / domain name.

The last point is more important than you might think because it’s better for everyone if your ideal clients don’t confuse your business with someone else’s. I know coaches who have received a “cease and desist” letter from someone who had the brand name first.

Brainstorm your brand while you’re online. Use a Google search first to see if your company name idea comes up that way. And if not, then use GoDaddy to see if the domain that matches your idea is available. If not, you’ll want to get more creative and unusual.

Let’s say you want the domain successfulmompreneurs.com and realize that someone has already registered it, DON’T simply choose a different suffix such as successfulmompreneurs.net. Similarly, if someone else has smartstartbiz.com, don’t opt for jumpstartbiz.com. In both cases your brand won’t stand out and you may lose clients to that other business.

Once you’ve landed on a good brand/domain, consider reserving not just the .com but also the .net, .biz, and .org.

Reserve the Domain For Your Own Name Too

Internet consultants recommend that you reserve your own name as well, even if it is not your company name. Your web designer can point the DNS servers of that domain to your brand domain. That way if someone can’t remember your brand name but they remember your name they can look it up and they will still arrive on your website.

3 Approaches to Choosing Your Coaching Business Brand

As with everything, there are several schools of thought about choosing a brand.

  1. Relevant to Your Audience

prosperouscoach.com

cultivatingresilientteens.com

impactfulleader.com

Audience oriented company names create a very memorable brand.

2. Relevant to the Top Problem You Solve or Your Niche

buildalifeafterloss.com

clientwinningwebsites.com

gracefuldivorcesolutions.com

yourbusinessunchained.com

These types of brands also help ideal clients find you online and reinforce the benefit of working with you.

3. Your Name

tonyrobbins.com

marieforleo.com

Names are not strong brands initially. It’s an approach best used if you’re already well known in your industry. For example you’ve written a popular book, do keynote talks or intend to do big events, press releases or use major media techniques like television.

Whatever approach you choose, go for a brand/company name that is:

  • 1 – 4 words max.
  • Easy to say and read. If you use foreign language or made up words, be certain the pronunciation is intuitive. For foreign language words, also be certain that you know what the word means, and it’s appropriate.

Leave the Words ‘Coach’ and ‘Coaching’ Off Your Brand

I recommend against using those words because it could work against you unless your target audience is coaches, which is the case with my business.

Hopefully you’ve listened to my episode called Why Coaching is a Hard Sell. . It’s true and one of the challenges we coaches face in enrolling new clients.

If you’re not targeting corporate clients, most people don’t know they want coaching so they won’t search for it or respond well to the word or concept.

Please know that I’m not implying coaching isn’t valuable. Of course it is! And it’s best not to wave it in people’s faces. It’s better for your messages, offers — everything you do — to be centered around solving a specific acute problem for a narrow group.

Once client’s enroll, coaching may be your primary tool to support them. But they don’t buy your tools, they invest in outcomes.

The Next Episode is: Craft a Compelling Benefit Statement for Your Coaching Business

Ep 42 – What Exactly Makes a Coaching Website Client Winning?

Hello coaches! Today we are doing something a little bit different … I’m going to take you on a journey.

And, this is really about how your website can work on your behalf to bring you clients and future clients and get people on your list so you can connect with them and build relationships of trust with them over the long term.

I’ve been talking about websites for a couple of episodes recently in a new series that I’m working on called Client Winning Coaching Websites. This is the third episode in this series.

If you haven’t heard the first two, I‘d recommend that you go back and listen. But after you listen to this one.

Okay, so today what we’re going to dive into is what is it that makes a coaching website client winning.

And remember last week I talked about how so many coaches are putting up what I call an online brochure, which is really not geared for attracting and enrolling coaching clients.

As a result, the website just kind of sits there and does nothing. And it’s frustrating because no doubt you spent money on it and time on it and invested a lot of your heart and soul into it too.

There is a totally different way to do a website and if you’re about to start your website, I hope you’ll listen really closely because it does begin with some really early things. One is choosing a viable target audience full of seekers and developing a really smart niche that’s going to help you stand out in the crowd.

But also there’s the mechanical thing which is to choose a website template that is actually geared towards enrolling clients for you and a lot of them are not. That online brochure type is not.

Imagine the Customer Journey Online

Now, take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes and think about when you’ve been online and something has jumped out at you and hit the mark about what’s important to you .

You have clicked and gone to a website. Then, because of the experience that you had there on the website, you made a decision to sign up on a list for get a free download. Or, perhaps even taken a stronger action and actually invested money into a program of some sort.

That journey is called the customer journey.

Create a strategized customer journey like what I describe below for your website tailored to your target audience.

The easiest way I could think of to illustrate this for you was to talk to you about your own goals and objectives as a coach.

As human beings, when are on the Internet, we are mostly in a trance moving through this thick, very busy, loud, marketing-heavy environment. We very quickly make decisions about what we’re going to pay attention to and what we’re not going to pay attention to. 

It’s mere seconds. We pay attention to is something that has a high degree of relevance to us as individuals.

Your top challenges and goals are floating around in your head in the background all the time. Something that you’re struggling with, something that you are challenged by, something that you’d like to change, something that you’ve tried to do on your own but haven’t been able to.

You’re looking for help … maybe even consciously yet.

Relevance is What Grabs Attention Online

What we’re talking about here is relevance

You have a set of things that are top of mind for you as an individual and every other person out there on the Internet has a set of challenges, goals, things that they’re thinking about in the back of their mind all the time. 

How does that relate to your website?

Be sure that your website hits one of those high points, one of those relevancy points for your target audience. 

And you can see the problem here is that if you don’t have a narrow enough target audience — if you don’t know exactly what makes them tick

  • what keeps them up at night
  • what it is that they really, really want
  • what is an acute problem they most want solved

… then you’re going to have a hard time creating a website with an online customer journey that will enroll your ideal clients.

A Model of a Customer Journey Relevant to Coaches

I’m going to take you on my ideal client’s journey because it’s quite intimate to me and  you. I serve coaches and you are a coach so the customer journey that I’ve put together that connects to my website is relevant to you.

My hope is that by walking you through this, you’ll have a model. You’ll see what it is that you need to do with your own website, for your own target audience. 

Okay, so there you are. You’re a new coach who finished coach training or are just about to.

But so far your business really hasn’t taken off and there are set of things that you’re struggling with as it relates to your coaching business.

You want to be a successful coach and to make a difference in people’s lives. One of the struggles is this whole niche thing.

I still don’t have clarity about my coaching niche!

So what do you do when you’re online with that problem? Well, you might search for answers about coaching niches. Searches are one way that your clients might find you.

Searching online you’ve found some articles about coaching niches and you start to read them and you’ve kept your Google page open because you want to go back to options. Some of the articles are helpful and some of them are not. Some skim over the surface.

But then you come across something that is unique, that isn’t something you’ve heard everywhere else and it speaks to you.

You’re inspired so you go their website.

Here’s How to Create a Pre-Qualified Coaching Client on Your Website

To continue the journey where it becomes clear how to do this …

  1. The first thing you see is their brand (same as the name of their company and domain). and it speaks to you.
  2. And then right underneath that brand name, you see a core message or benefit statement. And what it says hits the mark about specifically what you want and what challenges you, so you’re inspired to read more.
  3. You scroll down and you read the highly relevant home page web copy. It’s short and hits specific words that you’ve been thinking and feeling.
  4. It’s pointing you towards a solution — a free downloadable guide all about how to figure out your coaching niche. And so without a thought you are putting in your name and email address and you are downloading that pdf.
  5. You’re inspired to immediately open it up and everything you see in that guide makes your heart sing because here is someone who gets you, someone who understands what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, they’ve done it themselves and they have a system.
  6. And you are so inspired by this point that when you read how the guide invites a free Discovery Session with this person you don’t hesitate to schedule it.
  7. And in the meantime, while you’re waiting for that discovery session to happen, you are back at that website bingeing on more relevant content.
  8. By the time you get to that Discovery Session you are pre-sold on hiring this person! So when they offer you an opportunity to work with them, you sign up

What I’ve just described is it customer journey. It’s a model for you and what you want to create for your ideal clients — a unique narrow audience.

Mindfully and Strategically Design Your Coaching Client’s Web Journey

Don’t throw up a website selling coaching. Instead, mindfully, strategically making every decision that influences what your website is going to look like, what the copy’s going to say, what your free offer  is that takes your ideal clients on a meaningful journey of building trust and getting pre-qualified to work with you. 

By the way, don’t just offer a Discovery Session as your freebie on your website!

It’s too early for that. It’s kind of like going on a first date with someone who brings their parents along. Too much too soon!

Build your customer journey from the ground up.

I know it’s not an easy thing to create this customer journey. I know it’s not an easy thing to choose your coaching niche to make sure that you have a viable target audience that’s full of seekers — people who will invest in your help to get exactly where they want to go.

Specificity is the Secret to Creating a Client-Winning Journey for Your Coaching Clients

It is specificity in all things that snaps our head to attention.

Going back to the coaching niche example, see how specific that is?

We need to find for you what is that burning issue that is common for your specific narrow target audience. The pain is so acute that when your ideal clients see words about that on the Internet, they snap to attention.

Examples of a Brand and Benefit Statement

Now, I promised you in this episode that I would explain to you what makes a client winning coaching website client winning. And in a way I just have but I’m going to go over it now instead of the customer journey where you’re a part of it.

First, it starts with choosing a brand name that is really specific to the outcome that you offer. Here is my brand:

Prosperous Coach

See how it fits my target audience?

I’ll go into more details about brand names in a future episode, but just know that that’s an overview. 

Your brand —which is the same thing as your company name and your domain mirrors that too — is the very first point of client attraction on your website. 

You want ideal coaching clients to arrive on your website and think: yeah, this is for me

Which brings me to the second point, which is what I call a core message and a lot of people call a benefit statement — it’s a sentence that describes in specifics how you help your target audience. 

My core message is:

Helping coaches earn more and market less

by choosing a profitable coaching niche they’ll love.

I’m naming two specific things coaches really want — to earn more and market less and a top of mind challenge for new coaches — to choose a profitable niche they’ll love.

It’s short and it’s power packed. It’s not just a tagline like — Go. Fight. Win! — it says more than that. In seconds it tells web visitors if they have arrived at a place they want to be and it inspires them to delve further into your website.

That core message is high up in your website  right on the header right there with your brand. 

On many coaches websites that I see, the header just has a quote on it or it has some pretty image, but it doesn’t really tell the person who is arrived on the website: I have arrived at the right place.

When you go to website, aren’t you pretty quick to judge whether this website is valuable to you or not? 

If not, you bounce off and you’re on to something else because the internet is a vast place and if you are not spoken to at the heart level about your specific challenges, then you’re gone off that site never to come back again.

Next, what goes right underneath the header is some client winning web copy and there are a lot of tricks to web copy. Don’t write a philosophical essay and hope that people are going to read it because people have very short attention spans.

We are a distracted population, especially when we’re online, especially when we’re on our phones.

We are so easily distracted away from what we’re doing that we very often don’t read more than a sentence before we move on

 So your web copy on your homepage needs to be short, punchy and get right to the point in a way that is emotionally evocative. It can’t be formal language. It can’t be long, deep paragraphs. Maybe … 250 words max.

Your home page copy is meant to get your target audience to your first conversion process, which is your opt in  — a free downloadable guide, loaded with value that they can’t get anywhere else.

Don’t create a freebie that’s coachey, because there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of those kinds of articles and free things out there already. 

Dig in and create a free offer that’s so specific to your target audience and niche while it solves a really unique problem they have while it pre-sells them on enrolling with you without being salesy.

I’m going to go into more detail about freebies later on down the road,

Once they download your freebie, you want them to read it. The copy needs to be short and punchy and really to the point. Pull their eyes through that downloadable freebie and deliver AHA’s quickly. Enlighten them, inspire them, open their eyes, get them thinking.

You want them to read it all the way to the end where you invite them to your Discovery Session

By the time they finish reading your guide they are so primed that they click the link takes them to your calendar.

But you know people are all different. Some people are not going to immediately read that downloadable freebie. So you also need to have set up a set of follow up emails constructed in a very strategic way. They’re short, but they’re connective, they’re emotionally evocative, and they point attention to specific passages or pages of your freebie.

Lastly, your Discovery Session is your opportunity to enroll them as a client. There’s a non-salesy, non-coachey way to enroll them that doesn’t send them away wholly satisfied as sample coaching sessions do.

If you are working on your website right now and there’s something holding you back from getting it done in a client winning way, reach out to me. Let’s have a strategy session.

In the Next Episode, I’ll go into deeper information about how you choose and develop your coaching business’s brand and domain.

Ep 40 – Do This Before You Create Your Coaching Website

This episode is part of a brand new series called Client Winning Coaching Websites.

This series is especially for new coaches who don’t have a website yet. I want to help you do it right the first time.

This series is also for you if you have a coaching website already and it’s not serving you well. No one is going to the website, signing up on your list or contacting you for a Discovery Session.

There are good reasons for that and I want to help you get your website working for you.

So be sure to stay tuned for each successive episode in this series because I’ll be going into details. And I truly believe you’ll have some big AHAs about how to improve your website.

This episode is about first steps to take before you create your coaching website.

  • Before you hire a designer.
  • Or before you decide to buy a Wix or Squarespace template and do it yourself. A dubious choice!
  • Or, before you ask your kid or your best friend’s cousin to slap up a website for you.

All tough choices especially if you do that BEFORE you make these critical 3 decisions about your coaching business.

First, I want you to know that I am not a web designer. But I am an international business mentor for coaches with 20 years of experience.

And, because I’m the TEACHER Archetype, I tend to learn from my mistakes by studying and creating step-by-step guides for others. So, after I launched my 4th website, which is a client generating website, I decided to pass on what I learned.

I created a step-by-step online training program called Client Winning Websites & Blogs for Coaches.

It was a comprehensive training that sold well for a long time.

But, the world of the Internet changes so fast. I took the program off the market because there are constant subtle shifts in how things work, in Google’s algorithms and in online trends.

I didn’t want to be updating that product every 6 months. I’d rather be helping coaches in Strategy Sessions and in my VIP 5 month Coaching Business Breakthrough program.

Every coach I work with, I help them write client-winning copy for their website and manage the web design process because my website and my client’s websites are proof that you can turn web visitors into clients if you create a friendly journey for your target audience on your site.

I realized recently, why not repurpose and upgrade the material in Client Winning Websites & Blogs for Coaches into bite-sized insights for Prosperous Coach Podcast.

So, over several weeks I’ll cover in great detail what makes for a client-winning coaching website and I’ll share some examples you can see online.

3 Steps to Take Before You Do Anything Else in Your Coaching Business

Today’s mini-episode is about 3 the things you should do before you create a coaching website so you don’t waste time and money.

And that’s always my aim— to help you create a financially successful and rewarding coaching business from the get go, rather than getting stuck blindly following the masses of coaches who don’t create a sustainable business. There’s no reason why you should know how to do this without support from someone who has taken the less traveled road and found an easier way.

Okay… let me tell you a story … and see if you see yourself anywhere in this.

About 1 – 3 times a week a new coach reaches out to me. They’ve been referred to my podcast by another coach — and I’m grateful for that — or done a search for “coaching niche” and so they end up strolling around my website and filling out the application on my Work with Rhonda page.

By the way that’s called a funnel or conversion process. More about that soon in another episode.

So the coach writes in their application that don’t know their coaching niche or target audience but they’re working on their website, creating ads and coaching programs.

And I think … bummer. In my minds eye I see them throwing time and money away on a blazing fire.

It’s an honest mistake. When you finish coach training there’s this emotional rush to get a website up, to start doing all the conventional things all coaches think are necessary to attract coaching clients.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of websites. My own website sends me a constant stream of ideal clients who are ready to enroll with me. That’s a client-winning website.

But, creating your website before you know who you’re serving and the problem you help them solve is like:

  • building a house on land you don’t own.
  • dressing up a manikin in finery when you’re wearing rags.
  • buying a car before you can see over the steering wheel.

Developmentally it’s better to wait until your coaching business has a solid foundation.

It’s not just the cart before the horse. There is no horse in sight. It’s a cart with square wheels mired in a swamp. It’s not going to go anywhere or do anything until it’s dismantled.

That’s what it’s like to put up a coaching website before you know WHO you serve and WHAT acute problem you help them solve.

I want you to know I made this mistake and not just once.

When I started as a coach in 1997, over the first 3 years I threw away so much money on 3 different websites. They were pretty websites with what I thought was interesting copy. I worked so hard on them.

But they were all duds. They sat there in cyberspace collecting dust. I only got hits from friends, family and myself.

Your website can be command central for your coaching business. And I do think unless you have a regional business that having a good website is critical if you want to be taken seriously. It can be an incredible tool if it’s created right. In an upcoming episode I’ll explain the distinct difference between an online coaching brochure and a client winning website.

If you’re about to create your coaching website or you have one now and it’s not serving you well, be sure to stay tuned for each successive episode.

This one is about first steps. Before you hire the designer. Or decide to buy a Wix or Squarespace template and do it yourself. Before you ask your kid or your best friend’s cousin to slap up a website for you, make critical decisions about your coaching business.

These are decisions about your future. They’re big decisions and doable. Making these decisions will help you have crystal clarity about your value as a professional coach.

What are those decisions and why are they important?

You know what I’m going to say. Step #1 is for you to choose a viable target audience to serve before you do anything else.

Viable is an audience full of seekers, people who do invest in their own personal and professional growth. That viable audience is easy to find and connect with. They are eager to evolve and it’s narrow enough group that you’ll stand out in a crowd.

And standing out in the crowd is a big part of what makes it possible to attract clients online. Think about it, if you’re just another voice in the crowd, no one ever listens.

And there’s another step to take before you slap up some copy about coaching. Market research. And it’s not what you think.

It’s not asking a bunch of people if they’ll pay for your coaching. It’s more subtle and scientific than that. It’s how you’ll learn exactly what your audience wants so much they’ll invest in your help to get it.

And knowing that is how you develop a smart coaching niche.

Then, you’re ready to create a brand and get a matching domain, to craft an attention getting core message and offers.

And finally, to write web copy that’s streamlined and resonates with your target audience.

What’s next then? Hiring a savvy web designer who knows how to code and how to make a customized website designed to convert visitors into fans and fans into clients.

Very few designers have all those skills. Most just know how to make a website look pretty.

Here’s the thing … the people you’re going to serve are at the center of your coaching business.

Their problems and goals are where YOU come in.

Transformative coaching can’t happen without the coachee — the person you’ll serve with your coaching.

You and all coaches love people and want to see them thrive. Your coaching website might be their first connection with you. So why would you build a coaching website before you know your target audience intimately?

Look, I get it. The target audience and coaching niche decision are hard. Why else would I get so many hits on my website from ideal clients about this topic. It’s not all I do to help my clients succeed but it is the first decision. And that decision becomes your true north. It’s how you’ll know what to do next and next.

If you’re struggling knowing who you audience is or how to make your coaching niche stand out in the crowd, let’s get that settled in a Strategy Session.

Or, if you’ve got a coaching website up and it’s doing nothing for you, let’s have a Strategy Session so I can review it with you and share step by step how you can transform it to be a client-winning website from now on.

The Next Episode is: Some Coaching Websites Aren’t Set Up to Enroll Coaching Clients

Ep 36 – Ten Big Questions for Intake with Your New Coaching Clients

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets and Habits series. And it’s a continuation from Episode 34 about client management systems.

This questionnaire I’m about to take you through is one piece of a good client management system.

This episode and the next 3 will be mini episodes because I’m moving house! So you’ll get a bitesized idea in a short time. I hope you find them valuable.

By the way, Prosperous Coach Podcast just passed 10,000 downloads! That’s one sign among many that these episodes are landing well with coaches. Thank you for listening and sharing this with other coaches! We are growing a community.

If you’d like to be part of that community, join us in the Prosperous Coach Club on Facebook

Questions are the life blood of what we do with clients. Open ended questions are so powerful that a single one can evoke a positive shift.

It makes sense that the coaching client intake would include powerful open-ended questions!

Here are the 10 questions I have in one document of my intake packet:

  1. What are your strongest beliefs about yourself?
  2. What are your strongest beliefs about the world?
  3. What wisdom has come out of your greatest life lessons?
  4. When in your life have you felt the most generative?
  5. What does prosperity mean to you?
  6. How do you define your success?
  7. What is your BIG WHY for creating an ongoing business?
  8. How might you sabotage your own success?
  9. What do you want me to do if I notice sabotaging behavior?
  10. How can I best empower you?

The Next Episode is: 8 Powerful Questions to Ask Coaching Clients Anytime

Ep 35 – 2 Powerful Shifts To Enroll More Committed Coaching Clients

This episode is an ON AIR Coaching Session with David Smith.

David Smith is a Washington DC – based career coach. He is a Fulbright scholar. After 30 years in law, as a University professor and  overseas working for a think tank, he came to realize that his collective experiences provide insight into inside DC careers.

For two years he has coaching two different audiences:

  • people 20 – 30 emerging into international or policy based careers inside the beltway
  • people 50+ looking for their encore career

Two Problems Related to Coaching Client Engagement

David said he was looking for some wisdom. Specifically he was having two challenges in his coaching business:

  1. Sometimes clients disappear without notice.
  2. Younger clientele are difficult to engage into a longer term coaching relationship.

These classic challenges are related. And both are things that David can fix with a shift in his approach to enrolling.

I asked David to describe what he tells prospects about his offer.

He offers a Discovery Session and admitted to a common problem coaches have … over-delivering in the discovery call.

Shift #1: Stop Coaching in Discovery Sessions

Some coaches offer a sample coaching session to enroll clients. I used to do this myself and found that, much of the time, prospects would walk away from that experience feeling satisfied and uninterested in taking a next step.

I was so intent on showing my value that I over-delivered. And the prospect would say: “Thanks!” But she had no interest in taking a next step.

Can you relate to that challenge?

I remember feeling sort of demoralized by the lack of interest in coaching, something I felt so passionate about.

That’s because coaching is a hard sell.

People don’t wake up knowing that they want coaching. Instead they seek out solutions to specific problems.

So, unless you’re offering a sample coaching session that focuses on a very specific coaching niche — a specific solution to a specific problem — then your sample coaching session is going to feel general and not highly relevant to people.

Even if you have a specific niche, a sample session isn’t the most effective tool for enrolling a committed long term coaching client who pays you well. Because the tendency to perform and over-deliver is strong in that type of session.

When I shifted away from offering sample coaching sessions to offering discovery calls, I immediately started enrolling more ideal clients and earning more from coaching.

Here’s the thing … a Discovery Session isn’t meant to be a coaching session.

You can absolutely use the coaching tools of asking powerful questions and listening in a Discovery Session. But you don’t want to step into the Co-Creative Relationship with a prospect because they have not paid a fee for the coaching. That’s part of the client’s responsibility.

Instead, a Discovery Session is a get-to-know-you call. Ultimately, it’s about assessing fit between the coach and prospect.

David knew this. He just had not framed the Discovery Session that way to prospects. And, because he is passionate about helping his prospects he would “give away the farm”.

In your Discovery Sessions ask powerful open-ended questions to:

  • Learn basic information about your potential client, especially as it relates to your niche — the specific problem you solve for a specific target audience.
  • Connect the prospect emotionally to what they want most and what’s in the way of that outcome.

Then, once you’ve heard all you need to hear to fully understand what motivates your prospect and what’s been holding them back, share how you work with clients.

And this is where my second recommendation to David came in.

Shift #2: Offer a Signature Program Tailor Made to Your Target Audience

David has been charging for session-by-session coaching.

No wonder he was having trouble with clients “ghosting” and not responded to his check ins!

Part of David’s background was as a lawyer where most clients would pay an hourly rate. So it’s understandable that this is the practice David applied to his coaching business.

When I started as a coach, I charged for monthly coaching and I had similar challenges where clients would suddenly disappear.

Have you ever experienced something like that?

You’re going along, thinking you’re doing good work together and then suddenly the client doesn’t show up or respond to emails.

It’s weird. And it feels awful!

But then I realized that, monthly or session-by-session coaching isn’t positioned well. It’s not oriented around big enough outcomes for clients. So they aren’t motivated to keep it up.

More on that in a minute …

For now, what is a Signature Program and how can it possibly work with coaching?

It works better than you might think.

You can still let clients bring the agenda. You still use coaching skills to serve them. The difference happens when you enroll clients.

Instead of selling coaching when you have a Discovery Session, you’ll connect the desired outcomes and challenges your client is having to a structured program.

Milestones Are the Secret to Enrolling Long Term Coaching Clients

Let’s say you’re a coach and you want to be successful but it’s not working out the way you thought it would.

And then you hear about this podcast that supplies all sorts of helpful tidbits about mindset, habits, tactics and strategies to build your business.

You realize this person putting out these episodes could help you. So you go to her website, check her out and there’s even more free valuable information there. You fill out the form on the website. And you’re invited to a Discovery Session.

In that Discovery Session, you’re asked a bunch of powerful questions that help you articulate what you really want and what’s been in the way of that.

And then, you hear that there’s a program you can enroll in that would help you accomplish all the tasks you’ve been struggling to do on your own. It’s accomplishing those milestones in a step by step fully supported way that turns you on.

So you go for it. You enroll into that Signature Program because it’s clear there’s a structure and it’s thought through.

On the other hand, if in that Discovery Session you heard that you could have session-by-session or monthly coaching and no milestones or outcomes were clearly laid out as part of the value, you might just walk away.

Because you weren’t inspired.

It’s All Related to Target Audience and Coaching Niche

The reality is, you cannot create a Signature Program as a coach until you:

  • Have narrowed to a specific target audience.
  • You know exactly what they want so much they’ll invest in help to get it.
  • And you’ve made it your niche to help that audience achieve that goal or set of goals.

I invited David to eliminate one of his two audiences, because having two was keeping him from creating a Signature Program. It was keeping him from getting specific on his website, in his marketing and Discovery Sessions.

Even people who referred clients to him would be able to send him ideal clients if he would target only one audience.

An amazing bunch of things happen when you target a specific niche and make sure that everything you do — every email, social post, your web copy, your free offer, your programs — are tailor made for that audience.

You KNOW exactly what they want and what’s challenging them.

And that intel, applied to every aspect of your coaching business, makes the difference between whether you succeed and earn well or not.

It also would solve David’s two problems.

Once a client is enrolled into a Signature Program and they invest up front for the whole thing, their mindset shifts.

No longer will they think “Okay, I’ve gotta pay for another session with David.” Instead, they are thinking:“I’m on a complicated journey and David is helping me get there, step by step with ease and grace.”

David agreed he’d drop the older audience he was working with because his passion was about helping young people emerging into international or policy based careers.

David reported feeling great after our session. His mind was buzzing with ideas for his Signature Program and he sounded determined to make the 2 shifts that would solve his 2 challenges.

If you are challenged with attracting, enrolling and keeping ideal clients, consider having a Strategy Session with me.

One session could make the difference between being paralyzed and confused and surging forward in your business with confidence.

I would love to work with you!

Ep 31 – The Coaching Niche of Least Resistance

This episode is another ON AIR Coaching Session where I coach a coach to help her click on the certainty button for a unique target audience and then we formulate their coaching niche.

It’s clear from reviews that you really like these coach the coach sessions, so it’s my goal to do one every month.

Ellen Fowler has worked in the field of training, organizational and leadership development for over 25 years. Her experience includes work in the public and private sectors as well as academia.

She lived and worked in Ireland for 12 years, so she has firsthand understanding of the challenges of cultural diversity and radical life change.

She is also an ordained Christian minister. Ellen’s career has always involved working with individuals whether as a counselor, teacher, consultant or coach.

When I help coaches choose a profitable coaching niche, I always start by asking about their background so I can guide them to pull in experience, expertise, interests, gifts and passions into their niche.

Ellen’s background includes:

  • Itinerant minister
  • Training and organizational & leadership development
  • Change & diversity management
  • Teaching adults returning to the workplace on how to make their companies more efficient

Want to Be An Entrepreneurial Coach?

Then, I asked Ellen if she was interested in being an entrepreneur because it’s a certain type of person who does.

Ellen wants to run her own business because she wants it to be portable so she can travel. However, she feels a bit intimidated by the marketing side of things.

I was intimidated by marketing at first but when I learned to put the spotlight on exactly what my target audience wants, it became fun.

Two Potential Audiences That Seem Equal

Ellen had 2 main ideas for her target audience:

  • Mid-career professional women
  • Church leaders

I asked Ellen if it was okay with her if we focused on Church Leaders as a possible target audience first.

I made this choice for 4 reasons:

  • Ellen is an ordained minister and much of her career has been as a church leader. I felt that gave her credibility and gravitas with this audience.
  • Her faith is very important to her.
  • She’s currently coaching 10 clergy and staff from a church group in Pennsylvania and getting more referrals from that group. So she already has a toehold there.
  • She loves the work she’s doing with this audience.

Ellen shared that the work she’s doing with the Church Leaders is based on an instrument called Human Synergistics that she’s certified to use. It helps people identify effective and not so effective behaviors in the workplace and to develop action plans for changing those.

Is The Target Audience Viable for You?

I also felt that the audience — mid-career professional women — is not the most viable audience for Ellen because:

  • They are in corporations and hard to access.
  • They might expect their company to pay for coaching, and that’s an uphill battle to get a foot in the door with corporations.
  • There’s a lot of competition and marketplace noise for that audience already.

Passion and Fit Are The Best Coaching Niche Indicators

I asked Ellen:

What do you love about working with clergy and what do you enjoy about the Human Synergistics instrument?

As Ellen described how she uses Human Synergistics in her work with clergy, I heard her enthusiasm louder than her words.

Then, I wanted to check whether Ellen was earning well with this current gig with clergy because more and more it was sounding like a viable audience for Ellen.

Ellen explained that she felt blessed because the way she was connected with this particular group was that the church leader who hired her was part of the Human Synergistics training she took. He said:  “I’d like you to do some work for me.”

And he gave her carte blanche about what she’d do with the staff and how she’d price.

Right time – right place opportunities happen when you target a unique audience and focus your niche on their big problems.

So, I bee-lined to the bottomline question:

“Ellen, of the two audiences — church leaders or mid-career professional women, which is more attractive to you?”

Ellen said that she could go both ways. Her inability to commit comes down to how she’ll get in front of the audiences.

I spoke to the difficulty with gaining entry to corporations where with her background and current active church leader clients she already has a strong entry place.

I pointed out that if she were to have an international business, especially with her desire to travel and her experience in other countries, that the pond to fish in would be bigger. She could target larger churches and religious organizations with bigger coffers.

I explained that the Church Leader audience would likely mean more offline marketing than online marketing. I asked how she’d feel about that and she said:

“Oh, I like that!” More enthusiasm.

I pointed out that that’s the old fashioned way, right? Not everyone has to use social media channels to build their business.

  • Ellen knows this world.
  • She understands their challenges and goals first hand.
  • She’ll be able to speak their language.
  • They’ll be more accessible because she’s been in their shoes.
  • And she’ll have testimonials from her 10 current clients.

For Ellen, the other audience is less viable. Viability is determined by 5 factors:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to access
  • Eager to evolve
  • Willing to invest
  • Narrow enough (to help you stand out in the crowd)

Ellen added another key reason that Church Leaders are more ideal for her that spoke loud and clear:

“The spiritual side of life is really a bonus for me.”

I asked Ellen to do a check in with herself. Is church leaders the audience she can get fully behind with your heart, mind and spirit?

“Yes!”

Beautiful!

Then we shifted to talking about her niche for a moment … I asked Ellen what is the number one challenge and what is the number one tangible desired outcome that church leaders want?

Ellen said the most acute thing is how to avoid burnout. There’s always somebody needing something and they’re often understaffed and overworked. They feel called to the work, so it’s a burden of responsibility. They get into it because they want to help other people transform.

Burnout can begin to wear away their faith, which is critical for their position.

She felt the Human Synergistic instrument is a so effective in uncovering what’s really going on for the leader and the team.

Each time that Ellen spoke about Church Leaders and working with them I heard passion and compassion — a depth of understanding and certainty that she could help them thrive with her knowledge and the instruments she’s trained in.

She said: “Thank you, Rhonda, for helping me think it through it. It’s been really enlightening.”

The Next Episode is: Would You Buy Your Own Coaching Program?

Ep 21 – How to Spot the Right Opportunities for Your Coaching Business

I’m grateful to all the regular and new listeners. You have been helping me rock this podcast by sharing comments about the topics you like and the new things you want me to talk about.

To keep the conversation going, I’ve just started a Facebook community for subscribers of my podcast called Prosperous Coach Club. It’s a safe place to share wins or challenges — anything about you and your coaching business. We’re a friendly, supportive, non-promotional group. Join us! Go to prosperoucoach.com/fb to join.

This episode is in the Smart Mindsets & Habits series, and it is Part 2 about how to selectively and wisely decide when to say ‘yes’ to coaching business opportunities. It’s about teaching yourself to stand in your power and answer from your highest self.

Part 1 was about how to breakthrough the bright shiny object syndrome so that you’re not wasting money on webinars, online programs or masterminds that you’re not ready for yet. That’s probably because your business foundation isn’t solid yet. I know that’s frustrating and it’s a good time to stop and get that all nailed down before getting into advanced business programs.

Many of you have been letting me know that that episode hit the mark. Thank you for reaching out. I love hearing from you.

Ellen wrote to me: I’ve taken many courses and been part of many mastermind groups and webinars but it’s all come to naught because I haven’t converted that learning into practical actions. That’s because I’ve been struggling to figure out who I’m called to serve and what pain point or problem I’m trying to solve.”

As it turned out, Ellen grabbed a strategy session with me and we quickly figured out her ideal target audience plus the problem she’ll help them solve. At the end of the session she said: “Rhonda, that was amazing! I can’t believe what we came up with. I came in confused about my niche and wanted a plan of what to do next. And I got all of that!”

Ellen, that makes me so happy!

So if you want to solidify any aspect of your business foundation — your audience, your niche, your business model — don’t struggle and try to figure that out on your own. Grab a Strategy Session and let’s nail that down for you. You can find that on today’s show notes at prosperouscoach.com/21

Distraction Slows Down Your Coaching Success

Today we’re digging into other types of offers you might be getting as a coach. For example, let’s say someone emailed offering you:

  • a radio show program
  • a feature in a magazine
  • promising to get you leads
  • another coach wants to collaborate with you

When offers like this come in, it’s elating. There’s this sense of “I’m not having to do everything myself!” Someone is saying they’ll pave the road for you. And it’s really tempting to say ‘Yes’.

But are these opportunities right for you? Especially for the stage of business you’re in.

If you’re in startup mode — that’s the first 18 months or so of your business — it’s all about solidifying your business foundation. You are:

The learning curve is high and while you’re doing all of this you’re also figuring yourself out as a coach, as a business owner.

And for that reason it’s a vulnerable time too.

The potential for distraction and getting pulled off course is high. Some diversions will muddy your vision, waste your resources and set you back.

But what if do feel you’re ready and one of these offers is your breakthrough moment?

How can you discern between the good opportunities and the right opportunities?

Early on in my business I was endlessly distracted. Do you know what I mean?

There was so much stuff in my inbox, my head would spin.

One national radio program courted me saying they wanted to put my business on the map. I was so thrilled! I got so excited I told everyone about it even before I did the due diligence to see if it was legit.

But I’ll admit something didn’t feel quite right.

And it turned out it was only going to cost me $5000. Well, at least I said ‘no’ to that one.

I was offered spreads in online magazines. And there were all sorts of business clearing houses offering a listing on their site for coaches that supposedly had hundreds of thousands of web hits every month. Organizations asked me to speak at their lunch and learn groups and at association meetings.

And I’m truly embarrassed now at how many of these thing I jumped at.

I poured my heart into them. Most of them took me off track. And no clients or sales came out of any of those “opportunities”.

In retrospect none of them truly aligned with my business. They didn’t help me build credibility with my target audience and they didn’t help me build my list.

The organizations were just filling their slate. I helped them but they did not help me.

I finally realized that I needed to set some guidelines for myself. I call them Success Criteria.

Smart Success Criteria

It’s sort of a checklist. Before I say “yes” to any opportunity I ask myself a set of questions. And it starts with 3 anchor questions.

Do I have a good feeling about the people offering this?

Does it align with my integrity and values?

Does it put me in front of my target audience?

If ‘no’ to anything above then I say ‘No’ to the opportunity.

If ‘yes’ I ask myself:

If there’s a financial investment can I easily offset that with 1 enrollment?

Does it allow me to point people to my website for a valuable download?

If ‘no’, I say ‘no’.

If ‘yes’, I consider my current profit margins and also ask myself:

Will doing this build my credibility and brand?

Will I create things for this that I can repurpose elsewhere?

If ‘yes’ and profit margins look good, I say ‘YES!’

Be True to Your Coaching Business

When I put this success criteria in place I also made an agreement to let it guide me 100%. I stuck with it. And that paid off for me.

Not only did I stop having indecision and regret but I also found that it really set my business up for success every time.

Everything I said no to, I ended up feeling I dodged a bullet. Everything I said yes to, returned high value to me.

And then I started get better opportunities. It’s as if I trained the Universe.

I’m an old hand at this now and come to most decisions by simply checking in with my body.

Pressure Means No

If I ever feel uncertain, I take my time. I let a couple of days pass then check in again.

I never make a snap YES decision because I only have so much time and I want to maximize the return for that time.

The reality is that any quality organization or person will give you time to make a smart decision. If you’re feeling pressured, then your answer is ‘NO’.

Now I want you to make your own Success Criteria. And then stay true to them!

And, feel free to share your Success Criteria with me.

I’ve just started a Facebook community for subscribers of my podcast called Prosperous Coach Club. It’s a safe place for coaches where you can share things like this plus any wins or challenges. We’re a friendly, supportive, non-promotional group. Join us! Go to prosperouscoach.com/fb to join.

The Next Episode is: Why Should a Coach Do Market Research?