Ep 76 – Will You Exclude Some Coaching Clients If You Narrow Your Audience?

Today’s episode is short and sweet. It was inspired by something that came up in Prosperous Coach Club, my Facebook group.

Several new coaches were having trouble drilling down to a narrow and viable audience to serve because they didn’t want to exclude anyone.

I had that concern myself in my early days of coaching. I waffled and stayed general for far too long. I didn’t realize how much easier it would be if I did narrow my audience.

But as time passed and my income from coaching remained small I became keenly motivated to do anything I could — including things I was afraid to do — to change that.

With hindsight I know without a doubt that finally narrowing my audience catapulted me to success so that now I reliably attract ideal clients and earn well – even during the pandemic.

Now I fully understand that my choice to narrow was a strategic choice.

I’ve been talking a lot about strategy in my current podcast series Coaching Business Checkup. That series is all about assessing what pieces of strategy might be missing if you are having difficulty enrolling enough clients to quit your job and pay for your lifestyle.

4 Ways Strategic Choice Makes Your Coaching Life Easier

And because I’ve been a business coach for coaches for a long time I also know this. When you target an audience and discover their big problem then gear everything –messaging, offers, web copy, social posts – to speak directly to your audience 4 wonderful things click into place:

  1. You have clarity. It’s as if the fog lifts and you can now see your path.
  2. You grow confidence. You understand your value and believe in yourself.
  3. You know what to do. You have pinpointed focus and direction.
  4. You have leverage. Now everything you do builds momentum.

So, the best reason to narrow to one specific audience is to make your life easier.

Stand Out in the Crowd

Look, if all you want is a coaching client now and then and a bit of spending money, then you can afford to be a generalist.

But if you want your coaching business to be a going concern, as they say, and feed you and your family for years to come, then being a generalist and selling coaching won’t do that for you.

Why are you listening to my podcast? Because you’re a coach and this is specially designed to help coaches. I know coaching. I know business.

There are lots of other mentors helping any type of business owners out there. But isn’t extra helpful when someone understands exactly where you are and where you want to be and what’s in the way?

That is the power of narrowing and specializing.

You’ll Help More Coaching Clients

By choosing a narrow audience you are setting a powerful intention for your own good.

But the beauty is that your intention also makes it easier for serious prospects to find you. That’s another benefit for you but it’s also a benefit for your clients.

Don’t you want to help more people? If so, then make sure your voice, your topics attract attention. In this marketplace specificity is what snaps people to attention.

Specialize Doesn’t Exclude Anyone

And here’s what I also know because of hindsight. Focusing your niche on a specific audience doesn’t mean you can’t work with people outside of that audience. You can!

I’ve worked with all types of business owners over the years even though my website, my blogs, my podcasts are all focused on coaches.

So for ease and clarity your social posts, your content, your web copy and freebie should all be focused on supporting your specific audience. And that means it will speak to them. It will touch me. They will feel special and follow you.

And you’ll find it easier to create valuable content, to post on social channels and get engagement, to draw the right kind of prospects to your website. Because focusing makes all of that easier.

If you stay general or just focus on a coachey topic for your niche people won’t take you seriously. That’s the bottom line.

The more you stay broad, the less you’ll be noticed.

One More Way to Look at This

Are you still resisting this idea of narrowing?

Think of it this way … if you want to go on vacation but can’t decide where you’re going and how you’ll get there because there are soooo many choices and you don’t want to leave any out, chances are there will be no vacation for you.

You are stalled from something you really want.

And that same indecision is keeping you from having a successful coaching business. I lovingly challenge you to be strategic about your niche and everything your business. Take the risk to specialize and become known. You will love it and so will your clients!

In the Next Episode: 7 Ways to create a More Valuable Coaching Client Experience

Ep 70 – Attract Motivated Coaching Clients Who Will Invest

This episode is part of my Coaching Business Checkup series. This series is getting deep and that’s because sometimes you find yourself working hard but not getting traction. And, this series addresses what’s usually missing.

Today we’re digging into something that’s rarely talked about by marketing experts.

In fact it’s something that’s only recently dawned on me, even though I’ve been acting on it for a long time intuitively.

The topic is about why you only want to attract people who do have the motivation and the financial ability to hire you.

Before I go further …

How are you holding up? I know you’re scared about how Corona Virus might hurt your coaching business dreams.

I want you to know something … during 20 years in my own coaching business, the economy has crashed big time twice and other disasters have derailed the normal flow of business.

Yes, there is an adjustment period. But in each circumstance, I was surprised how in tough times, people are often MORE committed to their personal and professional growth. There’s the sense that time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted. So, where before people were stuck in their ruts and not moving, sometimes a shake up like this can wake people up and inspire action.

That’s good news for coaches. Especially because we can easily work remotely with clients.

As much as you can, accept the reality of what’s happening, take responsibility for your own part in reducing the spread, and keep your focus on what matters most to you.

If building a coaching business is important to you, stay with it, despite your worries.

  • If you haven’t launched yet and have extra time, leverage that towards time consuming tasks.
  • If you’ve already launched and things are slow, innovate. Try new things but don’t start over. Stick with your target audience and niche but pivot in small ways.
  • And consider not doing it all alone. I’m here for you. A Strategy Session where you get my full focus on what’s holding back for 90 minutes is just a click away.

Now, let’s roll with today’s episode.

The Churn

In the first 10 years or so of my coaching business the name of the game was numbers. Everyone advocated developing a big list – we’re talking tens of thousands of subscribers who would see your emails, read your blogs or experience your other content.

The idea was to drive tons of traffic to your website and have a set of low cost to mid cost offers that would attract lots of buyers responding through scarcity.

This is called the CHURN.

There are many people marketing this way.

But, as you know, I encourage coaches to consider a simple coaching business model where they offer a one-to-one high ticket Signature Program.

That way, you can keep your marketing simple, your overhead low and profits high. You can market less and have a manageable little empire.

I realized that business model isn’t for everyone. But it’s a great way to start your coaching business. And I’ve come back to it, after doing lots of intense marketing and offering so many types of programs – an exhausting way to do business.

So, listen on if you want to keep it simple and earn well doing less.

And that makes it easy to attract only the most ideal clients for you.

The 4 Top Criteria of An Ideal Coaching Client

I’ve heard many experienced coaches say what I feel myself, which is we want clients who:

  1. Are 100% committed to their own growth.
  2. Willing and ready to invest resources – time and money – into their own transformation.
  3. Are coachable, self reflective, and know their own mind.
  4. Want a thinking partner and guide to get there faster.

Now, you may think that describes most prospects, but actually, it does not. In fact, only a small percentage of prospects will jump in with both feet.

You want to attract more of those people and less of the other type.

The reason why a lot of people opt for a short term, low cost self-study online program is that they aren’t 100% IN. They have a foot out of the game. There can be some excellent reasons for that by the way.

But my point here is that you want to spend your time with people who meet those 4 top criteria.

Think about it. Wouldn’t it be grand if the people you talk to in your Discovery Sessions were already excited, ready, willing and able financially to hire you?

With each year, I have more Discovery Sessions with the people who fit those 4 criteria because I have installed strategic and authentic language and mechanisms to encourage them and to also gently discourage those that aren’t there yet or never will be.

3 Ways to Encourage Readiness

  1. BE REAL – Convey your unique style in everything you do. Be consistent. In other words, be unapologetically you, vulnerabilities and all. Over time, your tribe will emerge because they appreciate you as you are.
  2. GIVE A PERSONAL TOUCH
  3. ENGAGE THEM EMOTIONALLY

These last two are connected. This is something a lot of people in this automated world skip in their conversion processes on their website and other places. If everything is click and done then lots of people will jump in who don’t really want anything but your free stuff.

Have you ever found yourself doing too many Discovery Sessions with people who don’t have the means and motivation to hire you?

You don’t need to waste your time that way.

There’s a perfect moment in the conversion process to give prospects your personal touch where you customize a response and show you’re a real person and you understand them. It’s worth the little effort up front because you’re enrolling them into a VIP high ticket Signature Program.

By the way, in case you’re just starting to listen to Prosperous Coach Podcast, I’m referring specifically to the Simplest Coaching Business Model. This includes creating a high ticket Signature Program to help your target audience overcome a BIG problem on the way to a BIG goal.

So, instead of having a button on your website inviting a Discovery Session – which is too much too soon (it’s like inviting someone to meet your parents on a first date) – instead invite prospects to that session through your free offer.

Don’t just give them access to your calendar in your freebie. Instead, send them to your Work with page on your website to fill out an application that pre-qualifies and pre-sells them. That application needs to be strategically written.

Do you see the value of this high touch moment? You want them to invest their time before the Discovery Session to warrant your time. It’s reciprocal.

That’s how you’ll know that they are serious about working with you. If they aren’t motivated to fill out the application they aren’t likely to invest in your VIP program.

That small investment helps them put both feet in and raises their commitment to the Discovery Session. They know up front what the purpose of that session is – to assess fit. It’s simple and it takes a bit of finesse to pull off this personal touch but it’s worth it because you’ll spend a lot less time with people who are never going to invest in working with you.

Ep 67 – What Is Your Coaching Business Model?

This episode, called What Is Your Coaching Business Model? is the 6th in my Coaching Business Checkup series, which is all about how to strategize the most important parts of your business. If something isn’t working well in your coaching business, it might be a lack of strategy holding you back.

At the end of this whole series I’ll have a downloadable Coaching Business Checkup Assessment you can use to diagnose and treat what’s ailing in your business so you can fix it and thrive.

The show notes for today’s episode can be found at prosperouscoach.com/67

Just in case this business model idea is totally new to you, let’s define what a business model is and why you want one.

Why Have a Business Model for Your Coaching?

A business model is literally a design for the success of your business. It’s a structure you create that makes your business viable. In other words, it’s your plan for earning good money as a coach.

Essential, right?

Like many aspects of your coaching business, your business model can’t really take shape until you have targeted a viable audience and developed a smart coaching niche. Those decisions are the cornerstone … everything else you build for your coaching business comes from that.

Notice I said a moment reliably attract people to your offers. That takes strategy. It’s a far cry from what I did for so many years at the beginning, which was what I call the “I hope it works” approach to business.

Without a business model, you are leaving your success up to dumb luck.

No doubt, you experienced a lot of business models just living in the modern world but you might not have thought much about it. I’ll just name a couple to help you understand the concept

Let’s take Netflix. You get an account. Pay monthly. And for that low fee, you get access to their impressive catalog of TV series and movies to stream on demand.

That’s called the Subscription Model. It has 3 main parts:

Subscription service + Options the consumer wants + Delivered on demand

It is something you could create someday. More about that in a minute.

How about Uber? Their model is called Create the Marketplace, which operates on supply and demand

SUPPLY = people with cars who want to earn

+ DEMAND = people who want to get someplace now without driving

It’s very specific and innovative. And this is close to what a coach needs to do. You identify a BIG PROBLEM that a specific audience faces and create a hunger for your program which helps to solve that problem through coaching.

The Simplest Coaching Business Model

A while ago I aired an episode called The Simplest Coaching Business Model and it’s been a favorite with record downloads. This episode goes deeper into what’s involved.

By the way, thank you so much for going back to my earlier episodes! I can’t tell you how often I hear that people are binge listening to every episode. That’s a great way to learn a lot fast.

It’s a great sign that episode is popular. It means that coaches now are much more business savvy than I was when I started. So well done you. Keep that up!

For a coach, the simplest business model is to offer 1:1 coaching.

Here’s how I help my clients develop this business model with 2 important twists:

  1. Choose a viable audience
  2. Find out their BIG PROBLEM – the one that will prompt them to seek your services
  3. Develop a high ticket private program designed to solve that problem. That’s one twist!
  4. Create ways to continuously build awareness about you.
  5. Drive traffic to a website with an authentic non-salesy conversion process or two. That’s the 2nd twist!
  6. Invite ideal prospects to an enrollment conversation and enroll them.

What’s so great about this simple business model?

  1. It’s the easiest model to start with
  2. You quickly learn how to coach your ideal audience
  3. You can earn a 6-figure profit with relatively low labor and costs
  4. It’s a satisfying way to make a positive impact

And here are a couple of bonus things that I love about this model:

  1. You’ll only spend your private time with highly motivated prospects and clients
  2. And you’ll build a strong referral network that’s free

I’ll be talking more about how critical these two things are for your sanity in an episode soon.

There are other business model options that might help you scale up and reach more people in less time. However, consider that you could also keep your life and business simple. If you create a meaningful program with milestones that are important to your audience you can charge quite a bit for it. I covered this is Episode 66.

The Challenge of Scaling Coaching

Scalability is one of the biggest challenges in coaching businesses. To scale, people start thinking about “passive revenue”, a concept often attached to revenue streams such as:

  • online courses
  • selling books, ebooks and other products
  • membership programs

It sounds so good, doesn’t it? I’ll just create a few online courses and put it online and boom! Passive income! I’ll make money while I sleep.

Here’s the thing that I learned the hard way, there’s nothing passive about it. While the bulk of the content creation is done up front, the costs and labor to keep revenues flowing in are relatively high.

A good rule of thumb to remember is the higher number of people you want to buy what you’re selling the more marketing it takes. And it’s a style of marketing that’s highly promotional. It takes a team of people to pull it off. So not passive at all.

The Affiliate Marketing Model

Where people really excel at these scalable business models is when they are already well known in their industry. Think Tony Robbins, Brendan Burchard and Marie Forleo. They not only have a huge leads list of their own, but they also have other experts with huge leads list willing to help market the program or product for a kickback (also called an affiliate fee).

The affiliate fee is often 50% of the sale. And tracking all of that requires special programs and website.

The business model is called Affiliate Marketing and is composed of:

Email marketing with affiliates + a live or canned event + sales page + online or live course

There’s one business model being highly marketed to coaches right now, which I call the Evergreen Webinar Model. It involves:

Ads on social channels + webinars + online courses

This model is touted to be highly lucrative and I can see how it absolutely could be over the long run.

Experts selling the training to learn this business model often have testimonials like this …

“I just had my first $15,000 month!”

And that alone has us frothing at the mouth to sign up for the training.

But it’s important to realize that to earn that $15,000 in revenue in one month this individual may have invested up to or beyond:

  • $4500 on ads
  • $3000 on virtual assistants and web design
  • months of content creation
  • the cost of the training to learn this model $8 – $10,000

The way that business model becomes profitable is over time when costs per sale start to decrease. Just the continuous investment can literally kill a coaching business.

Yes, it could be an amazing business model later on. But, for a new coach who isn’t already well known and who doesn’t have a significant network of potential clients and marketing partners, it can be very difficult to pull off.

Membership Programs

Another costly option is membership programs. Back in 2006 when membership programs were trendy, I took nearly a year to create a comprehensive online course called The Coach’s Power Path. It was a vision I woke up with one day and truly thought I’d earn loads while helping hundreds of coaches.

In short, it was a colossal failure. I invested 10’s of thousands in that venture and never got close to earning it back, much less profiting.

I just didn’t realize how complicated it was — not only to create the curriculum and the entire back end of the membership site — but also to constantly market in ways that I really disliked. It was exhausting.

Later a marketing expert told me that most membership programs are loss leaders, which means it’s only a low cost offer to raise awareness and trust so you can offer people something higher priced and higher touch.

What About Group Coaching?

Group coaching is a much simpler business model than selling courses, membership programs and products. And, for many target audiences, gathering people with the same big problem or goal will greatly add to their transformation.

What you need going for you for this model to work is the 6 strategic steps I mentioned before for 1:1 coaching PLUS a developed network in your target audience. It could be your own leads list, a connection with a center of influence or a good sized following on social media.

That’s something you can build on your own without a lot of costs or any assistance!

I recommend groups for coaches who have a year’s experience or more in 1:1 coaching and that amount of time building visibility online.

So now, do you know what your intended coaching business model is? Have you strategized who you work with, what they want that they’ll invest in and how you’ll enroll enough of them to earn well? You’re on your way!

In the Next Episode: Calling All Coaches to Innovate and Lead

Ep 66 – How to Describe Your Coaching Program Without Selling Coaching

This episode, which is part of the Coaching Business Checkup series, is going to be short.

You’ve probably noticed that there are overlapping themes in this series episode to episode. That’s because strategy intentionally connects one thing to another.

Here are the repetitive themes:

Forgive me for the repetition but it’s not possible to talk about one strategic action or decision without mentioning what goes before it. Strategy is about connecting dots. It’s about congruence.

If you can remember these themes in all you do for your coaching business, you’ll experience a dramatic shift in your ability to attract enough clients who pay well.

Strategy – The Many Layered Cake

So I’ve been making a many-layered cake for you.

We started with the strategy of choosing a viable target audience full of seekers and then moved onto the central task of developing a smart niche — centering on a big enough problem your audience faces.

Now, if you are continuously visible out there speaking your audience’s language about their big problem and show that you have a solution without being salesy, they will pay attention.

That’s what will compel them to go to your website where hopefully you’ve got streamlined copy speaking about what’s most important to them there as well. And then you gently point them to a couple of conversion processes you have your site.

A clue … that’s NOT inviting them to a free sample session or Discovery Session.

That comes later when they are more ready for it. You don’t want to push people to next steps. Lead them instead.

You need to have everything ready for them before they arrive.

And when they arrive you want them to know they are in the right place.

That’s why your website should NOT be about the wonders of coaching.

Instead it’s about what’s keeping your specific audience up at night and what’s in the way of the big thing they want.

Okay, I’m getting off track from my goal here. You see how everything is interconnected and strategic?

This episode is not about how to create a client-winning website. It’s about something you create before the website …  your signature system.

What’s a Signature System and Why Should You Have One?

Why would I call it a system?

Because when humans perceive that there is a structure — a framework to get what they want — they relax. And trust builds.

Your Signature System is the way you describe what you do so that your audience can see clearly:

  1. That you understand them.
  2. That you have a structure they can lean into.
  3. That you know what you’re doing.

In a non-salesy way, your system is connected directly to their exact situation — what specifically has been in the way of them realizing their most urgent goal.

Do you see now why you need to know the big problem you solve before you can move to this step?

In your system you name the specific milestones that your audience has wanted to achieve but they’ve been stuck for some reason and unable to move forward.

Remember my niche and the big problem I solve for coaches? That smart & profitable coaching niche has been illusive and without that solved they can’t really move forward. It’s painful and frustrating.

Why Doesn’t Your Signature System Mention Coaching?

Because it muddies the water and distracts them from what’s meaningful to them.

Coaching isn’t what’s meaningful to them. It’s the big and small, tangible and intangible ways they’ll grow and benefit from working with you that’s important now.

When you share your system with them in a Discovery Session you want it to be so spot on that they feel like it’s exactly what they’ve been seeking and didn’t even fully know it until just this moment.

You’ve ticked all the boxes. You’ve covered all the most nagging challenges they’ve been facing.

Your Signature Program is based on this system. But that’s getting ahead of myself again.

For now, I hope you take in that you can articulate what you do in a non-coachey and non-salesy way that inspires investment through trust and context.

In the Next Episode: What is Your Coaching Business Model?

Ep 65 – Are You Solving a Big Enough Problem In Your Coaching Business?

This episode is part of the Coaching Business Checkup series.

If you’re not attracting enough paying clients to sustain your business there could be several reasons why. The episodes in this series are designed to help you isolate what needs attention.

But don’t let these errors move you to give up on your coaching business unless you’re truly done with the dream of being a successful coach and helping loads of people with your unique talents.

To Succeed You Have to Be Willing to Flail and Fail

I encourage you to be willing to make mistakes and realize they don’t define the possibility of your future success.

Jumping out there without strategy is a time honored mistake. Nearly everyone makes these mistakes if they are willing to risk success.

On the other side of this is the person who does not risk anything and misses out on the chance to learn from their mistakes. And those are the folks who may regret staying in the safety zone.

The Big Thing Holding You Back From Financial Success As A Coach

For this episode, I’m going to dig into the most common problem that holds coaches back from attracting enough clients and earning well:

There’s not enough people inspired to invest in your services.

You are no doubt talented, capable and truly effective as a coach. But that goes wasted if you can’t attract the attention of your audience and inspire them to invest.

What can you do about that?

Well, so many things! For now I’m focusing on one.

Let’s say you have chosen a target audience and they are SEEKERS — people who do invest out their own pocket to grow personally and professionally.

The next thing you do is to define your coaching niche, right?

And this is the place where you might be inclined to totally wimp out. I did when I started.

It’s partly because fresh out of coaching training there’s still this glow about the value of coaching that can blind you to effective ways to attract paying clients.

Have you romanticized the notion of coaching that you believe people know they want it?

Most people don’t think about coaching as a solutions. That’s why coaching is a hard sell.

So, at this starry-eyed moment in time instead of niching down, you niche widely or niche weakly.

Niching wide is choosing a broad coaching audience and naming an overarching abstract outcome.

I help women create a more fulfilling life.

OR

I help business owners become successful.

Another way to wimp out in your niche is to simply identify your track.

I’m a career coach.

I’m a leadership coach.

I’m a life coach.

I’ve seen many coaches list all or several coaching tracks on their websites. The lack of specialty does just the opposite of what the coach hoped — it turns potential clients away because they see a lack of commitment and focus.

And example of niching weakly is focusing on coaching topics as the specialty.

I’m a confidence coach.

I’m an empowerment coach.

I help you breakthrough limiting beliefs.

I don’t think people wake up in the middle of the night and say to themselves … you know what I need? I need a coach to help me breakthrough limiting beliefs.

Everyone has limiting beliefs. Any coach or mentor can help individuals past them. But it doesn’t inspire investment except for a few sessions at low prices.

These aren’t big enough problems to bring you a steady stream of clients who are ready to invest.

I niched widely and weakly at first! I didn’t know better. Now, I hope to save you some of my flailing and failing.

Fully Commit to Standing Out with Your Specialty

Notice I didn’t saying standing out with your coaching specialty? Let’s take the coaching piece out of the equation. That’s your toolbox — a skillset you’ll use to help your clients — not what people will buy.

If you intend to be a successful coach in the long run, commit to targeting and niching down strategically and then follow through with that in everything you do. Don’t let your website copy be dumbed down by focusing on the wonders of coaching. Focus on your specific target audience and what’s keeping them up at night.

Make it so that there is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind who you serve, the big problem you help them overcome and the big goal you help them reach.

Define Big Enough

When you’re looking for a dynamic profitable niche, you have to step out of thinking like a coach and step into thinking like your audience. (And this is the best way to create everything for your business and do all your marketing by the way.)

It takes a bit of mindfulness and practice. Here’s the question to ask yourself:

What specific problem will prompt my audience to go looking for solutions with their credit card ready?

Think about all the times you’ve invested in something that was pricey. What made you pay the big bucks for a service even though you knew you were spending a lot?

No doubt it was something that felt crucial for your future.

The Gap Between Pain and Pleasure

You’ve heard about pain points before. Some problems are annoying. Some problems are a hassle. You’re looking for the problem that is acutely painful.

It’s the gap between what your audience wants and where are they are now. That great longing for something that’s been elusive because there’s a big, fat problem in the way.

The thing is the way is usually the individual.

Big enough problems fall within just a handful of categories associated with a fundamental want:

  • money
  • career
  • power
  • love
  • healing

Here are a few coach’s niches. Notice how they fit into one of those 5 fundamental categories.

Helping HR leaders gain more impact and influence in their organization.

Helping moms with a long career gap find flexible work they enjoy.

Helping people with fibromyalgia feel better get their lives back.

Helping parents support their kids with ADHD to excel in school.

Helping wives of civil servants create space for a career of their own.

Do you see how these big problems and desired outcomes would inspire investment?

If you’ve chosen an audience and you think you’ve arrived at a big enough problem to solve, pause to ask yourself:

Would I buy high-ticket services to help me overcome this problem?

If not, dig in deeper.

And if you want help identifying your audience’s big problem and developing a smart business foundation that attracts ideal clients, you know where you can find me: https://prosperouscoachblog.com/work-with-rhonda

In the Next Episode: How to Describe Your Coaching Program Without Selling Coaching

Ep 64 – How to Strategically Choose Your Coaching Niche

In my last episode I listed off 10 Ways To Be More Strategic In Your Coaching Business as an overview to my next 10 episodes.

In this episode I’m focusing on the FIRST way to be strategic in your coaching business. In other words, strategizing this step is what you do before you do anything else — website, offers, social media marketing.

What is this #1 way to be more strategic? Choose a viable coaching niche, of course.

This episode and the other 9 to follow are all part of my Coaching Business Checkup series. I will have a free downloadable Coaching Business Checkup for you at the end of this series, so stay tuned!

One Decision That Rules Them All

MBAs and business experts agree that if you niche your business in a strategic way from the get go you’ll dramatically increase your ability to succeed and sustain success.

And that’s truer than ever in this information age where there are more entrepreneurs and companies flooding the Internet with marketing messages every day.

You can’t attract clients if you can’t attract attention.

And attracting attention is mostly about standing out in some way. Standing out in your niche – what you do for whom is the easiest way to stand out.

If you want your message to get through to people who could become your clients, then you want to speak to a very specific group of people about what they care about most.

Strange isn’t it?

The more specific and focused your message is on a unique target audience and the big acute problem they face, the easier it is to engage people and build relationships of trust. And then enroll them.

You know, coaching niches are my super power.

I decided to strategically focus on this big problem for coaches 17 years ago because all around me I saw that coaches were utterly confused, frustrated, and in many cases, paralyzed by the niche decision. For many it’s what had them give up for good on their business.

So for coaches the agonizing question — WHAT IS MY NICHE? — is the most acute big problem they have. And it’s related to attracting enough clients who will invest. That’s the other acute problem coaches face.

And I know that once that niche piece is settled it opens up ease in all the steps that follow – messaging, offers, marketing – it all becomes a more graceful and intuitive process once you know your niche.

It was a smart strategy then for me to focus in on coaches — my target audience — and on the topic that’s most painful for them. I could pull in my background knowledge in marketing and my experience writing coach training curriculum and training new coaches. It’s a good fit.

I wanted to tell you how I came to my niche to illustrate the strategy behind it. It’s not rocket science but it was a thoughtful process. And that’s what strategy is.

Many coaches miss this crucial step of choosing a smart niche. It’s partly because of a misunderstanding of what makes for a successful coaching niche. And partly, it’s fear.

Can you relate to that?

  • Maybe you fear that you don’t know enough to specialize.
  • Or, you might fear narrowing to one group and excluding others. (Although exclusion isn’t really necessary because targeting an audience is about ease in marketing not exclusion or limitation of who you can have as a client.)
  • Or you might simply fear making a decision and committing to it.

All of these are understandable fears.

But here’s the thing that I remind myself of when I’m fearful. Fear rises up when you’re at an important threshold. It’s how you respond to fear and still move forward on your dream that builds courage and confidence. Moving forward decisively is the way out of fear.

What is a Coaching Niche?

A coaching niche is the intersection between a viable target audience + their biggest problem/desire + what you bring to the table to help them get there.

Let’s break this down.

  1. There’s a specific group of people who are seekers. (They do invest in their growth.)
  2. They have a big acute problem that is in the way of something they really want.
  3. You can help them solve it and reach their goals with your toolbox of talents & skills

And so, once you’ve chosen that niche, you conduct a bit of market research and then create messaging and offers that fit their top challenges and goals bringing your supportive skills and tools to the table.

Now, let me illustrate how choosing a niche can be strategic using examples of niches my recent clients have chosen with my help.

Here are two that are directly related to specific subject matter expertise or recent professional background that the coaches could leverage in their niche:

One coach helps parents empower their teen daughters to develop confidence, integrity and resilience. She has a Masters in Clinical Social Work plus experience working with teens professionally, and 3 teens of her own. Her niche is a great fit.

Another coach helps executive assistants break through the limitations of their role and advance to the next level. She has 8 years of experience as an EA and a string of promotions that rewarded her ingenuity and excellence in her roles. Her niche is a great fit.

Another coach with over 20 years experience in nursing and health care is focusing on helping nurses heal burnout and work differently.

Leveraging your recent experience or expertise is the most powerful way to niche.

But not all coaches have subject matter expertise. Instead it may be that your current life circumstances could become an ideal niche. For example:

One of my clients stumbled unexpectedly into being a father and a husband. It happens. In the thick of that he realized it’s a common and difficult experience for young men. So he’s targeting that group to help them find grounding and maturity in the upheaval. A heartful niche based on a personal context.

Another coach decided to work with women re-entering the workforce after a long gap raising children. She knows first hand the challenges that come with finding flexible, meaningful work after a big career gap. And as a bonus we realized her Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology related to employee recruitment and selection processes was a bonus point of relevance and skill related to this audience. A super helpful niche!

A client who recently turned 49 felt called to remake her life from the inside out and create an intentional journey moving toward 50. So she’s targeting women at 50 to break free and rewrite the rules of their lives. This is a personally motivated niche.

It’s rare that targeting a specific age makes for a good niche but after market research it was clear that 50 is a point in time for women that’s rife with so many physical & emotional challenges and creative yearnings. And we were able to create a transformational program for women at 50.

So you can see there are different ways to approach choosing a niche. The main thing is to think it through strategically.

Remember, don’t just sell coaching to a general audience. Instead, create a program with milestones to help a specific audience overcome specific acute challenges on the way to an ultimate goal.

That’s how you’ll become known quickly and attract a steady stream of clients who pay well.

Coaching Niches That Lack Strategy

Topical niches can be powerful if they are closely linked to a tangible outcome that a specific group has. For example, I’ve known coaches who focus on helping business owners create systems or coaches who focus expertise in something like the Enneagram to help corporate leaders master leadership in a personalized way.

But some topics bomb as a coaching niche:

  • Stress
  • Limiting Beliefs
  • Overwhelm

I’m guessing those topical niches bombed primarily because these challenges are usually chronic problems. They are challenges that people are used to living with and so they aren’t inspiring people to actively seek and invest in solutions.

All coaches can help any existing clients with things like stress, limiting beliefs and overwhelm. But in marketing messages and on websites these topics tend not to inspire enrollment except for a short engagement at a low price.

It’s missing a specific target audience and their ultimate outcome as an anchor point. But even if you did attach one of these chronic problems to a target audience and their goal, it may not feel acute enough to the audience to inspire investment.

Similarly, big overarching goals or life skills can bomb for the same reasons above:

  • Self Care
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Law of Attraction

If you search for topics like these on the Internet you’ll find millions of articles on them. Great support for free but not likely to result in paid engagements with long-term clients. And if clients are short term for low fees, it means you have to work with a lot more people. And that means more marketing and enrolling moments for less income and profit.

Strategizing a smart niche for a viable audience isn’t a needle in a haystack kind of equation. It’s more like the beginning of a jigsaw puzzle where you try to find the opening move that quickly builds momentum.

If you’re stuck and struggling with your coaching niche, let me help you over this wall.

Let’s have a Strategy Session. It will focus you in and give you direction for everything else you create in your coaching business. It will help you stand out the crowd and build your brand & reputation.

I’ll send you some exercises to start then we’ll spend 90 minutes brainstorming on the call. I’d love to work with you. Sign up!

In the Next Episode: Are You Solving A Big Enough Problem In Your Coaching Niche?

Ep 62 – Coach, Are You Focusing On The Right Things?

This episode is the first of a new series called Coaching Business Checkup.

In this series I’m going to detail the top reasons why coaches struggle to earn well and explain how to shift it.

STAY TUNED til the end of this series where I’ll give you access to a free downloadable checklist so you can give your business a checkup from time to time.

I’m starting off with something that covers a lot of ground … strategy.

Do you ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels and going nowhere despite staying busy in your coaching business?

That doesn’t feel good. You’re left scratching your head wondering what you’re doing wrong.

Well, first let me say I get it. I’ve been there. And you’re in good company if you feel this way.

Here’s the big question … are you doing the right things every day? I’m talking about efforts that will pay you back with clients and income?

There is so much out there to distract you. The bright shiny object syndrome is alive and well in the coaching community!

You see what another coach is doing and that sends you into a flurry of activity to implement something that may not work for you. It may not work for your target audience or fit with what you’ve already created.

All the puzzle pieces on the big board of business success don’t necessarily fit together.

You get bombarded with marketing for programs that promise 6 and 7 figures if you just try this simple tactic. It’s so tempting to leap for it thinking …

“Maybe this will give me traction.”

Yeah, maybe.

Or maybe it will be just another money and time taker with little results to show.

I’m embarrassed when I look back at how much money I spent on masterminds and online training programs that didn’t ultimately help me mainly because I didn’t have the foundation I needed to plug those tactics into for good results.

And most of those programs don’t have individualized support. Which is what we all need.

I have inside knowledge about what most coaches are spending their time on day to day. It looks something like this …

  • Researching and brushing up on coaching skills.
  • Looking at other coach’s websites.
  • Downloading every freebie that crosses their attention.
  • Writing blog posts and social posts without any real strategy.

Will those tasks pay off even in the long run?

I remember something I learned a long time ago that I take for granted because it’s so ingrained in my habits now. I want you to know about this so you can take the right actions and get results.

Take High Payoff Actions in Your Coaching Business Everyday

That’s the secret. I take 1 – 3 high payoff actions in my business every single day that I’m working. And it helps me cut way back on time and money wasting.

So, what is a high payoff action?

It’s an action that brings you significantly closer to achieving specific goals with measurable results. In other words, these are the actions that will make it happen!

If you want enough clients and revenue to clear a 6-figure profit this year, then daily high payoff actions are what will get you there.

3 Types of High Payoff Actions

  1. Make Life Changing Decisions
  2. Create Smart Strategies
  3. Continuously Implement Decisions and Strategies

Let’s take these one at a time.

#1 Life Changing Decisions

I believe that decisions are actions. Because nothing leaves you stuck like not deciding. Decisiveness is a top skill of the successful.

Life changing decisions are the kind that require great intention and commitment.

You made a life changing decision when you decided to become a professional coach and build a business of your own. That decision affected your career, your lifestyle and the way you’ll afford your lifestyle.

It also affects your family, friends, community and future clients.

Choosing a viable target audience and committing your coaching business to serving that group and their biggest problem is another life changing decision and high payoff action.

It’s a foundational piece that most coaches miss or misunderstand how to niche effectively. It leaves you floundering and unable to get traction.

Things that are not life changing decisions include things like what colors or images you put on your website or how pretty your business card is.

I’m not saying those things don’t influence your success. But in the scheme of things those are fleeting decisions that have little impact.

#2 Create Smart Strategies

Most coaches I meet for the first time have not strategically thought through their niche, brand, domain, web copy, social posts, and blogs or other content.

The idea of strategy was completely foreign to me when I started my business. Even now, if my efforts are foundering it’s usually because I didn’t do a good job strategizing.

Actions without strategy are busy work. And results will be low, slow and inconsistent.

That’s why I offer a single 90 minute Strategy Session in addition to my signature program for coaches. Because getting the strategy right is critical BEFORE you start slinging messages and offers around. And it’s easiest to strategize with someone who can be objective and see the bigger picture with some expertise about the territory you’re in.

A Strategy Session is perfect for making a life changing decision like choosing your target audience and niche.

If you’re stuck around something in your coaching business, let’s tackle it together. Grab a Strategy Session with me:

#3 Implement High Payoff Actions Every Day

This is where the rubber meets the road.

The truth about high payoff actions is they make you squirm a bit. They require courage and conviction.

For example:

  • Invite past clients to hire you again.
  • Reach out to someone who said ‘no’ before to see if they’ll say ‘yes’ now.
  • Set up Discovery Sessions with potential clients.
  • Contact a center of influence – the person who knows many people in your target audience – to develop a referral partnership. Have a strategy in mind.

Notice how all of these examples are about directly connecting with potential clients? There can be other types of high payoff actions.

But it really is about tolerating the squirm and doing the risky-feeling thing that could give you the quickest and biggest pay off.

If you’re doing things all day every day that are safe and easy it’s for one of two reasons:

  1. Either you’re an expert with vast experience with a well developed strategy.
  2. Or, you’re doing busy work just hoping it will eventually pay off.

Do a 30-day challenge! Develop a smart strategy for everything – blogging, podcasting, emails, social posts, public speaking.

Then every day take 1 – 3 high payoff actions – the actions that make you squirm a bit.

Evaluate after 30 days and see if you’re not in a better rhythm with better results.

Once you have this habit in place of completing 1 – 3 high payoff actions every day, you’ll have a bigger comfort zone because you’ll have begun to master strategic action.

In the Next Episode: 10 Ways To Be More Strategic In Your Coaching Business

Ep 60 – How To Price Your Signature Coaching Program

This episode is part of my Money Mastery series. It’s the follow on episode to How to Develop Your Signature Coaching Program. Consider listening to that first before this episode if you haven’t already.

Common Pricing Strategies and What Works Best for Coaching

I can think of 3 common pricing strategies for pricing:

  • Cost plus pricing – where you calculate your costs then mark up the program so it pays you well.
  • Competitive pricing – where you set your price based on your competition.
  • Value based pricing – where you set your price based on the value of your offer to the client.

I do encourage you to the do the math of what it will cost you to deliver your program. Most coaches miss this piece. And it’s quite eye opening to realize the cost of the time you spend getting a single client in addition to specific costs of marketing and inclusions in the program.

That said, to ultimately determine the cost of your program I prefer VALUE based pricing.

Here’s the reality, if you narrow to serve a viable audience and create a unique program based on market research, then your program probably doesn’t exist out there so competitive pricing or so called “market value” isn’t a useful guideline.

Also, few if any of your prospects are ever going to do cost comparisons, especially if you don’t sell coaching but rather offer a unique program.

Purchasing a program such as I suggest you create is an emotional decision.

They will hear or see your message. Their trust in you builds because you’ve struck a resonant chord with all that you’re doing.

Then, they go to your website, which is hopefully already designed as a client winning coaching website not an online brochure. On that website are beautifully streamlined words and conversion processes that gently encourage visitors to have a Discovery Session with you.

All of this is thoughtfully coordinated and strategized but in a non-salesy way to build trust with potential clients rather than trying to convince them about the value of coaching.

They hire you because they like you and trust you. You’ve been in front of them with valuable content and your website reinforces that. Then, in the Discovery Session you lovingly assess if they are a good fit for your program and enroll them.

You don’t want to sell people – to have to convince them to hire you. It’s unsavory. It makes you feel skeevy.

But if you have a signature program that you have thoughtfully crafted to fit their circumstances, their pain and desires then no hard sell is necessary. You do need to ask them to enroll though. ; )

The Mystery of Odd Numbered Pricing

You’ve no doubt seen that a lot of people use odd numbered pricing where prices end with 5, 7, or 9. For example, a long-term high value program might be priced at $5,975 for a 5-month program or an online training might be priced at $697.

Early on in my coaching business I eschewed that whole odd number practice and priced evenly. $5,000 instead of $4,975. $500 instead of $497.

And I struggled to enroll clients. I’m not saying there may not have been other factors involved.

And then, I looked around at the people I admired that offered mentoring, coaching and training. I noticed they were all using odd numbered pricing. I switched and immediately saw a difference in my revenues.

Weird? Yes. But we as human beings have been trained all our lives on odd numbered pricing and it’s ingrained. There’s an emotional response to it even if it’s not logical.

That said, if you have an issue with it, do your own testing.

Encourage Single Payment Investment

With your Signature Program, encourage or incentivize a single payment investment by creating significant savings over a payment plan.

For example, if your 4 month program is $3,995 for a single payment. Make the payment plan total roughly 25% higher. So, 4 payments of $1,249 paid at the beginning of each month — which adds to $4,996 — is over $1,000 more than the single payment.

Incentivizing a single payment helps both you and your clients in these ways:

  • They invest once rather than continually making payments, which is an irritant.
  • They are not focused on the financial investment but rather fully focusing their energy on transformation.
  • Also, bundled programs like I’m suggesting don’t deliver value in even amounts month to month.

My own 5-month Coaching Business Breakthrough program is front loaded with value. The first 2 – 3 months, depending on the pace of my client, are where I’ll deliver the most support and assistance to create everything for their coaching business. The last two months are less labor intensive because we’ve completed the bigger milestones.

It’s a risk for you if someone pays monthly and drops out in the early months.

In the last 17 years, 90% of my clients have paid the single payment up front for my signature program. I’ve noticed that those who opted for the payment plan often became difficult clients because they were not as committed to their own success.

I think that’s because they weren’t fully invested up front. They had one foot out from the start. A part of them didn’t believe in themselves up front. And a part them wasn’t fully ready to have a business yet.

In the last 5 years none of my clients has opted for the payment plan.

When people want something enough

they find a way to make it happen.

And just that mindset and action empowers them significantly!

Should You Have Tiered Pricing?

One last thing about pricing … some people advocate having tiered pricing.

I say no. You’ll do better if you direct clients to your Signature Program and stand behind it.

  • First, a confused mind never buys. The more offers you have that you’re marketing at one time, the less likely someone will enroll.
  • Also, remember … don’t sell coaching. It’s a hard sell.
  • Do coaching with paying clients who have enrolled into a program they know they want.
  • And, the more people you sell into your signature program the more you earn doing exactly what you love.

If you want to create lower priced programs than your Signature Program, consider making them altogether different. For example, offer an online program about a different thing your target audience wants help with. It’s not only different in focus but also different in format.

Sell it as a down sell only after someone firmly turns down your Signature Program. That way you don’t set up competition for the program you most want to deliver.

But consider, that you don’t really need to have other offers besides a free downloadable offer so you can build rapport and stay in touch with your network unless you’re prepared to create a separate way to attract potential clients to that offer.

This and the episode before it were an episode loaded with tips. Consider listening to them again and please share it with fellow coaches. So many struggle with this piece.

Also, if you want help to create your entire business foundation with everything I’ve talked about in these episodes, go to prosperouscoach.com/VIP and tell me about you.

We’ll have a conversation about what you want and what’s been in the way to see if you’re ready for a coaching business breakthrough.

In the Next Episode: Get Out Of Your Own Way To Earn More As A Coach