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!

In the Next Episode: 10 Big Questions for Intake with Your Coaching Clients

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?

Ep 15 – What’s Your Zone of Genius as A Coach?

This episode is part of the series called Smart & Profitable Coaching Niches.

It’s all about your unique talent and how, when it’s applied to your coaching niche, it allows you to shine. Doors open to you!

Gay Hendricks coined the term in his book The Big Leap.

The 4 Zones

You might have heard of this even if you haven’t read his book, because it made a big splash and has stood of test of time.

He defined 4 zones:

  • incompetence
  • competence,
  • excellence
  • and genius

Most of us operate day to day in those first 3 zones.

You run up against your incompetence and avoid those tasks and experiences. You find a day to day competence in most things and it’s an acceptable place to hang out in but not stellar. And in a few areas you rise to excellence.

If you’re in your zone of excellence, you’re performing better than most people. It feels good and it’s easier than other areas for you.

For me, that’s stuff like coaching, writing, copy-editing and breaking complex projects and concepts into simple steps. Things I truly enjoy and I’m better at than most, but still, it’s not effortless.

Totally Unique and At Your Best

When you are in your zone of genius, you are literally at your best.

It’s where your natural, innate abilities — the ones that intersect with your passion — literally shine and glow. Your eyes shine, you smile is warmer and people can feel it.

It’s a state of being where inspiration flows to, through and from you and you feel deeply engaged and energized.

Your inspiration awakens something in others.

So, you can see how, your zone of genius could super charge your coaching.

Now, if I asked you what your zone of genius is, you might be tempted to say: “Well, Rhonda, it’s coaching of course!”

But that’s not it. That’s most likely excellence.

No doubt, you are an outstanding coach. I believe that.

Your zone of genius is something singular, unique to you not simply something you do better than most people.

As wonderful as it is, the problem with this whole Zone of Genius concept is that it’s not easy to look objectively at yourself and immediately perceive it.

You need someone to recognize it within you.

And if that hasn’t happened yet, you may think you’re not enough or that there is nothing special about you, no unique gifts that you bring.

It’s not true. You know that in your heart.

Part of my Zone of Genius is hearing other people’s Zone of Genius.

It’s the best clue for a smart and meaningful niche for my clients.

One of my clients said I have a super power for helping coaches niche. I loved that and own that, but that is an outcome of my zone of genius, not the definition of it.

Peak Moments are a Clue to Your Coaching Niche

When I work with coaches I ask a lot questions to help them discover their coaching niche. There’s an array of information that gives us clues.

When they start talking about peak conversations they’ve had with friends, family, and clients sometimes something within them kicks into a more effortless gear …

I feel that vibrational shift in my body and their words float up into the air like a hologram.

And that’s when I know they’ve hit their genius.

Their voice becomes more resonant. They go off on a jag and time stops. Words flow from them that are more attuned to their heart, instead of their head.

It’s a clear display of their innate talent and passion.

And that’s a beacon for the rest of our discovery work.

Holding Your Genius Back

Some people have their Zone of Genius bottled up tightly within them.

I’m a good example of that. I didn’t learn about the areas where I truly shine until my 40’s. And I had been looking for it.

The truth is, it took me that long to believe in myself.

I’ve come to think it’s a developmental point. Not everyone at every stage of their life will be SHOWING their Zone of Genius. Allowing it out.

Have you ever felt afraid of letting yourself fully out?

I have deep compassion for that part.

I have noticed that a lot of people who are serious about being successful in their coaching business have arrived at a place where that Zone of Genius is blossoming.

It makes sense to me because when you decide to become a coach you step onto a strong path of inner transformation yourself.

And if you decide to become an entrepreneur you’ve asked yourself to become a leader all on your own volition. I talked about this in Episode 14 .

I’m wondering, as I talk about this:

Are you having any inklings about your zone of genius?

Or, are you wondering how you might be keeping it bottled up inside you?

Gay Hendrickson’s book talks a lot about self sabotage as it relates to the genius zone.

It’s totally natural, when a coach suddenly gets the reflection of their genius, for fear and imposter syndrome feelings to pop up.

They consider centering their business on their innate gifts and something inside them closes doors.

It’s as if they shrink back from getting their zone of genius out into the world.

They fear how that kind of exposure will affect their relationships and sense of normalcy.

It’s true that success changes things. And it’s part of it to look for the day to day balance that keeps you grounded.

And that’s why, it’s also good to have help to navigate that time of letting yourself out into the world.

I hope this episode has given you hope, maybe even some clarity or even better … curiosity.

Curiosity is a great sign. Go with that!

The next episode up is another Coach-the-Coach session where I help a coach choose her ideal target audience. It’s called Why Not Coach People Like You?

Mentioned in the Episode:

The Big Leap, by Gay Hendrickson

Ep 10 – Why Do Some Coaching Niches Fail?

This is the 3rd episode in the series Smart & Profitable Coaching Niches.

It’s heartbreaking but some niches never pay off. They just don’t ever get off the ground.

And it’s confusing because they are often about topics everyone cares about or target audiences that NEED so much help.

But that’s part of the problem.

When people buy support to get what they need they’ll most often turn to free resources or to known resources like therapists or doctors.

It’s WANTS that inspire investment in programs that lead to personal transformation.

WANTS drive investment in things and experiences, not needs.

Seekers and Non-Seekers

Seekers are what I call the type of people who invest time and money —from their own pocket — into their personal and professional growth.

Coaches are seekers.

Seekers:

  • Are driven by their desire to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
  • Have social personalities (even if they are introverted) and enjoy influencing others.
  • Are always actively working on themselves and their top goals.
  • Want to become masters at what they do.
  • Buy and read self help or educational books.
  • Will go to an experiential weekend retreat and invest a bundle in it.
  • Pay for vocational training, like coach training, so they can do something they really want to do.

Not all people are attracted to those things. Sometimes it’s circumstantial. Sometimes it’s behavioral.

3 Types of Non-Seekers

  • People who were taught to be fiercely self-reliant.
  • People who invest most of their time and money on things they value more than their own personal growth.
  • People who don’t value themselves highly right now for whatever reason.

So you can see it’s important to consider whether your target audience is full of seekers or not.

Popular But Usually Profitless Coaching Niches

I’m about to list some audiences who are not generally seekers, which means they are less likely to invest in hiring you to help them overcome problems and reach goals.

Full time stay at home moms

They invest time and money in their kids. Yes, they’ll love your free stuff and Facebook groups but they won’t consistently or significantly invest in support to be a better mom, live a more balanced life, or to thrive in motherhood.

A client once came to me who had put 5 years into building a coaching business focused on moms. She is a highly intelligent go-getter who diligently tried every marketing approach. She had great programs, products, freebies, an effective website. She had a big list of moms but few bought anything she sold and usually only something very low cost. It was heartbreaking for her. She had to abandon it.

Another client decide to work with mom entrepreneurs. That was different because the focus was helping them to build their business and still have energy for family. The goal to build a business shifted their behavior from the non-seeker to seekers.

Empty nesters

These people do have real challenges but the state of being an empty nester won’t inspire them to invest in programs to get through that experience unless they already know they want to fill their time with a business venture. Again the shift from empty-nester to business owner changes the buying behavior.

Divorcees

There is no doubt these people could use some help. I’ve seen many coaches try this audience and not make a good living at it. The only exception was a lawyer who became a coach. She had ready access to newly divorced individuals through her colleagues and past clients who valued her.

Retirees

Wealthier retirees might invest in experiences. But the average retiree is holding onto their money or spending it on children and grandchildren.

Doctors & Lawyers

These types of professionals have a self-sufficient personality. They might engage you IF you are or have been a doctor or lawyer yourself but aren’t likely to open their mind to working with you if you aren’t in the club.

There are also some topical niches that tend to never launch well.

I’ve seen people putting themselves out there as Fulfillment Coaches, Confidence Coaches, Serenity Coaches, Abundance Coaches and other somewhat abstract or intangible topics.

While we all want fulfillment, confidence, serenity, abundance and happiness – these are all temporary states of being and people may only invest for a short program that doesn’t cost much.

If your heart is set on coaching around these types of abstract topics focus in on a unique and narrow audience, find out what they want so much they’ll invest in your help to get it.

Then apply some of the principles you’d use to coach someone in one of those abstract, intangible topics to help them reach a tangible goal.

Now I’m not right all the time. I base what I say about coaching niches on 2 decades of experience.

So, if I’ve asserted some idea and you can prove me wrong, please, please do. Get in touch and let me know where I’ve erred and I’ll make a public correction. My listeners would enjoy that. In fact, maybe you could be a guest on my podcast and help us understand how you made your niche successful.

A note of compassion here … if you’ve targeted one of these groups or focused on one of these abstract topics I know it hurts to hear it may not pay off.

My guess is that you saw the title of this episode and it resonated because some part of you feels frustrated that your business hasn’t taken off.

Hopefully this episode shows you that it’s not about you, it’s about your niche.

Did you know that I’m accepting applications for FREE On Air Coaching?

The way On Air Coaching works is you and I have a private business coaching session that’s recorded and later that session is aired as an episode in this podcast series.

On Air Coaching is perfect for you if you are a trained coach who hasn’t yet landed your own profitable coaching niche.

It’s okay if you haven’t done anything yet to build your business.

It’s equally okay if you’ve tried one or more niches and, for whatever reason, it’s not working for you.

In our session I’ll ask you questions to uncover possibilities. We’ll identify a fantastic target audience for you, and brainstorm what they most want and how to apply your gifts and skills to help them get it.

Knowing you audience and niche will give you a profound sense of direction and focus for you coaching business.

I’d love to work with you.

Mentioned in This Episode

My next Episode is — What Coach Archetype Fits You?

Ep 9 – 12 Ways a Smart Coaching Niche Empowers You

This episode is part of my Smart & Profitable Niche Series. Hey, I know I’ve been talking a lot of coaching niches in my podcast so far.

And I know that topic might make you groan … because it’s so hard to figure out on your own.

But let me clue you in to my strategy in focusing on this topic for a while.

  • 93% of coaches struggle with choosing a smart & profitable niche. It’s a big issue.

Do you have to choose a coaching niche? No.

Some say let your niche find you.

You can just float around, stay a generalist, coach all sorts of people about all sorts of topics.

I think that’s a good way to go if you haven’t consciously chosen to become an entrepreneur. You’re just trying this coaching skill set on. You don’t expect to earn much. You just love the process.

But if you want to leave your current job and make coaching your job … if you’re serious about being your own boss and being the director of your career why not give yourself all the advantages and take the time to niche your coaching business in a smart and profitable way?

It’s a strategic approach, and an internal shift as well, away from thinking like practitioner to becoming an entrepreneur. Treating your business as a living entity that grows and changes with you over time.

I’m about to illustrate the advantages that come with focusing your business on a unique audience and niche. And notice how one advantage leads to another.

One smart decision makes everything easier and empowers you for long term success and exciting turning points in your business and life that you can’t even imagine yet.

First a quick suggestion … if you are agonizing over your coaching niche fill out an application for FREE On Air Coaching.

The way On Air Coaching works is you and I have a private business coaching session that’s recorded and later that session is aired as an episode in this podcast series.

On Air Coaching is perfect for you if you are a trained coach who hasn’t yet landed your own profitable coaching niche.

It’s okay if you haven’t done anything yet to build your business.

It’s equally okay if you’ve tried one or more niches and, for whatever reason, it’s not working for you.

In our session I’ll ask you questions to uncover possibilities. We’ll identify a fantastic target audience for you, and brainstorm what they most want and how to apply your gifts and skills to help them get it.

Knowing your audience and niche will give you a profound sense of direction and focus for you coaching business.

So apply for On Air Coaching on my website at prosperouscoach.com/8.

I’d love to work with you.

Now let’s roll out this cascade of benefits you experience when you do choose a smart and profitable niche and focus your attention on one target audience:

#1 You Have a Solid Direction and Focus

I remember when I started coaching without a niche how aimless and lost I felt. Every day was a head scratch. My brain searching around for purchase. What should I do?

First, I went to friends and family to convince them to hire me — the low hanging fruit. But those clients didn’t stay long. And I didn’t have the heart to charge them much.

I also noticed how hard it was to get them to focus. They brought weak agendas. There wasn’t a clear enough goal or a big enough why. It was as if my lack of focus didn’t inspire them to commit to serious process or changes.

I came away with some fluffy testimonials about the value of my coaching but little sense of true impact.

After exhausting people I knew, I palpably experienced that uncomfortable sensation of having to beat the bushes to flush out potential clients.

My marketing was pitiful but I worked so hard trying to interest people in coaching.

Having a solid niche replaced that aimless, listless feeling with certainty and focus.

#2 Your Message Stands Out and Grabs Attention

It’s not easy to get attention these days. Humans are more distracted than ever.

We flop around social media and websites in a trance. The only thing that breaks that trance is relevance.

Have you noticed how much of the same message is out there and how quickly you skip over it?

But when someone hits a hot button for you, you snap to attention.

How do we as coaches hit the hot button in our messaging?

It’s not going to be by talking about coaching. Because only coaches and wanna-be coaches pay attention to those messages.

What is personally relevant to you is not personally relevant to everyone.

Our brains in a constant state of overwhelm only hone in on specific words, specific problems, specific desires that are urgent to us.

When you focus your business around a smart niche with a unique target audience suddenly you’re able to speak with relevance about what those people care about.

Relevance is how your message gets noticed, liked, shared.

#3 You Know What to Do Each Day

Because you’ve focused your attention on a unique target audience and found out their urgent challenges and desires, the spotlight comes off of you onto them.

And suddenly, marketing is no longer the big scary.

You know what to do.

And if you need help learning what to do, the money you spend on training applies now, because you are 100% clear about your audience and niche.

Suddenly, you have the understanding about where to go to find these people and the courage to speak in a way that attracts them.

You know what they want. You understand their problems. You know more about why they invest in their transformation.

And you’re no longer throwing out random messaging and offers like spaghetti and hoping it will stick.

#4 Your Marketing Efforts Are Leveraged (So You Can Market Less)

Over time your consistent messaging and strategic approach gains power and momentum.

Attention becomes interest and interest becomes engagement.

#5 You Become Known and Trusted By a Community of Engaged People

Trust turns engagement into investment … in your programs.

#6 You Get More Client Referrals

Because you’ve geared your offers to fit your audience’s challenges and goals, your coaching produces more than just warm fuzzy feelings.

Your clients are getting tangible results. The kind of results you can put into a testimonial on your website.

They will refer other people in the tribe to you. Not just a casual referral but a specific testimonial about how your program helped them.

#7 Prospects Seek You Out Already Pre-sold on Hiring You

You’re known, liked and trusted. You’re on the inside of your target audience now.

They Google and find you.

And when they arrive on your website they’ll go directly to your Work With page wanting to hire you.

#8 You Know How to Enroll Without Being Salesy

Enrolling is easy now. There’s no convincing. There’s just a connective conversation that helps ideal prospects to “YES”!

#9 You Command Higher Fees

You’re a leader now. A sought after guide.

Before you tell them your fees they know it will be a significant investment in their growth and they’re ready to leap.

#10 It’s Easier to Create Irresistible Products & Programs

With your experience coaching one target audience who have a set of unique challenges and goals, you grow expertise quickly.

And it’s easy to turn that expertise into workshops, masterminds, retreats and online products.

Write the book. Launch the podcast. Grow!

#11 Big Opportunities Find You

The natural result of your commitment and focus on one smart niche and narrow audience is invitations

Invitation to speak. Nominations to lead a larger group.

It’s surprise time. Your Magic is fully awakened and alive.

I’ve had clients who because they stood out in the crowd were provided platforms to get their word out in a massive way or offered jobs in coaching firms or brought internally into an organization to coach the organization.

Those opportunities don’t show up if you’re a tiny voice in a sea of voices all saying the same basic thing.

#12 You Build a Legacy Business

Coaches have been sponsored, televised and awarded all because they had the courage to niche, specialize and become an advocate for one narrow audience.

Coaches contribute to their families and their communities in major ways.

Some coaches build a business that employs dozens or hundreds. A business that can be sold for a windfall.

It all starts with a smart & profitable niche.

Mentioned in This Episode

My next episode is W/hy Do Some Coaching Niches Fail?

Ep 8 – 3 Crucial Parts of a Smart Coaching Niche

With today’s episode we’re heading into a new series — Smart and Profitable Coaching Niches.

I know you might be groaning about this topic because the whole niche thing feels so hard.

But this is my super power ya’ll.

Helping coaches design a smart and profitable coaching niche is the first thing I help my clients do.

Because … building a coaching business without a smart niche is like building a new house without a foundation.

Think about it. If the foundation is good, the house is solid and secure. It won’t fall down.

If the foundation is crap, the house feels flimsy.

If you’ve been feeling like your business is a bit flimsy and you don’t know exactly what to do every day to attract clients that pay you well … it’s worth your time to get this centerpiece of your business right.

And I’m sorry to say that a majority of coaches that I meet have glossed over their niche or haven’t decided Instead they put up a website selling a certain type of coaching or all types of coaching and it doesn’t work.

If you haven’t listened to my last episode called — Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?check it out here.

It explains why selling a certain type of coaching is hard — too hard to enjoy and earn well. It’s a great primer for everything I’m going to talk about from here on.

Most coaches only consider what they want to coach about. And it leaves out the most essential thing — who you serve and what they want so much they’d be willing to invest money to get it.

Over the next several episodes I’ll reveal my process for helping coaches choose their niche.

First, a quick announcement …

I’m now accepting applications for free On Air Coaching.

The way On Air Coaching works is you and I have a private business coaching session that’s recorded and later that session is aired as an episode in this podcast series.

On Air Coaching is perfect for you if you are a trained coach who hasn’t yet landed your own profitable coaching niche.

It’s okay if you haven’t done anything yet to build your business.

It’s equally okay if you’ve tried one or more niches and, for whatever reason, it’s not working for you.

In our session I’ll ask you questions to uncover possibilities. We’ll identify a fantastic target audience for you, and brainstorm what they most want and how to apply your gifts and skills to help them get it.

Knowing you audience and niche will give you a profound sense of direction and focus for you coaching business.

I’d love to work with you.

Okay let’s dig into this niche thing!

Most Coaches Only Choose a Track

First, let’s define it because in my nearly 2 decades of studying coaching niches there are some big gaps between what some call a coaching niche and what I’d call a coaching niche.

Some people say that a coaching niche is the area you focus on, for example:

  • Health and Wellness
  • Relationship
  • Career
  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Executive and Corporate Leadership
  • Spirituality

See, to me, these are not quite niches.

I would call these coaching tracks instead. You might have taken coach training in one of these areas and don’t worry because it will be very valuable to you and your clients.

You might have set up your website, messaging and offers to sell that certain type of coaching. That usually doesn’t work well as I covered in the last episode.

Few people buy coaching for the sake of being coached. But they will invest in help to overcome specific urgent problems and to reach their goals.

To be able to speak about specific goals and challenges focus your efforts on a specifc audience.

Choosing a Specialty is a Smart Step

Now some coaches take a wise step towards a smart niche and name a specialty.

For example, a wellness coach might focus on weight loss, or a relationship coach might focus on dating.

That’s smart because it speaks to a specific PROBLEM people have. I’ll come back to these examples in a minute.

If you’ve specialized on a certain problem, take an additional step and target a unique audience.

The 3 Essentials

1. A single narrow target audience.

2. That target audience’s urgent problems and desires.

3. Your savvy solution for that audience which incorporates your skills, talents — everything in your toolbox.

Let’s take these one at a time.

A target audience, also called a target market or a tribe by Seth Godin, is a unique group of people defined by a common set of specific interests, challenges and goals.

I’m reading his latest book called This is Marketing. He says:

“Find a corner of the market that can’t wait for your attention. Go to their extremes. Find a position on the map where you and you alone are their perfect answer.”

– Seth Godin, This is Marketing

For example, what if you are a relationship coach, specializing in dating and you then decide to focus on single parents as your target audience …

Wouldn’t you agree that single parents have a set of unique challenges and goals when it comes to dating?

They have to consider their kids in every aspect of dating and also as the relationship grows.

Pre-Selling a Coach Client Without Selling At All

So suddenly, instead of selling relationship coaching, you become a dating specialist for single parents. You messages and offers are specific using language single parents relate to. And it makes building your coaching business easier in so many ways.

The single parent feel special because they feel heard and understood by you.

When you speak their language in your blogs, podcasts or videos, they trust you and you are effectively pre-qualifying and pre-selling them on your programs.

Another example … let’s say you are a wellness coach specilizing in weight loss and you target corporate executives.

Execs are overworked, overstressed individuals who need help to enhance their performance, feel more confident and present so they can get short listed for a promotion or garner favor with shareholders.

Do you see how in both examples targeting one specific audience would help you as the coach to stand out and attract attention fast?

Getting Attention is Job #1

And it’s not easy. We live in a too busy and highly distracted world. So your message will only snap people to attention if it’s highly relevant and to be relevant it has to be specific.

If you haven’t chosen a track yet, don’t worry about it. You can actually skip over that part.

Instead target an audience that’s easy for you to find and connect with, find out what they want so much they’d be willing to invest in your help to get it.

Coaches serve people. That’s why your coaching niche should be designed starting with the unique audience you serve and their real problems.

Next week I’m going to give you a clear picture of the advantages to choosing a smart and profitable niche.

You’ll be amazed how it can change your day to day as well as setting you up for long term success and and incredible opportunities. 

     

Mentioned in This Episode

This is Marketing by Seth Godin

The next episode is 12 Ways a Smart Coaching Niche Empowers You

Ep 6 – Four Mistakes I Made in Coaching Business Startup

This episode covers 4 big mistakes I made during the start up of my coaching business. Maybe you can relate.

Yes, I made all of these mistakes and more and I lived to tell the tale.

But I’ve experienced multiple magical turning points in my business as well. Wonderful things I never could have imagined came my way because I did not let my mistakes stop me.

And that’s the key, right?

My guess is that, as I talk about these pitfalls, you’ll recognize yourself in some but also realize that you’re much more savvy than I was at startup. Coaches seem to get smarter every year.

Mistakes are still the best way to learn. It’s a time honored tradition. And growing a coaching business, like any business, is a total experiment. It’s a long term gamble.

When I was able to see my business in that light it became easier to power through mistakes by making small adjustments instead of over reacting.

If you can teach yourself to think like a scientist or an innovator and play the long game, you’ll be golden. That gumption and grit will pay you back many fold.

Okay … enough preamble … now to dish the dirt.

Mistake #1 — Holding High Expectations

There are schools of thought about expectations.

Me? I’m with Shakespeare who purportedly said: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

That’s wisdom similar to the Buddhist belief that craving is what causes suffering. Sounds right to me.

See, I expected:

  • to replace my income before I quit my job.
  • to immediately get dozens of referrals from friends and family.
  • for everyone to get the value of coaching with a single free session.

The weight of those expectations and others crushed me. Because when things didn’t work exactly as I’d hoped, disappointment set in. I was certain that it meant I wasn’t good enough.

It didn’t mean that. It never means that. It only meant that the experiment was still alive. And, I needed to chill out emotionally while still taking action on behalf of my business.

Then, I realized pretty quickly that exchanging high expectations for low expectations was just another type of self sabotage. It’s totally de-motivating.

So it’s best to check expectations entirely. The winning attitude turns out to be another buddhist principle. Live in the present moment. Let love drive you in your business and show up as a professional. More about that in a minute …

I know now that for my first 2 years of coaching, I had been holding my breath until I arrived at an imagined destination.

Where did my high expectations come from? Well some was arrogance. Some was ignorance. And the rest was because …

Mistake #2 — I Drank the KoolAid

At the time, when I launched my coaching business there was a lot of hyperbolic messaging about coaches earning high 6 or 7 figures coming from rock star coaches.

As if that was the norm.

I’m glad to see that rhetoric has toned down. And several people who are earning high revenues these days are more transparent about the significant investment of time, sweat and seed money it takes to get there.

I was just listening to Natalie Eckdahl of Biz Chix, one of my favorite podcasts. She generously admitted that her first whole year of business, she had zero profit.

Four years later though, she is one of those phenoms. And I can tell she works very hard for it.

I appreciate her transparency so I’m going to pass that forward now.

My first year in my coaching business I grossed a whopping $10,000. Not enough to pay for my coach training, equipment and mentoring.

My second year I grossed $35,000. My third year — which was the year I figured out the right way to niche, brand and connect to a unique target audience with a specific problem — that year I made $75,000. And from there I took off.

I truly believe you will move faster than that if you thoughtfully design your business rather than just stumble into it like I did.

Six years into my business I started pushing hard for those big numbers.

Eight years into that race I found that the costs of doing business at that level were too high for me. But that’s me. You may have the stamina for it.

Now, if YOU have big number goals, you absolutely have a chance at it.

Consider though, before you climb the highest mountain, get strong on the smaller ones. Be strategic and patient with yourself or you’ll burn yourself out fast.

If you’re feeling like a loser because you’re not at the 6 figure place yet …

Don’t treat yourself that way.

That “American Dream” thing or the equivalent in other nations keeps us in a scarcity thrall — always looking for easy money. And feeling unlucky if it doesn’t happen.

That’s the real cause of suffering. True prosperity is about feeling the blessing of what you have while you still grow.

The healthiest approach I’ve found is to aim for stretch revenue goals that are appropriate for your phase of business.

Then, strategize each step you will take to reach that goal. Do the work. Evaluate how you’re doing from time to time and make incremental adjustments based on what your audience wants and what’s best for you.

In other words, experiment!

Mistake #3 — Staying Too Long in Student Coach Mode

While I both held absurd expectations and drank the KoolAid on the one hand, on the other hand I clung to student mode for nearly a year after coach training.

I was in perpetual student mode with my coaching business.

I kept giving free coaching. Or, I charged pitifully low fees.

I kept taking more coach training. I also spent a lot of money on programs that were teaching tactical approaches that I wasn’t developmentally ready for.

Have you ever enrolled in a program and finishes having nothing to show for it. Chances are the information was just too advanced for where you were in your business them.

That was the case for me. I hadn’t narrowed my niche enough or learned the psychographics of my audience. I didn’t know how to market without being salesy.

It’s part of the reason why I serve coaches in the start up phase to help them believe in their experiment and set themselves up well for the journey.

I have a lot of compassion for myself in that perpetual student mode. It’s a big deal to launch a business. I guess I needed that year to get ready for it mentally.

In the meantime I made …

Mistake #4 — Blindly Following Other Coaches

… down a rocky, barren road.

Yep. I pretty much did what I saw other coaches doing. I didn’t consider whether what they were doing was actually working for them. It looked cool. It sounded cool. So I was inspired.

I admired someone’s website and rushed to put one up that was equally pretty and honestly pretty vapid. It addressed everyone, prosthelytized about the wonders of coaching and had no conversion process.

My third website was the charm. I also spent a lot of money on a logo and a business card. I abandoned that logo long ago and never really needed the business cards for my almost entirely online style of marketing.

Basically, I invested in the trappings of my business without considering my overall strategy.

I think I’ve made all of the mistakes I possibly could have made in the start up phase.

My saving grace is that I’m tenacious. When I say I’m going to do something I don’t stop until I make it happen.

The silver lining of my impetuousness is that when I fall flat on my face I get up with curiosity and study the right way to do something until I can teach someone else how to do it.

So I hope that you’ve enjoyed me roasting myself today.

If you’ve gotten caught in a start up pitfall and want a hand to get back to ground level, I offer a Strategy Session. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click the button STRATEGY SESSION.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Natalie Eckdahl of the Biz Chix podcast.

My next episode is called Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?