Here in Colorado the new year came in on a snow-scented breeze, with an air of purpose. It feels like 2011 is off to a running start.
Is your business feeling the new winds blowing? Mine sure is. I‘ve upgraded my Ideal Coaching Market workshop and moved my membership site over to a WordPress platform. I’m about to launch a couple of new marketing approaches, and some new programs are also in the works.
All this inspired me last time to write about reasons to make over your coaching business, and that post brought some pithy comments. One coach asked – now that I know a business makeover is necessary, where do I start?
A great question that deserves an in-depth answer, so I thought I’d address it here.
The essence of the business makeover is to systematically go through everything in your business to uncover what’s working and what’s not working, and then replace what’s not working with something better. To make the process manageable, keep your focus on four fundamentals: market, message, offers and conversion process.
Start With Your Niche
Start by looking at your coaching niche. Is it viable? That means, have you targeted a narrow niche market that is accessible to you and ready to invest in their own personal and professional development?
93% of coaches I surveyed said that their niche is their biggest obstacle to success. And they’re right. It is their biggest obstacle. That’s why my signature program – the offering that I always point coaches to first – is an 8-week tele-workshop that walks you through how to:
- recognize what a viable coaching niche is and is not,
- choose a viable niche market that is ideal for you,
- find out exactly what your niche market is hungry for, and
- design coaching programs that they will be eager to invest in.
Even though it’s counter-intuitive, the most common problem by far with coaching niches is that they are not narrow enough. In the next post I’ll talk more about how to recognize if your niche should be narrower.
What’s Working, What’s Not
If you are satisfied that your niche market is viable, and you know what people in your market will buy, review your marketing. This part of your review covers everything you are doing to build credibility and visibility with your niche market – your blog or website, ezine, freebie, and all the other ways you are getting in front of them. Ask yourself:
- Is your message powerful enough to attract those people?
- Are you speaking their language, putting out a message based on what you know they are most focused on?
- Are you getting in front of them every week?
- Do you have systems in place to steadily build your list? How are they performing?
Then take a look at each one of your offers (your programs and products). Are they hitting the mark? Are people in your market hungry for what you’re selling? Is each offer:
- highly profitable?
- enjoyable for you?
- leveraging your strengths?
- in the format your market most wants to consume?
If you have offers where profitability is low, figure out why. You don’t need absolute precision, but it’s good to know what you are making on each offer each month, and to have a handle on what it costs (in money and time) to keep that offer on the market.
Replace or retool any low profit offers. If that’s your one-on-one coaching, or any other offer that’s directly selling your time, then it’s time to increase your fees. If it’s a recurring revenue product, pricing may still be the issue, but it could also be about volume – not enough buyers. That in turn could point to a weakness in your product design, your marketing, or your program funnel (what leads prospects into the low profit offer).
Finally, evaluate your conversion process – your free consults, and any other techniques you use to enroll clients, such as networking, speaking, launch campaigns and joint ventures. Look at:
- Do you have clear processes in place to convert people in your market from audience into clients? How well are they working?
- Are you consistently connecting with your prospects, showing them the value of what you offer, and asking for the sale?
- Are you using active enrolling questions and other coaching skills to get your prospects to “yes”?
- How well are you handling the money conversation?
A thorough business makeover could also focus on any number of other areas. For example, branding is a big one for some businesses, not so much for others. It’s different for every business. But you want the energy you put into changing direction to have the maximum impact on your results and your satisfaction. The best way to do that is to invest most of your attention in the four fundamentals: market, message, offers and conversion process.
If you find that your whole business model is out of date, don’t despair! Change is constant. Nature loves change. You can always get ideas for what will work by watching what other successful coaches and service entrepreneurs are doing.
The best way to approach a business makeover is with a business coach who understands what you offer and who you serve. But if you prefer to go it alone, be methodical. Look at your skills, your environment, your systems, your support team. Be specific about the results you want and the results you are getting. And I can’t emphasize this enough – always, always make changes with your market in mind.
If you’ve been through a business makeover lately, what were the most potent insights you got out of it? If not, where do you think you stand on the four fundamentals from this post?