When you just start coaching, it’s very important that firstly you gain confidence – confidence in your abilities, confidence in your offer to clients, and confidence in the coaching process. This confidence is only going to be attained by actually coaching! We therefore advocate that in the initial stages of your business you coach as much as possible – this may be obvious to you.

Your confidence will act as a powerful catalyst to generating business. Depending on your business budget, it may also be important to you that your business is self sustaining in the early stages. This means that you will have to attract new clients with as little financial outlay as possible. There are several marketing strategies that you can implement to achieve this.

1. Develop and maintain a client database

As soon as you start your coaching business you should record all prospective and existing clients in a database. This database will become one of your most valuable business resources. It will allow you to simply and easily communicate with groups, follow up unconverted prospects, market added-value services, re-sell services, profile clients and much, much more.

2. Value-add to an existing service or product

What business are you currently in? Many new coaches work in a related field. You may work in an area where you already deliver a service to a group of people that may be ideal for you to offer your coaching services to. If you do, you may package coaching together with the other service as an adjunct – sort of like the McDonalds Meal Deal (‘would you like coaching with that?’). Or you may offer your coaching service as a separate offer.

Either way, if you are already dealing with people on a professional or personal level that you can offer your coaching service to – it is an ideal way to get started quickly and economically.

3. Host/Beneficiary marketing

Defined simply ‘host/beneficiary marketing’ is where you communicate with a non-competing business that has clients on their database that may be predisposed to use your service.

An example of this is if someone owns a four-wheel drive that needs suspension work; chances are they might also need a new set of tyres. Imagine that you own a tyre shop. The suspension shop owner’s clients are well profiled as potential customers for you.

As a tyre retailer, there’s a number of ways that you can talk to the suspension shop’s clients: They can give you a list of clients so you can write to them and invite them for a free tyre check or, what’s even more powerful, they can write to their clients and endorse you as a quality tyre retailer. Informing them that they trust and value you as a business associate, and that they have managed to obtain a special offer of a free tyre check by the end of the month.

So, without doing any advertising to the cold market, you’ve tapped into the resources of the suspension shop’s business. You gain clients through referral and endorsement, and the suspension shop gains the trust and loyalty of their clients as they have performed a good deed for them. A ‘win win’ situation for both businesses.

The host/beneficiary marketing process is one of the most powerful concepts available to you. Many coaches use this principle effectively with host businesses such as accountants, gyms, therapists, weight loss centres etc.

A good way to ascertain what businesses may be appropriate to contact regarding a host/beneficiary relationship is to ask these three simple questions:

  • Who has your clients before you?
  • Who has your clients after you?
  • What other products and services do the majority of your clients use?

Once you answer these questions you’ll have a good basis for which businesses you can contact.

4. Family, friends, colleagues and associates

Do you have any family, friends or associates that would be interested in undertaking your coaching service? We find that many new coaches start coaching to these groups. And once you’ve validated the process with them, you can offer their friends and family coaching through referral or through group coaching sessions.

5. Publications

As a new coach, one of the most powerful means to build your business is through publication. Many new coaches, particularly coaches with a specific niche specialty, regularly write and publish articles. A good goal for a coach starting out is to write two articles per month for their first year of coaching.

These articles can be disseminated through specialist submission services, such as

http://www.submityourarticle.com/ and http://ezinearticles.com/, to hundreds of online and offline publishers. In fact, many offline publishers now conduct the majority of their research online. So if you can get your articles published online (and if they’re of value – well constructed, researched, validated and original), you have an excellent chance of getting published in offline publications as well.

Publishing articles assists you build your business in a leveraged manner because:

  • It establishes you as a leading authority on the topic (your niche);
  • It builds your name and brand through recognition;
  • It dramatically influences your search ranking on search engines (ie. Google, ninemsn, yahoo, etc);
  • It positions you as a point of reference and contact regarding the topic you write about and it won’t be long before you’ll start getting contacted directly to write articles or express your opinion on a topic specific to your area;
  • You can use the publications as a tool for self-endorsement. Imagine the authority you could develop if you were able to reference several dozen of your publications in leading journals, newspapers, magazines and websites. It automatically develops trust with prospects.

6. Networking

Pounding the pavement is still one of the best ways to get known. It allows people to put a face to your name (and business brand) and experience your enthusiasm. It’s also one of the best means for you to explain and sell your service.

Of course there are right and wrong ways to network. Here are a few networking tips:

  • Network in your online and offline communities;
  • Prioritise networking within your niche market to your target demographic;
  • Set yourself networking goals. Many new coaches set themselves the ‘Networking Goal of 100.’ This essentially is just a target of visiting 100 leaders in your niche market within the first year of operation. They could be community leaders, business owners or online leaders. Exactly who you network with will depend on your target niche;
  • When you network, have an established proposition. Networking simply will not work if you just meet and greet. You need to have a compelling and valuable proposition for the people you meet. Your proposition may be to offer them a coaching seminar or workshop to their top clients or staff; to link them into a group coaching session; to involve them in a tele-class (to present on their specialty or to be the recipient of value); to invite them to a lunch/din! ner/meeting. Whatever your proposition, make sure it is of value to them and that they receive a benefit;
  • Follow-up. Get their contact details and within 48-hours send them an email, note or Thank You card in appreciation of their time. At this contact remind them of your proposition and have another call to action. It’s often worthwhile including some sort of gift to create reciprocal obligation ie. a voucher for an upcoming workshop; a link to your online forum or free online educational tool; a movie ticket etc;
  • Link them into an ongoing communication system. It’s a waste of your time (and likely theirs) if you do not maintain contact. If you are able to link them into some sort of ongoing communication system, you will be able to stay in regular contact with them through their Cycle of Life and when they’re ready to experience coaching services, you will be the coach they first approach (or they refer to a friend);
  • Join Groups! Whatever your niche market is, there will almost certainly be established groups and communities already established to service that market. If it’s as broad as Business Coaching, join your local Chamber of Commerce, Business Networks Group, and Local Government communities. Simply GO WHERE THE ACTION IS! There is always action happening. You just have to find it and immerse yourself in it.

7. Tele-Classes

Tele-Classes are an excellent way for you to start building your business. They’re a good value proposition to link with your networking efforts as they’re very low cost and they allow you to leverage your time extremely well. Some tele-class tips are:

  • Offer a tele-class series in your niche. This may go for four weeks or 52-weeks;
  • Use the tele-classes to establish yourself as an expert in your niche;
  • Use your tele-class sessions or series as a means to build your database of prospects and clients;
  • Market your tele-classes through all mediums – networking, online, in articles, in your digital signature, on your flyers and business cards;
  • Interview leading community experts. This can be done either live during your teleclass or pre-recorded. Having a recognised community leader (or several) involved builds your image;
  • Audio tape your tele-classes. Then you can package them, sell them, gift them.

8. Public Presentations

Paid and unpaid public presentations add significant value to your image and brand. As a new coach you should set yourself the objective of doing at least two presentations per month for a twelve month period. Some presentation tips are:

  • A presentation only needs to go for about 20-minutes;
  • A presentation is an excellent proposition to link to your networking;
  • Your presentations should be tailored for the forum, but as a general rule of thumb should value-add to your audience, and not be just a self sales speech! You can sell your services in the last two minutes, or at the beginning as an endorsement of the content you’ll deliver;
  • Presentations can be targeted through community organisations, local businesses, schools, gyms, business groups, communities. your imagination is the only limit on these possibilities;
  • Make your marketing material available – your brochures, business cards, flyers, invitations;
  • Make yourself available after the presentation. Don’t rush off for another appointment;
  • Audio tape and/or video tape your presentations and use them as a marketing tool, offer or value-add product.

9. Website

We can’t emphasise this enough… your website can be your most powerful marketing and branding tool. Why? Because once established it’s your cheapest means of marketing and communication with the broadest and most refined reach.

Every coach NEEDS a functional website. Of course there are good and bad websites. A bad website will lie dormant while a good website can facilitate enormous practice growth. Many coaches swear by their sites and nominate their sites as their most valuable business marketing tool.

Developing a functional website should be one of the highest priorities of every new coach. If you are already coaching and do not have a functional site, you should get one – immediately! For the purposes of defining what we mean by a functional site, here are some attributes your site should have:

  • It needs to be found! It should therefore be properly programmed with the correct metatag terms, content, scripting, links, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), PPC marketing etc;
  • It should have effective sales copy. It should not be a shrine to yourself, but a marketing tool;
  • It should be ‘sticky.’ It should provide reasons (and mechanisms) for people to return – as regularly as possible;
  • Your site should have a compelling sales process for your core products. As a marketing tool, it should be appropriately designed to funnel visitors through a carefully planned sales process with a specific call to action;
  • It should have a system to capture visitor details. Every visitor is a qualified prospect. Therefore, it’s critical that you capture their details. Your site should have a powerful means to achieve this, in an automated manner;
  • Your site needs a constant means of communicating with prospects/clients. Once you have prospects details, you need to use them effectively. Your site is the perfect mechanism – if designed correctly;
  • It should be automated. You want to create growth… not create more work!
  • It should reduce work that you would otherwise need to do manually;
  • It should link with other sites – as many allied sites as possible – and as many leading sites in allied areas as possible. This will dramatically increase your chances of being found on the web;
  • It should generate passive income. Your site should generate an income for you.

10. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are an excellent leveraged means for coaches to build a significant passive income. Essentially an Affiliate Program is any program whereby the coach gets paid a commission for the referral of a service. As coaching clients often require a diverse range of products and services to assist them attain their goals, a coach is in a unique position to establish such arrangements.

Affiliate Programs should always be established with the intent of assisting the client. As a coach, you are a trusted adviser and your actions should reflect this. If however, you are often referring clients to service providers, and those providers are benefiting financially from your referrals with no client acquisition cost, it stands to reason that you should get paid a commission.

As an example, the world’s biggest online bookstore, amazon.com, has an Affiliate Program whereby they pay commissions on book sales (and other items).

11. Blogging

A Blog is a Web Log or a Web Journal. It’s basically an automated website (there are hundreds of free tools and templates available on the web) that’s used as a journal to put your ideas, thoughts and beliefs. It’s a forum where individuals can meet and express their ideas and opinions.

So, how can a coach use a blog to assist build their business?

  • People with common beliefs and/or interests congregate in blogs. You can therefore use blogs to establish online communities and target your niche markets;
  • Blogs allow you to freely express your beliefs and create a signature presence on the web;
  • A blog is a good forum to conduct subtle research on your market;
  • Having reciprocal links with your website and blog assists build your profile, generate additional traffic and improve the likelihood of being found.

Some blogging tips:

  • Ask your teenagers!
  • Establish credibility;
  • Practice patience;
  • Don’t burn yourself out;
  • Manage your time;
  • Launch effectively;
  • Write about your beliefs, interests and passions;
  • Register the right domain;
  • Find your writing style;
  • Define your blog.

Note: This article is an abstract from the Ultimate Coaching Business Building Program (UCBBP); developed by the Life Coaching Institute and CoachIQ Coaching Club. The program is delivered to CoachIQ subscribers via weekly e-lessons, including extra resources such as Self-Assessment and Action Sheets, Links and Templates.

If you would like to build a flourishing coaching business, visit the Coaching Club website (www.coachingclub.com.au) and take advantage of the 60-day free access offer to new members.