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Becoming an Expert, Part 1

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In a previous post we discussed the benefits associated with being an expert in your niche. In this article, we will focus on the steps required to become one. So how do you become (or become perceived to be) an expert in your niche?

Being an expert coach in your niche does not necessarily mean you have to be a technical expert in the industry you operate. Obviously, industry knowledge is very important. But your clients already have good industry knowledge and they are not able to solve their own problems!

Being an expert in a niche requires you to be an expert at solving the problems experienced by your prospective clients in the niche. This is an extremely important distinction.

Many coaches decide to niche in an industry they have previously worked in. This is great, but you still need to develop intricate skill in solving the problems of the niche before you’ll have a compelling service to offer, and before you can establish yourself as an expert.

If you have previously (or currently) worked in the area of your niche, but have little knowledge of the most pressing problems confronted by the niche, and no experience in how to overcome those problems, then your chances of successfully establishing yourself as an ‘expert’ are slim.

Remember, a niche is a group of people with a common problem that they’re willing to pay to solve, and are already talking about it. If you don’t have products and services that will solve the specific problems that your niche is willing to invest in being solved, then you’re not going to have a very compelling sales offer.

Here are some tips for how you can establish and position yourself as an expert:

Know the problems of your niche. To be an expert coach in your chosen niche, you must be an expert about the problems and challenges that your niche is willing to invest in to solve. If you have not identified these (correctly) and created unique solutions, and espoused how you will go about solving them, you will never be perceived to be an expert – even if you are!

For example: Imagine you are a ‘Date Coach’ (big niche in the US). One of the problems facing people who seek out a ‘date coach’ is ‘How to behave when endeavouring to attract their ideal partner’. An experienced ‘date coach’ knows that there are certain behaviours that a man or women need to adopt when in the presence of their desired partner to be attractive. Other specific niche problems may be: lacking the confidence and ability to approach a potential partner; and fearing rejection or humiliation.

This is a simple example of understanding the problems of your niche. Based on these problems, a successful Date Coach would build specific services and products to assist clients overcome these challenges; and would clearly articulate these solutions through their USP and brand.

Develop specific solutions to the problems of your niche. Obviously, knowing the problems is not enough. You have to develop specific, unique, preferably branded solutions to the problems. It’s no good offering a generic coaching solution to a specific niche problem – even if that generic solution will solve the problem. Remember, marketing is about perception.

If you can win the war of perception, you’ll win the war of marketing, and hence beat the competition and build a flourishing business. So, develop specific, niche branded solutions.

For example: A ‘Date Coach’ develops a ‘Double Your Dating’ or ‘Dating Routine’ program for clients. ‘Dating Routine’ is a set of learned pre-organised cues and steps an individual takes to maintain confidence, structure positive conversation, and attract someone to them.

Advocate and position your products as unique. Once you’ve developed your specific coaching services and products, you need to position them as unique solutions. You need to articulate in detail how those solutions will help your client overcome their problem better than any other service. If possible you should brand your solution and associate it with your company and you.

For example: We are now seeing ‘Date Coaches’ specialise in cultural markets to position themselves and their products and/or coaching tools as unique. ‘Date Coaching’ is also positioned uniquely in comparison to ‘Relationship Coaching’.

Research clearly indicates that if people are wanting help on how to ‘get more dates’ then they’ll employ the services of a specialist Date Coach before engaging a Relationship Coach. Can you see how more refined, specific niches can be borne out of larger categories?

Highlight the financial and commercial value of your niche solutions. You need to position your branded products/services based on their value as a solution. You must always identify the financial and emotional cost to your client in NOT having their problem solved. You can then communicate the value of your services to your client in terms of the cost to them for NOT undertaking your niche service.

For example: As a ‘Date Coach’ it’s easy to establish the financial and emotional cost to your client. “Recent ground breaking research from XYZ Institute indicates that behaviours and techniques utilised by highly desired individuals to attract partners is learned, not natural.

By perfecting your skills in dating, research indicates you are 79% more likely to find the partner of your dreams”. That’s a big motivator when you think of the financial and emotional implications of finding your perfect match.

What is CBT, Part 1

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The cognitive behavioural approach is based on the notion that a link exists between our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Emotions are triggered by reactions to thoughts that we may or may not be consciously aware of.

We may act on the basis of these emotions, without thought of their origin or consideration for the possibility that the thoughts triggering the emotion may, in fact, be distorted or incorrect.

In the process of cognitive behavioural coaching, the aim is to examine client thinking and teach strategies to identify and change distorted thinking, emotions and beliefs as well as skills and strategy training to modify behaviours.

Main Concepts

Core beliefs: Long held, often rigid, beliefs that individuals hold about themselves, other people and the world. These beliefs may be so fundamental, a person does not recognise them as beliefs at all, but rather, as the way things are. (Example core beliefs: I am unworthy; I am lovable; I am important; I am insignificant.)

Automatic Thoughts: Words or images that go through a person’s mind without conscious effort. Automatic thoughts occur naturally and often go unnoticed by the thinker.

Behaviours: Actions carried out by an individual in response to thoughts or emotions. Behaviours are usually the only observable aspect of the Cognitive Behavioural model.

Emotions: The subjective feeling response of an individual as a result of a thought or pattern of thinking.

Consider the following scenario:

Three different people have the same experience. They all attend the same life coaching group to improve their communication skills. At one of the sessions, the coach gets them all to stand up and make a speech.

Person 1
 
Core Belief: Person one has a core belief that she is unlovable.
Automatic Thought: Oh no, no-one liked my speech.
Emotion: Feels rejected
Behaviour: Goes home and sulks about the task

Person 2

Core Belief: Person two has a core belief that she is important and significant.
Automatic Thought: I think I did well; I can’t wait to get my results.
Emotion: Confidence that she has done a good job and everyone liked her.
Behaviour: Stays back to speak to the teacher about how well she did.

Person 3

Belief: Person three has a core belief that she is an inadequate person.
Automatic Thought: I know I haven’t done a good job because I never do.
Emotion: Feels inadequate and stupid.
Behaviour: This person is stressed about getting results.

Techniques

A part of working with clients within the CBT realm involves the identification and modification of automatic thoughts and core beliefs. Before identifying the automatic thoughts and core beliefs, the following describes a number of common thinking error categories:

All-or-nothing thinking: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.
 
Overgeneralisation: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
 
Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours the entire beaker of water.
 
Disqualifying the positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or other. You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
 
Jumping to conclusions: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.
 
Mind reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don’t bother to check it out.
 
The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already-established fact.
 
Magnification (catastrophising) or minimisation: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else’s achievement), or inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow’s imperfections). This is also called the “binocular trick.”
 
Emotional reasoning: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”
 
Should statements: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. “Musts” and “oughts” are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.
 
Labelling and mislabelling: This is an extreme form of overgeneralisation. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: “I’m a loser.” When someone else’s behaviour rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, “He’s a damn louse.” Mislabelling involves describing an event with language that is highly coloured and emotionally loaded.
 
Personalisation: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.

This post will continue on Part 2…

© Counselling Academy

The Benefits of Expertise

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“Every prospective client, whether it’s reality or not, perceives their problems to be unique to them.”

Only by establishing yourself as an expert will you build the necessary credibility to your brand and reinforce your niche positioning. If all these elements are not totally congruent, your offer will never be compelling to your prospects.

Your marketing message will seem confusing as your prospects will not understand how you can offer solutions to their niche problems – problems they may have been experiencing for some time and not been able to solve themselves – without being higher qualified or having specialised skills and experience (being an expert).

What are the benefits of establishing yourself as an expert in your niche? Being an expert or specialist in your niche affords you many benefits and competitive advantages including:

As an expert you can market with dignity! You won’t have to ‘chase’ clients. Clients will come looking for you because of your ‘specialist’ tag. Remember, clients are searching for someone who is perceived to be as knowledgeable and skilled as they are in their niche.

There are substantially fewer barriers to conversion because your prospective clients are pre-sold by perceived knowledge and specialisation.

Limiting the number of competitors you have because you are perceived as one of the few (perhaps only) coaches that can meet the clients unique needs.

Building your reputation and reinforcing your positioning as a superior (if not ‘the’ superior) coach in the niche. 

Being given the opportunity to speak, comment and or write about important issues, challenges or opportunities within the Niche. By default it gets you involved in industry events and networking opportunities.

In turn this opens the door to have your ideas and insights published and talents recognised by important industry commentators, which in turn assists in developing your image as an expert! Your reputation as an ‘expert’ will endorse your business and vice versa.

It allows you to be more selective with the clients you work with and you can deliver products and services you are most passionate about.

You can take advantage of powerful and highly leveraged marketing strategies such as publishing, public speaking, networking opportunities, JVs, referrals and endorsements.

You get a much higher return on your marketing dollar, reducing your Client Cost of Acquisition, improving your bottom line net income (and breaking even earlier as a business start-up).

You are able to build greater client loyalty which significantly increases your new client referrals, which in turn dramatically reduces your cost of client acquisition. You also get a higher conversion rate to your services. Prospective clients are far more likely to trust and appreciate the wisdom and knowledge of a coaching specialist.

The ability to solve a broader range of client problems. Once you’re an established and trusted advisor for the client you will be able to expand the range and scope of services provided. The chance to better educate clients to the value you provide and charge fees based on the cost of the niche problems rather than on an hourly rate.

You can expand your services from 1 to 1 coaching to include highly leveraged product based and 1 to many services and are able to work with more astute and strategically beneficial affiliate partners who will provide higher value to your clients and ultimately better financial return to you.

Due to your strong client rapport and expertise, your clients will have a greater propensity to take up your endorsed affiliate services. As an expert in your niche, your service becomes the only logical choice for your prospects.

Reaching the Masses

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In this article we look at two inexpensive, highly effective and leveraged ways to reach thousands of prospects via the Internet: affiliate programs and link exchanges.

Affiliate programs (also referred to as “reseller” or “associate” programs) are a great way to get other people called “affiliates” to promote your product or service for you. For every paying customer your affiliates refer to your web site, you pay them a commission. And since you only pay when you make money – it’s extremely low risk.

Your affiliates send visitors to your web site using banner ads, text links, letters of referral, and so on, while you track these referrals using special software. It’s an extremely powerful way to grow your business because it automates your traffic generation.

To get started with your own affiliate program, you need to:

  1. Set your commissions. (To keep your affiliates motivated, you should pay them 40% to 50% of your profits per sale.)
  2. Get software to track the traffic and sales of your affiliates so you know what to pay them.
  3. Provide your affiliates with tools they can use to promote your products (like e-mails, banners, etc.).
  4. Recruit your affiliates. (Look for sites that target your market, and invite them to become affiliates.)

Affiliate programs are an ideal way to automate your traffic generation because other people market your web site for you – and you don’t lift a finger. Your sales increase on a daily basis – but they do all the selling for you, and it doesn’t cost you a dime until they send you paying customers.

Link requests require minimal effort from you, but they can explode your traffic numbers overnight. How? If your site is a featured link on a major site in your industry, one that receives a ton of attention, your site immediately benefits from all the exposure their site receives.

Getting started with this strategy is simple, but you should follow a structured process every time you request a link. Let’s break it down into a few easy steps:

  1. Do a Google search for your standard keywords – the ones that people generally use to find your site.
  2. Make detailed notes about the sites that appear regularly in the top ten listings for your major keywords.
  3. Use the Alexa Toolbar, LinkPopularity, or Technorati to find out who these sites are linking to, who is linking to them, and how much traffic they are receiving, then look up their contact information.

Make sure you know the correct URL for the site, the URL of the sub-page on which you want your link to appear, the name of the site owner or webmaster, the date you last visited their site, and a brief description of the contents of the site.

When you’re ready to contact these web site owners and request a link, write a personal e-mail – don’t use form letters. Be sure to include some positive comments about their site, information about you and your site (along with your URL), an explanation of why a link to you would benefit them, and instructions for contacting you to get started.

You want your request to be thorough and professional. If you can present a persuasive argument for why the link request benefits both of you, you stand a better chance of forging a connection.

If you are really eager to get your link on their site, be prepared to up the ante by offering them a commission or a link on your site in return. The investment could be well worth the extra exposure your marketing message receives.

But be stingy when other businesses request links on your site – just as links on others’ sites serve as a personal recommendation of your site, links on your site are recommendations for their businesses. Only recommend the best.

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