On the surface, the question of whether your coaching business is ready for marketing is reasonable and important. But there’s a problem.
You may be thinking that you have to get really clear about what your business is before you can start thinking about search optimization, advertising, social media, and (on and on)?
You’re right about that.
However, you may be missing out on something. Are you aware that marketing is a very important part of defining what business you want to be in and figuring out how it will work?
Let’s look at what a business is at its most basic level. To be a viable business you need a product or service that:
- You would love to deliver
- Someone* wants to have
- Someone* wants to pay for
*Note that (especially for non-profits), the two “someones” might be different people.
The “you would love to deliver” part comes from your aspirations. What would you love to create in the world … for other people and for yourself?
The “someone” parts are where marketing comes in. Marketing is all about understanding your ideal “someones”. Marketing has ways of thinking about your ideal “someones” and tools for finding them and talking to them so you can find out, for real, what they want.
And there is a conversation between the two. If you don’t satisfy your aspirations, you won’t want to be in business for very long. If you don’t satisfy the “someones”, you won’t have a business to be in.
A story about a life coach…
Let’s use a story to look more deeply at how the marketing perspective can help your business.
This story is about Lisa. She’s a life coach.
She got into coaching because she wasn’t satisfied with what she used to do and when she discovered coaching, she thought, “That’s it!” So she started her coaching business by reaching out to people she knows and eventually started seeing clients.
Over time, she noticed that only a small portion of her clients are the people she really loves serving. So she’s not really making the impact she wants in the world. Also, she’d rather be making more money. But she’s not sure how to make that happen.
One day, she’s out having coffee with an entrepreneur friend and her disappointment about how her coaching business is working spills out. “I just don’t know what to do.”
Lisa’s friend listens while she talks about all of the effort and love that she has been putting in. Then, because she cares deeply for Lisa, it was time for some tough love.
“Are you open to some feedback?”
“Based on what you’ve said, you haven’t done your homework. A coaching business is first a business. That means the business fundamentals have to be in place. You know how a bank requires a business to have a business plan when they’re lending money?”
“The reason they do that is to make sure the business owner has thought deeply about what will make their business successful. Because, if they haven’t, the chances the bank will get their money back go way down and they don’t like that.
“But I’m not looking for a loan.”
“No, you’re not. But you do want your business to be more successful. That means knowing who your customers are, what you’re going to sell them, why they want to buy, and how you’re going to deliver. You only know two out of those four.”
“But I do know my customers.”
“How many of your ideal customer have you asked about what motivates them to buy coaching? Is it more than twenty five?
“No. I would be willing to, but I don’t know where to find them.”
“Then you need to learn more about marketing, especially Avatars, or get some marketing support.
The story goes on from there, but you get the point.
Lisa found herself in a situation she didn’t like and didn’t know how to get out of. She’s a very smart person who simply didn’t know what she didn’t know. Fortunately, she had a friend who could point out the gap to her and suggest a way forward.
As for you, if you still think you’re not ready for marketing, it’s time for some tough love.
You’re never NOT ready for marketing. And if you’re not using marketing thinking, you’re missing out on something important.
In case you haven’t noticed, we’re a friend who can provide marketing support and we’d be happy to help you out. For an example of the kind of practical help we can offer you, click on the link below to receive a free PDF with some doable, practical steps for identifying and understanding your ideal client, your “avatar”.