Back in the day when I was a marketing consultant for small businesses, I used to talk a lot about putting strategy before tactics.
Whenever a new business owner called me in, it was because they wanted more leads. More clients. More sales.
What they were doing wasn’t working, and they didn’t know why.
So the first thing I would do is audit their business to see if they had skipped any important steps. And they always had.
When I asked them who their ideal clients were – the answer was typically: “Anyone who will pay us”.
When I asked them how they were different from their competitors – the answer was usually one of: “We’re the best”, “We have the best service”, or “We’re the cheapest”.
When I asked them to explain how their services solved their ideal client’s problems, they just stared at me blankly. And finally said something along the lines of, “Well it’s obvious”.
But it wasn’t.
When I reviewed their websites, social media pages and marketing materials – I couldn’t even guess who their services were really for, let alone how they might help an ideal client.
And this wasn’t one small business. This was most small businesses.
What had happened is that the business owners were spending all this money on marketing tactics, like direct mail, advertising and social media – before they were clear on their core business and messages.
So they really had no idea who they were targeting.
And the reality is, when you’re not clear on your business – it’s impossible to write a clear marketing message or target the right people. And even if your ideal clients happen to see your marketing – it’s likely that they won’t recognize that it’s meant for them, let alone how your services might help solve their huge problem.
You end up just throwing money out the window – and worse, attracting a few clients who aren’t ideal. And when you’re clients aren’t ideal, they don’t value what you offer and tend to take up a lot more time and effort.
So while most small business owners originally called me so they could install a “better system” or choose a “better tactic” that would actually work, what we ended up working on instead was getting clear on their core business. And that changed everything.
Once we got clear on who their ideal clients really were, two huge things happened:
- They audited their client lists and ended up firing or referring out all their non-ideal clients who they now realized – were actually costing them more in customer service time – than the revenue they were bringing in. So getting rid of their non-ideal customers actually made them more money.
- They were able to figure out where their ideal clients hung out and where to find them. This made knowing which marketing tactics to choose, and where to place them, easy.
Once we got clear on what main problems, fears and pain-points their ideal clients were facing every day, and outline exactly how the company’s programs and services solved these problems, they were able to craft new messages for their website and marketing.
So their ideal clients would recognize that these message were for them – and understand how their problems would be solved.
By getting super clear on their core businesses, creating the right marketing system became easy. Why? Because they now knew:
- Who to target
- Where to reach them
- What to say to them
So what does this mean for me, as a life coach?
Now that I work with life coaches, I realized that the same thing was happening.
As a coach, you finish your life coach training program, and you start to put a plan in place to replace your 9-5 income with your new life coaching business.
But you’ve never started a business before. And you don’t have a strong background in business or marketing.
You’ve heard that you need to get clear on your niche. And you’ve also heard that you don’t need a niche.
So you decide that you’ll just start working with some clients and see what happens. But you need somewhere to send them, so you decide you need a website first.
BOOM. Stuck. Building your website brings up all sorts of angst.
And it’s because you’re not clear on your core business. You don’t know who you’re marketing to or what you’re offering. Which makes it impossible to create a clear message – which is what you’re trying to put on your website.
It’s no wonder you’re frustrated.
So you either get stuck and paralyzed at this point, or put something generic up so you can start marketing.
But when you start marketing, the same thing happens. Should I use Facebook? Are my people on LinkedIn? What do I say? Who do I send it to?
BOOM. Stuck again.
And this can become a vicious circle.
Worse, as a life coach, it ends up that you don’t just need to get clear on your business, you need to clear on YOU. While most small business owners can choose a target market and service that will make the most money and be happy with that. You, unfortunately can’t.
You need to build a business that you love and are passionate about. And you need to do it your way.
So even if you get super clear on who you’re targeting, and what you’re offering – if it’s not in line with your true passion and purpose – it won’t work.
So what do life coaches need to do FIRST before building that website or marketing their businesses?
In my new eBook, The Ergonomic Life Coach: A 7 Step Guide & Checklist, I outline the exact steps life coaches need to take BEFORE marketing their businesses. This includes:
- Know How Life Coaches Aren’t Typical Entrepreneurs – so you know why typical business & marketing programs don’t work for you, and what you can do instead
- Know Your Business Phase – so you can set the right expectations for where you’re at right now & create a realistic career-to-business transition plan
- Know How to Quick Start Your Business – so you can get moving right away & not get stuck in perfectionist mode while designing a business you love
- Know Yourself – so you can connect to your ideal flow & unique genius, the most important first step in designing a business you love
- Know Your Business – so you can get super clear on who you work with & what you do – and make sure your core business is in line with who you are
- Know Your Voice – so you can communicate who you are & what you do to your ideal clients
Grab my new eBook, Love Your Business, where I outline the seven steps new life coaches (and passionate solopreneurs) need to take to transition from their 9-5 job and design, market & run a business they love: