7 Steps to Removing Your Marketing Roadblocks – For Life Coaches and Solopreneurs with Soul
Before I signed up for the Martha Beck training program, I was a marketing lifer. Yep. Fifteen years in corporate marketing, followed by four years of running my marketing consulting business as a Master Duct Tape Marketing Consultant. And I’m still acting as the VP of Marketing part-time for a pretty cool medical device company.
So why life coach training? I wanted to do something different. Find my purpose. Be of service. Live a life full of meaning. Sound familiar?
I went on an amazing coaching retreat with Master Martha Beck Coach Bev Barnes, and it was on this trip that I finally discovered my “why”. My reason for doing what I wanted to do. And it came as a bit of a shock when I dreamed and schemed my life coaching programs, and found that marketing made the cut after all.
I had spent so long in the corporate world, where goals were more about selling more widgets and getting more leads that I began to put marketing in a category of stuff that wasn’t meaningful or fulfilling.
But what I discovered on the Bev Barnes retreat is that marketing actually fits right into my purpose and “why” – when it’s working with coaches and other soul-centered entrepreneurs – and when it’s helping them move past what’s keeping them stuck so they can get their services and voices out to more and more people who so need what they are offering.
What I found during my life coach training is that “marketing” is a huge road block to moving forward for many coaches for four main reasons:
- You find marketing to be icky and equate it with sales – and counterintuitive to what you’re trying to put out into the world
- You haven’t run a business before and all that business building stuff (yes that’s all marketing too!) is completely unfamiliar and not your core competency.
- Marketing is confusing and even scary. You don’t really know what marketing is, who to listen to and are tired of all that conflicting information out there.
- You feel that you can’t just be yourself to be successful at marketing – you think you have to do exactly what everyone else is doing, and be someone you’re not.
Do any of those reasons sound familiar?
So my goal is to help coaches take the mystery and ick out of marketing so they can build a coaching business they really love – and get their services out into the world.
I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about marketing over the last 20 years and applied to creating a marketing course specifically for soul-centered coaches and entrepreneurs. It’s called Love Your Marketing (it’s also for any solopreneur with soul!). And, I’ve just launched a completely new course called Love Your Life Coaching Business that walks you through every step you need to take to transition from your 9-5 and design, market & run a business you love – it’s all about first connecting to who you are and what you really want, and then building a coaching business and marketing strategy around you.
Yes, there are proven frameworks and best practices for marketing. And no, you don’t have to do anything that is not you in these programs. It’s all about loving what you do, doing what you love, and serving your people. Ready for an introduction?
Here are the 7 Steps to Marketing a Coaching Business You Love:
Step 1: Get a Clear Marketing and Business Mindset
Imagine getting ready to coach a client, and you’re thinking to yourself, “I hate coaching. This is going to suck. I don’t want to do this but I have to just push through. What is coaching really anyway. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Now imagine what results you’re going to get for client with that mindset? I would guess not so good.
We all understand having the right mindset in place is pretty important when it comes to coaching. And we love coaching, so it’s a no brainer.
But many coaches don’t feel the same way about mindset when it comes to marketing. However, in order to build and market a business you love, having the right mindset in place is essential.
That’s why the first step in marketing for most life coaches is to:
- Call out and address all those limiting beliefs
- Clarify what marketing really is – and isn’t.
Step 2: Know Yourself
True. You don’t often find this as a first step in many business or marketing programs. But as a solopreneur, how can you build and market a business you love, if you don’t first really understand who you are and what you want?
I’ve believed for a long time that skipping this essential first step is the main reason many solopreneurs look at their businesses two or three years down the road and wonder what they’re doing, and why they are so tired and frustrated.
So what do you need to know about yourself?
- Who You Are: Your personality, unique genius, action mode, values, strengths and body compass
- What You Want: Your definition of success, ideal day and business goals
- Why You Want It: This is your soul’s calling – the reason WHY behind everything you do
I give all my clients a one page Who Are You worksheet to jot down their core takeaways from these exercises and then we use this Who You Are sheet and the body compass as a litmus test for all of our next steps.
Basically if anything you’re building in your business, or any of your marketing strategies or tactics don’t match who you are and what you want – or don’t rate high on your body compass – don’t do them.
Step 3: Connect Who You Are to Your Business
In this step we clarify all of your core business fundamentals. This is all the stuff about your business you need to be clear on before you start doing any marketing.
- Your Ideal Client (who do you want to work with, what main problems do you solve for them, and can you describe them to someone else?)
- Your Core Difference/Unique Genius (why would someone choose to work with you – and can you explain this difference to someone else?)
- Your Packages and Services (what do you do, what do you offer, and does your ideal target client recognize that they are right for them?)
Once you’ve outlined your core business fundamentals, review them each one more time:
- Are they clear?
- Do they match who you are and what you want?
- Do they each rate positively on your body compass?
One final important message here is that while it’s important to do this initial work on your business fundamentals – this doesn’t have to be set in stone forever. You can be really clear on this, and six months or a year down the road you may have new ideas and change your mind. That’s great!
However, if you never get clear on your business fundamentals in the first place, you’ll never have any clear information on what audience, message or services you really love – or work for you. If you are clear, and then make a change – you will have some really valuable intelligence.
Step 4: Create a Brand that Screams You
Branding. Such a cool and creative, yet scary and elusive concept. It can be at the same time the most fun part of marketing, and the most frustrating. Why? I think it’s because we get so stuck on trying to find that one logo, color scheme and story that is “right”.
Here’s what your brand has to do at a minimum:
- First, your brand has to resonate with your ideal target client. When your ideal client lands on your website, reads your messages or sees your logo and tagline – they need to feel that it’s for them, they’re in the right place, and they’re in good hands. You’re their people. This means that if purple is your favorite color but it makes your audience run screaming from you – maybe choose a different color that both you and your audience love.
- Second, your brand needs to be professional enough to not turn off your target market. This is sort of the opposite of the first point, but I feel it has to be made. There are many brands out there that are simply so unprofessional that their audience doesn’t find them credible. So while they may offer an amazing and super-professional and valuable service, their target audience gets the opposite impression from their brand.
- Third, your brand is more than just your logo and a cool design. Your messaging is equally if not more important than your look. For example, your ideal client could land on your website and think it looks awesome – but then they read your copy and have no idea what you do, why you’re different or how you can help them. Then they leave. Even though your logo won multiple design awards (sorry – that was a low blow – honestly – some of my best friends are award-winning designers!)
Once you have all of the above in place – you have to make sure your brand screams you. This means the look and feel (colors, design, logo, photos, etc.) are totally you. If you hate goldfish, don’t put photos of them all over your website even if your audience loves them. If you both love sun fish – go that route instead.
Ultimately, your brand needs to resonate with your ideal client – but you also have to love it. Because if you don’t, you’ll hesitate when it comes to marketing. You won’t want to hand out your business card. You’ll be apologetic when you send people to your website. You’ll unconsciously not put your heart into marketing.
Step 5: Know Marketing Best Practices – But Choose Stuff You Love
As someone with a marketing background, I found the business building and marketing messages in my life coach training programs sometimes confusing.
On the one hand, there was a lot of really great information, especially about being your authentic self and doing what you love. And some really solid business and marketing advice.
On the other hand there was an overriding message that you don’t have to do any “real” marketing or business building if you don’t want to– you just put your energy out there and clients will come to you.
So I tried to make some sense of these conflicting messages and here’s what I came up with. I love the idea of “putting your energy out there and clients will come”. But if you’ve never run a business before or have a marketing background, you run into a huge “you don’t know what you don’t know” problem.
It’s hard to make decisions or know where, when and how to put your energy out there if you’re not aware of the options. In fact, there could be some marketing tactics out there that you would LOVE to do, but you just don’t know they exist.
So why don’t we put you in the know? I am a firm believer in giving people all the information they need to make informed decisions. And honestly, it’s probably a lot easier to put your energy out there if you’re confident and in the know.
Here are the main things I think every coach should know about marketing:
- Marketing Foundation Best Practices (all that stuff you put in place first before you launch any marketing tactics like your website, educational content and online assets)
- Marketing Tactics Best Practices (all of your marketing activities like advertising, networking, blogging and SEO)
- Marketing Strategy Framework (I use a super simple and proven framework called the Marketing Hourglass)
- Marketing Systems (I outline the four core business systems that will make your life a LOT easier)
Once you know these four things, you pretty much have a mini-MBA in marketing. And this means you won’t fall prey to the marketing tactic or list building message of the week, and will be super confident in your marketing decisions.
Best of all, in all four areas – you can pick and choose all the stuff that YOU love to do. You don’t have to sacrifice the way you work, your authenticity or your creativity.
It’s just like learning coaching basics. You get an education in all the tools, you understand the framework and then you make it yours!
Step 6: Use a One Page Marketing Strategy
That’s right. One page. In my past life, I’ve created 100 page marketing strategies for businesses, but in the end, I could always boil each one down to just one page. And honestly, the other 99 pages were full of details justifying the one page strategy that no one ever read but still felt were super important.
The framework I use and absolutely love is called The Marketing Hourglass™. This framework was developed by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame – and I’ve used it to create marketing strategies ranging from solopreneurs to multi-million dollar brands.
The Marketing Hourglass outlines to core stages that every customer goes through before and after they buy from you:
- KNOW you exist (think about lead generation – advertising, PR, referrals and SEO)
- LIKE your products, services and your company (think about your branding, website, about section and story)
- TRUST that your products and services will do what you claim, and that you’ll be in business for a while (think case studies and testimonials)
- TRY your products or services in a low risk way (think eBooks, webinars, white papers, free trials)
- BUY your products or services (think about “wowing” your customers here with a new customer kit, onboarding process document, or unexpected bonus items).
- REPEAT buy from you again and again (think up-sell products and services)
- REFER you to others (think ongoing newsletters, membership bonuses and customer surveys)
The super cool part of the Marketing Hourglass is that you can start as small as you want – you just have to make sure you have ONE THING in each category to move your prospects or customers through the process.
And, it’s also a great tool to identify WHY you might not be getting enough customers. It’s usually because you’re missing stuff in one or more categories.
For example, many, many businesses do a lot of stuff to get prospects to KNOW them – but nothing to get them to LIKE, TRUST or TRY them – and then wonder why they are getting no sales (BUY). And even fewer take the time to create repeat and referral customers – which for many coaching businesses can become all they need to be successful.
If you simply take the time to think through your marketing strategy, and choose one or two things for each category – stuff that you love to do – then you will be further ahead than most businesses quadruple your size.
Once you’ve selected your items for each stage, Step 5 is all about activating your strategy in real life and turning it into a system.
Step 7: Turn Marketing into a System
So depending on your personality type and action mode (remember Step 2?), you may be alternately cheering or groaning. A system – wonderful – I’ll know exactly what to do and when. Or – a system – ack – I’m stuck doing some stupid monotonous routine just like everyone else.
Well, personality wise (Myers-Briggs) I am and ENFP. And action mode wise (Kolbe) I am a 9 Quick Start. Both of these seem highly opposed to any type of system. And yet, I am the biggest fan around of turning marketing into a system.
Why am I trying to get you to buy into this? Because you are not a marketing person. You are a coach. As a business owner, you need to understand marketing, but you don’t want it to take over your life.
So once you’ve gone through the whole process of diving deep into who you are and what you want, connecting this to building a business you love, and outlining a marketing strategy full of all the stuff that screams you – it’s time to turn that into a system so marketing doesn’t take over your life.
What are the benefits of a marketing system?
- You can set up a bunch of stuff one time only
- You can automate A LOT of your marketing
- Your marketing system can work in the background so while you are coaching – your marketing continues in the background.
This doesn’t mean you’re completely off the hook. You still have to do stuff on a regular basis – but you know what, when and how. Nothing is a surprise and you’re never stuck spending four hours trying to figure out what you should be doing to get more customers.
Go Forth, Have Fun, and Prosper!
Yes – I loved both Valley Girl and Star Trek. How’s that for being authentic? It’s a bit of a chipper take on the Vulcan saying, but I think it absolutely applies to marketing.
Once you have all the marketing stuff in place that we’ve talked about here, all you need to do to prosper (and by prosper, I of course mean achieve the type of success you want to achieve – monetary or otherwise) is to actually move forward with your marketing – and make sure you have fun while doing it. If you don’t do anything you won’t move forward. And if you don’t have fun, you won’t do anything.
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