7 Steps to a Business You Love 

Your First Steps in Marketing as a New Life Coach

June 28, 2017

Many new life coaches jump right into advanced business & marketing programs that teach them how to set up complex online marketing systems, rock their businesses, or make six figures in their first year – and then get frustrated when they don’t work.

But the reality is that these advanced programs are designed for coaches who already have a strong knowledge of business, marketing & being an entrepreneur. And they assume that you already have all of those marketing and business basics in place to plug their advanced concepts into.

But you don’t have those basics in place yet. And that means that these programs likely won’t work – simply because you’re not ready for them yet.

So what do you do if you’re a new life coach starting a business for the first time – and don’t have a strong background in business or marketing?

If you’re in what I call the first phase of business (usually your first year as a new life coach), then you’re still figuring your business out and learning what it means to be an entrepreneur. And this means that really, this is a year of learning, making your best guess, and trying stuff out.

This is the time to:

  • Educate yourself on business, marketing & being an entrepreneur
  • Figure out who you are as an entrepreneur and connect to your unique flow and genius
  • Make your best guess for now on who you want to work with & the services you want to offer
  • Quick start your business so you can start telling people about your business & working with some clients
  • Create a super-simple marketing strategy and start trying stuff out

Most importantly, this is the time to set the right expectations for where you are in your business right now.

Beware the Compare & Despair Trap

The challenge that I find with many new life coaches is that they think they’re in a more advanced phase of business than they really are (and believe me – I’m supposed to “know better” but I fall into this trap myself all the time!), and set expectations that are simply unrealistic to where they’re at right now.

And I’m sure seeing all those Facebook Ads every day from other entrepreneurs talking about how they are “rocking their businesses” or “making six figures in their first year” doesn’t help.

But keep in mind that you may not know the full story behind these ads. And if you did, it would put everything in a lot more perspective. For example, it’s possible that most:

  • Many of these coaches were likely not “rocking their businesses” in their first year of business after leaving a corporate career. They could instead be “rocking their businesses” THIS year after putting in a few years of blood, sweat and tears.
  • Many of these coaches who “made six years in their first year” – made six figures in the first year of running their CURRENT business – but have run several businesses before that…
  • Many of these coaches who do ramp up their businesses quickly came from a career that very closely matches what they’re coaching on now (for example a former executive getting a retainer coaching contract with a company she already knows), or from a career that is already fairly entrepreneurial or directly related to sales & marketing (like real estate).

The important point here is that there is more to every message that you see & every coach has a background and story that is unique. And the reality is that all of the coaches in the examples above are likely in a more advanced phase of business than you are.

The “Using Someone Else’s System” Trap

The other messages that I think are confusing to many new life coaches are around replicating specific marketing systems OTHER coaches have used to get results.

While it’s true that these coaches may have really honed systems that work for them and are getting them great results, it’s important to remember that every coach and every business is completely unique – from who you are and how you work best  – to your business model, work history and contacts – to who you’re targeting, where your clients hang out, the services you offer and how & where you offer your services.

And this means that even if you replicate someone else’s system exactly – you may not get the same results – and that’s because you and your business are so unique.

More importantly, many of these coaches are so excited about teaching you their system because they LOVE THEM so much. And they likely love them because their systems work for them, and matches who they uniquely are and how they work best. They’ve found systems that match their unique marketing flow and genius.

But they might not match yours.

Why You Need to Know Why & Do Things Your Own Way

The challenge here as a new life coach, is that if you don’t first have a big picture understanding of how business and marketing works at a high level – how all the pieces click together – you won’t yet be able to understand why a particular marketing system works and how you might be able to change things around to make it your own.

And most life coaches I know (myself included) have empathic intuitive personality types. And this means that if there is just one little piece of a marketing system that doesn’t feel right or authentic, we won’t do it, and the whole system falls apart. And if we can’t understand how a system works, make it our own, and do it our own way, we won’t do it.

So as a new life coach, what can you do right now when it comes to marketing?

If you’re in the first phase of business, I recommend:

  • Learn about business & marketing at a big picture level so you can understand how all the pieces fit together
  • Get in touch with your unique marketing genius (aka – what parts of marketing feel the most fun, energizing and in flow for who you are).
  • Create a super simple marketing strategy that full of stuff that feels the most fun and easy for you
  • Make your best guess on what will work in marketing for where you’re at right now, try stuff out, and be consistent – and then evaluate the results and make changes until everything is working and feels right.

How to Create Your First Marketing Strategy as a New Life Coach

The Marketing Hourglass from Duct Tape Marketing is the best practices framework I recommend for creating your marketing strategy and outlining your marketing system.

I’ve used the Marketing Hourglass in my consulting practice to help large technology organizations create complex marketing strategies and systems. And today I use the Marketing Hourglass in my coaching practice to teach new life coaches and entrepreneurs how to create their first simple marketing strategy.

How does the Marketing Hourglass Work?

At a high level, The Marketing Hourglass includes the seven steps that every person goes through when buying any product or service: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer.

Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass

Essentially, before your ideal client will buy from you, they need to first:

  • KNOW that you exist
  • LIKE who you are and what you stand for
  • TRUST that you are credible and can deliver on what you promise
  • TRY you out in an easy, low-risk way
  • But your marketing doesn’t stop there. You then need to give your customers a way to:
  • BUY your products & services in a seamless way and be “wowed” in the process
  • REPEAT buy from you again and again
  • REFER you to others

For traditional marketers, the diagram below demonstrates how the different steps of the Marketing Hourglass correspond to the Lead Generation, Lead Conversion, Sales and Customer Relations stages:

Marketing Hourglass and Traditional Marketing Stages

The best part is because the Marketing Hourglass is a framework and not a set system, you can really pick and choose from any number of tactics to fit into each step of the Marketing Hourglass – and as long as you don’t skip any steps – you have a marketing strategy that can work.

And that’s where your unique flow and marketing genius comes in.

Instead of choosing the lead generation (KNOW) and conversion (LIKE, TRUST, TRY) tactics that you think you should be using, why not choose the marketing tactics for each step that are not only effective, that will not only help you reach your ideal clients – but are also the tactics that feel fun and easy – and fall within your unique marketing genius?

You know that a marketing tactic falls within your unique marketing genius when:

  • You’re good at it
  • It feels natural and easy – like you’re in your element
  • It’s something you love to do
  • It’s effective

When you fill your Marketing Hourglass with stuff that matches who you are and how you work best, then you will feel more energized and in flow with your business every day.

And that energy and flow will trickle down to everything you do, whether it’s working on your business or in your business.

Best of all, you’ll have more time and energy for other areas in your life. It’s one of the keys to achieving that work-life balance you may have been searching for.

How to Align Your Marketing with Your Unique Flow & Genius

If you’re a new life coach and haven’t really created a marketing strategy yet, then this is a great opportunity to use the Marketing Hourglass to align your marketing strategy with your unique flow and genius right from the start.

If you’ve already been trying some stuff out when it comes to marketing, and feel like you might have a marketing system in place that is sucking the life out of you, it’s not too late.

When I work with clients to help them love their businesses again, one of the first things I do is audit their marketing systems – and you can do that too.

Here’s what I do with my clients. Using a simple grid like the one below:

Marketing Hourglass Unique Flow Grid

  • First, I help my clients plot out everything they are currently doing in marketing in the Current Marketing
  • Next, we discuss where there might be any gaps in their marketing system (for example they may be doing anything in the Try category)
  • Then, we rate each tactic in terms of whether it’s Effectiveand in line with their Unique Flow & Genius.

If the tactic is effective, but not in line with their Unique Flow & Genius, then we discuss whether we should bag (get rid of), barter (get someone else to do it) or better it.

Finally, we identify new tactics that are both Effective and in line with their Unique Flow & Genius and put those in the Change column.

At the end of this process, we outline how their new Marketing Hourglass strategy, which is now full of more tactics that are in line with their natural flow and genius (and fewer tactics that take up more of their time and energy), will work in real-life as their marketing system, and make any adjustments from there.

You can use this same process with your marketing strategy and system.

When I transitioned my business from marketing consulting to business & marketing coaching, my initial marketing strategy was a disaster. Why? I think it’s because I forgot my own advice when it comes to marketing and started filling my Marketing Hourglass with all the stuff I thought I “should” be doing.


So I had to go back and audit my own marketing system to figure out what was going wrong, I realized that I had filled my Marketing Hourglass with mostly online marketing tactics such as blogging, article writing, and social media posting. And while writing is a definite strength, it is also something I don’t always love to do, and can take up a lot of time and energy if I’m not in “the zone”.

I also realized that as an extravert and people person, one of my biggest strengths and areas where I felt most in flow and energized was speaking, networking and collaborating in person. But I wasn’t doing any of that.

So I ended up adjusting my marketing strategy to add in regular speaking and networking, and “better” my online marketing by giving myself permission to only write when I felt in the zone, and hire someone to help with the rest of my writing and online marketing.

As a result, I now feel much more energized and in flow with my business.

Gone are the days of spending hours agonizing over a blog post and then being too exhausted to walk the dog or go on a hike. Now, I get more energy during the day by teaching, networking, and collaborating.

So if you’re a new life coach and want to get started with a simple marketing strategy that feels fun and like you – or have been marketing for a while but feel frustrated and exhausted in your marketing – try out the Marketing Hourglass. You may be surprised at what you find. And it may be the answer to feeling more energized and inspired in your business – and your life.

Next Steps:

In my new eBook, Love Your Business, I outline the seven steps new life coaches need to take to transition from their 9-5 job and design, market & run a life coaching business you love:

Grab Your Free Guide - Love Your Business

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