The Global Coaching Study conducted by ICF (International Coaching Federation) in 2020, post the Covid 19 pandemic, found in their survey that many coaches changed their coaching methods from in-person coaching to using online mediums. The study found that 74% of coaches, who took part in the survey, shifted to online channels such as audio and video platforms to adapt to the new realities of the coaching world.
With online coaching becoming the norm rather than the exception, it is imperative for coaches who want to build and grow their coaching venture to have a strong understanding & knowledge of online platforms and their intricacies in order to develop viable strategies that can be executed successfully to propel business growth.
The heartbeat of any business is clients – and the online coaching business will survive and thrive only when there is a steady stream of clients signing up. And that is one of the most difficult things for a coach to achieve – getting paying customers and that too in a sustained manner. Coaches are always brainstorming on how to get coaching clients, so read on to know some underrated but truly effective ways of attracting coaching clients online.
1. Have Clarity on Your Service Offerings
Having your hands on every segment of the coaching pie (life coaching, executive coaching, business coaching, leadership coaching etc.) is not as smart a strategy as it may seem. As a coach, you may think that having a safety net of keeping multiple coaching options open will reduce your liability, but in reality, it will send out confusing signals to your potential clients.
For instance, if you project yourself as a life coach and also a leadership coach, it can cause uncertainty in the mind of the client, leading them to ponder, “What is your true area of expertise – are you a jack of all trades and master of none…? Are you dabbling in multiple segments because you aren’t confident of your own skill sets…? Will you be able to deliver the expected results?”
Instead, select your specialization or a coaching niche (based on your strengths & areas where you want to help clients the most) and highlight areas where you excel in terms of knowledge, problem solving ability, experience and delivering actual results. This will not only shed light on your offerings to your potential clients, it will also give you an edge over your competitors in terms of delivering real, positive outcomes.
2. Know Your Target Audience & Where to Find Them
As a coach, once you have selected your niche, the next step is to find prospective clients who are most likely to need and benefit from your coaching expertise. Not everyone will require your services and you will not require all types of clients!
Choosing your best fit clients at the outset will save a lot of headaches down the road. For example, if you are an executive coach, why would a homemaker, who is looking for relationship guidance, need your services? In this case, the coach and coachee are a complete misfit.
To avoid such instances, make sure to identify your correct target clientele (based on age, profession, pain points, financial ability, etc.) and then work your way forward. Apart from conducting market research, one of the easiest ways to find suitable online clients is to keep a track of what your competitors are doing (they must have already done their due diligence in finding clients) and take inspiration from what they are doing.
In addition, surfing various professional networking platforms (like LinkedIn) can also be a good source of identifying clients who are most likely to need your coaching services. Show up on these platforms, run ads of your coaching services so that it creates a visual brand recall, connect with these potential clients by message and email, so that more people are aware of the coaching packages that you are offering.
3. Create Packages & Services That Cater to Your Client’s Needs
Giving what your client wants is the foundation of any successful business. As a coach, it is your responsibility to offer your clients what they are looking to address. And the most important aspect of achieving this is to know what your client’s pain points (persistent issues) are and how you propose to solve them.
The entire marketing of your coaching services needs to focus on these two points as your ability to help them solve their pain points is the very reason why clients will hire your coaching services.
Understand what part of your coaching services will appeal to your client, their suitability for helping clients overcome their recurring trouble areas, and then create your coaching program that specifically addresses those areas.
Your coaching packages should be based on thorough research of your clients’ requirements and not random assumptions of what might appeal to some clients.
The best way to scale your online coaching business is to create compelling offers that your client will have a tough time ignoring. An attractively priced coaching package that aligns with the client’s needs, with bonuses/freebies thrown in, plus a customized coaching plan that gives direct access to the coach has more chance of succeeding than a standard offering.
4. Create Online Content That is SEO Compatible
SEO (search engine optimization) is defined as a process that optimizes a website’s configuration, content applicability, and maximizes its reach so that its webpages can be found easily in response to user search requests – to get higher rankings on search engine results. SEO is a free method of targeting unpaid traffic towards a website to drive up the rankings. The higher the ranking of a website, the higher chance that more people will see it.
As a coach who is hoping to gain coaching clients online, SEO can be a good strategy to push up your online presence. Although compared to social media, it is a bit slow and can take anywhere between 6 months to approximately a year for true results to become visible. But it doesn’t cost anything, so it won’t leave a dent in your budget at the outset.
Thorough keyword research and analysis around your coaching service offerings and importantly in connection to what your prospective clients’ issues might be, then creating relevant content that incorporates those keywords will help push your online rankings to prominence and make it more noticeable to would-be clients.
For example, if you are a health and wellness coach offering customized diet plans, creating content that includes the top-searched keywords relevant to that segment (examples – best diet plan for weight loss, healthy diet plans to help you lose weight naturally, etc.) in the meta title, text and header can help drive your ranking where it can be seen by a wider audience. Add a link to attractive offers (a free first consultation, early bird pricing, etc.) on your website or webpage and chances are more online traffic will be diverted to your online platform.
Once you have people visiting your webpage, make sure you connect with them via emails or messages to engage them in your attractive offers and coaching packages. You may well end up signing up a fresh client!
5. Establish a Strong Brand Presence
Establishing your brand online goes beyond the glossy visuals – the colour coordinated webpages and logos and more. It is more about strengthening your credentials as an expert coach who should be the go-to person for clients seeking coaching in that segment. Proving yourself as an authority in that particular coaching niche is all about putting out content (written, audio, video) that comes from trusted and verified sources.
For instance, starting your YouTube channel that delivers sparkling, informative content including interviews, podcasts, guest blogs with other coaches (who are not your direct competitors) can be a great way to not only build your own brand asset and hook in a lot more potential clients but also to charge premium rates for your superior quality services.
6. Create a Solid Sales Funnel
First, you must target your intended audience and understand their requirements. Then interest your potential customer in your coaching packages that align with their needs. Next, show them a comparative analysis of how your offerings are superior to those of your competitors. After that, maintain continued engagement with potential client via regular emails/messages/calls etc. and finally, comes the actual client onboarding.
The sales process is an ongoing process that begins once you launch your ads across online platforms and like any sales related matter, it all revolves around the price point of services being offered. Offering competitively-priced coaching programs that have a fixed duration are likely to appeal to more clients across a wider financial spectrum. After all, only a handful clients will really be interested in high end, customized coaching. A lot of your bread-and-butter clients will likely be in the mid-range – pricing and duration wise, so offer coaching packages that will resonate with that wider audience.
7. Use Social Media as an Outreach Channel
Ignoring social media can be harmful for your coaching business! No seriously, with even the least tech savvy people constantly logged on to FB, Twitter and Instagram, the sheer volume of potential clients in those mediums is difficult to ignore. But social media is a vast ocean, and you don’t have the time, energy or resources to tap into each and every platform engagingly.
The trick to make social media work for your coaching business is to concentrate only on those platforms where the chances of your prospective clients being around is high. Getting caught up in what social media influencers or even your competitors are doing can make you lose precious time and resources. Instead, concentrate on only engaging with your select audience. Make sure you choose one, or at the most two, social media platforms and post regularly and more importantly relevantly… a plethora of posts that have no connection to your coaching services is just white noise that won’t deliver any results.
Have a smart mix of articles, blogs, motivational quotes, success stories, informative content etc. to keep your audience hooked. Share anecdotes about your own experiences and background, they are helpful not only in establishing a personal connect but also relay your previous work record and client successes.
8. Know Your Competition Thoroughly
Keep your friends close and your competitors even closer! Coaching is a lucrative segment, so naturally the competition will be fierce. In such a tightly fought space, there will be many instances where you will cross paths with your fellow coaches and vie for the same clients!
Look at your competitors not as rivals but as teachers – study them, conduct thorough research on what made them successful (and also what didn’t work for them), learn from not just their strengths but also their weaknesses, compare your content and tweak it accordingly to deliver better information, find out which social media channels they are using and how effectively (if they have a YouTube channel, watch their videos attentively, understand what their USP is, how you can be better but still different), how they run their ad campaigns and execute their online business strategies, and more.
Having a handle on what your closest competition is doing in the same field is not just advisable, it is essential! How else can you offer your clients something better but at the same time distinct if you don’t study your rivals closely?
9. Stop Procrastinating & Finish Your Intended Tasks
It is human nature to keep putting off for the next day the tasks that you can, in all probability, easily do today! Procrastination is not simply about being lazy – it is also about missing out on opportunities that may have come your way had you been prompt.
“Oh, I’ll send the coaching package details to the client tomorrow”, “I really intended to post that article on latest coaching trends last week on my website today, I just got distracted with other work”, “I’ll get back a little later to that inquiry that came in yesterday,” and so on…
Missed opportunities mean lost business and lost business means your space in the ultra-competitive coaching market is shrinking, not just in terms of getting a higher volume of clients but also in terms of establishing your credentials as a trustworthy, dependable coaching expert.
So, go out there and finish the tasks that you set out for yourself – be prompt, overcome any inherent fears & anxieties you may have, believe in yourself and have confidence in your own abilities. Before success comes knocking on your door, you have to face your inner demons and overcome them!
These tips for getting more online coaching clients may be underrated but they are effective, sp make use of them to not just build a solid clientele but also to make a success of your coaching business.
1. How do coaches get their first client?
One of the most difficult things to achieve when you are just starting out as a coach is to get that first paying client. Expert and seasoned coaches advise newcomers on some effective ways through which they can get their first client. Start by telling everyone around you that you are a professional coach so that they can recommend your services to potential clients (word of mouth is a strong marketing strategy initially), tap into your old work network to get new prospects, and harness the power of social media to promote your coaching services, offer a first free coaching session to attract clients, price your coaching services a bit lower than your competitors at the beginning, and use professional networking sites such as LinkedIn to connect with prospective suitable clients – these are some of the ways through which new coaches can land their first client.