Most coaches get involved in coaching for one extremely compelling and valuable purpose – because they want to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
As a coach, the extent to which you are able to fulfil that objective is contingent upon two factors. Firstly, your skill and effectiveness as a coach; and secondly, on the number of clients you are able to affect through the application of your services. The purpose of this article is to focus on the second factor.
In the process of assisting people, it’s also possible for coaches to develop a fruitful lifestyle for themselves along the way. In fact, these objectives are entirely complimentary.
Many business people, including coaches, fail to recognise the important ethical role that marketing plays in their business. In doing so they develop a mindset that is self defeating to themselves, their business, and their clients.
As a coach, you are in business. How effectively you operate your business is entirely contingent on you. There are enormously successful coaches (in terms of client numbers, income and coaching outcomes), and coaches that are barely able to etch out a living. The difference between these extremes is not their coaching competency, but rather their mindset. You may be an incredibly skilful coach, but unless you have people willing to use your services, your skills are of little to no value.
So what mindset does it take to be a successful coach?
A successful coaching mindset:
- Puts the needs of prospects and clients first;
- Actively seeks to assist clients attain their objectives;
- Is empathetic to the needs of clients and prospects;
- Doesn’t limit the service offered to clients, and
- Acts as an ethical adviser.
It takes a Marketing Mindset to be a successful coach.
We regularly hear of coaches that feel as though marketing is ‘leading’ and ‘unethical.’ They feel as though it’s too ‘salesy’ and don’t feel comfortable with it. For those coaches, we’re going to explain why marketing is both ethically valid and commercially crucial.
There is an enormous (and growing) volume of people in society that would benefit from coaching services. Let’s call these people prospective coaching clients, or prospects. These prospects have specific goals they’d like to achieve, or challenges they’d like to overcome, with a view to leading a better and more fulfilling life.
As a coach you have a certain duty of care to assist these people. You can only begin to assist them once they’re utilising your services. Marketing is the link between the prospects desire and your ability to assist them fulfil their desire.
Marketing only becomes unethical in the circumstance that you are not able to fulfil your marketing promise to your client. In this instance you’ve misled your client, either knowingly or unknowingly, and have acted unethically.
On the premise that prospects will seek a coach to assist them attain their specific goals, it’s the ethical obligation of coaches to help prospects select a coach that will best be able to assist them. To do this coaches should fully, comprehensively and transparently disclose to prospects what services they offer; where their specialties lie; what experience they have; how they’ve assisted people with similar desires in the past; and how using their services will benefit them. Or to state it more simply, to undertake marketing.
Marketing is commercially crucial because it links prospects that desire a certain outcome with skilled professionals trained to assist them achieve that outcome. It identifies you as someone that may be able to assist prospects with their pre-qualified needs. By seeking out information on coaching services, prospects have already identified for themselves:
- That there are certain things in their life they’d like to attain or challenges they’d like to overcome.
- That a coach is a person with the requisite skills and experience to assist them.
- That they are willing to invest financially in the process.
The above is an extremely important point, and one that coaches need to accept.
As we explained earlier, coaches generally come from one of two schools of thought with respect to marketing.
The first school of thought perceives marketing to be ‘leading’ and ‘salesy.’ They come from the paradigm that by marketing you are proactively influencing someone in their decisions. Or specifically that you may make someone do something they would not otherwise do. We call this train of thought the Influencing Paradigm.
The second school of thought accepts that prospects are people that have identified for themselves their need to invoke change. And they’ve identified that a coach will assist them make that change. They recognise that the prospect has made the intellectual link between their needs and how they want those needs to be fulfilled. We call this train of thought the Service Paradigm.
The thought processes of these two perspectives are entirely dipolar. One positions the prospect as someone reluctantly influenced into utilising a service, and the other positions the prospect as a proactive individual capable of determining their needs that has actively sought out coaching services.
As a coach, it’s critical that you put yourself in the second paradigm of thinking. Only then will you be able to ethically fulfil your objective of assisting your clients. And only then will you be able to fulfil your symbiotic goal of building a successful coaching business.
By putting yourself in the Service Paradigm of thought you will recognise that to assist clients meet their objectives, you should:
- Actively promote your services through compelling advertising that clearly describes what you can offer clients.
- Understand that as a coach and a trusted advisor you are often in a better position of knowledge to ascertain your client needs to assist them attain their goals.
- Be empathetic to the needs of your clients and actively offer solutions to them through various products and services.
- Value your client’s intellect and decision making ability.
- Do not pre-empt your client’s wants and hence limit the range and scope of products and services you offer them.
- Always acts as an ethical adviser.
Once you embrace the Service Paradigm to marketing, you’ll realise that marketing provides you with a much greater opportunity to fulfil your primary objectives – to assist your clients, and to build a successful coaching business. These objectives become complimentary and you create a truly win-win situation between the desires of your clients and your own desires. In the second part of this article we’ll provide you with further information on how to develop your Marketing Mindset and a Service Paradigm.