Let’s be honest, finding clients is frustrating and time-consuming.
Urgh – if only there was a quick fix!
Well, guess what?
There isn’t, sorry to get your hopes up there, but you probably weren’t expecting one anyway.
Finding the right clients for your coaching business, like in any other industry, takes:
- A large chunk of time
- A lot of hard work
- And a teeny-weeny pinch of luck
But rather than spending hours trawling the internet for ideas, we’ve done it for you. In this article, you’ll find thirteen ideas you can put into action.
Oh, and we’ve even delved into the pros and cons of each one too.
So, are you ready to start filling up your appointment book?
Great – let’s get stuck in!
13 ways to get coaching clients.
Rather than chucking a list of ideas at you and leaving you scratching your head as to where to start, we’ve split our list into three sections:
Because there’s little point in spending time, energy and money on reaching lots of people if you can’t give them certainty that you can help them or provide them with a clear way to get that help.
1. Choose a niche
Pros: When your ‘ideal client’ hears about you, they’ll know straight away you can help them.
Cons: You’ll miss out on clients, initially.
Niching down causes a lot of anxiety because most coaches want to help everybody, and they hate to turn anyone away.
But the important thing to remember is that niching isn’t about saying ‘no’ to people – it’s about sticking a big neon sign above your head that attracts the right people.
By niching down, your marketing message is sharper because you can speak clearly to your ideal client. You’ll speak directly to their pain points, and find you’re better equipped to solve them effectively.
Initially, it may feel like you’re turning away clients, but it’s extremely hard to run a profitable and impactful business whilst serving a wide range of clients. And the truth is you’ll be doing yourself, and your clients, a massive favour by choosing and sticking to a niche that works to your strengths.
If you’re keen to niche down but don’t know where to start, our article, How to choose your coaching niche, is crammed with all the useful advice you’ll need.
2. Set up a website
Pros: It’s your primary marketing tool, a place where visitors can go to find out if you’re the right fit.
Cons: Other than expenditure, very few.
Okay, there are successful coaches out there whose only online presence is a Facebook page and a YouTube channel.
But they’re few and far between.
A website, fully optimised for search engines, will send potential clients your way. With the right keywords, your audience will find you. And, most importantly, it’s your primary marketing tool.
Nowhere else can a potential client find out:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Why you’re the right fit for them
And that’s before you add all the other bells and whistles, like blog posts and podcasts, to your site (which we’ll cover later).
Sure, websites require expenditure, but a 1-2 page website doesn’t have to cost the earth. And if you’re tech-savvy, you can save money by designing and writing your own.
But before you do, make sure you read our article, Critical decisions you need to make before building your website.
Web design not for you?
Then why not give Brand Bootcamp a whirl?
Once your website is in place and you know who your audience is, you have to give them something they can’t resist:
3. Give something away for free
Pros: Everyone loves something for nothing!
You love free stuff, right?
I know I bloomin’ do!
And your ideal clients will too.
But that doesn’t mean giving a 12-week programme that usually costs thousands away for nothing.
No, that’d be bonkers.
Instead, give away:
- A 15-30 minute consultation
- A 15-minute mindfulness meditation
- A short ‘How-to’ guide/booklet
Or something else you think would be useful.
People don’t expect much from a freebie, so give away something that’ll blow their minds.
Because you’ll make them think:
“Wow! If this has reduced my anxiety and it’s free, what can they do in a full session?”
Your freebie needs to be so irresistible your ideal clients can’t help but get in touch.
4. Create a gateway product
Pros: It’ll win you clients.
Cons: None – again!
First things first, what’s a gateway product?
A gateway product is the first product a potential customer buys from you, or to put it another way, the one which turns them from a prospect into a customer.
And to make sure that happens, your gateway product needs to be:
- Affordable – your first product must come out of everyone’s “disposable income”
- Urgent – making it available for a limited time only persuades people to purchase before they miss out
- Easy to buy – don’t make them wait for four emails with different codes to verify their purchase
- Awesome – whatever product or service you’re offering, make sure it works fast and brings a bloomin’ big grin to your customers’ face
Once they’ve bought your gateway product, they’re more likely to purchase whatever else you have to offer.
5. Market yourself as a guest speaker at events, conferences and internal business events.
Pros: You’ve got a captive audience interested in hearing about the work you do.
Cons: It’s not easy to get top billing or get into businesses.
We’d all love to be the star speaker for a TED talk, but the chances of that are pretty remote. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply to speak at conferences and events.
Because of the COVID pandemic, it’s unlikely to be anytime soon, but when it is, speaking at an event cements you as an expert.
You don’t have to aim for national or global conferences either. Getting into a local business is just as handy.
If you’re a coach who helps clients handle stress, pitch a presentation about how reducing stress at work increases productivity.
And if you get knocked back – keep pitching.
You will get in somewhere, then it’s up to you to blow their socks off so they invite you back!
Now you need to get your message out to potential clients, and there are lots of ways to do it:
6. Ask for referrals
Pros: It gets your name out there for free.
Cons: You end up with the same client-type, which may be the wrong one.
Referrals are essential for every business, whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for decades. Early on it can help you get a steady stream of family, friends and ex-colleagues as clients.
And, once you’re successful, it can bring in your ideal client type.
But the thing is, you can’t just rely on word-of-mouth.
Friends and family will refer you to anyone and everyone, hardly ideal when you get a call from a friend of a friend with a gambling addiction and you’re a nutrition coach. And when it comes to your existing clients, you have to make sure not to pressure them too much – or even expect them to pass your name on even when they say they will.
Asking for referrals is a must.
It will win you clients.
But don’t pin all your hopes on it.
7. Get on social media
Pros: It’s great for exposure, engages you with your audience, shows you’re an expert and drives traffic to your website.
Cons: It’s time-consuming, and you need to know which platform your target clients are using.
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter, Instagram.
Lots of options, but which is right for your coaching business?
The only way to find out, if you don’t know already, is through trial and error. Use hashtags your audience might be using, or research the ones they are.
And engage with them – but don’t sell.
If they need a coach, it’s unlikely they’ll want you telling them they have an issue you can resolve.
Post stuff they’ll find useful, show them your personality and they’ll come to you.
But if you’re getting zero engagement on a particular platform after weeks and months of trying, it’s likely you’re talking to yourself. So, rather than waste time, cut your losses and concentrate your efforts on the platforms where you’re getting traction.
8.Write regular blog posts, and guest blog on other websites
Pros: It shows off your knowledge and expertise and drives traffic to your website.
Cons: It’s time-consuming, but that’s about it.
Yep, another one you’ll have probably heard again and again.
But we can’t express how important blogging is.
It shows your audience you know what you’re talking about, positions you as the go-to person in your coaching niche and drives traffic to your website.
Yep, it takes time, but it’s so worth it!
You should also try and guest blog too. Whether it’s on another coaches website or on the site of a professional who complements what you do.
Oh, and make sure it isn’t a one-way street.
Give them the option of guest blogging on your website too, they’ll be more likely to say yes.
It’s a great way to get a wider audience looking at what you do.
9. Write regular blog posts, and guest blog on other websites
Pros: Not everybody is doing it, so it’s different and makes you stand out. It makes you look super-professional, helps you reach even more people and will position you as a voice of authority.
Cons: The old chestnut, it’s time-consuming, and you’ll need to research and pay for equipment and editing software.
Podcasts are rising in popularity, and several coaches have already cottoned on and have started their own – but it’s still relatively rare.
So, now is the time to start your own.
A podcast means people can listen to what you have to say at home, in the car, at the gym or when they’re out for a walk or run. And you open yourself up to a potential audience of millions.
Invite guests on who complement your coaching niche. Show your personality, make them fun, and try to appear as a guest on other industry podcasts to increase your audience further.
Okay, it takes time to learn how to set one up. What equipment you’ll need, where to find the music and how to edit the whole thing together. But if you’re looking for a modern way to get yourself seen and heard, podcasting and guest podcasting is the way to go.
10. Start a YouTube channel
Pros: People get to hear and see you. It’s a great way to build trust and, yep, marks you out as a voice of authority.
Cons: Learning how to edit videos, add music and animations.
Let’s be honest, if you’re excited about podcasting, creating a YouTube channel is going to be right up your street.
The added bonus?
Your audience gets to see you.
A human connection, especially in coaching, is vital. Plus, not every coach is doing it, so it’s likely to make you stand out in your field.
Fill your channel with helpful videos that are informative and fun. Invite questions from your followers and interview guest speakers.
Heck, there’s no reason you can’t record your podcast and make it available in video format too.
11. Join online communities
Pros: You mix with other industry experts and potential clients.
Cons: It can take a lot of time and effort to nurture relationships to the point someone will want to use you.
The cons with this one can be attributed to pretty much every other networking option on this list – but don’t let that put you off.
Facebook and Reddit are probably the two obvious choices for online communities, but you need to find the community that’s right for you.
For example, if you’re a career coach, there’s little point joining a weight-loss community.
Like everything else, finding the ideal community takes time and research, but once you find them, join them. And don’t make the mistake of jumping in feet first and offering free consultations left, right and centre.
Join in the conversations, offer a little bit of free advice – and when people see you’re the person who is giving out helpful guidance, then you can mention what you do and try and get them on board.
If you’re not part of any online communities, start now by checking out our article, 4 Facebook groups and communities for coaches.
12. Attend networking meetings
Pros: Face-to-face opportunity to sell who you are and what you do and opens you up to a bigger audience.
Cons: You’re likely to meet your peers or people who aren’t your ideal clients.
I’ve been to loads of networking events and if I’m honest, I’ve only ever landed one gig through it.
But that’s me.
Networking is a great way to speak to other business owners. But you often find these events aren’t filled with your target client. And, like referrals, you’re relying on others passing on your details – to anyone and everyone.
It’s an enjoyable way to speak to other business owners locally, especially if you’ve not seen anyone in a while. And it may bring in a small handful of jobs, but it won’t make your business profitable alone.
And, as this is being written during the time of COVID, face-to-face networking is pretty much off the table (unless you can find a local one doing them over ZOOM).
But when it’s back, it’s still worth meeting local entrepreneurs – never block off an avenue for work, even if it only gets you one or two clients per year.
13. Run ads
Pros: It can get you in front of a global audience.
Cons: It can be costly without much return and you really need to know who you’re targeting.
If you can afford to advertise on TV or radio, go for it. But the fact is, most business owners can’t.
Running ads online, however, can be a lot more cost-effective, but be warned, although it is cheaper, if you don’t know who your audience is or where they hang out, you could soon see your payments spiralling out of control.
You need to know who your audience is and where they hang out, otherwise, you’ll get people clicking your ad with no intention of getting in touch with you. And if your ad is a Pay-per-click (PPC) ad, you’ll pay hundreds with little to no ROI.
But don’t let that put you off, if done right, ads can be really effective.
The most popular places to advertise online are:
Keep an eye on what you’re paying, it’s easy to throw loads of money at advertising in the wrong places.
If you’d like to up your marketing game and do it in all the right places, join the waitlist for our Marketing Makeover Program.
Ready to get more coaching clients?
There’s no magic potion that’ll have coaching clients pouring through your door like a burst dam. And anybody saying there is is probably selling you snake oil (or blowing smoke up your ass, whichever analogy works for you).
It takes time, effort and, in some cases, money.
But by ticking off all of the above, you’ll be doing everything you can to make sure you’re getting your name in front of your ideal clients.
Give ‘em a go.
You might just find your appointment book filling up before you know it.
Oh, and if there’s something I’ve missed off the list that you do to get clients, feel free to share it in the comments below.
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Matt is a freelance copywriter, specialising in whatever you throw at him. He’s the author of the comedy book series The Bumpkinton Tales, runs writing workshops in schools and has hyper-mobility in his thumbs.