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How to promote your coaching business


Leadership consultant and executive coach Olivia Stefanino examines whether it's a good thing for coaches to advertise in the current climate - and provides some useful tips for promotion.

If you’re a coach, should you try to spend your way out of the recession? Discover the three keys that guarantee your success as a coach… I’ve been asked recently by several coaches whether it’s a good thing to advertise in the current economic climate – and as with so many things in life, I guess the answer is “yes and no."

It goes without saying that if people haven’t heard of you, then they’re not going to be booking your services – but if you don’t know what you’re doing, spending hard earned cash on advertising can be nothing but a mug’s game. In my previous career, I used to own and run a couple of business magazines on the south coast – and while I absolutely hated doing it, I seemed to be the only one who could ever sell advertising space! Of course, it was in both my advertisers’ and my own interests to ensure that they got value for money – and I learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t AND how to get maximum return on investment.

"Industry 'standard' is that people need to see or hear about you between nine and 12 times before they consider buying from you."

For advertising to be effective, it needs to be very targeted - targeted to the audience, and making a targeted ‘call to action’. Let’s face it, you’re unlikely (all things being equal) to be inundated with calls from people asking for your coaching services from just one ad – especially one that just advertises your coaching services in fairly vague, general terms.

The general marketing/advertising industry 'standard' is that people need to see or hear about you between nine and 12 times before they actually consider buying from you. How they hear about you can vary – through PR, advertising, social networking, word of mouth, articles, the internet, direct mail, speaking engagements, radio interviews etc. A one-off ad – in the absence of any other activity – is almost guaranteed to fail. Don’t waste your money. Please.

The first key to successful promotion is to ensure that your offer is designed for a specific, targeted audience. Promoting bespoke coaching services to people in the catering industry, or to redundant bankers who are looking for a new career is likely to yield more enquiries than simply offering your coaching services to anyone who breathes!

The second key, which neatly follows on from the first, is to create credibility for yourself as an expert in your chosen field. Using our previous example, you’ll be taken more seriously if you can quote your successes with previous clients in your target audience who have seen a tangible, measurable benefit from working with you.

The third key is to recognise that when it comes to promotion, you have to box clever! Unless you’re very well known, it’s unlikely that you’re going to make many sales direct from an advertisement. What this means is that you have to work smarter – and offer something for free - which again is targeted to your audience. By asking readers to provide you with their contact details in order to receive your free gift, you’re able to build up a database of people who have put their hands up to say they’re interested in what you offer.

Once you have their details, you can then organise a targeted campaign (perhaps a mixture of emails, direct mails, letters, phone calls etc) to the people on your database. That way, they get to hear of you several times - and you’re not having to cough up for expensive advertising on a regular basis. In fact, if you put together a special report as your free gift, you can neatly use all the keys I’ve mentioned. Not only will you be able to harvest contact details, but you’ll also be able to establish yourself as an expert (when you write a special report, you’re an author – or at the very least an authority on your subject) AND you’ll be reaching a targeted audience.

And finally, if you do place advertising (whether or not along the lines I suggest), do make sure that you insist on getting some editorial space too. The publication might object, but in today’s climate, you’re the one with the leverage because they’ll definitely not want to lose your advertising pounds!

Coach, consultant and author of the internationally acclaimed book, “Be Your Own Guru”, Olivia Stefanino helps coaches and therapists build their marketing skills, create a powerful brand and raise their profile. Find out more by visiting

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