No Image Available

Stephen Walker

Read more from Stephen Walker

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Lady Gaga or Jane Doe?


Stephen Walker looks at the coaching and mentoring industry and shows the way to being the 'go-to' expert in your niche.

Coaching and mentoring are long established products in the training sector. Their content and delivery give rise to a huge variety of alternatives. The choice is bewildering and the factors clients use to decide between alternatives need to be carefully presented. A client will opt for price as the key factor if the alternatives are not well presented. Let me lift the dustcovers off some of these alternatives and see if we can avoid the client focusing on price above all else.

Perceived value

This is not the same as price. Whether you sell your services for £30 or £300 an hour, your clients will perceive a value in what you do from the price point. It is important to create the right 'customer experience' for your price point. The client is not an expert in your business and is trying to gauge your value. If the client has no experience of you, it is your first sale; the evidence of value will come from the peripheral things you provide, not from the coaching or mentoring. 

The peripheral things include:

  • how you answer the phone
  • your emails
  • your business name
  • your appearance
  • your physical evidence
    • letterhead
    • business cards
    • brochures
    • website
    • quotation
    • testimonials

There is no right or wrong with this list of peripherals. The important factor is to match these peripheral things to your value proposition – to have a coherent brand message.

I’m from the Government and I’m here to help

As a trainer you know you can improve the performance of your clients through your training. I assume most of us charge a fraction of the value of the performance improvement experienced by the client. If there is no value to the client then why should the client spend the time and money?

Into this delicate arena of perceived value and price walks the Government. The Government says we know most training does not produce any value for the client so we will provide grants to reduce the effective price. We, the Government, hope you will now spend your time on this barely worthwhile training as it is cheaper. 

Do you want that in your marketing promotions? Do you use that in your sales pitch? Perhaps it would be better if they didn’t spend our money on grants and taxed us less. Then we can make the right decisions on value and price.

Delivery options

Coaching and mentoring have been intensively human relationship-based. I do wonder if the iPhone generation is ready to move away from this traditional method. I am not aware of any wedding vicar apps but the technology exists. Technology has a way of changing the economics so people are prepared to try new delivery options at a fraction of the old cost.

On-demand delivery also means people can receive the training at their chosen time. This is a big factor in our modern society. People are polarised between 'time-poor and cash-rich' and 'cash-poor and time-rich' lifestyles. On-demand delivery is popular with busy people.

The intermediate delivery option incorporates DVDs, webinars and downloads. These options are starting to feel as modern as the piano roll.


Even if content isn’t king, it is important. Some content really has to be delivered in person: learning to swim for example. No amount of coaching is going to fully prepare you for jumping into a swimming pool. There is a really important aspect to mentoring where the skilled trainer matches the communication to the client for best effect. The trainer’s expertise creates a unique environment for that one client. This is only possible if the trainer is a subject matter expert and not a professional training delivery person with little subject knowledge.

How do we judge who knows what? I suggest 'celebrity' is a measure. Lady Gaga is an international star, a classic example of a strong brand. If you wanted to train to be a pop diva would you buy Lady Gaga’s series of 'How to be a Pop Diva' books or would you hire a complete unknown to train you?

Mantle of an expert

How do you get to be the obvious 'go-to' person in your speciality? How do you get to be the Lady Gaga of time management? You have to put on a performance, a show. Fortunately many of the tools to make a show are available at no cost other than time.

  • Put on that performance through social media channels
  • Put out material for download on the web
  • Write blogs, articles and books

Establish your brand, your style, your niche and then fill cyberspace with your content. Explain what needs to be achieved and help would-be clients realise the benefit of hiring you.

Product stack

You need a variety of product price points to give prospective clients an easy path to follow. People love to buy but hate to be sold to. Make the cost of experiencing you quite small. Have a range of products, like giveaways and newsletters that prospective clients can take to sample your wares and become comfortable with what you can do for them. Make sure there is an easy upgrade path from free to modest to full price. Make the customer experience a good one.


  • You need a niche, a specialism you can make your own
  • You need to become one of the 'go-to' experts in your market
  • You can create that aura of expertise through the free of charge media that are available today
  • Don’t forget your brand coherence. Don’t destroy your expert status by a clodhopping video, a badly spelt blog or a silly tweet.

Stephen is a co-founder of Motivation Matters, set up in 2004 to develop the management of motivation to inspire greater performance. A published author of articles and conference speaker, Stephen delivers workshops on personal skills, management skills and leadership skills across the country. It is all about “making people more effective” he says. You can follow Stephen on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blog


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!