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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group

Director

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The definitive guide to growing your coaching business using social media

social

Amidst all the hype about social media marketing, some people are using it very successfully to grow their business. Heather Townsend shares with us her tips for building up a coaching business using this new medium.

I have to confess two years ago I didn't know a thing about how to market myself as a trainer or a coach. I just knew I needed to – and if I was going to put food on the table, work out how to do it darn quickly. Which is why I blundered into social media, and as a result two years later had a very successful six-figure coaching business. I'd like to claim that two years ago there was a detailed marketing plan underpinning the successful growth of my business. But I would be lying. So why am I telling you all of this? Well, it goes to prove that anyone – regardless of their marketing ability – can use social media to grow their coaching business. If you take my advice and follow my example, you too can use social media to successfully grow your coaching business.

Niche

When I started my business, I hesitated before niching myself. I couldn't afford to turn any client away – and like most trainers who also double up as a business/executive coach, my coaching skills are pretty flexible. There are not many clients or subjects that I wouldn't work with. However, as soon as I decided on a niche – working with professional advisors such as lawyers, accountants, coaches and consultants, I found that I went from ticking over to being swamped with work.
As social media is a targeted marketing method, to achieve any kind of success with it as a coach, you need to differentiate yourself by niching yourself.

Do your research about your target market

Once you have decided on your niche, the next thing to do is get underneath their skin. Where do they hang out on social media? And this is a vital point, what sites will you meet your target market on, these are the sites which you need to maintain a visible and regular presence. What content do they find interesting? What are their points of pain?

Identify and write valuable content

Sadly, not many people suddenly decide on waking in the morning to engage a coach. It's usually a pre-meditated, and carefully thought out decision to approach a coach. Social media allow your potential clients to get to know you first and trust you – in effect, warming up your audience and pre-selling you.
"Social media allow your potential clients to get to know you first and trust you – in effect, warming up your audience and pre-selling you."
Your blog will become the cornerstone of your valuable content. What can you write about to demonstrate your knowledge, credibility and trustworthiness? Ideally your website will actually be a blog site, and your regularly updated blog posts will bring your ideal clients back to your website frequently.
However, feeding the content monster takes time. And time when you could be coaching clients. This is why it is useful to have your own RSS feed reader set up with feeds from sites which contain information which your target market would find valuable. You can then share more information with your target market than just your own stuff. And remember, you don't need to always write your own material – many people will write you a guest post. All you have to do is ask.

Register as you not your business

Social media marketing is about having conversations with interested individuals. Note, my use of the words individuals and social. Do you like talking to a faceless corporation or business? No, I suspect not. It's the same for your coaching practice – register as yourself on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Include a lovely welcoming professional head and shoulder shot of you, and help your target market start up a conversation with you.

Build your connections

Once you’ve built some lovely content ready to share, you need to build up your connections to share this content with. So, identify the social networking sites where your target market hang out and get connecting with people. It’s much easier to build up a greater amount of targeted connections when you have more than just you.

Start your conversations

Once you've got the great content and people looking at the content, you need to then prompt and maintain conversations – just as if you were at a live networking event. So, search for conversations in which you can add value (or your content can add value). You may wish to use keyword searches on Twitter or join active discussion groups on LinkedIn.

Have a call to action

And finally... you don't get any revenue from all your social media activity; you get paid on the results of your social media activity. This means you need to have a call to action – if you are sending them back to your website or blogsite – have you got an easily seen sign-up box, can prospective clients quickly contact you – via email, contact form, phone and Skype?
Have I missed anything?

Heather Townsend is the author of The Financial Times Guide To Business Networking. Over the past decade, Heather has worked with more than one hundred partners, coached and trained over 1000 lawyers, accountants and other professionals at every level, within the UK's leading and most ambitious professional practices. She blogs at both Joined Up Business Networking for Busy Professionals and Partnership Potential – How to make partner and beyond using networking and social media 

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Heather Townsend

Director

Read more from Heather Townsend
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