marketing for coaches the ultimate guide

Marketing for coaches: Here’s what you need to know

Are you a life, health, career or relationship coach wondering how to get started with marketing? Maybe you just got your coaching certification and now you’re wondering, “How do I attract coaching clients?”

You’re in the right place! While coaching schools can teach you how to coach, they don’t teach you how to market your coaching business. Learning how to market is crucial to being able to attract coaching clients on an on-going, consistent basis.

As a business and marketing coach, I’ve spent the last several years helping coaches learn how to market their businesses. In this post, I’ll share what you need to know about marketing so you can attract your ideal coaching clients.

Why coaches need to market their businesses

For many coaches, marketing can be challenging. If you don’t have a background or experience in marketing, it can be difficult to know where to start. And even if you do have a background in marketing, it’s so different when you’re marketing your own business! 

Marketing is a crucial part of running a business, just like operations or sales. The faster you learn the basics and process of marketing, the faster and easier it becomes to use marketing to grow your business.

How marketing helps grow your coaching business:

    • Marketing helps you get known and get found. Marketing increases the visibility in your business, making it easier for potential clients to find you — and hire you.
    • Marketing helps establish your credibility as a coach. Effective marketing helps you establish credibility and authority in your coaching niche, positioning you as a trusted expert who can help your clients.
    • Marketing helps you attract your ideal clients. As a business owner, you need clients! And marketing can help you not only attract clients, but attract the “right fit” clients: those you can best serve and who are best served by you.
    • Marketing helps you generate leads. Marketing activities like content creation, social media, networking, and email marketing help you generate coaching leads and build a pipeline of potential clients.
    • Marketing helps you grow your revenue. By consistently marketing your coaching business, you can increase awareness, attract more clients, and ultimately grow your revenue.
    • Marketing allows you to express who you are in your business. Marketing can be a powerful avenue for expressing yourself, fulfilling your gifts, and sharing your core message, so you can make the impact you desire in the world.   

With the right marketing mindset and strategies, you can more effectively attract an audience, find more paying clients, and grow your coaching business.

    marketing manipulative

    What to know about marketing your coaching business

    Many coaches get certified and then just start an Instagram account and start posting. (This is not a full marketing strategy, btw!) 

    Before you go full throttle into marketing your business, you want to think about your approach and your mindset around marketing.

    Here’s what I mean by that:

    • If you think marketing is terrible and manipulative, you’re not going to do it. 
    • If you assume it requires an advanced degree or hiring a team, you’re going to avoid it.
    • If you fear you’re going to have to “sell out” and do something you don’t want to do, you’re not going to like it. 

    So here are some principles to keep in mind when it comes to the mindset of marketing.

    Marketing your coaching business doesn’t have to be manipulative

    New coaches often are resistant to marketing because they’ve seen other coaches do it online in a way that’s salesy, manipulative, and not at all authentic or real.

    It’s important to remember that it’s YOUR business and you get to choose how you market it. You get to choose how you show up, where you show up, and what you say and share with your audience, as well as *how* you share it with your audience.

    That *how* is unique to you. That’s what makes you authentic. Real, authentic marketing is simply sharing what you have to offer, connecting with those you can serve, showing them what’s possible, and inviting them to work with you.

    Your marketing strategy will look different than that of another coaches’

    Marketing is not “one size fits all.” The way I market my coaching business is different from the way other business coaches market. (I’m currently not on Instagram, for example.)

    Your marketing strategy ideally aligns with your strengths and brand values, your business goals, and even your personality traits! Your marketing strategy should also align with your ideal clients. That’s what it means to have an aligned marketing strategy.

    For example:

    One coach’s marketing strategy might include Facebook, Tiktok, and email marketing. Another coach may use LinkedIn, SEO, and networking events. Yet another coach might use long form blog posts and Youtube. 

    Anyone can learn how to market their coaching business

    By now you might be thinking, “Great, I understand marketing is important, but what if I don’t know anything about it?! Am I doomed to fail?” The answer is no.

    Yes, I do have a background in marketing, an MBA, and years of marketing experience before starting my own coaching business. This helped me a lot when it came to marketing my own business. 

    However, marketing is a skill that can be learned. You can learn how to market, and how to do it in a way that feels real, authentic, and even comfortable for you. In fact, you can even start to enjoy (gasp) marketing and become confident in being visible

    Marketing is a tool that can help you use your voice, share your message, and be a beacon of light for those ideal clients whom you can serve. The key is finding a way to market that feels good to you.

    no one is you and that's your superpower

    The process for marketing your coaching business

    While each coach’s marketing strategy will look different, the marketing foundations are similar. 

    Here’s my 5 step process start marketing your coaching business:

    1. Understand your ideal client and your niche.
    2. Create clear messaging that attracts your ideal client.
    3. Define your coaching brand.
    4. Create compelling offers that serve your ideal clients.
    5. Build a holistic marketing and sales strategy to attract those clients.

    Identify your target audience for marketing

    It’s common for coaches to get out of coaching school excited to coach *everyone*. Well, I hate to tell you this, but *everyone* is not a target audience. In fact, when you try to appeal to everyone, you actually dilute your message and make it less impactful. 

    It may sound counterintuitive, but niching down, especially in the early stages of business, can help you get known and get found by your ideal clients. It’s much harder to be heard and seen when you are trying to appeal to everyone. That’s why it’s important to take the time to find your coaching niche and get to know your ideal coaching client. 

    Knowing your niche goes much deeper than their age, location, or income bracket. You need to understand the psychographics (goals, values, emotions, circumstances) of your ideal coaching client. 

    The best way to start gathering this information is by doing informal market research interviews. Start by speaking with people in your niche to better understand who they are and what they’re looking for. 

    Knowing your target audience and your niche is crucial to creating coaching packages that they want to buy will also help you marketing and selling those packages effectively.

    Create a unique core marketing message 

    Once you know your niche and deeply understand your ideal audience, it’s time to create your core marketing message or unique value proposition (UVP). 

    Your core marketing message describes what you do, for whom, and the value you provide to your clients. More than an elevator pitch, your message connects with your ideal clients and makes them feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

    That means you need to speak your clients’ language, especially as it pertains to the problems they have and solutions they desire. Yet at the same time, you need to communicate how you can help fix those problems or attain those solutions, while sharing what makes you effective and different as a coach.

    Messaging is one of the most important aspects of marketing, so having that clear, concise core message can help you stand out wherever you’re at, whether you’re sharing on Instagram, doing guest interviews on podcasts, or blogging on your website.

    Consider your coaching brand

    Building a strong coaching brand helps you establish credibility, trust, and recognition as a coach. While you might think of your brand as a logo, colors, and fonts, your brand is much more than that. Your brand includes your voice, tone, and personality, as well as the overall impression you create in the minds and hearts of your audience and your clients. 

    When you think of your coaching brand, you’ll want to consider your voice and personality. Are you a buttoned-up, professional, executive coach clad in a suit and tie? Are you a free spirited, spiritual life coach who is friendly and approachable? By considering your brand characteristics, you can define how you want to come across in your marketing — both in your copy and in your visuals.

    When thinking of your brand, you’ll also want to think about your brand values. What are the top values you stand for you in your business that you want to be known for? What is most important to you and your work, as well as your work with clients? Taking this time to self-reflect on your brand can help you improve your marketing strategy.

    When you focus on defining a brand that’s true to you, you’ll create a memorable and cohesive experience that attracts clients and sets you apart from the competition.

    Create strong coaching offerings

    You can have the best marketing in the world, but if you don’t have a compelling package of offering, people won’t buy from you. This is why creating coaching packages tailored to your ideal clients is so important. (And this is also why market research is so important to knowing what types of offerings to create!)

    Your packages or coaching offers should speak directly to your ideal clients and solve a problem, fulfill a need, or help them achieve a desired outcome. For example, if you’re a career coach, and your ideal clients are searching for a job, you’ll want to support them in that search, either with tools, tips, or coaching resources. 

    Creating strong coaching packages entails that you 1) understand what your ideal clients need and want and 2) create a container that helps them get what they need and want. Creating transformational coaching containers is an art in and of itself, so take the time to create a unique package that’s tailored to the needs of your ideal clients. 

    marketing is expressing yourself

    Choosing your marketing channels for your coaching business

    When you’re thinking about a marketing plan, you’ll want to consider your marketing channels. Marketing channels are the ways you will connect with and attract your coaching clients.

    Your marketing channels may include:

    • Website
    • Content marketing, such as blogs, podcasts, and videos
    • Email marketing
    • Social media marketing
    • Networking and collaborations
    • Offline marketing such as events and tradeshows
    • Guest posting on another website or blog
    • Guest interviewing on podcasts

    Here’s a short description of the most commonly used marketing channels for coaches.

    Your website = your #1 marketing tool

    I get asked all the time by new coaches, “Do I really need a website for my business?” The answer is YES! 

    Think about it: What’s the first thing you do when searching for services? You search on Google. Even if you find someone you like on Instagram, you most likely visit their website before making a big purchase.

    Your coaching website is your online storefront. You want to make sure it reflects your expertise, personality, and overall experience of working with you. Your website is also an excellent place to showcase your credentials, testimonials, and your offerings. 

    Your website will do a lot of marketing for you on your behalf, so it’s worth it to devote time, energy and resources to creating a website that looks and feels like you. 

    Content marketing for coaches

    Remember how I said marketing is more than just posting on Instagram? A lot of people are shocked to know just how many ways there are to market your business. Instagram is one option, but there are many more online platforms you can use. 

    Content marketing is an online marketing strategy that can help you attract and engage a larger audience of potential clients. Content marketing can include blog posts (on your site or other websites), videos, or podcasts shared with the goal of informing, entertaining, or solving problems for your target audience. 

    As a coach, content marketing can be an effective way of sharing value and providing expertise to build an audience of your potential clients. If you’re not sure where to start with content marketing, check out this training on Content Marketing 101.

    Social media marketing for your coaching business

    Love it or hate it, social media can be a valuable avenue for promoting your coaching business. If you make the decision to use social media for your business, it can offer you exposure to a large audience all over the world, which is hard to replicate elsewhere.

    Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be on all platforms. Choose one or two platforms that your ideal clients are actively using. The most common platforms I see coaches use are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

    When you focus on showing up authentically, providing value to your audience, and connecting with potential ideal clients, social media can be an effective way to market your business.  But social media alone is not a marketing strategy. You’ll want to make sure that you invite your audience to engage with you outside of social media to build and nurture the relationship. 

    (And if you’re a person who absolutely wants to avoid social media, there’s still plenty of ways for you to market, too!)

    Email marketing for coaches

    Email marketing is alive and well and continues to be one of the most effective forms of marketing, especially for nurturing clients. 

    Email marketing fills the gap between attracting people (on social media, podcasts, or Google) and converting them to paying clients. By sending valuable content to your email subscribers, you build trust and rapport — a key component for anyone thinking of hiring a coach. 

    Your first step in leveraging email marketing is creating a lead magnet that provides value to your ideal audience. You’ll want to promote your lead magnet continuously — on social media, your blog, podcasts, and other forms of content — to grow your email list. 

    By leveraging effective email marketing strategies for coaches, you can nurture relationships with new leads and increase the likelihood of them becoming paying clients.

    Networking and collaborations in marketing

    When you’re just starting out and have a small (or no) audience, networking and collaborations can help you get exposure to a larger audience by tapping into another person’s network. 

    For networking, check out industry events, online and in person conferences and meetups where you can connect with like-minded professionals and potential clients. Look for events in your community as well as in online communities. Consider your local ICF chapter or chapters or online communities of your coaching certification program. 

    For collaborations, consider partnering with other business owners who serve the same niche. For example, if you’re a career coach, you might partner with a resume writer. If you’re a business coach, you might partner with a copywriter or a website designer. You could go live on Instagram together, do a free Facebook training in one another’s groups, or do a lead magnet swap with each other’s email lists. 

    By expanding your network and collaborating with others, you can grow your audience while attracting more clients.

    Guest posting or being a podcast guest

    Guest posting (writing a guest post that’s featured on another website) and being a guest on podcasts (getting interviewed on someone else’s podcast) both can offer invaluable opportunities for you as a coach to expand your reach and impact. 

    Guest posting on reputable blogs and websites in your industry can be a great way to get out in front of a larger audience of your ideal clients. Getting featured on another site or blog can help you build your credibility, reach a wider audience, and grow your email list. For example, some of my clients who are life or spiritual coaches have guest posted for Tiny Buddha. They received a byline and a bio as well as a link back to their website. 

    Being a guest on podcasts that are targeted to your ideal clients allows you to be interviewed and speak about your area of expertise in a more personal and relatable way, without the stress of being on video or the time required to write a guest post. Most podcasts allow you to share where listeners can find you, as well as a link to your freebie or lead magnet. If you’re lucky enough to get on a popular podcast, it can grow your list exponentially with ideal clients. Podcasts are also a great way for you to share your message and your expertise with a larger audience.

    With either guest posting or podcasting guesting, you’ll want to be selective about the types of websites and podcasts you pitch. Ensure that they align with your brand values, that they’re open to your topic of choice, and that they have an audience of your ideal clients.

    Where to start with marketing your coaching business

    As you can see, a lot goes into marketing your coaching business effectively! If you’re new (and even if you’re not), marketing can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. 

    As a business and marketing coach, I guide coaches like you through the marketing process: from uncovering your niche to creating your offerings, mastering your messaging to creating your quarterly marketing plan.

    If you’re ready to take marketing into your own hands and attract more of your ideal clients, let’s chat! Your first step is to complete an application. 

    If you’re not quite ready for 1:1 work, check out my self-paced marketing courses for coaches.