[podcast] Top 3 Ways to Brand & Grow Your Coaching Practice – S1 Ep1

Hey guys! Brian Hilliard here, author of the best-selling book Networking Like a Pro. And you’re listening to Brand and Grow Your Coaching Practice. And I got to tell you guys, I’m fired up here today because we are going to go over the top three ways to brand and grow your coaching practice.


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I’ll tell you, as someone that’s been doing this for some time now—I’ve actually been a coach since 2001, been in business for myself obviously. Since that time, I’ve written some books. I speak a lot. One of my books actually became a bestseller maybe for the rich called Networking Like a Pro. And I got to tell you, during that time, I have coached and worked with literally hundreds of people.

And obviously, even with my own experience, there are definitely some do’s and don’ts when it comes to branding and growing your coaching practice. There some things that you definitely want to do that will help. There some things that you definitely don’t want to do. And simply by taking them away, that will also help.

What we’re going to do today is we’re going to go over the top three ways to brand and grow your coaching practice obviously based on my experience and what I think could help both coaches, consultants in that field.

Alright! So, we’re going to do this kind of like in a countdown format which means we’re going to start at the very top and count our way down.

Number three, word-of-mouth marketing. Now, word-of-mouth marketing is huge if you’re in a coaching profession, whether it’s a coach or a consultant or whatever the case may be.

Word-of-mouth is what? It is the process of going out and letting people know through word-of-mouth, through networking that you are indeed in business, right?

And in a perfect world, it’s about creating an environment where people either do one of two things: either a) they work with you directly (that’s obvious) or b) they say, “Boy, you know what? Maybe I can’t work with a life coach right now” or “maybe I don’t need a business coach right now. I know of some people who would need some.” And that would also be a great referral for you as well.

The reason why word-of-mouth marketing is on here—and I know it’s something that you use—is because we live in a relationship economy. That’s not my term, but it’s something that I’ve talked about at presentations all the time.

The relationship economy is very simple. It really says now, it’s not so much what you know but who you know. And as a coach or a consultant, that is absolutely the case.

You are not—in case anybody is telling you otherwise, I’ll tell you this now—going to get business by putting an ad in the Yellow Pages. You’re not going to get business by posting a Google AdWord and hoping people sign up with you. That’s not how you get business, not today. And it hasn’t been for a while.

How you get business is because somebody knows you, because somebody meets you, because somebody sees you. And through that relationship, people essentially need to be able to go three phrases.

Dr. Misner talks about this. He’s one of my co-authors in Networking Like a Pro. He’s the founder of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. What he talks about is the idea of visibility, credibility, profitability which simply means that first you have to get visible. People need to know that you even exist. Then they need to see you as being credible. “So I know you exist. You actually know what you’re talking about.”

And then after that, it gets down to profitability. Now what you’re doing is you’re having a conversation with these people and they’re saying, “Yeah, I’d like to hire you as my marketing coach. I’d like to be able to bring you in as my executive coach,” or “You know what? I know of somebody who could use a little bit of help.” You’re a health coach, “I know someone who’s looking to lose a little weight… who’s had a health scare… is dealing with some health issues. I’d like to refer you to them.” That’s called profitability.

Visibility, credibility, profitability. That’s called VCP by the way, VCP model. Inside of this relationship economy, that’s why word-of-mouth marketing is so important.

Again, let’s go into some specifics. I got three or four things down here that I think you’re going to need to absolutely do if you want to be successful on this regard.

Number one is you need to make sure that you have spheres of influence, two or three. You can think of them as target markets of people that you are going to be able to work best with.

Here’s kind of how I position it. I call them spheres of influence which simply are people who are most likely to want to work with you. A lot of times people try to go after—for example, target markets might be one. “I’m going to work with business owners. I’m a business coach and business owners need my help.” And that’s not really a target market.

That’s a little bit of an “everything to everyone” a little bit because how many businesses are there in this country? Not all of them really feel like they need you quite frankly regardless of they should or shouldn’t.

I actually did a video on that. If you have a chance, you should go take a look. It’s on our blog PracticeBuilderBlog.com. It’s talking about tirekickers. Part of the challenge that we face as coaches is we get with people and there’s tire kickers. Sometimes, we put ourselves in that situation where we allow ourselves to be tire kicked. Part of that is that we’re talking to the wrong people.

So, spheres of influence is making sure that you’re talking to the people who are most willing to work with you. For me, people who work with me are usually business owners again. But mine usually are two to ten years of business. They’re usually service-oriented professionals, coaches, consultants, and people of that elk. So it’s not necessarily restaurants, it’s not necessarily retail establishments. Could they use my assistance in marketing? Probably. Would it work? Probably. But that’s not my market.

So, what I want you to do is get yourself some spheres of influence. Take a look at who you’ve worked with in the past and where it is you’ve been most successful and who you enjoy working with.

Now, the reason that that’s important for word-of-mouth is because that’s where you’re going to go. When people ask you for a referral, instead of just saying back to that business coach, instead of just saying All business owners, when someone asks me for referral, I could say, “Well if you know of a business owner, two to ten  years of business, a service professional, people like coaches, consultants, authors, attorneys, and people of that nature, that would be a great referral for me.” See how I got nice and clear?

Second thing you want to keep in mind into this word-of-mouth marketing is a good elevator pitch or you’ve probably heard the term “unique selling proposition.”

Now, a unique selling proposition is very simple. It tells people what you do in manner that gets them to ask how you do it. It tells people what you do in a manner that gets them to ask how you do it.

Whenever I go out on network, people ask me, “Well, what do you do?” I see a lot of coaches make this mistake. They say, “Well, I’m a life coach.” The problem with that is you put yourself in a box. There’s no real place to go with that. That’s, in my opinion, not the way to go.

What I say is, “I help busy entrepreneurs market their business in less than 90 days.”  It’s clear who I work with. Busy entrepreneurs. What do I do? I work with them on generating more business.

See, part of your elevator pitch and unique selling proposition, part of that conversation is understanding what your value proposition is for these people in the first place. If you don’t know what they’re buying—for me people are buying more business. That’s what they’re buying. They’re not buying coaching.

How does the saying go, “I don’t want the drill. I just want the hole.”

They’re not interested in your coaching. They’re interested in the problem that you’re coaching solves. You want to position your elevator pitch or your unique selling proposition, when you go out networking and people ask you what you do, you want to position that in a way were people are like, “Oh, yeah!” “This is the benefit that I provide,” or to put it a different way, “This is the problem that I help solve.” So, spheres of influence, elevator pitch like we just talked about—

And number three is you absolutely have to have yourself a rock solid contact management system.  You’ve heard that called the CRM. You can hear it called a CMS. You need to have yourself a good contact management system.

If you do not have something that allows you to be able to go in there and quickly put a name in, toggle up, move forward, and get a reminder, “Oh, I met this person. Now this email is going out. Now you need to follow up with this person,” if you don’t have that, then you’re just networking all over the place.

And I don’t recommend that. I think that’s counterproductive.

I’ve got actually some resources that I recommend. Swing on by our blog. That’s PracticeBuilderBlog.com. And you’re going to go /resources. So that’s www.PracticeBuilderBlog.com/resources and you’ll be able to find some good stuff on there, some different things I recommend.

Quick recap. Word-of-mouth marketing, you need to do three things: have spheres of influence so that way you’re talking to the right people; you need to have a good elevator pitch which obviously makes it so that you can have a conversation with people. Because they’ll ask you, “How do you do that?” and now you’re talking about your business; and you also have to have a good contact management system to help you move forward.

The second way to brand and grow your practice is something that you’ve heard before I’m sure. It’s super important as a coach or a consultant—content marketing.

When we talk about content marketing, we’re talking about a few things. We’re talking about videos and/or audios and/or written articles.

The whole objective when it comes to content marketing is to get you out in front of a wider audience who you wouldn’t necessarily meet in your local community while networking. A lot of people, they just fall into this mistake of just networking all the time and there’s nothing wrong with networking. Obviously, I wrote a book on it. I’ve written a lot of stuff on that. It’s fine.

But one of the points I try to tell people is that when you are just networking as a coach, you are severely limiting your scope. So, what you want to do is you want to be doing some things that gets you out there—

And oh, I almost forgot the other point about content marketing especially from a branding standpoint specifically is that it positions you as an expert in your field because—I would assume—you’re solving a problem that your audience is dealing with, something that they’re facing.

When we talk about content marketing, what are we looking at exactly? Well, a few things in no particular order.

Definitely though you need an online newsletter. You have to have an online newsletter. There is no question about that. It goes hand in hand with your networking. It goes hand in hand if you do speaking. An online newsletter is absolutely key. You need to be able to have that.

Again, if you want to take a look at some of the things I recommend. You can go to our blog PracticeBuilderBlog.com/resources.

The other thing you want to be able to consider in terms of content marketing—you can publish articles third party where—there are websites out there. The one that I like the most it’s called EzineArticles. What that allows you to do is you can publish your article, then other webmasters (excuse me, newsletter people), they go to it. It’s categorized by business and marketing, this and that. They’re like, “Oh, here’s an article from Jane Smith on healthy eating.” And they say, “Oh I like this.”

And the deal is that they can take your article and put it on their newsletter verbatim, but it has to be verbatim. And they have to have it were it keeps your byline and stuff like that. And if you play your cards right were you’re positioning people to go to your website or your blog or something like that, then you’re in correct shape. That’s what we’re talking about here.

Obviously, under content marketing you have to have a website or a blog. If you don’t have that now, whole separate conversation. Do yourself a favor. Either learn WordPress, put something up real quick. Hire somebody out, contract to that real quick. You can go to Freelancer.com if you really just want to knock something out whatever. That’s fine. But you have to have that.

You also can publish, under this content marketing, for third party publications like industry magazines. Me personally, I publish—I’m actually a columnist for the ICF International Coaches Federation. I publish on their blog pretty regularly. So that’s a great way again to get your name out.

You can do what I’m even doing now, podcasts. You can get in there, so some podcast.Show people what they need to be able to do.

There’s definitely some specific, some do’s and don’ts when it comes to podcast, but this is all fine. This is all fine. You can do podcasting.

And then you can also publish something—again, this is all under the auspices of content marketing. You can publish something via LinkedIn.

Why is this so important? You need to get known as a brand. You need to build your brand. You need to get known for what you do. That’s why spheres of influence—I talked about that earlier—is so important. You need to be able to get known for what it is that you do.

People would ask me, “Brian what’s your brand?” It is very simple. My deal is all about marketing, mindset and business success. “Wow! Okay, I get that.” So you get that Networking like a Pro book. That’s under the marketing piece. You’re talking about branding and growing your coaching practice. That’s under the marketing piece. And probably, from thinking about it, you’ll probably give us mindset stuff. Yeah, you’re right!

And now, if I’m thinking about it, that really has to do with business success. If you were to go to my Facebook page or if you go to my Twitter account—which, by the way, it’s @BrianMHilliard. That’s my Twitter page, my Twitter handle—you would see that all the time.

Business success. Again, marketing, mindset, business success. That’s my brand. That’s my deal. That’s what I represent. And every time I go out and articulate either speaking or content (in this case) marketing or networking like we just talked about before, that’s what I’m getting at.

So, quick recap. Number three, word-of-mouth marketing; number two, content marketing.

Now we’re actually running out of time here right now. So what I’m going to do is actually I’m going to wind this one up, but don’t worry I’ll be back in a nanosecond. I’ve got the number one way, the top way to brand and grow your coaching practice. You can take a look at that actually right there. We’ve got this podcast ready to go for you and you will be all set.

But in the meantime, my name is Brian Hilliard saying, “So long. Take care! And thank you for your time.”