OK, you already defined your coaching niche and your target audience. You also checked off arranging your coaching services into clear packages and pricing.
So, the game begins. You are ready to market your coaching business and attract your ideal clients.
But handling digital marketing without knowing all the ins and outs can be challenging, especially if you’re a team of one.
The good news is — we’re here to help!
This article will guide you through the most efficient marketing channels, enriched with battle-tested expert opinions from successful coaching professionals.
Let’s do it!
How to build a marketing strategy for your coaching business
First, let’s clarify the terminology. Because you can stumble upon many articles that will entice you with headlines like “47 marketing strategies for coaches in 2023”. And then, you will go through a whopping list of marketing channels or tactics. The thing is — tapping into Facebook groups or attending events are NOT marketing strategies. These are tactics.
Marketing strategy is singular. And it’s a structured vision of planning and executing your marketing activities to meet your business objectives, like increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales.
In your case, North Star will be landing your first coaching clients. Having that primary goal on your drawing board, you need to figure out how to achieve it.
And of the most popular and structured ways to do that is through the SMART model. Let’s break it down:
S – Specific, M – Measurable, A – Achievable, R – Relevant, T – Time-bound.
With that out of the way, let’s review each step.
S – Specific
First, you need to define what landing new clients means to you. How many of them do you need to get? From what locations or industries?
Here’s how NOT to do it:
“I want to get more clients this year.”
Instead, do this:
“I want to focus on acquiring business coaching clients from the FinTech sector in North America.”
M – Measurable
Next, you must determine how you’ll measure progress toward this goal. Your number one metric should be the number of signed contracts.
Here’s how NOT to do it:
“I’ll know I have more clients when I see an increase in my income.”
This vague approach doesn’t give you any tangible metrics to track your progress.
Instead, do this:
“I aim to acquire five new FinTech clients every month, resulting in at least a 20% increase in my monthly revenue.”
A – Achievable
It might be tempting to set the bar high. But what will happen if you don’t clear it? It’s crucial to be realistic with the numbers. That’s why a healthy sentence would sound like this:
Here’s how NOT to do it:
“I want to onboard 500 new FinTech clients next month.”
Unless you have an enormous infrastructure and resources, this goal may not be achievable.
Instead, do this:
“Based on my current resources and network, I can realistically onboard 20 new FinTech clients in the next quarter.”
R – Relevant
You can’t go wrong here since you have already nailed your coaching expertise and target audience. But, just in case, we will show you an approach you should avoid as well.
Here’s how NOT to do it:
“I want to target fashion industry clients because it’s trending now.”
If your expertise is in FinTech, suddenly jumping into the fashion industry without relevant experience might not be the best move.
Instead, do this:
“I want to delve deeper into the FinTech sector, targeting startups and established firms, because of my extensive experience and network in this area.”
T – Time-bound
And the last aspect comes down to time. When do you aim to achieve this goal? Adding – again, a realistic – timeframe will help you forge the best strategy.
“I want to get more clients.”
Without a specific timeline, it’s easy to procrastinate or lose focus.
Instead, do this:
“I aim to acquire 20 new FinTech clients by the end of Q2 2023.”
Having all that in place, creating your primary objective is super simple:
“I aim to acquire 15 new coaching clients in the North American FinTech sector within the next six months, measuring our success through signed contracts. This goal aligns with my broader objective to specialize in business coaching services for the finance industry.”
Setting that goal is paramount. But to achieve the results within six months, you need to be ready to adapt to what’s working and what’s not. Just like Steve Jefferys, a business coach at Make Your Shift did:
“My strategy when starting my business was to do one thing well before anything else. That one thing was to maximize my network and the reach within it first and use that as a ‘safe’ ground to see what worked and what didn’t and to learn from that. From this, I built up my marketing iteratively according to what I needed and when. For example, when starting, I received a great piece of advice: to stay open to changing things that didn’t work. It applied as much to my proposition and niche as the marketing channels and techniques I used to support them. Once I saw what resonated – and importantly, saw money coming in – I started to think about how I could layer in other areas and the objectives for doing those and the marketing to support it.”
And if your personality is not about building and following systems, you will probably relate to Riya Sokół, a widely successful personal development and well-being coach and speaker:
“I didn’t have many tools, so I based everything on following my gut. And everything from the very beginning was based on a deep and authentic connection with my audience. I was building my following mainly through doing live streams on my social media regularly – once weekly for two years.”
9 marketing tactics to fuel your coaching program
Now that you have a solid coaching program and a marketing strategy with clear goals, it’s time for the action plan!
Start with a website
It seems obvious, but it may be tempting to skip this part. “I will be active on social media first, and then — at some stage, I will build a website.”
OK, but some people may perceive your content as valuable enough for them to want to learn more about you. And if they find that your website doesn’t exist, they will drift away. As a result, you can lose plenty of potential clients by not having a website in place.
“But it takes time and money to build one” — yes, if you decide to hire a designer and a front-end developer, that won’t be cheap and fast. The good news is — that you can do it yourself with no-code solutions, like our Website Builder!
It literally takes you minutes to create your website from scratch using a ready-made template. Or you can let AI take care of it for you and simply provide descriptions and industry.
Build your content marketing plan
Things change rapidly in the digital marketing stage, but content marketing remains one of the most significant actors. A stellar content program requires different formats and distribution channels, but first of all, a strategy.
Ideally, your content strategy should align with your top-level marketing strategy and serve your coaching business goals.
But what’s even more crucial — when building your content calendar, for every topic, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Does my audience care about this topic (and why)?
- What are the pain points my ideal clients have regarding this topic?
- How can my online coaching business solve those problems?
Once you have that figured out, you can start planning and creating content, starting with your website as your central content hub.
Write articles on your blog
According to the State of Content Marketing 2023 report by Semrush, short-form articles (31%) and long-form blog posts (24%) are among the best-performing content formats.
By writing well-researched and keyword-optimized blog articles, you can hit two targets with one arrow:
- Generate a stream of organic traffic to your website from search engines like Google
- Inject your subject-matter expertise and build your reputation as a coach
Search engine optimization is still the name of the game for businesses that want to create content successfully. To rank high for your strategic keywords, leverage those tips from Semrush’s thorough study:
Seeing your articles rank high and organic traffic flowing in is a super pleasant feeling. If people land on your blog post and walk through your content, they can turn into your prospective clients. That’s why it’s crucial to embed a call-to-action on that post that will lead to your sales page or your newsletter subscription. Which brings us to the next step.
Create a newsletter people will wait for
Running newsletters is at the top of marketing tips across the board.
The idea is pretty simple:
- You create content on your blog that is valuable enough for your web visitors to opt in for your emails.
- You pack your know-how, hints, and insights into regular, engaging newsletters that gradually convert your subscribers into coaching clients.
OK, but how to do that?
First, you need to set up a marketing plan or a content editorial calendar, where newsletters will become one of the pillar formats.
Second, as an editor-in-chief of your newsletter, you need to select the topics and flex your creative muscles to come up with engaging content for your subscribers.
Third, you need tools for:
- Creating a newsletter sign-up popup or a banner. With GetResponse’s free popup creator, you can quickly build and manage popups from pre-designed or blank templates.
- Managing your email list. Let’s face it — having a robust email list will be one of your most essential assets for future sales and marketing campaigns. With GetResponse, an email marketing platform at its core, you can group your subscribers into relevant lists and segments with attributed tags and custom fields.
- Create and send out those newsletters. Yes, you don’t have to go anywhere to manage your send-outs. And the good news is that the whole process is a walk in the park. Even if you want to craft your email yourself, you will have an impressive library of pre-designed templates and a handy drag-and-drop email editor. And if you want to go super sonic fast, you can leverage our AI email generator!
Publish an ebook … or a book!
If you follow some A-class coaches on social media, you will notice that the most thriving ones are also book authors. Think of an executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, the author of the “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There,” or a business coach, Ken Blanchard – famous for his book “The One Minute Manager.”
Yes, one of the marketing efforts that can fuel your coaching business growth is writing a book. And, no, it doesn’t have to be rejected by publishers thousands of times. Instead, you can choose a self-publishing route.
“But writing hundreds of pages will take ages!” Well, it doesn’t have to. That’s why, when you select topics for your blog articles, group them into clusters. In other words, think of blog topics as subchapters of your future book. This way, after publishing dozens of articles on your website, you can turn them into a Kindle book on Amazon or an ebook on your website.
Content repurposing at its finest!
3. Build a solid email marketing program
We could say that email marketing is one of the most efficient digital marketing programs, used successfully for lead generation, nurturing, sales, and customer retention.
And it’s all true.
But we prefer to put it simply — email marketing = profit. To prove that, let’s quote two coaching business owners who have been leveraging GetResponse to increase their bottom line:
- In just six months, Ken Furukawa has increased his revenue by 100% through email marketing and marketing automation campaigns.
- Bryan Toder, a financial coach, gives it straight: “You know what? It makes me money. And it could make YOU money!”
So, how can you pull that off? Here’s a quick step-by-step:
- Create a free account on the GetResponse platform.
- Build a subscription popup that will be embedded on your page Create your first stunning welcome email
- Group your emails by lists and segments
- Get started with your newsletters and experiment with A/B testing for better open rates
- Orchestrate all your email marketing efforts with the power of…
Welcome messages and newsletters are great, but you can achieve much more with automation!
All by yourself, without hiring a marketing team, you can build entire workflows based on your marketing goal and context. It boils down to constructing a scheme of what kind of emails will be sent to your subscribers and when.
With one huge difference — you don’t have to be an architecture engineer to do that! We have a library of ready-made workflows you can use and adjust for your coaching practice:
- Welcome message workflows
- Lead qualifying
- Engagement and retention
- Sales promotions
- Online courses
- or webinars and events!
This brings us smoothly to the next chapter of our marketing for coaches action plan — webinars.
4. Win more audience and clients with webinars
Webinars are an unmatched marketing format. Why? Because they can be a power supply for all other content formats. Here’s how. You run an hour-long online event. You record it. As a result, you have a 60-minute video material you can convert into a:
- blog article
- downloadable PDF guide
- LinkedIn carousels
- series of social media posts
- on-demand webinars (used to generate more leads for your coaching business)
- series of emails
- series of short videos for YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook reels
At the meta-level, webinars can serve you as a robust tool for attracting the right audience, converting event attendees into prospective clients, and growing your email list.
You need to play offense to convince dozens (if not hundreds) of folks to dedicate an hour of their lives to attend your online event. Your secret sauce should include:
- Organic social posts
- Paid social ads
- Email invitations and reminders
And to run a webinar itself, you need a dedicated platform. Luckily, GetResponse combines email marketing and webinar software under one roof. Here’s how it works:
5. …and podcasts
Starting a podcast and becoming a guest expert in existing podcasts are marketing tips that can pave the way to getting your ideal coaching clients.
The trick is to be patient and play a long game. It takes time to build an audience for an entirely fresh podcast. Well, unless you already have thousands of followers, who would put on their earphones as soon as they see your first episode live.
Enjoying this guide? Dive even deeper and learn how different marketing techniques can shape your online coaching business even further – subscribe to our very own marketing podcast – Operation: Automation!
What can help you in getting more traction here is tapping into someone else’s audience. Ideally, reach out to influencers and thought-leaders with an impressive following.
Make a list of people with whom you have a target audience overlap. For example, you are a life coach, and you see that there’s a mindfulness coach you can invite to be a guest star at your show. Not a competitor but a potential partner. Running an episode with a compelling interview with that person will mean one thing — your guest’s followers can become your first listeners.
What is the baseline to start being a podcaster?
- Covering topics relevant to your potential clients
- Gear that will help you sound nice and clean — including a proper microphone
- A platform where you can upload your audio — such as Spotify, SoundCloud, or Apple podcasts.
6. Get traction on social media
Whether you want to get some clicks to your blog articles, garner a legion of email subscribers, or spread the word about your upcoming webinar, social media marketing is something to master.
While we highly encourage you to experiment with different formats and social media platforms, you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. It would be best to focus on channels where your ideal clients hang out.
Back in the day, it was relatively easy to achieve high organic results. But they’ve changed the algorithms, and it’s not that sweet anymore.
But, other coaches are still super active on Facebook and say that it was a primary channel to which they attribute their coaching growth.
If you want to double down on Facebook, here are a few things to know:
- Being active in Facebook groups, helping your target audience by answering their questions, and sharing non-gated content is a proven way to win clients.
- Creating your own Facebook group around a specific topic has been a source of won deals for many coaches.
- Facebook supports video content, so reels and stories should be your primary focus if you want to get more substantial results.
- Run paid ads. If you post something organically, boost it by sponsoring it.
No matter if you’re into business, life, health and nutrition, or personal growth coaching business. Instagram is a natural environment where coaches garner their legions of fans. And if visual content is your power zone, this social media platform should be your native habitat as well.
If you want to rock Instagram in 2023 and beyond, here are some nuggets for you:
- Instagram recommends content creators post to the grid twice daily, but not one post right after the other. For example, you post one reel in the morning and another in the evening.
- But the situation is quite different with stories. For better reach and engagement, you should post even six stories a day — two in the morning, two halfway through the day, and two at night.
- When creating videos, avoid watermarks from YouTube shorts or TikTok, and use Instagram trending songs instead of “outside” music.
- Be super-responsive — react to every comment straight away.
- Use from three to five hashtags.
LinkedIn should be your go-to if your cup of tea is executive, business, team performance, or marketing coaching. You can still achieve heights organically by creating content regularly. This way, you can be on the radar of CEOs, CMOs, board directors, and founders.
Other than Instagram, Pinterest is the most photogenic and eye-catching medium. But besides glamorous visuals, Pinterest is a massive search engine. In fact, it’s the largest search engine, right after Google and YouTube.
Here are a quick step-by-step that will help you get more views from your potential buyers:
- Create a free business account — and, no, that won’t limit your organic reach.
- Create boards — think of your topic clusters. For instance, if you are a health coach, your four boards could be: Nutrition & Diet, Physical Activity and Exercise, Emotional and Mental Well-being, and Lifestyle and Behavior Change.
- Populate those boards with pins from other users, so that you already have impressions in your boards before you start adding your pins.
- Start creating your pins with tools like Canva. What’s cool with Canva, is that you can easily design your pins with dedicated Pinterest templates AND you can post them on Pinterest directly from there. And that includes adding a title, description and your destination page!
- And last, follow Pinterest’s best practices for creating static pins, idea pins, videos, and ads.
OK, what happens if we combine a powerful search engine, video content format, and over 2 billion monthly active users? Of course — YouTube. If you want to grow a successful coaching business, you need to tap into this platform.
How can you do that?
- Make people click. Master your copywriting skills to create a captivating title that will entice users to click on your video. Create an attractive thumbnail that will magnify the message.
- Make people watch as long as possible. YouTube’s algorithm favors clips with a long watch time. So, when your videos are engaging and creative enough to keep folks watching them, it will significantly impact your reach.
- Make people satisfied. YouTub will read signals such as likes, comments, and numbers of subscribers.
7. Capitalize on Networking
One of the most powerful ways to acquire coaching clients is networking. Matthew Pollard, best-selling author and a Rapid Growth Guy, went out networking instead of focusing on social media:
“You need to go and validate that your message works with real people and get instant feedback.”
How can you do that? Attend events where you’re sure that your potential clientele hangs out. Most onsite conferences and trade shows come with spaces dedicated to networking:
- If the tech industry is your coaching niche, consider attending Web Summit in Lisbon, London Tech Week, or Slush.
- If ecommerce players are your target, consider buying tickets for the Los Angeles eCommerce Summit or the eCommerce Berlin Expo.
- If you want to network with folks interested in well-being, events like the National Wellness Conference or FIT Summit’s World Health, Fitness, and Wellness Festival should be on your calendar.
And if traveling worldwide from event to event is too much hustle, find your local onsite conferences and meetups, or tap into existing online events at Meetup.
8. Free coaching calls
Offering free coaching calls is another proven tactic that helps coaching business owners land new contracts.
The idea is the same as when it comes to delivering value on Facebook groups. It’s all about experience. If people who hop on a 20-30 minute free consultation with you feel that you care about them, you can convert them into satisfied clients.
Technically, it’s a piece of cake. A combination of a free account on Calendly and video calls on Google Meet will do the trick.
9. Referrals and word-of-mouth
OK, it’s time for our last tactic to help you market your coaching business and land more clients – referrals and word-of-mouth. As Steve Jefferys convinces:
“Referrals and word of mouth are my best, most qualified marketing routes. For me, there is nothing stronger than someone you’ve provided value to vouching for you and short-circuiting some of the other consideration filters for my services for others. This is invaluable and something I ensure I maximize where I can.”
This channel has also delivered the best results for Agnieszka King – Executive Coach Co-Founder at King Consulting and Executive Coaching Ltd.:
“Marketing channels that brought results for my business were referrals. I have completed my Professional Diploma in Business in Executive Coaching, part of which is 100 hours of pro-bono coaching, allowing me to build a network of professionals who would refer my business.”
Agnieszka Śladkowska, a career and self-confidence trainer and founder at Gorilla Job, had several products in her offering, and word-of-mouth was the number 1 source she attributed her sales results to:
“Very quickly, our main source of customers became word-of-mouth, and buying our online course for a wife, father, or boyfriend for his birthday meant that we still have mention of a birthday voucher for the How to Get a New Job Fast course on our website.”
How your brand elevates your coaching strategy
Let’s face it — you can experiment with different social media channels, content formats, and marketing tips. But your personal brand is your most vital asset. No matter your coaching niche, your credibility, and vibe will play the most significant role in making potential clients engage with you.
Of course, in an ideal scenario, you start to build that credibility and trust long before the official coaching business kick-off. And that means sharing value and insights while you’re still at your 9-5.
Riya Sokół emphasizes the power of sharing that knowledge and passion:
“I started sharing my knowledge because I was passionate about what I was doing – and in the long run, it started to monetize. The foundation of building my brand was my passion, which is why it became so effortlessly successful.”
Plus, building a brand involves adding a secret sauce:
- your personality
- your unique style of communication
- or even the way you dress (take a look at Coach Ajit — he always wears a hat, which has become almost his trademark):
For Steve Jefferys, building a brand was a foundation. And of the vital aspects of it was authenticity:
“As there is much competition in my space, I knew it was important to have a clear proposition and a strong but simple brand to support this from the beginning. It was as much about ensuring that the brand I developed was true and specific to me as it was flexible enough to accommodate and absorb a variety of sub-propositions and messages now and in the future.”
Bonus chapter — Rapid Expert Round-Up
How can you become even more savvy in marketing? By learning from other coaches who tested several tactics for their coaching practice. We asked them what worked, what didn’t, and what content formats they used the most.
“Networking and social media (almost exclusively for me through LinkedIn) would be next in line but not in as direct a way as referrals and word of mouth. I’ve learned that the key to networking and social media is consistently showing up and being incisive and clear in what you communicate. I’d advise anyone that investing in both is a long-term play as they have to build relationships and trust at their heart – consistently turning up and doing this is key to developing them. The rewards may be further away, but they pay off in the end and are a vital part of what I do to build my business.”
“I can say that all marketing activities I tried – events, networking, referrals, own content, webinars, social media, email marketing – and all of them have brought results. My main focus was connecting with my audience. So I used all the opportunities to do that, whether via social media, GetResponse for emails, or any other marketing channels.”
“Marketing channels that brought results for my business were referrals. I also attended a lot of networking events and conferences to have access to professional coaches, senior managers, and leaders who appreciate the power of coaching. I have also organized webinars and wrote articles and blogs.”
What didn’t work?
“Against my better judgment and experience, I dabbled in some cold outreach to businesses when I started. Naively driven by my excitement of starting, I thought throwing many messages out there would drive volume, if nothing else. It fell flat on its face for all the reasons my rational self would tell me. Firstly, there was no relationship to build from, and secondly, a cold and frankly lazy outreach was never likely to cut through.”
“All of them worked as long as I wasn’t pushy and didn’t play tricks on the buyers. I always used my marketing based on how I wanted to be sold to.”
“I found social media marketing time-consuming. This channel never brought satisfactory results for me.”
What types of content do you use the most?
“I’m still experimenting here! It’s taken me some time to build confidence in my voice on social media, and part of this has been developing and putting different types of content out there. For sure, I look at content in a variety of ways in that longer-form content pieces like articles (on my own or broadcast channels), podcast appearances, and videos have a variety of longer-term uses such as cut-downs and snippets, and I don’t underestimate the power of these. At the same time, I see infographics, carousels, and short-form videos as easy-to-produce, non-invasive content that can pack a decent punch and are equally valid.”
“Just now, my primary tool is reels on Instagram and TikTok. However, I want to get to as many people as possible, so we use all types of content, apart from paid social posts.”
“I would post articles or organize webinars the most. However, I found paid social posts the most effective.”
Ready, set, coach!
All right! At this stage, you are all set to:
- Build a stellar marketing strategy for your coaching business
- Implement marketing tactics we went through together.
What do you need apart from a proper action plan? Technology that will help you to:
- Design and create your website
- Run your newsletters and marketing automation workflows
- Host a free webinar whenever you need
- Build your sales funnel from scratch
- and set your foot in paid advertising.
And yes — you can do all that from one platform without hiring an entire marketing team!
Ready to take a free tour? GetResponse offers a free plan — no credit card, no strings attached!