Last week I shared a few tips and strategies for branding and selling yourself as a coach. Today what I really want to share with you is how to package your coaching engagements in a way that will help you close more deals, get more clients, and confidently take those clients through a structured process that delivers exactly what they’re looking for.
Last week we talked about narrowing in on your niche as a way to get specific about what you do, but what’s the tone and style of how you work: Are you a tough-love coach? An intuitive coach? A step-by-step methodical coach?
A great way to find your true coaching style is by explaining to your best friend what you do. You want this to be someone who is familiar with your work but maybe doesn’t totally understand what you do for a living all day. Share with her a couple case studies of what you do. Better yet, grab your smart phone and hit “record” on the conversation. As you listen back on the conversation of “what you do,” you’ll start to see themes, common words, and phrases rise to the surface. And because you’re talking to your best friend, you’re not putting up any fronts or using confusing industry jargon.
The great thing about being a coach—or creative entrepreneur in general—is the flexibility and freedom to work with your clients any way you like. But this can be a double-edge sword that can leave your engagements feeling unstructured and as if you’re reinventing the wheel every time you work. It’s a trap I’ve seen far too many coaches fall in. Without a clarified offering, your potential dream client isn’t going to feel confident hiring you.
Start packaging your offerings by laying out:
It’s important to note that your packaged offering (or offerings) is the thing that will change the most in your business. With each client you work with, you’ll see what works, what doesn’t, and refine and reiterate your offering and services (and positioning!) accordingly. So don’t be afraid that by defining an offering you’re boxing yourself in!
We get asked a lot how many packages you should offer – I think two is great and anything more than three gives your potential client too many options. (This is why we don’t believe in a la carte-ing your offerings either!)
Unless you’re an experienced coach with loads of confidence, going into a conversation without a solid process is super risky. The conversation can easily go off the rails leaving you and your client feeling all “WTF” by the end of the session. My best piece of advice is to structure your coaching sessions around specific homework exercises and worksheets! It’s doesn’t have to be anything fancy. These worksheets simply act as a conversation facilitator. They help you share (and remember!) your tools and how you help. Plus, they’ll help your client stay on track and feel like they’re actually “doing” something. It’s a win-win!
A worksheet can be tricked out with charts and graphs or it can be as simple as prompts followed by blank spaces available to fill in. Start by listing out all your typical tools. Imagine that you’re explaining them to your client and how much easier it would be to share these tools if you had them summed up in a worksheet! Grab a stack of paper and start sketching by hand what these exercises would look like. From there you can give you sketches to a designer to refine or DIY it.
Lastly, I want to share with you a worksheet that comes straight from Lesson 3 of the Braid Method ECourse. Use this exercise, The Steps You Always Take, to map out what your client’s situation looks like before they work with you and what they get when you’re done. Then, fill in how you as the coach or guide get from start to finish to get the results you want to deliver.
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It’s pretty clear that the coaching profession is booming right now. Perhaps you were at the forefront of that boom, blazing the trail before anyone even knew what that meant! Or perhaps you’re just now making your coaching dream real.
Maybe you haven’t gotten your coaching business vision completely off the ground yet – but you can’t ignore that gut feeling that coaching is the path for you.
Kathleen here, and I’m guessing that regardless of how long you’ve been working with clients (months or years), you’ve always been a leader of one kind or another—whether that’s a guiding influence on those around you, or their go-to thoughtful listener. You’re the person your friends turn to when they need a reliable sounding board.
Maybe you’ve already carved out a name for yourself as a coach or a creative entrepreneur, and now you want to transition to teaching and coaching others what you know.
Perhaps you have been on a creative entrepreneurial path that isn’t quite coaching, but you find your followers and peers (your people!) asking you for guidance. They are asking you how to build the same kind of business, sustainability, and success that you’ve been able to create for yourself. They ask enough—and you put out the content enough (for free!)—that you’re feeling compelled to integrate a coaching, teaching, or guiding element into your existing business plan. But, transitioning from selling your services to selling your guidance can put you back on shaky ground with your own brand positioning again.
Whether they are life coaches, wellness coaches, or business coaches – 100% of the coaches we’ve branded at Braid always come to us with questions, self-doubts, or challenges when it comes to selling their intuitive gifts, capturing their own personal brand style and voice, and positioning themselves as a professional, credible, and trusted guide.
So today, I want to give you our best pieces of advice when it comes to branding and positioning yourself as a coach.
One of the first ways I learned that coaching might be something I’d be interested in doing myself is connecting with and loving the experience of being coached by an experienced and talented coach. So if you think you might like to be a coach, but have never been coached, that’s a good first step.
I had been inadvertently practicing coaching through my one-on-one branding engagements – it turns out working through the process to uncover an authentic personal brand means that the conversations get, well, personal. But when it came to formally offering coaching as a service, I wasn’t quite as confident. So three years ago, I went through a 9-month long coaching training with Martha Beck. That training and certification—combined with lots of practice—gave me the confidence I needed to officially brand myself as a coach. Plus, I began to naturally wrap coaching tools into the 1:1 services I was already offering and freely sharing and writing about the tools I was learning as a way to transition my positioning and offering in a logical way that wouldn’t confuse my potential clients or diffuse my existing expertise.
TRY THIS: If you’re thinking about trying on a new career in coaching, think about what will give you the most confidence in launching your own coaching offering. Is it training? Credentials? Blending coaching into your existing offering? Writing? Branding?
A lot of the creatives we work with who are transitioning from a hands-on career where they’ve been doing the work (designing, painting, photographing, teaching, etc.) to developing their own coaching practice get a lot of confidence from being able to articulate their brand and getting clarity on their own purpose when it comes to coaching.
It’s not enough to say that you help to empower women to transform or embody their best selves. You need to get specific about the challenges, opportunities, and goals your dream customer is facing. The more you can narrow in on the tangible and real-world results your client wants and needs, the better you’ll be able to sell what you’re offering.
TRY THIS: Draw a line down a sheet of paper. On the left side list all the BEFORE qualities, relationships, hobbies, career, body, attitudes, and circumstances your client possesses. On the right side list what your client looks like AFTER they work with you. The more specific you get, the more you’ll begin to narrow in on how your purpose and coaching style helps make real changes.
Coaching is incredibly difficult to sell. Yes you’re selling tools and guidance that can change the course of your client’s life, but when it comes down to it, what you’re delivering is a 1-hour conversation over a specified number of weeks. Those conversations come at a premium, which can give your potential clients cold feet real fast. The biggest objection from your dream customer might look like this: “Sure, she helped so-and-so, but how do I know she can help me?” Here at Braid, we believe the best way to sell what you offer at a premium and without desperation is to simply explain how you work. The more structure you have around your engagement, the more your potential client will trust that they can fit into your proven process.
TRY THIS: Your process doesn’t have to be elaborate. In fact, if you get too step-by-step-by-step-by-step detailed, you may create a rigid vibe or perceived time-obstacle for your potential clients. Write one or two sentences each for what always happens at the beginning, middle, and end of an engagement with you. Then, go back in add a few bullets with very specific examples of what you mean (i.e. homework for your client, asking them to try a new practice, asking them to let go of a bad habit, adjusting the approach along the way, delivering a plan of action they can follow after your engagement is done, or any followup or other offerings you’d like to make available to them). The steps make your potential client feel at ease that you are going to guide this ship. The examples make it feel “real” for them and pave the way for realistic expectations.
We talk a lot about positioning and expertise – and we think those two things will take you far. But when it comes to differentiating yourself amongst all the other coaches out there, a polished brand identity will take your presence and authority to the next level. So right now, take a look at your website. Does it feel like you? Is it conveying the tone you want to be known for?
TRY THIS: One of our favorite ways to help our clients uncover a look and feel that’s authentic to them is to describe their dream home office. Is it cozy and eclectic with lots of plants and cacti? Or is it modern with white walls and cedar ceilings? What kinds of fabrics and textures is your cozy corner sofa made from? Describe your rugged distressed desk and pop-of-color mid-century chair. All the words you use to describe your dream room can translate directly to your logo and website and are great words to share with your graphic designer or web developer.
Need more help? We have two ways:
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I recently invited a portion our Braid newsletter list to “ask me anything.” Over the next few weeks I’m going to share some of those questions and my answers. If you’re not subscribed to our list feel free to sign up here:
Question from Karen:
I know what my dream job is, but still feel like I have to have a salaried job before getting to the dream job; I'm the family's sole breadwinner. So how do I find momentum to promote my current work to get a salaried job when my enthusiasm is not super high?
I eventually want to market my watercolors of public paths (note cards and calendars with mini-path network hikes on the back) and eventually add to that teaching plein air painting along the paths. But right now I have to focus on gathering samples, creating a portfolio and website, and start marketing myself for the next salaried day job. How do I stay focused and keep the prize in sight to stay motivated?
Thanks for sharing all of this. In reading your email, it sounds like you know what you need to do. But I have three insights that might help you find the motivation you’re looking for.
TAKE THE SMALLEST NEXT STEP
When I’m not feeling motivated to write or design, my solution to this is always to "just open the file." Or it might be "just lace up your shoes" when I don't feel like exercising.
In other words, just do the first and smallest next step. That's all you need to do. In fact, the prize doesn’t even need to necessarily be in sight to be working for it. It might be well around the bend, but you can still take the next steps to get where you want to go. Don't worry about thinking about the big picture in your day-to-day – that's enough to paralyze anybody from doing anything at all.
The next smallest step for you, Karen, might be deciding which pieces to put in your portfolio. And for today, that’s all you need to do. Tomorrow you can apply for the jobs. The day after that you can start the framework for your website. Task it out and check off the to-do list. You don’t need inspired-action to take small steps.
CREATE THE FEELING NOW
Anytime I am feeling impatient for my next big dream, I try to create the feeling of achieving the goal now.
For example, my big, scary, and improbable goal right now is to have my own bestselling book published and on the shelves in airports. Even typing that out now gets my inner critic going off on a tangent with things so harsh I won’t even share them here. But instead of giving in before I even get started, I give myself a minute to think about what I’ll feel like when I have my bestselling book in the airport: I’ll feel confident, knowledgeable, and legit. That feeling will make my conversations more generous, my time more valuable, and my posture a little taller. So why not have generous conversations, strong boundaries, and good posture now? When I feel the feelings of success before I ever achieve it, it makes me move through the world with confidence. That confidence then cultivates the motivation and behaviors that deliver the success I’m wanting with that much more ease and speed.
So for you Karen, imagine how you will feel when you’re supporting yourself with your watercolors and workshops. How will you move through the world once you’ve achieved this goal? How could you begin behaving as if success is already yours?
The answers to these questions might circle you back to taking the next smallest step to making the dream job a reality now. Maybe you find yourself having conversations with potential collaborators who will help you host a teaching workshop on the weekend. Perhaps you carve out just 30 minutes a day to begin painting now.
KEEP THE PRIZE IN SIGHT (LITERALLY)
My final recommendation to your question of “how to keep the prize in sight” is to literally create space for the vision. Mood boarding by cutting out inspiring images from magazines and tacking them to a corkboard in your home is an old school way of doing this. Your brain will acknowledge these goals on a daily basis and work toward them for you, even when you’re not feeling motivated or inspired to do the work yourself. And if you haven’t done The Chalkboard Method yet, this might be a great way to create space for your goals as well.
Finally, I want you to trust that you’re doing everything you can, in the right time, to make your creative career a dream come true.
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