How to nail down your niche and win more coaching clients
September 9, 2016 by Kevin Oubridge
Some coaches know who they want to work with as soon as they set up their coaching practice. They’ve got a clear understanding of their target market, have a wealth of contacts in that area and effortlessly win more clients than they know what to do with.
Well, it’s probably true.
The chances are, though, you’re not one of those coaches.
You more likely have a much looser idea of your target market and are also prepared to take on clients outside your niche if they come along. In fact, possibly, your target market is anybody and everybody.
And why not?
You know you can coach pretty much anyone to improve their situation. So why make life difficult for yourself by narrowing down your options?
Except, we can all relate to the value of having a coaching niche. After all, when you know who your target market is it’s easier to:
Identify how to connect with them
Come up with a compelling elevator pitch that will grab their attention
Create marketing messages that will resonate with them
Develop case studies of previous clients just like them who you’ve helped
Win coaching clients because of your reputation in your niche
The logic is overwhelming.
Yet you’re still not clear who you want to work with.
What you need is a way to get clear.
Getting clear on stuff
A trick I learned from a US college admissions consultant, who helps students get into the college of their choice, is to just make a start. She suggests that students make a list of possible colleges and pick one from this list at random. She then suggests they make a start on the admissions process, which almost always involves writing a series of short essays, answering questions such as:
Tell us about your academic interests
Tell us what your career plans are
This all sounds counter-intuitive.
Why would you start doing all this work for a single college, picked at random from a list that could be 20 or 30 colleges in total?
However, my friend goes on to explain that writing the essays will help students work out what they’re looking for in a college. She then suggests, having done the work on the initial college, students pick another college from their list and repeat the process. This time, of course, they do so with a little more understanding of what they’re looking for from a college.
Completing the essays for the first few colleges sharpens students’ sense of where they want to go in life, and what kind of college will help them get there. This makes it easier to cross some colleges off their list, and perhaps add others that fulfill their criteria more closely.
Ultimately, after following this process a handful of times, students are able to make an informed choice of which college to attend.
Identifying your coaching niche
Starting at a random point and narrowing down as you gain more understanding is an excellent way of choosing which college you want to attend.
It’s also very effective in helping you choose your coaching niche. Just use the following steps:
1. If you have a rough idea of where your niche lies, start by writing down as many specific niches as you can think of in that area.
If you really don’t have any idea at all, make a list of possible niches based on niches other coaches target, ones you think you might like to target and ones that your existing contacts fit into.
2. Pick a niche at random and write down detailed answers to the following questions:
What role do people in this niche perform?
What type of company do they work for?
What are their values?
What are their work-related desires, fears and frustrations?
How can you help them?
3. Based on your answers to the above questions, write a summary statement which describes:
The people in this niche
The problems they typically face
The outcomes they want around these problems
Your summary statement is basically an elevator pitch for the niche you’ve chosen. Something like:
I work with managers in Christmas cracker factories. They are constantly missing targets due to a demotivated workforce, high levels of staff turnover and unreliable machinery. What they want is to regularly hit weekly production targets by increasing staff engagement, reducing turnover and working more closely with the maintenance team to ensure less downtime.
4. Make your elevator pitch as specific and concise as possible then go back to your original list of possible niches and pick another one to work on.
This time though, you will be a little better informed as to what’s in and what’s out.
Having made your choice, repeat steps 2 and 3.
5. Repeat this process as many times as it takes to reduce your list to two or three clearly defined niches that you want to work with.
You can then pick one and try it out. Or you can target all three and try them out. Remember, it’s your business, you make the rules. As long as you follow good practices, anything goes.
Six months down the line you’ll have won some clients and you’ll be clearer how to engage with prospects.
You’ll also constantly be refining your understanding of your niche. Or perhaps you’ll realize you picked totally the wrong niche and will want to have a rethink.
Either way, because you’re clear of your starting point, making changes is easier.
And as long as you’re learning, nothing is wasted.
You are perpetually building on what’s gone before and growing your coaching practice.