Marketing for Coaches: How to Reach Your Ideal Clients in 2024

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In the dynamic world of coaching, where the essence of your service hinges on transformation and growth, marketing can often seem like a daunting necessity.

However, at Studio for Digital Growth, we offer an alternative. This article isn’t just another drop in the ocean of online advice. Drawing from our extensive experience working with business, life, health, and other coaching professionals across Europe and the United States, we’ve distilled our unique marketing frameworks into a guide that transcends the superficial gloss of generic marketing strategies and tactics.

We fully understand that for many coaches, marketing is a secondary skill set, one that may not come as naturally as mentoring and guiding others. That’s why we’re here to help. 

In this marketing guide, we address the core marketing challenges that coaches face, such as:

  • creating a digital marketing strategy
  • effectively communicating your expertise by reaching and educating a broader audience 
  • how to not get lost in the complexities of marketing tactics like search engine optimization
  • promoting your book, podcast, and lead magnets
  • and, of course, generating leads for your 1:1 or group coaching programs

Whether you’re initiating a marketing plan, seeking to enhance your current efforts, or aiming to scale your coaching business, we wrote this article to provide clarity and direction.

Why our coaching marketing advice is worth your consideration

Over the past six years, we’ve not only witnessed but also facilitated the growth of coaches just like you, transforming their marketing from an experimental phase to a strategic business resource. 

Our approach, which we’ve aptly named ‘website marketing,’ turns your coaching business website into a powerhouse, synergizing with your organic content, advertising campaigns, and lead magnets to drive success. In this guide, we offer a peek into how we’ve helped clients attract thousands of visitors, nurture leads, and convert them into 1:1 and group coaching clients.

Marketing for coaches: What makes it different?

Marketing for coaches stands apart from conventional marketing strategies applied to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) or e-commerce. What distinguishes it primarily is the end goal: marketing for coaches isn’t about making immediate sales but about fostering long-term relationships that eventually translate into enrollment in 1:1 or group coaching programs. This distinction is key, shifting the focus from transactional interactions to cultivating an educated, engaged audience who see value in what the coach offers.

Unlike an e-commerce store, where the lifetime value of a customer may be limited by lower-priced, one-off purchases, a coaching client’s lifetime value can be significant. This higher potential return justifies more substantial investment in marketing efforts, enabling a coach to spend more time and resources nurturing a potential client. A coach can afford to play the long game, building a personal brand and community that will lead to high-ticket sales over time.

Moreover, the customer journey in the coaching industry is typically longer and more complex than in e-commerce or other service-based businesses. Prospective coaching clients usually require multiple interactions before booking a discovery call or committing to a high-value coaching offering. These touchpoints range from downloading an e-book, taking a self-assessment, subscribing to your podcast, etc.

Therefore, marketing for coaches demands a tailored approach, one that’s geared towards building trust and demonstrating value over time. It’s about strategic interaction and personalized engagement, not generic mass-market tactics.

Thinking beyond demographics: Creating your ideal client persona through online behavior

When stepping into the world of marketing for coaches, the concept of the ‘ideal client’ is ubiquitous. Traditional advice often parades the importance of tailoring your coaching marketing strategy to fit a well-defined client persona. This advice usually suggests a deep dive into demographics, psychographics, and the intricacies of potential clients’ pain points.

While there is some merit to this approach, it often leaves coaches stranded in a sea of academic concepts without a straightforward course of action.

Our approach shifts the focus from a theoretical ideal client to a pragmatic understanding of the ideal client’s online behavior.

Understanding your ideal client’s digital footprint is not about envisioning a fictional character. It’s about delving into the actual online search behaviors and content consumption patterns of your potential clients.

Therefore, the recommendation we always give to our clients is to invert the usual process. Instead of trying to describe your target customers’ needs and pain points and fitting them into a “persona,” ask yourself the following:

  • Which problems and challenges are your potential clients typing into Google? 
  • Which social media influencers do they turn to for advice? 
  • What industry forums or LinkedIn groups are they a part of?

At Studio for Digital Growth, we utilize advanced SEO tools and data that enable our clients to delve deeper into the minds and interests of their target audience. However, our starting point is always the three foundational questions above. Try answering them yourself, and you will be surprised how much closer they bring you to the mind of your ideal customer.

Four evergreen digital marketing strategies for coaches

1. Using your website as a marketing hub for your coaching business

Potential customers may first discover you via your podcast or social media channels. However, your website is where they ultimately go to learn more about your offers and decide their next step.

By connecting your different marketing initiatives to your website, you can transform your website into a repository of your knowledge and the go-to place where your ideal customers can find resources, learn about your offers, and take the next step for enrolling into your programs.

Some ideas:

  • If you have a podcast, consider directing your listeners to visit your website for the listener notes or to download specific resources you mention.
  • Or, if you’re active on social media, encourage your audience to discover the latest article or lead magnet you’ve been working on.

Unlike other marketing channels that may offer quicker results, a website has a more significant long-term impact. As a coach, your ability to interact 1:1 with your audience outside your high ticket offers is limited by time and logistics. Your website, however, can reach and assist a much larger audience.

Successful coaches know this secret and use it to their advantage. They approach their websites both as an online booking platform and a digital hub for their coaching business. This strategy turns your website into a central point where all marketing efforts come together, amplifying your reach and making it a vital tool for growth.

2. Focusing on long-term marketing: The value of educating your audience and building your personal brand

As a coach, particularly one who operates under a personal brand, you represent what’s known in the industry as a “blue ocean” business. This term describes businesses that forge new markets by introducing unique offerings. This distinction is crucial, as those seeking coaching services are often not just looking for any coach; they’re seeking someone specific – they want to work with you and be part of your unique program.

Take, for instance, the Tony Robbins brand, a classic example of ‘Blue Ocean’ marketing. Tony Robbins has carved out a niche for his personal brand through books, seminars, infomercials, and podcasts, reaching a global audience interested in personal development. Given that each coaching experience is inherently unique and novel, your marketing approach should focus on educating potential clients about the value and benefits unique to your coaching.

Here are some effective marketing strategies that can help you achieve this:

Creating a digital hub

Create a central digital hub for your primary content like podcasts, vlogs, blogs, and events. This hub should encourage visitors to spend more time on your site, exploring various aspects of your offer. While many coaches utilize different platforms as marketing channels, we have found that prospective clients almost always visit a coach’s website before deciding to contact them. Your website, acting as a content hub, is crucial in educating your audience about the value of your coaching, establishing your credibility, and motivating visitors to take the next step.

Tailoring content to Google searches:

Develop content aligned with Google searches that reflect awareness of the problems your potential clients face, sometimes using different terminology than you might typically use. Each coaching program, reflecting the unique methodology and experiences of the coach, ultimately aims to address the specific needs of people seeking solutions to their problems. By leveraging Google, you can connect with those actively seeking your help.

Leveraging positive PR:

Positive PR is instrumental in transitioning your audience from simply being aware of your services to seriously considering them. There’s no better way to establish credibility for your coaching business than by sharing your insights and expertise with a broader audience. 

For every niche in coaching—be it executive, life, or business coaching—and for every type of client, whether individuals or businesses, there are relevant publications that can introduce your coaching services to a wider audience. Participating in an interview or contributing to an article highlighting your expertise is an excellent way to demonstrate your coaching skills, increase awareness of your practice, and attract new clients.

3. Transforming your expertise into online content

As a coach, leveraging the internet is crucial for attracting your ideal clients and expanding your practice. However, there’s a significant difference between being knowledgeable in a field and effectively translating that expertise into engaging content.

To bridge this gap, we’ve developed a four-step framework specifically designed for coaches to turn their expertise into compelling online content, particularly for their business blogs. Drawing on our marketing coaching experience, we’ve successfully guided numerous clients in implementing this framework. Mastering the art of crafting high-quality content is a crucial marketing strategy that can reliably draw your ideal customers to your website.

4. Using asynchronous marketing to create a lead generation process that runs on the autopilot

Marketing, at its core, is about communication. While many coaches prefer doing direct, one-on-one engagements, investing personal time in your every marketing activity can be daunting.

Asynchronous marketing offers a dynamic alternative, allowing you to promote your services and grow your coaching brand without constant active engagement. Utilizing asynchronous channels will enable you to effectively market your coaching business and reach a broad audience without needing live interaction. These channels include:

  • Podcasts
  • E-books
  • Blog articles
  • Pre-recorded webinars, as opposed to live sessions
  • Pre-recorded videos, offering an alternative to free live sessions

Incorporating asynchronous marketing into your coaching marketing strategy can significantly enhance your reach, allowing you to convey your message to numerous potential clients simultaneously across time zones without the limitations of live sessions. This marketing approach can save you time and revolutionize how you attract and connect with prospective coaching clients.

Using a coaching marketing funnel to attract your ideal clients

A coaching marketing funnel is essential for attracting your ideal customers and converting them into coaching clients. This structured marketing approach guides your online audience through various stages of awareness: From unaware to problem-aware and solution-aware.

As an example, suppose you are a business coach specializing in helping single mothers who are transitioning from corporate roles to entrepreneurship.

Initially, your potential clients may be unaware of the specific challenges ahead. At this stage, they’re not actively seeking solutions but are open to high-level educational content that positions you as an expert and ally in their journey.

As these single mothers become problem-aware, they recognize specific hurdles in scaling their businesses or managing work-life balance. They turn to Google, searching for answers to specific questions. After they read your blog article or self-help guide on that topic, they decide to engage with one of your lead magnets, for example, a self-assessment.

Transitioning to solution-aware, the potential client understands that coaching might fast-track their success. They begin browsing your coaching offer pages or watch your video testimonials seeking out reviews—indicating they’re on the cusp of a commitment.

Remember, a marketing funnel isn’t just about the end result—it’s about building a relationship with your audience. At Studio for Digital Growth, we think of digital marketing as working with a client in a limited capacity. For example, when people in your audience read a 10-minute article on your blog, it’s like working with them in a 1:1 setting for 10 minutes. 

When you approach digital marketing as a resource that helps you carry out your coaching mission at scale, you inevitably expand your opportunity space, allowing you to manifest the results you want for your coaching business.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for coaches

SEO for coaches is much more than just incorporating keywords or driving traffic to your website. It’s about helping search engines understand and present your website to those seeking your services or content.

A coaching SEO example

Consider your coaching business for a second. If your potential clients can’t find your website when searching for your brand or the name of your podcast, for example, you’re missing an opportunity to engage with them directly through your website. SEO ensures that your audience finds your website instead of third-party platforms, such as Apple Podcasts, Medium, Linkedin, etc. when searching for your brand, services, or content.

SEO goals for coaches

  • Brand visibility: Ensuring people can find your business and coaching program when they look for them on Google.
  • Resource accessibility: Ensuring people can find your book or podcast landing pages when Googling their names, and also helping such pages to surface for search queries related to their product categories, e.g., “Books for self-improvement” or “Podcasts for single mother entrepreneurs.”
  • Content visibility: Helping search engines understand your content better and serve it to searchers looking for helpful information to their challenges.

Key aspects of SEO for coaches

  1. Technical SEO: Ensuring your website is accessible to search engine crawlers for analysis and indexing.
  2. On-page optimization: Enhancing individual pages for better search visibility.
  3. Keyword research and content strategy: Going beyond keywords to understand the intent behind a search query and how to create content that genuinely supports your audience in overcoming their challenges. 

Visit our dedicated guide on SEO for coaches for more in-depth analysis, strategies, and tips.

Why SEO is the backbone of the coaching marketing funnel

SEO is the glue that connects every stage of the coaching marketing funnel:

  • Top of the funnel (TOFU): SEO can help you grow your audience by increasing your content visibility for general queries.
  • Middle of the funnel (MOFU): Engaging people with content related to their specific challenges. In this funnel stage, organic traffic from search is less than the top of the funnel but much more targeted, and the audience is considerably more committed. Using lead magnets on your website is a great way to engage with middle-of-the-funnel SEO traffic.
  • Bottom of the funnel (BOFU): This stage is usually about converting your audience, who searched directly for your brand, testimonials, or specific offerings, into paying customers.

In summary, SEO for coaches isn’t about tricks or shallow traffic gains. It’s about making meaningful connections with your audience, providing value at every step of their journey, and ensuring your brand is easily discoverable and accessible when they need it the most.

Content marketing for coaches: A strategic approach

The challenge: Most content fails to generate any traffic

Despite the abundance of online content, a staggering >99% of it doesn’t rank on the first page of the search results. This statistic highlights a common challenge: many coaches invest significant time in content creation but don’t achieve the desired results from their blogging efforts. We often see that initially, a very small number (less than 20%) of blog or service pages is responsible for most of the website’s traffic.

How to overcome it: Content as a mission-driven endeavor

Content creation for coaches shouldn’t be just a marketing strategy but an extension of your coaching mission. The key to achieving this lies in using your content as a medium for working with your target customer to the capacity this format enables you to do so. That means the article aims to help someone with their specific challenge (by educating them, offering advice, etc.). If your content addresses a particular problem, it also means that it has a search purpose; in other words, it serves a search demand that exists for this information. Once you know what is the search-driven purpose of your blog article, then consider the following factors:

  1. Be precise and structured: Adopt a less conversational and more academic style. Use clear headings and subheadings, and structure your text to cover subtopics comprehensively. This approach makes your content more skimmable, understandable, and ultimately more helpful.
  2. Balance perspectives with utility: While offering unique insights from your coaching experience is valuable, ensure your content primarily serves the reader’s needs at the point where they are at the moment. Take this article as an example. We aim to provide practical advice, best practices, and real-world examples infused subtly with our own experiences and insights.

Advanced content marketing strategies for coaches

Given the importance of content marketing for growing your online presence and generating leads for your coaching business, the following strategies are essential. However, they might be too technical to master as a coaching business owner. These strategies are part of Be Seen!, our signature SEO & content marketing coaching program. Please visit our dedicated page to learn more about our work with coaches and the Be Seen! program.

  1. Keyword and competitor research: This strategy can help you understand what your target audience is searching for on Google and how your competitors address their needs. By competitors, we don’t just mean direct business competitors (as a coach, you don’t usually have direct business competition) but rather any online resources that your target audience might seek advice from or use to solve their challenge.
  2. Utilize existing content insights: This strategy involves analyzing what content already performs well in your niche. Understanding the strategies and content types that work for your competitors can inform your approach and help you develop your own content marketing strategy.
  3. Start with a plan: Before you embark on your content marketing journey, it’s essential to start with a plan that includes the goal of each article in terms of its target search queries and audience. With such a plan, you will have a benchmark to measure the results of your content marketing efforts later on and be confident in your ability to make adjustments and optimizations. We advise using all available data and insights to create a well-informed content strategy before you start doing actual content work.

Lead magnets: A key element in the coaching marketing funnel

For coaches, lead magnets are not just optional extras but essential tools that help move potential clients through the marketing funnel. When a visitor lands on your website, possibly through an SEO-driven blog post, the journey shouldn’t end there. Lead magnets serve as the bridge between initial interest and deeper engagement.

Lead magnet ideas for coaches

  • Digital downloads: Guides or checklists that provide value and help potential clients overcome a specific challenge.
  • Self-assessments: Tools that help potential clients evaluate their needs or progress.
  • Free book chapters: Offering a sneak peek into your published work.
  • Podcast: Subscribing to your podcast is a great way to build an audience, continuously engage potential customers, and promote your other marketing initiatives.

Each type of lead magnet has its unique place in the marketing funnel, attracting different segments of your audience based on their current stage.

SEO challenges with lead magnets

While lead magnets are powerful, they often face a significant challenge: SEO visibility. Being typically gated content, they lend themselves poorly to traditional search engine optimization strategies. The lack of openly accessible content limits their potential to rank in search results.

Our approach: Promoting lead magnets via Google Ads

To overcome this limitation, we’ve developed effective strategies for promoting lead magnets directly through Google Ads. This approach targets individuals facing specific challenges related to your coaching niche. By strategically placing lead magnets in front of the right audience, we’ve seen substantial success in generating leads and booked appointments for our coaching clients.

Harnessing the power of email marketing in coaching

Email marketing is more than a marketing channel; it’s a crucial enabler in the coaching marketing funnel. Imagine this example: A visitor comes to your coaching website through a blog article and then opts into a lead magnet. At that point, you created an initial connection. When your lead magnet subscribers are incorporated into an email marketing campaign, you unlock the potential for a deeper, more continuous relationship.

The role of email in nurturing coaching leads

  • Multiple touchpoints: Email marketing allows for regular and varied interactions with your audience, from sharing additional lead magnets like podcasts or e-books to offering free resources like a chapter from your book or a discovery call.
  • Promotion of services: It’s an excellent channel to promote client testimonials, discovery calls, workshops, or new offerings.
  • Content distribution: Regularly updating your audience about new content like blogs or podcast episodes ensures they stay connected and informed.

How do you measure results, and which marketing KPIs should you consider?

In coaching marketing, success isn’t only quantified by the number of new clients or booked appointments. Many times, these outcomes are at the very end of the marketing process. Therefore, when you try to measure marketing results and understand how well your marketing process works for you, it’s essential to look into the little steps throughout the marketing journey. These are what we call microconversions, for example, your lead magnet downloads, podcast subscriptions, book sales, or self-assessment completions. However, although these metrics are straightforward to track, the challenge lies in attribution.

The attribution challenge

Attribution in digital marketing can be complex. For instance, a visitor may discover your website on one device but take action on another, making it difficult to attribute their engagement accurately to SEO or Google Ads, for example. Similarly, a potential client might interact with various marketing channels over time (e.g. be a podcast listener for many months) before booking a call or signing up for your program. This complexity can make pinpointing the exact marketing medium responsible for the initial contact or conversion challenging. Our approach at Studio for Digital Growth is to track all the different metrics. However, we also understand that sometimes, the more data you have, the less actionable it becomes, and we like to think of digital marketing as how you expand your opportunity space to manifest your ideal outcomes.

Your personal brand is a resource

Due to the intricacies of attribution, it’s vital to focus on building your brand and website as comprehensive resources that further your coaching mission. Marketing should be seen as a way to enhance your overall exposure, creating overlapping layers of touchpoints where you connect with and provide value to your target audience.

Selecting appropriate KPIs

The choice of KPIs largely depends on the marketing channel you’re using. For example, our SEO approach focuses on whether your content is being found for the desired search terms and how well it ranks for those terms (what we call its search purpose) rather than how much traffic it brings every month. That’s because we believe it’s essential to create content that meets the specific needs of your target audience, even if they represent a smaller number of monthly searches.

Key performance indicators to consider

  1. For SEO: Focus on content rankings for targeted search terms and engagement with the content (such as time spent and actions taken post-reading).
  2. For paid campaigns: Measure the number of clicks, conversions, and conversion rates to optimize campaign performance.

Instead of a summary, here are 5 key takeaways from this article:

  • Investing in a tailored marketing approach: Coaches need a tailored marketing approach, focusing on long-term relationships and trust-building rather than immediate sales, due to the distinct nature of their services compared to typical e-commerce or SMB marketing.
  • Creating an ideal client persona based on online behavior: Instead of solely focusing on demographics, coaches should understand their ideal client’s online behavior, analyzing search queries, social media influences, and online group participation to effectively target potential clients.
  • Your website as a marketing hub for your coaching business: Coaches should use their website as a primary tool to consolidate various marketing efforts, turning it into a knowledge repository and engagement platform for potential clients.
  • The importance of asynchronous marketing and content creation: Asynchronous marketing channels (like podcasts, e-books, blogs) and high-quality online content are crucial for coaches to reach broader audiences efficiently and establish thought leadership.
  • SEO as a fundamental element: Effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is vital for coaches, ensuring their services are easily discoverable and accessible by potential clients, and should include strategies for brand visibility, resource accessibility, and content visibility.

Marketing for coaches with the Be Seen! framework

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