Opinion: The secret that every new coach should know...

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SecretNew coaches are ten a penny, so Olivia Stefanino despairs at the lack of business advice they're given in their training. Marketing, she says, is the secret ingredient to turn their career dreams into business success.

Grinning from ear to ear with her newly won coaching accreditation, a colleague's daughter was enthusing about how wonderful it was going to be to offer her services as a life coach.

But the more she smiled, the more my heart sank.

"The trick is not only being great at what you do - but also knowing how to market what you do."

I've seen lots of newly qualified coaches who have idealistic notions of how they're going to change the world – only to become disheartened when they realise that attracting clients can be tough.

While I wouldn't want to rain on anybody's parade, I do think that those organisations who are offering coaching training need to pay more than lip service to how their trainees are actually going to be able to support themselves in the real world.

Of course, some people train as coaches simply because they want to add to their management skill set and others never intend to become full-time coaches anyway. And there will be those seeking coaching-based employment using their new found skills. But - and it's a big but - there are also a fair number of coaches who see their new coaching profession as a meal ticket to a new career.

Many of them, I'm sure, will have all the attributes of great coaches but sadly, as with many things in life, being great at something doesn't necessarily determine your ultimate success.

The trick is not only being great at what you do - but also knowing how to market what you do – and while some of the learned coaching institutions do include a few business learning modules on their programmes, many do not.

The result? A glut of trained coaches who are on the fast track to disillusionment. A few will have given up careers to pursue their dream – and for many of those, their dream will soon turn into a nightmare. For the tougher ones, being pushed in at the deep end will force them to learn to swim if they're not to sink.

"I've seen lots of newly qualified coaches who have idealistic notions of how they're going to change the world – only to become disheartened when they realise that attracting clients can be tough."

Now, I should confess that this area is so much of a bug bear that it prompted me to set up The Quantum Business School for Therapists & Coaches in a bid to make those very necessary marketing skills available to all who need them.

And what really gets my goat is that attracting clients doesn't have to be difficult – although in today's harsh economic climate, it's going to be an uphill struggle for the new kids on the block - but what needs to be taught is a systemised, replicable approach.

Make no mistake, marketing yourself as a coach does take some hard work - but at the end of the day, it's not rocket science and with a plan, it's all actually pretty straight forward:

  1. Define your target audience
  2. Create your unique selling point
  3. Understand how what you do benefits your client. (When it comes to promotion, you want to focus on the benefits and not the features)
  4. Establish yourself as an expert in a particular niche
  5. Create a mechanism for collecting the contact details of your current and potential clients
  6. Make regular contact with your current and potential clientele to remind them of what you can do to help them through a mixture of advertising, PR, ezines, public speaking etc. (according to your budget)

Of course, this is just the foundation – and there are lots of whizzy things you can do via strategic alliance marketing, superior networking and via the internet.

"Those organisations who are offering coaching training need to pay more than lip service to how their trainees are actually going to be able to support themselves in the real world."

But from the people I talk to who have recently qualified as coaches, it appears that many of the marketing basics simply aren't being covered in the courses from which they've graduated. To be fair, in some cases it would appear that the topic is being covered but in a theoretical – rather than practical – way.

And as the saying goes: 'knowledge isn't power... knowledge applied is power!'

As coaches, don't we owe it to the newcomers to our profession to give them all the tools they need to become successful? And if we don't aren't we actually cheating them out of their future?

A leadership consultant and author 'Be Your Own Guru – personal and business enlightenment in just 3 days!', Olivia Stefanino is principal of The Quantum Business School for Therapists & Coaches. To find out more and to download your free 'Business Diagnostic Toolkit' visit www.thequantumschool.com

To read more opinion pieces by Olivia, click on the following titles:

Link to trainingzone.co.uk/item/188732 Generation Y - problem or opportunity?

Bite-sized coaching anyone?

Grumpy old coach?

How do coaches set their fees?

Can coaching beat the recession?

Coaches - are you prepared to offer a money back guarantee?

To read our spotlight on Olivia, click here.

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