Marketing is Not Rocket Science – but it is a bit like running a marathon! For far too many years I’ve heard coaches, consultants and trainers tell me that marketing is rocket science, or that they believe they have to try out all sorts of different marketing activities, to see what works. “It’s all trial and error, isn’t it?” they ask, almost rhetorically.
No it is not!
Marketing is not rocket science. It’s not about trial and error and it is certainly not about throwing as much effort as you can into social media, in the hope that something sticks. Don’t even think about going near Pinterest and Instagram!
A long time ago I gave a talk to a networking group of owners of small businesses. I told them, as I have always done, that social media was the wrong place for them to spend their marketing time and effort. It’s about building relationships, see. Getting to know people, so they trust you. See, they have to really trust you before they will a) confess their deepest, darkest fears to you; and b) part with their hard-earned cash. Would you trust a complete stranger and pay them money when you know nothing about them? Of course not, and yet I know so many coaches who expect exactly that.
Back to the talk. “Social media tools like Pinterest are not worth spending time on. They won’t bring you many new clients,” I explained.
There was a coach in the room – someone who is quite straight talking (remind you of anyone!?) “I found a new client through Pinterest,” she told us proudly. She had created a ‘board’ of her holiday photos. Someone randomly found her board, as that place was their favourite holiday location. “We got chatting,” the coach proclaimed excitedly “And she became a client.”
Well done. Now do it again. What? You can’t? Of course not, because it wasn’t planned – it was just luck. Luck that someone else found your holiday snaps and likes the same place. Not good grounds for a marketing strategy. Ad hoc. Random. Luck.
While Instagram can be more planned, it still doesn’t work for finding new clients for your coaching business.
Recently one of my clients conceded to my way of thinking on this subject. When I started working with him (because he was struggling to grow his coaching business) he was spending quite a bit of time on Instagram, creating posts of quotes and nice-looking images. He was choosing seemingly random quotes and including some of his own. No calls to action – just nice looking. “I have lots of followers,” he justified. “And I get plenty of likes.” And how many new clients has it brought you? None yet? No surprise. Here’s the surprise – it won’t! Why not? Eventually he listened to my advice and started to put more effort into marketing activities that allowed him to build relationships. And hey presto! New clients. I tried not to be too smug!
So that challenge of building relationships. For a potential client to trust you, they have to get to know you. Yes they can learn a certain amount about you from your pretty pictures on Insta (as I think the ‘young’ call it!), but that’s just the start. You need to have conversations – remember them? They ask you a question and you answer. You ask them a question and they answer. They start to tell you what’s really bothering them. You listen, you offer valuable, free advice that shows them you do actually know what you’re talking about, and that you can really help them.
Here’s the secret to marketing though – these types of conversations do not take place online. Especially not on Instagram. You have to use the old-fashioned techniques of phone calls (remember them, and when phones were just for making phone calls?) Zoom calls are now allowed, as you can meet virtually face-to-face, virtually. Show your prospect the whites of your eyes and your smile; watch them smile or frown and see how the react when you tell them your price. Or you can go really old school and actually meet someone, face-to-face, hand to firm hand shake. Drink coffee together, or beer, or wine, or buy them lunch. Get to know what really makes them tick and shiver with fear or delight. Share your free advice with them and they are so, so much more likely to take you on as their coach.
I also tell coaches that ad hoc marketing doesn’t work. I’ve been telling them this for years (decades actually, now). This means that you can’t do one piece of marketing and expect great results. It’s like going to the gym once and expecting to come out with a beach ready body! Effective marketing – the sort that works and that doesn’t cost you a fortune – must be planned and it must be consistent. Yes, it’s harder work. But it’s like going to that gym. If you really want to get fitter/slimmer/stronger you need to put in the effort. You need a training plan that shows you what exercises you’re going to do, each time you go to the gym. Weights on Monday; swimming on Wednesday; cardio on Friday. And then do the same next week. And the week after that … you get the picture?! Consistency. Building up your strength or stamina or whatever you’re working on. Dedication to your goal or your cause.
As I write this, I’m about to start a five-month training plan, the culmination of which will see my partner and I walking 60 miles in two days. That’s more than a marathon on the first day. Tough enough and then we’ll do it again on the second day! Now we know how to walk, but we know that if we set off to walk 30 miles in one day, without any training, we’ll cripple ourselves and be unable to even get out of bed on the second day, let alone walk about 30 miles. So we have a training plan. Tomorrow we will walk two miles. At the weekend we’ll walk three miles on Saturday and two miles on Sunday. We have a schedule of training and distances to cover, to take us through the next five months. We’ll get to the start of the event in peak condition. We’ll complete the walk in good time, enjoying every stride. And on the Monday morning we might feel a little stiff, but we’ll also feel great.
Marketing is just the same. Set you goal – could be your annual turnover or the number of coaching clients you want to being working with by a certain date. Then work backwards from that date, planning out what marketing needs to be done, every day, every week and every month, to get you there. Don’t stop just because you get busy – keep going. Keep doing the training walks, even when it’s raining and you’d rather be warm and dry inside. Get out there and do the training, because the more you do, the fitter your marketing and your business will become. Fit businesses find it much easier to attract new clients. Their marketing becomes leaner and more efficient and ultimately easier to do.
So, not rocket science at all!