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Coach in Training: Marketing

By: Kim Green

It was the best of times and the worst of times…there was good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

The good news: We have been doing this amazing work of learning to be a coach since September. Now the hard work comes in.

The bad news: We have to MARKET ourselves so that we can get clients…That’s the scary stuff. Just the word “marketing” makes me feel vulnerable and I haven’t even started.

I know I can do this. I know I can do this I say to myself as most of my classmates are saying to themselves. Like most of us, we have worked for ourselves before. I wonder why this seems so different? I will say that my work in the music industry was built on my reputation. I have written all of my life. I feel like it’s the only thing I could do. New clients came naturally to me. When people need writing, my name comes up. But Coaching?

Who knows that I am a coach? No one, except my ILCT peers. It’s up to me to let them know. And that is the bad news.

In an effort to find the silver lining, what I like about the prospect of marketing is that I have to sit down and make sense of my business. What kind of coach do I want to be and who do I want to coach? These are the questions that came up when we were talking about the need for an Elevator Speech. Just the thought of breaking down my big idea into a 15 second speech makes my blood curdle. My excuse? I work for myself, at home. I will NEVER be in an elevator!

But that won’t fly. I have to do it.

I have come up with some ideas but of course, the ghost of doubts swoops in and takes my courage and runs away with it. Still working on the speech…

What I liked about this nerve-wracking conversation was the clarification that marketing is not SELLING. Selling is about convincing others to buy things that they don’t want or need. Marketing is informing people of something that we do and if they are interested, we are available. Only, if they are interested.

The mantra of the day seemed to be “I want to attract people who want coaching.” And the question for me, but do they want coaching from me? What do I have to offer that is unique and relevant to them? Who will trust me with their hopes and dreams? Who do I have to be to attract them? Open, upbeat and EXCITED about what’s possible. I think that is me.

We learned some great responses to the inquiries of others. Instead of selling what coaching is, when people ask what we do, we can say to them, “Tell me about you and what you are passionate about, first.” We all know that everyone loves to talk about himself or herself. As a coach, I say that without cynicism, I say it with curiosity and genuine interest. That’s the only way to be as a coach.

What we do is learn about the client’s passions and dreams for themselves. When the conversation gets back to me, “What do you do?” Then, I am ready for them. “All I do is help you achieve that thing that you are so excited about.” Of course for this kind of exchange there were protocol reminders, like making yourself available for further questions, which I will do.

Lynn asked us all to name some of our natural gifts. There were many and it made me hopeful. As coaches, collectively we possessed the following attributes…Compassion, Hope, Empathy, Dedication, Sense of humor, Caring, Belief in others, intelligence, ability to encourage others, and the belief in human potential which all of us possess. Coaches, just more than others.

Lynn was sure to tell us what we should do as coaches as well as what we shouldn’t do. We can’t give advice, we can’t problem solve, can’t diagnose, can’t seek pathology and most importantly, we cannot HELP anyone.

The class ended with us being assigned to go work on our elevator speeches. That fear of sales, anxiety rose again in my chest as I disconnected from the call.

Luckily the next class, someone was brave enough to work with Lynn on crafting her elevator speech. It was a painstaking process. It started with whom she wants to coach and then putting that into a few words. Then Lynn asked the question: Once you know who you want to coach, you start your speech, directed to them and others who may know them. “Do you know women who are…?” Fill in the blank.

My brave classmate worked diligently with Lynn for over 15 minutes crafting this short speech that promised to bring her coaching practice to life. There were metaphors and word choice issues; there was a need to make it visual. And after the 15 minutes, my brave classmate had an elevator speech that we all applauded; yet it wasn’t finished yet. As class ended, she said that she would work on it a little more. The voyeur that I am was comfortable watching my classmate squirm and do the work, knowing that in my little corner of my world, I will have to do the same thing.

Who do I want to coach??? And where are they?

Kim Green is a writer and a student at The Institute for Life Coach Training. In this blog series, she has documented her experience as she goes through the Foundational training. To read about Kim's journey, click here.