Starting a NLP Coaching Business. Be No 1 in Your Niche!
Many of my clients go on to run successful, profitable coaching businesses. The journey is often longer and harder than they originally anticipate, however if they’re prepared to put in the work, they are almost always delighted with the end result. This marketing checklist is a useful guide of the questions that you need to answer in your business planning.
There is a low cost to entry compared to setting up many businesses, therefore the competition is extremely high, and the number of really good coaching clients limited. However, when you’re able to answer these marketing and sales questions you will be in a strong position to succeed.
Starting a profitable NLP Coaching Business
A key challenge with these questions is that when you change the answer to one, you may want to change the answer to the others.
I therefore suggest when you start you ‘write out’ working answers, excepting that they’ll change as you progress. You may not choose to use all your answers, but decide that after you’ve answered all the questions.
- Who are you customers/clients? (Please note that in this post I use the term client and customer interchangeably?)
- A top level description of what you do?
- How do your clients benefit? What value do you offer them?
- What is your brand position?
- What is your approach to pricing?
- How do you attract clients / reach them?
- How do your clients buy? What is your sales process?
- What daily activities will you commit to, to attract and maintain clients?
- How do you qualify out the clients you don’t want to work with?
- What can they actually buy from you?
- How do you check the value you’ve offered?
- Are you interested in repeat sales? If so what do you offer?
1) Who are you customers / clients?
Start with the smallest viable market. Be No 1 in your niche. Marketing to everyone doesn’t work as a practical approach, it would cost too much. Who are the clients you’ll find it easiest to sell too? Who are the customers who will get the best value from what you do? Who are the clients you want to work with? Be specific.
2) Top level description of what you do?
In the fewest words possible, What do you do? You can always expand it later. For example, I’m an NLP trainer and coach and a stakeholder leadership and team coach.
3) How do your clients benefit? What value do you offer them?
So how specifically do your target clients benefit? What value do they receive from what you offer? Note that the best way to determine the potential value you offer is to take your clients through a value elicitation process, such as the one that follows.
- What is the clients current situation?
- What problems are associated with the current situation? What are the implications and related costs of these problems? How will the implications and costs, if not addresses, increase with time?
- What are benefits of what you are proposing? What are is the impact of these benefits over time?
(Note: The value you’re offering is the difference between the benefits over time, and the potential problem cost over time, less the costs of the programme.)
There is a similar question structure that works very well for case studies and for when you need to present what you’ve helped a previous client achieve, to a new prospect.
- What was the original situation? What were the problems and implications of those problems? What would be the implication over time, if the problems weren’t solved?
- What were your objectives?
- What did you actually do?
- What were the results?
- What do these result mean over time? What will the client be able to do now, that they wouldn’t have been able to do before your intervention?
4) What is your brand position?
Your brand position is important as it will enable you attract the clients you really want. Building a brand requires both effort and time, it is therefore useful that you decide both your starting brand position, and where you would like to end up.
Possible options include
- Commodity coach. (Advantage, you have a large market to aim at, disadvantage, you’re always under price pressure and have a lot of competition)
- Service niche coach. For example you specialise in clients in a particular sector. (Smaller market but less competition than above)
- Your name. (Advantage, you’re immediately offering a more niche service, disadvantage, initially you have to do more marketing)
- A unique name. You choose a name that only has a soft relationship with what you do, e.g. Tesla for cars, Apple for computers. (Advantage, you create a brand from scratch, disadvantage, its takes longer.)
PS in 1) and 2) the key words in your brand are coach or specialist coach, in 2) and 3) your name if featured more than what you do.
5) What is your approach to pricing?
This relates to your brand, and is important as it will impact what you can charge
Possible options include
- Free. Can be useful where you get a real benefit from it
- By time. The advantage is that its understood by most people, but may restrict your earning ability
- By value. You need to establish the value you’re offering and a measurement process
- By brand. You need to develop your brand
6) How do you attract them / reach them?
There are four main approaches to attract clients
- Hunting (traditional selling, albeit using new technology.) Still works very well for some, and the skills are useful for all of us.
- Attraction (new media). Attraction is based on creating great content, and promoting it in a way that it will be seen by our target market.
- Nurturing (relationships and networking). Developing a great relationship with a few, important key buyers and influencers.
- Paying (outsourcing aspects of our sales and marketing). Ranges from paying commission, paying a salary, outsourcing a part of our sales and marketing, and advertising
In my experience they all require time and energy, its best to focus on what works for your market and for what works for you personally.
7) How do your customers buy? What is your sales process?
Many clients have a fairly random buying process, however its worth while checking what are some of the steps they go through when they buy a service like the one you offer, and the typical buying criteria they use.
Decide on your own sales process, which ideally matches aspects of how your customers buy.
8) What daily activities will you commit to, to attract and maintain clients?
Whether is it’s making a number of calls a day, writing a number of pieces of content a week, attending various meetings, what are the key actions you’re going to take every day to ensure you’ll always have a pipeline of great clients?
9) How do you qualify out the clients you don’t want to work with?
Good clients improve quickly, recommend us, pay on time, are fun to work with and we learn a lot. Bad clients often don’t improve, don’t recommend us, don’t pay, are really hard work and often we don’t learn much.
How do you qualify out the people you don’t want to work with? Contracting with the right clients is the most important factor in developing a successful and profitable coaching business.
(We may also coach individuals to give back to society, just make it a conscious choice).
11) What can your customers actually buy from you?
What are you offering that your clients can buy from you? Are you able to explain what you offer in a simple, straightforward way? Are you offering face to face coaching? 1:1 online coaching? Group online coaching and/or coaching product?
12) How do you check the value you’ve offered?
At the end of each programme what do you do to check what value your client has achieved from your programme? Debrief? Case Study? Ask for a testimonial? All can be useful.
13) Are you interested in repeat sales? If so what do you offer?
Are you interested in repeat business for existing clients? If so, what do you offer.
Starting a new coaching business from scratch may take longer than you initially imagine, 2-3 years is typical. Set a realistic time-frame and ensure you have the cash flow to support you through this process. I’ve always suggested that there are three keys to developing a successful coaching business 1) Attract clients, which this post is about, 2) Invest in your health and resilience and 3) Develop your coaching skills on an ongoing basis. The first point may be the most critical.
(If you already have a number of clients it may take a lot less time to get established, however my it still take more time than you initially think to attract more clients. If you attract them quickly, celebrate!)
Setting Up a profitable NLP Coaching Business – RECOMMENDED Resources