Building a brand is one of the most underrated aspects of developing a successful coaching practice. Whether you're establishing a brand for your business or for your role within a larger organization, you are the product, so it is vital that you understand the importance of establishing a coaching brand that is unique to you.
First and foremost, start thinking of yourself as a brand, not just as a coach. Coaching is what you do and what you offer to others as a service. But coaching in and of itself is not unique.
Your personal branding goal is to define and differentiate how you will be known to the world.
To develop a strong brand that attracts, retains and multiplies clients who fuel your business, you don't have to be a marketing maven or hire a branding expert. You simply have to know who you are, what you believe in, what drives you and how your clients will benefit. This information helps you identify the value you provide, establish your position in the coaching market and develop a brand promise that reflects the experience clients will have if they choose you as their coach.
Develop Your Brand
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, states it perfectly: "Your brand is what people say about you after you leave the room." Determine what that is or what you want it to be and point your activities, communications and interactions toward bringing it to life.
Many branding experts have written books about how to build a personal brand. Here are a few foundational tips to guide you:
- Start with your strengths. Your unique combination of strengths defines and differentiates you, serving as the bedrock on top of which your brand is built. How you apply and incorporate your strengths as a coach is incredibly specific to you and must be at the forefront of your coaching brand.
- Determine your purpose, mission and values. Why are you a coach? Whether you are passionate about helping women transition back to work after years of being a single or stay-at-home parent, feel a calling to assist military veterans returning from multiple tours of duty, or drawn to guide new retirees to discover the final chapters of their working life, put a stake in your purpose and live by it.
Many people find specializing to be intimidating, fearing it will limit their reach. In my experience, the opposite is true. When your values shine through your work, greater opportunities surface. Remember, the strongest relationships are often formed by shared values, not by individual circumstances.
- Incorporate your story. Think of your coaching as a play with you as the star performer. Although various cast members contribute to your story, you are the only one who is in every scene. This makes you extremely special and extraordinarily unique because no two plays are exactly the same. Leverage that fact and use your story to help build your brand.
Most importantly, don't embellish your true story to create a false script that you can't deliver. Often our most impactful experiences go unnoticed or are undervalued, so consider asking someone who knows you well to pick out the best stories you've lived. Don't be afraid to be authentic -- it makes you more relatable.
- Establish your position. What do people experience in their minds when your name comes up? How do they compare you to others? One of the biggest mistakes that many coaches make is trying to be everything to everybody. Narrow your Focus -- what makes you unique that few others can claim? This can be your backstory, your future interests or your competitive advantage. Positioning around these details will help you define and market to your ideal clients.
- Develop your brand promise (and deliver it consistently). What exactly do you promise your clients? Identify the type of coaching you do and the deliverables your clients will receive. Then deliver what you promise every single time.
The execution of your brand promise becomes your reputation. Think of it as a benefit that your clients can count on. Your ability to consistently deliver on your brand promise when interacting with prospective or existing clients influences the outcome of your work -- because your success depends on reliable, positive experiences that people have with you at various touch points along their development journey. So, promise something you are excited to deliver. What do you get most excited about when coaching? Turn that into your promise and follow through.
Each interaction with you that comes from the foundation of your brand before, during and following every coaching session can make or break your business -- period. Building an authentic coaching brand is critical to your success and takes time and dedication. It's an ongoing journey; the process takes time, persistence and intention. Commit to establishing your unique brand, deliver on it every day and watch your coaching business thrive.