One sure way to save yourself time and stress in business is to learn from someone who’s walked the road many times before you. Today, in Part 2 of my interview with health coach marketing expert Michelle Leotta, we’ll get a healthy dose of what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to your marketing angle.
Michelle Leotta hosts the Health Coach Power Community podcast, and she serves as a business mentor to our health coaches here at PHCI. Michelle is the mastermind behind Healthy Profit University, where she guides health coaches to nail their niche and turn that into a profitable business in no time.
Last week, in Part 1, we addressed the hesitations coaches have regarding a niche, and how to make sure your niche is viable (read: profitable). Now, you’re ready to learn from Michelle about the common traps you should avoid—including the mistakes she made in her first decade as a self-employed health coach. Stick around ’til the end and download her freebie workbook for nailing your niche.
Q: What are some of the top mistakes coaches make when choosing a niche or marketing message?
Michelle: “When coaches hear advice to describe their perfect avatar client, they’ll describe the person in a 1000-word essay, with something like, ‘She has a dog and a cat and wears a size 6 shoe, and she’s allergic to cilantro,’ and it goes on and on. I’m like, ‘These details are irrelevant. I still don’t know where to find your client.’
I find no value in the allergic-to-cilantro kind of detail. The same goes for describing your ideal client as ‘someone who’s motivated.’ That’s nice, but where am I going to find them? At the Motivation Club?…you need to get specific about literally where to locate these people in order to market yourself.
So, maybe your ideal client is a woman with pets and she plays tennis. Awesome, now you know where to locate her—in the pet groups, the sporting goods shop, the tennis spots. We need those details, but we don’t need extraneous details—which I call fluff…useless cilantro-type fluff.”
Q: While crafting your marketing message, how important is it to use the same language your ideal client uses?
Michelle: “It makes all the difference. This is what will make you different from all of the health practitioners on the entire planet, especially the ones selling snake oil. It takes effort to not just regurgitate health marketing messages that you’ve seen your whole life because it’s sort of baked into our brains.
And the best way to do that is with those ICA interviews we talked about in Part 1—when you’re validating a target market. If you’re smart about it and ask the right questions, you can collect a lot of really good language to use in your marketing.”
Marisa: “Totally. At first, we all do that—choosing big words, trying to sound smart and feel like real health professionals—but it just doesn’t translate.”
Q: How do you know if your niche is specific enough?
Marisa: “Some do well without getting too specific, like a health coach whose niche is thyroid dysfunction vs. another coach whose niche is women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Michelle: “Is it working? I mean, look at your bank account. If you’re attracting clients, and they want to pay you to solve this problem, it’s working out just fine. If you’re competing in a really flooded area, like weight loss where it’s just a dime a dozen for these practitioners, it will be harder to attract clients with something as vague as ‘I’m going to help you lose weight.’ You need to niche down until you have something to say that not everybody else is saying.”
Q: Can you have more than one niche?
Michelle: “Can you have more than 24 hours in the day? It’s like if you were going to open an ice cream shop and an Italian restaurant; you’d be running around like crazy, really tired and only giving 30% of your energy to each. Your family and your health would suffer.
What I recommend is that you choose one direction and stick with it. Make it profitable and to the point that you have a well-oiled machine because then you don’t have to work so hard at it anymore. Then you can start another project.
Just remember, you can do a lot of things in life but you can’t do them all at the same time.”
Q: How can a coach decide if or when they should change their current niche?
Michelle: “I would say the biggest indicator is when you find out that your niche is not financially viable, meaning it occurs to you, perhaps many years later, that the people you’ve been targeting are not buyers…
They may love you, they may follow you, they may leave comments and read your emails, but they are not buying and they’re never going to because, again, you’re not talking to them about a problem that they are willing to spend money to solve. And when you have good evidence that that’s the case, it’s time to get out of there.”
Q: How many times have YOU changed your niche?
Michelle: “Ah, well, I resisted choosing a niche entirely for seven years. So, when I am encouraging people to do this it’s because I know how hard it is without a niche, and I know how hard it is to sit down and choose…and when I did choose, I chose two niches because I thought that would be a good idea—to split my energy 50/50. So I did that, and I don’t recommend that because it drove me crazy.
It was interesting though because it ended up like A/B testing…I put effort into these two different groups. One was for women in their 40s who are perfectionist, overachiever-types that struggle with chronic stress. The other group was for moms with little kids, and my niche idea was to help them make one meal that the whole family would eat.
Well, the Facebook group for the moms grew and grew. It was so active, and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I am so successful and amazing!’ Meanwhile, in the other group for stressed-out perfectionist women, nobody really participated and the group fell kind of flat…big difference between the two groups.
Once I offered my services to each group, the moms bought nothing. The other group of women—who simply did not have the time to participate or to read every email I sent—they were the ones signing up and paying big money when I offered my coaching packages.”
Marisa: “Oh my gosh stop. This is such a good example.”
Michelle: “Exactly. I said bye-bye to the moms group…it was not going to pay the bills because it wasn’t a big enough problem that they’d spend thousands on.”
Marisa: “I’m glad you shared that because many of us would feel like ‘I proved my niche is viable because everybody’s engaged in this Facebook group.’”
Michelle: “This is what I mean…you have to find out if they’re spending money.”
Q: Do you have a system to help coaches put all the niche-building pieces together?
Michelle: “Yes. Check out my free resource to Nail your Target Market in 5 Steps for a workbook that walks you through my process. What I teach there is how to put together the Who and the What to formulate one, very succinct statement I call your ‘My Best Work Statement,’ which you’ll learn in that free resource.
Essentially, it goes like this:
‘I do my best work when I work with_____ [*type of person], and the number one result they see is______ [**the result they will pay to achieve].’
*The type of person in the first blank space is just a couple of words. **In the second blank space, describe the main result they see, the transformation, that big problem you help solve and that they’re willing to pay for.
Then, every time you do any sort of marketing, you can reflect back on exactly who this person is and what big problem they want to solve. You do that first because every decision you make later will flow out of that statement.
It used to be enough to say, ‘I help people eat real, whole food.’ But these days, the health and wellness industry is booming. The solution? Narrow down to a specific target market, otherwise, you’ll never know what kind of programs to offer, how to market yourself, or earn an actual salary.”
The good news is that choosing a target market can be simple if you know what steps to follow. Michelle walks you through it in her freebie, Nail Your Target Market. Check it out and be sure to follow her suggestions about how to confirm that your niche idea is viable.