You have the credentials. You have your business plan. Now you just need, well, business. Personal service fields like health coaching can often easily build by interpersonal (i.e. word of mouth) momentum, but there’s still the challenge of securing your first client to get the ball rolling. How we market ourselves and how we connect within our communities can go a long way to reaching the right people who are interested in health coaching and ripe for the commitment. Here are a few essential tips for enhancing your professional visibility and creating strategic opportunity.
Create an Internet Presence
While this step may not actually land you that first client, it just might play a part and will almost invariably contribute to building a solid business base over time. The truth is, even if your first client hears of you or meets you through other means first, these days people expect to be able to research businesses before they buy.
According to Score Association, a non-profit organization devoted to supporting small businesses, 97% of consumers search online for products and services, while only about 50% of small businesses have a company website.
A website gives you a chance to not only sell your services but to define yourself as a professional. While a fantastic website with an ongoing blog, videos, and testimonials (eventually) won’t do your job for you, it can offer prospective clients a strong impression of you and your skills. Your words and photos can make you feel like a known, trustworthy and competent person. If a prospective client has the names of two health coaches from a friend or other care provider and only one has a website, guess which one has the better chance of receiving a call?
Even if you don’t have the resources to make it all you want it to be eventually, make the time to invest in setting up the basics of a website, which you can expand upon as time and money allow. Include your contact info and credentials, your photo, a description of your coaching services and health philosophy, and (in most cases) your rates.
If you have the resources, consider promoting your site with Google Adwords, the primary online advertising system. It offers a pay-per-click option, which means you pay only for the traffic you actually draw from the promotion, as well as local, national or international distribution, which allows you to choose the geographic net you’re casting. If you want to limit your coaching to in-person client relationships, you’ll be able to target web searchers in your own area.
Another way you can “move” those who check out your website further down the marketing tunnel is to offer a free newsletter sign-up on your site. Once you have a reader’s email, they’ll receive whatever information and promotions you’d like to send them, which more than anything can be a great reminder that they were interested in your services.
Make Social Media Work for You
If creating a website is too much right now (or even if you have one), use the power of social media sites to connect with those interested in health coaching services. Choose a social platform that will offer you visibility and flexibility as well as ample space to summarize and highlight your services.
These days Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, which simply means it has the most users. On the flip side, of course, that means it also has the most competition. Nonetheless, many small businesses set up Facebook pages not to necessarily “reach” new clients through the platform’s system, which applies a separate, more challenging algorithm to businesses. (That said, you can take advantage of paid ads and, in some cases, boosted posts to be seen by more people.) On the contrary, more small businesses choose to create and manage a page primarily as a way for visitors to learn more about their services.
When a prospective client views your professional Facebook page, he/she can “connect” with your company by hopefully liking the page, which (as with a newsletter) means that person may be periodically reminded of your services and receive updates/promotions in their feed that might spur them to finally initiate a coaching arrangement. Not every post will get to them, but it’s one more way to reach out to those who are considering your coaching services.
Be sure to set up a professional page that is separate from your personal account on that platform, but know that you can share professional posts to your personal page.
Once you set up a professional page, you can then interact with other healthy living business or organizational pages to build a professional network, make yourself more visible, and (on some pages) advertise events you’re participating in or offering that may be of interest to fans of that page. The more involved you are with a few carefully chosen groups, the more potential there is to develop meaningful professional connections that can result in mutual assistance and referrals.
Let Your Personal and Professional Circles Support You
Your friends, your family—let them be in your corner. Invite them to share your info (and your card) with anyone they might think would be interested, and encourage them to share your social media posts on their own pages for added exposure. You never know—some of them may even elect to be your first clients.
Beyond those in your personal circle, use the power of your professional network. Make a point of telling your connections you’re ready to begin your business. Share information about your services, and invite them to visit your website and to follow your professional social media page(s). If they serve people who may be interested in your services (e.g. massage therapists, health care providers), ask if they’re willing to display your card in their offices or if they would consider referring clients to you for additional health and wellness support.
Become Visible in Your Community with Group and Special Events
Just as we can optimize our business’ internet presence, we can do the same for our community presence. Getting involved in local small business groups can certainly expand our professional network and referral opportunities, but there are also professional and community events that can put us in front of the public and help us meet those who might benefit from our services.
Look for community and neighborhood festivals as well as health related expos that allow vendors, and consider a booth. (You can always share with a friend in a complementary field to split the fee.)
Alternatively, talk to wellness centers, yoga studios and co-ops about offering health related workshops in their space. You’ll have the benefit of drawing from an existing clientele for the actual event, and you’ll receive visibility even from marketing around the event.
Finally, consider marketing yourself to companies for the purpose of employee wellness events, staff retreat activities, or healthy lifestyle presentations. Not only do these kinds of group events offer a more substantial source of income, they can be one of the best ways to attract individual clients and gain additional referrals to make your coaching business a success.
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