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First, be a specialist. Then provide a peek at the full menu behind the counter.
Bright-eyed & bushy-tailed, our hero, Jon, bursts out of NLP school, eyes awash with technicolour dreams and the touch of God flowing through his veins.
“Ima change shit around here!” he proclaims to the trees and the bees.
He rushes to his domain dealer and before you can say “let the force evoke deep transformational change and summon forth your authentic self,” he’s got his coaching website up and running.
But nobody comes. He’s all over social media and he starts a blog, but still no clients. Five months go by and he only achieves one sale. Even that was discounted to a friend of a friend.
He asks for help and we start with a website audit. It’s a chance for Jon to evaluate his goals and align himself to a proper business strategy.
“Your coaching website doesn’t explain what you do,” I say.
“Yes it does, look.” He points me to a chinese-menu style list of afflictions:
- bashful bladder
- female empowerment
- weight loss
- anger management
The internet’s an ocean and websites are fishing lines. If your fishing line’s yelling out a buffet of unrelated dishes, it may as well be hanging out nothing.
A world-weary fish will simply swim along to the next line that’s offering a polite sit-down service.
“But I can help them with all these things,” says Jon.
And that’s the catch-22 for a great many coaches. You have the skills to address a variety of issues but a paying customer wants to spend their hard-earned money on someone who’s tuned into their specific problem.
So, even if you can coach a variety of issues, the words you put on your coaching website should reassure people that you’re a specialist in something.
Before you can do that, you have to decide what that something is.
Your coaching website should be a fearless beast
With so much competition, your coaching website needs to have a strong identity because your coaching business is how other people describe it.
Your job is to make it easy for people to describe your business the way you want to be known.
The words you use become the consumer you attract and practically all products are marketed and positioned to speak to certain lifestyles and values.
Even the humble loaf has a niche
We all have our favourite type of bread. If you look at yours, you’ll see it’s marketed itself just for you. Fearlessly.
Each knows that the way they’re packaged and marketed means that a big chunk of the bread-eating population will ignore them. But that’s okay because these loaves know what they’re all about and all they want to do is talk to their target customer.
At the time of writing, the Tesco loaf costs 59p and the Ezekiel loaf is £4.59 — but it’s not just about price. There are other budget and premium brands too so these loaves know they’re not each others competition and they don’t sit next to each other on the shelf.
Their competition is other loaves in the same price range targetting the same customer. The competition sits right next to them on the same shelf and the only way to get picked by the customer is to talk the customer’s language.
In other words, niching tells the customer which shelf to find the product on. Copy persuades the customer which loaf will suit them better.
Clients need you to have authority
Authority means having unapologetic ownership over your professional field:
- You’re setting expectations & deliverables
- Your knowledge is extensive and reassuring
- You’re creating a sense of safety and giving your clients peace of mind they’re in good hands
People want to feel this authority on your website and all the ways you interact with them online.
Jon’s coaching website reads like a medical dictionary but his target market isn’t looking for a doctor and his website makes them feel muddled. When people feel muddled, they move on.
Jon wants to reassure visitors that he’s a properly educated coach, passionate, and able to address a multitude of problems. But a list of unrelated issues doesn’t give a sense of who Jon is and why he is a perfect choice.
A visitor wants help with anger management but she feels uneasy when she sees some of the terminologies on Jon’s site. How can an NLP coach cure bashful bladder without being a doctor? She doesn’t want a doctor because she doesn’t want anger listed on her medical records. It’s too confusing and too worrying – she clicks on a different website instead.
Your clients need you to be someone that makes sense for their issue.
How to Uncover the Right Words for Your Coaching Website
1) Identify your specialism
Even though the coaching principles behind any of Jon’s list items might be similar, the audiences are totally different.
You can’t speak persuasively to two different audiences with the same words. So it’s time to make a choice.
- What problems do you enjoy dealing with?
- Which demographic do you resonate with the best?
- What do you want to be known for?
Ask questions that help you drill down to a specialism that feels right. Remember to check if your chosen audience can afford your help. Are you Tesco Wholemeal or Ezekiel Sprouted Wholegrain?
When you know the problem you’re solving and who your customers are, you can learn to speak the language that will resonate with them.
2) Commit to your niche
Some people worry that by committing to a niche, they’re missing out on all those others who need their help too. The irony in specialising is that by giving you an angle to write from, your voice is stronger and spreads wider.
Once you start writing about your chosen topic, you can weave other elements into your posts and create a rounded, three-dimensional picture of all the ways you can help.
You have a niche, it’s your main dish. Your blog is a peak at everything else you offer and everything else you are.
A niche helps you talk with passion and authority and your opportunities expand.
3) Find your voice
We’ve all got our heroes and people we admire in our field. It can be so easy to think the way they do things is the way things should be done.
Just because someone else swears or draws their own images or posts a certain way on social media, you don’t have to. Give yourself space to identify your own goals and values.
If you don’t keep your coaching website relevant to your business strategy, it’ll be hard to keep it going at all.
Writing regularly on platforms like Quora, LinkedIn and Medium help you tune into your own way of presenting your business:
- Write about things that are difficult – most people have trouble promoting themselves so practice this until you’re not self-conscious about it.
- Imagine a friend has asked you a relevant question and you’re answering that one person only.
- Edit your answer before publishing — editing helps you weed out the fluff that poured out of your brain along with the good stuff. Editing helps with flow and keeps your post on-point.
Write a Good Picture of You
Words are the way people see you online. They hear you through your website and your social media and they expect you to be knowledgeable about the category you’ve put yourself into.
It can be tricky. In the beginning, you’re not sure how to position yourself and you’re not sure what people want to read from you. You make big claims or you undersell yourself.
Later, when you’ve been established for a while, you take a look at your underperforming site and you see that it’s not reflecting you anymore.
Don’t be afraid to play with words. Use them to reflect what you want people to know you for. When you make it easy for people to categorise you, you open the door for them to call you.
And then you can concentrate on doing what you set up your coaching website to do in the first place – coach people and change their lives.