How To Stand Out In The Coaching Market

May 14, 2020

I’m Kim.
I’m an M.D.-turned-entrepreneur and I’m dedicated to helping you build your dream career + lifestyle. Welcome to my blog, where I write (and podcast) about wellness, business + success!
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Is the coaching market saturated? 

I hear this a lot. I hear a lot of people citing this as the reason they can’t get paying clients. There are too many other coaches out there. Too much competition.

So let’s talk about that.

Here’s my take. While I don’t believe that the market is saturated, I do believe it’s getting crowded. There are increasing numbers of coaches out there, and coaching in general is becoming more mainstream. 

And that’s exactly why you need to stand out, you need to differentiate, and you need to resonate deeply with your potential clients.

Here are some of the things I cover in today’s post (and podcast episode): 

  • How to differentiate yourself from the competition
  • How to design a standout brand
  • How to reframe the mindset of “there’s too much competition”

And lots more! Let’s dive in.

By the way, if you’d rather listen than read, here’s where you can tune in to this episode:

So before we dive into today’s topic, I want to mention that doors are open for enrollment into my flagship group program, Business Academy for Coaches. This is a 4-month group program that will guide you to build a successful online coaching business from the ground up and gain consistent monthly clients. This is a LIVE coaching and mentorship program that I will be taking a small group through, including weekly Q&A calls, plus all the business-building, branding, and marketing modules you will need to create every aspect of your coaching business. If you’re dreaming of building a freedom-based business that will give you the impact you would love to have, and the lifestyle you desire…but you’re not sure where to start, or how to put all the pieces together, then this program is for you. 

Spaces are limited for this program, I am going to be intentionally keeping the group small and intimate. So if this sounds like something you might be interested in, I encourage you to check out the details sooner rather than later and book a call with me to see if the group would be a good fit for you.

Okay, so that said, let’s dive into the topic for today.

Is The Coaching Market Saturated?

A big piece of this is a mindset reframe. Instead of saying “the market is saturated” which is a closed statement, and doesn’t really invite problem solving, instead I encourage you to say: “How can I stand out?” and “How can I differentiate myself from all the other coaches out there and really leverage my uniqueness?”

Those are much better quality questions to ask yourself. And when you ask yourself high-quality questions, your brain is hard-wired to want to find solutions.

So let’s talk about how to stand out. How to carve out your own space in the coaching marketplace.

How to stand out in the market

Here’s one thing I know for sure: you’re not going to get there with cookie-cutter stuff. With a brand that’s just like everyone else. By using the same done-for-you programs that everyone else is using in your sector, and just maybe sticking your name on it, or changing your colors or the font a little bit. I have seen a lot of coaches buy a DFY program, like a sugar detox or gut health program or something, and then try to sell it and, well, it’s really tragic because they just come across like every other health coach selling that exact same thing. 

And this is where branding comes in. Specifically, unique, authentic branding. Paired with a signature offer, of course, but that branding will attract your dream clients, really pull them in and create that strong connection so that they want to learn more about your offerings.

And…when you craft a truly unique brand, there IS no competition. A wow-factor brand, a standout brand that is uniquely, authentically you makes the competition irrelevant.

Now, when I say authentic, I mean authentic and aligned with the business you want to create, and also aligned and authentic with YOU.

In my view of things, a brand is a promise of an experience, all wrapped up with your unique personality, and the work you do.

So what is the experience you want your ideal clients to have? How do you want them to feel?

Buying is all about emotion, and that’s what branding is, designing a particular emotional reaction.

What I have noticed is that many coaches, in the beginning of their business-building journey, make the mistake of minimizing the importance of branding, and go out in the marketplace without a brand. 

The thought process behind this is usually “Well, I’ll just I’ll brand myself later, I’ll think about that down the road. Right now I just want to get out there and start serving clients and generating some income.”

And of course while I do support the mission to get out there and help people, you will find that without a brand, you’ll find yourself competing on price and competing on features instead of drawing people TO you, and commanding the market, and attracting the right people who are drawn to you because of your brand and what you stand for. 

In my coaching business I have been very focused on using branding since an early stage, to really help differentiate myself and attract my ideal clients to me. It has been a key component to my own success, and it has also been a key thing that I help my clients with, to help them find success, too.

So if you’re clear that ONE of the strategies that will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace is to be really intentional with your branding, then let’s talk about the HOW.

How To Create A Standout Brand

Let’s talk about how to create a brand that will help you show up in the marketplace with the right message and create the right emotional connection with your potential clients so they will choose you over your competition. 

Some coaches may resist this to a certain degree. They may not like the idea of “branding” or the images that it conjures in terms of being manipulative or salesy, or superficial. 

But the truth is, if you’re in business, you’re a brand–whether you like it or not. Prospective clients will have an emotional reaction when they encounter your business, or you, either online or in person, and what they’re reacting to is your brand. 

So whether you intend them to or not, they’ll have an emotional response to your brand. And, let me tell you, it’s better to have this be intentional! People will respond to and form an opinion of your brand, and the smart coach will do everything in her power to help people have the desired response.

As a health coach, it’s an important part of attracting people to you — and not just anyone, but your IDEAL client. A high quality brand identity sets you apart from the competition. 

The goals of a strong, authentic brand:

  1. Connect with your ideal client on an emotional level.
  2. Deliver your message with clarity.
  3. Inspire and motivate your ideal client.
  4. Reinforce your authority.
  5. Strengthen audience loyalty.

Authenticity in Branding

It’s important to make people feel like they really know you. What I’m talking about here is transparency and authenticity. Getting visible, showing the real you, sharing behind-the-scenes,  sharing stories, and not being afraid to be a bit vulnerable, and show the real you — that’s really important.

So when I talk about branding, I’m talking about first and foremost being authentic. This isn’t about creating a brand that is totally foreign to who you really are. Like it’s something put together in a lab. That’s not a good idea. That’s not going to work.

We like people who are just like us, and we also like people who are real. On social media there’s so much that just feels like a highlight reel of everybody’s life but it’s not real anymore. People today are craving realness. And that means that when you show up in your brand or your website on social media and your videos what have you people want you to be real. 

And that’s going to be different for everyone. Some people are very casual, some people more formal and maybe even elegant and sophisticated, and that’s legitimately who they are, some people are all about luxury and a jet-set life, some people are all about nature and the outdoors. There isn’t one right way to be, it’s more about what’s real for you.

The main thing is that you don’t try to be someone you’re not, and you come across as real and authentically you.

So that’s a general primer on branding, what it means to be a truly authentic, standout brand.

Now you might be thinking that in order to have a unique, beautiful brand you might have to hire a branding coach, or spend thousands on a brand strategist or someone who can design something for you. But the truth is, you don’t have to do that. You can create a unique, wow-factor, authentic brand that is all about YOU when you tap into your own brand, or what I call your Brand Code. 

Working on branding is one of the most fun parts of my job as a business mentor and coach, and I really love it — plus it makes a huge difference for my clients and students. And over the years I have perfected a framework for branding that is easily to implement, yet really high-impact.

I think I’ll save the exact breakdown of what I call your Brand Code for a future episode, because there are several components that go into an effective brand, so look for that episode in the future.

Back To The Original Question…

To the initial question that I asked, is the coaching market saturated, my personal belief is that no, it’s not saturated, but it is getting crowded and that’s because coaching is going mainstream.

And there’s good news and bad news about that.

The good news is that, a few years ago, nobody knew what coaching was, but now people are actively looking for coaches to help them live their best lives! 

But the bad news…

Going mainstream means there are thousands of coaches in the market. Basically, if you want to stand a chance in the coaching industry, you need to create a unique brand and a strategic marketing plan. A few years ago it might have worked to position yourself as a generalist, someone who can help people with any and all of their health issues and life obstacles.

But those days are over.

In a crowded marketplace, if you show up like a generalist, with a vague message, and an amateur presence … you’re going to get lost in the crowd.

What You Need To Do Now

So here are some of the things you need to do right now:

  1. You cannot be a generalist, jack-of-all-trades. You MUST have a dialed-in niche.
  2. You must get very clear on your Unique Selling Proposition (USP), or your marketing won’t work.
  3. You need to create a unique brand to stand out. Branding is QUEEN.
  4. You need to start now.

Of that list, #4 is possibly the most important one. 

The reason for that is because if you wait, say another 6 months or a year, the other coaches in your niche will have built their websites and brands. They’ll have worked with clients, which means they’ll have more testimonials, more experience, and more visibility than you.

And then potential clients will choose them over you. You’ll be playing catch-up, and trying to make up for lost time and progress.

Truth is, business is based on seasons. You can’t just choose when you enter a market. You have to make hay while the sun shines.

So whether you feel ready or not — now is your time.

If you don’t make a name for yourself now, you’re making it so much harder for yourself down the road. And then the opportunity will slip away.

The coaches who start now will build their brands and their tribe.

The coaches who wait will be left in the dust.

I teach coaches how to start and grow their coaching businesses. It’s what I do! I invested in my own success, years ago, and now I’ve created the framework that has helped others find the same level of success and fulfillment.

To be frank, you can’t afford to waste time trying to do it all on your own. Sure, you could take one or two years to figure everything out from scratch … but by then your competition will be dominating the market and your business won’t stand a chance.

I know this sounds harsh. But it’s true.

So if you’re ready to get into action mode, if you’re done with waiting, and you know that waiting will put you in a position of playing catchup with all the other coaches out there who are NOT waiting, then I invite you to book a call with me to talk about whether you’re a good fit for my program Business Academy for Coaches, and find out how I can turn you into one of the leading coaches in your niche.

Okay, that’s all for today! I hope this helped you see how you can reframe the limiting belief of “Oh the market is too crowded” into “HOW can I differentiate myself from the competition?” … and also started you thinking about what it means to create a unique, authentic, standout brand, and how to get started on branding.

Are you ready to build your coaching business, get a framework for enrolling consistent monthly clients, and finally achieve the success you desire?

My flagship group program, Business Academy for Coaches, is now open for enrollment!

Head over here to read about all the details, and either enroll or book a call to chat with me personally about whether this program is a good fit for you.

Resources & Links:

Come chat to me on Instagram or Facebook and let me know how you’re going to stand out in the coaching market—let’s have a conversation!

LET’S HOP ON A CONSULTATION CALL! LEARN MORE HERE: https://drkimfoster.com/consultation

N.B. some links are affiliate links.

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