In coaching there is no competition, blah blah blah…
That’s what I hear from some people, and to a certain point I agree. Every coach is unique and will appeal to different kinds of clients. However, for someone who’s looking for a coach right now ALL COACHES LOOK THE SAME! Clients don’t know the difference. Unless you find ways to stand out.
So here’s a question for you. What would you honestly say if asked about competition in your business? Ask any coach if they are concerned about competition, and you may get a variety of interesting though perhaps not completely honest responses – most are a bit emotional, involving fear and dread.
Some may say they are the only coach in their area of expertise, so they’re not at all worried. While others will say that they are inclusive, big tent thinkers – therefore worrying about competition just isn’t a problem.
With at least 40,000 coaches and an exponential number entering the field every year, how do you stand out in such a vibrant growth industry? Do you know where you measure against your competition? Do you know who they are – what they do? Are these questions making you nervous already?
Most coaches work too often in isolation and will not send referrals to other coaches to collaborate for fear of the safety and viability of their own business. Many will become frantic if another coach decides to step into their space. Most people would rather drive other businesses out of the market. None of that sounds like a happy place to be.
The first step to your very own secure niche is to define your own market, your uniqueness – define what you do best. Take a step back, assess the situation at hand with competitors, determine your plan, and execute it. Then you can also define your competition – or in the best and non-pejorative sense – eliminate it. If you are offering something no one else has – then you have no competition.
Competition makes everyone worker harder, smarter, and produce better products, programs and services for your clients. And, can also make it easier for coaches to work together without insecurities.
Here are several ideas to follow for structuring your competition plan – designed to make you invaluable in your space and eliminate most of your worries about competitors in your marketplace.
1) Define Your Target Market – So, how should you deal with the other coaches out there – how do you compare yourself to them? Easy things first – look at your own business – how much money you make – how many clients you have, etc. Start by determining where you are now, where you want to be, how fast you are getting there – who are you trying to reach – what makes you different. Having a specific target audience will allow you to customize all your materials and marketing messages to the people you want to attract.
2) Assess & Research – If you don’t really know who is out there and what’s going on, how can you respond appropriately? Why is the competition moving in? What strengths are they bringing? Where is there a weakness? What are their marketing and public relations strategies? You want to know all you can about competitors – you may not be able to get specifics, but, you can see a good deal of public information to compare yourself against. With that information, would you make the same decisions given what you know?
3) Hone & Specialize – Even if you’ve chosen a viable a target audience to focus on, you need to know at all times what problems you can solve, or what goals you can help your clients accomplish. You should be consistently holding that measuring tape up to gauge yourself and those around you. There is a lot to learn from this bigger view, and a lot to benefit from.
4) Marketing & Visibility – You can’t just lay low, stay under the radar and expect clients will just magically appear. Every day you need to devote energy to methods that get you in front of your target audience. Articles, teleseminars, workshops, newsletters, speaking events, and other programs to create visibility are what every successful coach should consistently do. Getting coaching clients online is simple once you know what to do.
5) Honesty & Credibility – coaches with stellar testimonials, successes, and cutting edge products demonstrating their expertise are much more likely to stand out. There will always be other coaches who will actively target your clients so make sure you toot your own horn! Positive collaborations can also help you in this area – working well with others where each of you shines and succeeds can certainly boost your credibility.
6) Personality - How do you make yourself unique in this environment? Some clients will be attracted to you because of simply being you. Bring your unique voice and personality out in your work – in your writings and marketing materials. This will help you stand out in a crowd, attract clients, and in the best sense, it’s honest – people get what they see. No one else is just like you. And that is as Martha Stewart says – a good thing.
Whew, there are lots of other questions to ask – the key is to keep asking them – questions help you understand more clearly, give you the information you need. So, take that much needed step back, take a deep breath and relax – and work through these steps to produce the results you deserve and give you your place in the market that only you can fill.