A previous blog entry described the four levels of communicating one's value. Despite that advice, I still see coaches and consultants communicating their value in fuzzy ways. The intent of this entry is to describe specific situations of effective and ineffective ways to communicate value.
Situation One: A research project. One of your best marketing tactics as a coach is to conduct a simple research project that uncovers insights of value to your target market. Too often, coaches implement this tactic poorly. Their research questions are basic or general, as in, "What keeps you up at night as an executive?" It is much more valuable, compelling, and powerful to choose a specific hypothesis — one that your target market would love to know more about — and test it. For instance, if your target market is healthcare executives, it might be interesting to do a study of average tenures of hospital CEOs, and major reasons for their departures. That's specific and useful to the target market. It sets you apart as a coach who knows this market and is committed to uncovering new information about a key issue in the market.
Situation Two: Your elevator pitch. Don't just say, "I'm an executive coach." Most people roll their eyes at a description like that. A much more powerful opening, assuming your target market is technology managers: "I help technology managers who are brilliant subject matter experts about technology to become brilliant when it comes to leading people and teams." Now the other person is more likely to want to learn more about what you do and how you get results.
Situation Three: A book on leadership. The market is saturated with books about leadership. People send me their leadership book manuscripts on a weekly basis for review. But — like it or not — leadership is a fuzzy, ethereal concept. It means different things to different people in different situations. A more valuable approach is to choose a specific target market and write a leadership book geared to the people in it. For instance, my colleage Michael Frisina is doing very well with a book he wrote specifically about leading healthcare organizations. Now he is a sought-after speaker, coach, consultant, and writer — all because he targeted his book to the specific needs and perceptions of value of a focused marketplace.
It is not easy to sell professional services, including coaching. You have to come across as a credible expert with a clear value proposition — in everything you do. This includes articles, books, speeches, blog entries, research, your website, and how you speak with your clients and prospects. The Internet is littered with generic, me-too coaches. Don't be one of them. Communicate your value with hard-hitting messages and approaches.