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The Basics of Effective Marketing-Accessible to YOU

By Dorcas Kelley, CPCC

Three of the most common questions I'm asked are: How do I effectively market myself as a coach? How do I enroll clients? And what is this thing called branding anyway?

First, let's provide a definition for the elusive term of marketing. Bottom line, marketing refers to how your business shows up in the world. Simple, eh? Yes, it is a simple concept and it's also such a broad term that it can feel a bit overwhelming.

Marketing is an "umbrella" term, meaning that it includes several different categories of concepts and activities, such as client enrollment, marketing materials, networking, branding, advertising, pricing, your interaction with others, referral sources and-most importantly-how you energetically hold and present yourself. Wow! What a mouthful! Hopefully you can see that there are many places to play in the world of marketing.

In fact, just recognizing that marketing has several distinct but inter-related categories is an important first step toward building an effective marketing plan. The more you can coordinate and integrate your various marketing activities, the bigger the impact you'll have. For example, is how you talk about your services in person similar to what you say on your website? Does the feel of who you are and your personality come through in your marketing materials? This doesn't mean that you can't start marketing until you have it all complete and "perfect." No, just the opposite! Start with what you have now and build from there.

A second step down the path toward effective marketing is to recognize and accept that marketing is a process, not a destination. Your marketing will evolve and grow over time - there is no "done" in the world of marketing but rather a pause between updates. This reality can be seen as both good and bad news. It's good news because nothing is set in concrete; it's all an experiment - so try something and see if it works. If it works - yea! If it doesn't - OK, let's try something different. Alternatively, you could perceive this continual evolution as bad news because it means that you're never "finished" with marketing. Just when you think you have the "perfect" materials and activities - poof! It may not work as well tomorrow. Something in the world has shifted and you need to move onto the next evolution of your marketing.

My recommendation is to start with what's inside of you. In other words, don't spend time fussing over your business cards or external things. Instead focus on how you want to be with potential clients and referral sources-the impact you have, how you relate to others, the impression you leave behind. You are the core of your marketing-really! Your life purpose statement from the Coaching Process workshop will be a huge benefit in this process of self-discovery and awareness, as will the learnings from the CTI Leadership program.

There are two areas in marketing that are very rooted in who and how you are-enrollment and branding. I'd like to touch briefly on each to give you some initial direction.

Enrollment is the art and skill of engaging and/or inspiring someone in a possibility for their lives. Enrollment is an advanced coaching skill. When practiced effectively, it can be the determining factor between having a fun-filled, thriving business and one that is full of angst and slow growth. Practicing enrollment effectively requires a level of sophistication that can be learned. Although enrollment is an art, rather than a science, we can still learn the distinguishing features, unlearn our disabling beliefs and evolve a powerful presence that brings enrollment into our conversations.

One of the key skills in enrollment is to be authentically interested in the other person. When you are truly interested in the person you're talking with, they will sense it and want to continue the conversation. If you can then effectively make the link between what they want in their lives and what you have to offer-bingo, that's enrollment at its best. No gimmicks, no manipulation, just great coaching skills. Practice sharing what you're passionate about with others. Then, when it comes to speaking about coaching, you'll be more confident in sharing this subject, too.

As you gain experience in enrolling and working with clients, you can ask for feedback on your coaching style and unique contribution. Then you'll be ready to venture into the land of branding.

Usually the word "branding" brings up images of well-known product brands such as Nike, Levi's and Volvo. However, let's look at the world of personal brands. What comes to mind when you think about Oprah? Donald Trump? Howard Stern? Could you confuse these three people with each other? No way! Each of these people has very distinct personal styles. Although you may not recognize this as branding-it is!

What makes these brands so recognizable? No, it's not the hair (though that is part of it). It's the magic ingredients of clarity, consistency and integration.

When you see Oprah-regardless of the situation-there is a clarity and consistency to her brand. There is a distinct "Oprah-ness" to her. Whatever words you might choose to describe her, they will be there each time you experience her. Plus, that "Oprah-ness" feel is found in many places-her looks, the graphics in her magazine, her choice of words and subjects. This is what makes her (and Donald and Howard and many other well-known figures) so memorable-the hallmark of an excellent brand.

So how can we, as coaches, use this concept? No, we're not suggesting that you emulate Oprah! Instead, we recommend that you focus on the magic ingredients-clarity, consistency, and integration.

For example, how clear are you about what unique value you bring to your coaching relationships? What are your own unique characteristics? Through self-exploration and work with your coach, you will gain insight into the answers to these questions. Then look at how clearly and consistently you convey this to your potential clients and referral sources.

The next step is to get feedback from clients, friends, family and colleagues about how you are currently perceived. This allows you to become more aware of your desired impact contrasted with your actual impact. When you're able to align those two, you've got an effective brand!

Regardless of where you begin your journey, keep the three golden rules in mind:

  • There is no such thing as "perfect," so don't expect to create it.
  • Nothing is set in concrete, so start with what you have now and build from there.
  • Work from the inside out-the clearer you are about yourself, the easier the rest of it will be.

I hope this helps you travel the roads of marketing!

Dorcas Kelley, CPCC, MCC, CMC
has been a business consultant, coach and trainer for over 20 years. She coaches entrepreneurs of all types to achieve their desired success in both personal and professional lives. She is also the author of "The Business of Coaching®", a book and workbook set selected as the primary business textbook and reference guide at four U.S. coaching schools (available online at