I work with a lot of coaches, writers, and consultants. Some of them are doing well, in spite of the recession. Others are struggling. I often wonder what the difference is between those that stay afloat in a downturn and the others. I think it's their marketing savvy more than their talent or education, but who really knows?
One of my favorite clients, a successful executive coach with a Ph.D., emailed this week to say how frustrating it is in the coaching field these days. It seems everyone's a coach. People take an Internet coaching course and market themselves by giving away free sample coaching sessions.
As a trained organizational psychologist with licenses and years of experience, he doesn't feel he should be giving away free sessions. I don't blame him. And yet, I was thinking…
The problem is universal. How do you attract new clients without standing on the sidewalk like a carnival barker, begging people to come into your tent?
The free sample is popular because it works. There are other ways of giving people a free sample of your work rather than free sessions. Writing a case study or white paper is a proven effective way to draw in new clients. So are testimonials and social proof from other clients.
Serious clients don't shop around for coaches by using free sessions. They want to know if they're a good fit with you, but who has time to do free sessions with a lot of different coaches? A good fit is determined in the first few minutes of a conversation, as long as the way has been paved with good content that:
- Shows you're an expert
- Shows you've got experience in their field or a similar field
- Shows you're a human being with real emotions (humor, intelligence)
- Shows you're flexible yet firm with boundaries
The Real Reason Content Rocks
Free samples, yes, but of your writing, your cases, what others say about you. This is why content marketing is so important. You can't convey the depth and profoundness of your value in a free phone session. Or in most conversations, for that matter, until you get to know somebody well.
That's why content is so important. You can go deep, you can write about what really matters. You can lay it all out in a well-written document.
There are those who are better on the phone and in personal sessions than on paper, and the other way around. The solution is varied: if you speak better than you write, get a qualified journalist to interview you and turn it into a free paper.
There are many excellent writers available to turn your brilliance into a piece of content that will work to show what you know, what you've done and can do, and who you are as a real live human being.
I don't think most people can write quality case studies or white papers for themselves. It requires a professional who can discern the key points that are attractive to outsiders. Maybe if you're a seasoned writer or journalist you can write your own marketing content, but it's hard because you can't see the forest for the trees.
For myself, I had an increase in business the first half of the year, and now things are a little quiet. Personally, I like quiet and it fits with my plan to lead a stress-free life enjoying the things I love: Mexico, tennis, writing, Huey and Dewey, our cats, and the good life with the Hubby. ;-0
Not to say I would say 'no' to a new writing assignment… If you'd like me to help you, check out the new link at the top of the page, How to Hire Me, and see if you could use a blog content makeover or a shiny new piece of content to market your services… just sayin'.