In the December 2013 issue of Inc. Magazine, Jason Fried, the co-founder and president of 37signals.com, shared a surprising decision in his article, “Marketing Without Marketing.” Rather than trying to snag new customers with his marketing dollars, he decided to focus instead on his existing customers.
When Fried first began wondering what his business would be like if he put some effort into formal marketing. But the more marketing research he did, he realized that he was thinking less about securing new customers and more about maximizing his existing customers’ experience.
“Sales take care of themselves when you put out a great product and treat your customers with the ultimate respect,” he explains.
Could this same mindset help coaches generate more clients through word-of-mouth referrals?
I believe it can.
Marketing Yet Missing the Mark?
Consider the marketing mindset assumed by most coaches today. For some, marketing is all about search-engine optimization. To others, it boils down to analytics, increasing the number of hits your blog or website receives in any given month. Still others measure success by the number of individual hits a site receives.
Yet, it’s possible to nail down your analytics and search-engine optimization but still miss the mark. In the end, it boils down to your clients’ experience. It’s that simple.
Provide a Remarkable Client Experience
While each customers’ experience is unique, there are generic principles that, when applied, can ensure your clients receive a positive coaching experience:
Seek and obtain credentialing. With everyone calling themselves a coach these days, credentials from such a respected coach training school or organization as the Professional Christian Coaching Institute or the International Coach Federation, can help you stand out from the crowd.
Because coaching is not a regulated profession, untrained individuals who call themselves coaches are proliferating. Credentialing will help ensure your clients receive top-of-the-line service. And when your clients are happy, rest assured, they will tell their friends.
Narrow your niche and serve your customers with excellence. Many coaches make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Instead, identify three or four highly specialized niches and focus on serving those clients with excellence.
Because I have extensive experience in the corporate world, it didn’t take long for me to identify leadership coaching as a potentially profitable niche. To stay on top of emerging trends and research in leadership development, I subscribe to the Harvard Business Review Magazine and Leadership Journal.
Consequently, my industry knowledge is a value-add for clients and helps to differentiate me from other leadership coaches. So when a client raises a topic during a coaching session, I take it a step further. After coaching around the issue she brought to the session, I then recommend resources for additional self-study.
Customize your clients’ coaching experience. Although I am not yet an MBTI practitioner, I partner with a coach who can administer the MBTI assessment to my clients. Armed with the information, I then customize the coaching experience for my clients.
For instance, I serve a number of ENFP clients in my practice. Based on their MBTI results, I know they generally benefit from brainstorming and “what if” questions. Similarly, unnatural pessimism could indicate they feel overwhelmed. Knowledge like this ensures my clients receive maximum value from our coaching sessions.
Fried says it best, “If you take care of your existing customers, they will take care of your new customers.”
So, what about you? How can you focus on your existing customers?