coaches and marketing

Coaches, Are You Alienating Your Target Audience?

(This is a guest post by Amanda Kelly)

First, let me clarify that I love what online coaches do, and that they help others. My writing is specifically targeted for life and business coaches, because I have been helped in so many ways by selfless coaches and people who have chosen to mentor me. But I have a pet peeve.

Some of you do this, and some of you don’t. I love you all. But for those of you that do this, I feel like I need to explain to you why this popular practice doesn’t work for everybody.

When the topic of “what are you waiting for?” comes up, I worry that things might get a bit judgey. I understand why this is such an important question and there’s nothing inherently wrong with it.

But there inevitably comes the well-meaning coach who says, “If you want success to happen, you’ll do XYZ.” Specifically,

“If you were REALLY ready to succeed in your business, you’d find a way to buy my program which will teach you success etc. etc.”

What’s wrong with that?

Here’s the thing: that sounds really judgmental and self-serving.

Not exactly what I want from a coach. Sometimes people really don’t have the resources to invest in your program. But they might later, and they won’t spend it on you because they felt judged. They felt inadequate when they read your words, and blamed for not having money when they are spending every waking minute finding ways to make money. It’s even a bit cruel. It makes people, especially new entrepreneurs starting out, feel like they aren’t serious enough because they aren’t wealthy enough yet. The whole “you don’t want it bad enough” trope.

Re-examine the reason for saying this

Maybe you are just trying to weed out the people who aren’t able to pay for your services. Maybe you are targeting the self-righteous, who like you, have found some success and don’t understand that not everyone has the same experience. An acquaintance eloquently said, “I won’t assume that my experience is a universal truth,” and that really resonated with me. I instantly connected it to this toxic idea that it’s all in the mindset and if you want something badly enough, you’ll spend money on it.

It’s manipulative. It turns most people off, except for:

  • people who are constantly doubting themselves and need your approval, and
  • other coaches or entrepreneurs who also believe this philosophy and are frustrated that not enough people are buying their services.

Success is something to be proud of, but…

I find that people who subscribe to this kind of thinking feel solely responsible for their success, and subscribe to this self-righteous mindset that your success happened because you made it happen. Entrepreneurs can have a reputation for being a little egotistical and self-congratulatory, and they have to be because it takes incredible confidence to create your own business. To a degree, yes, you absolutely did make your success happen, and you are awesome for doing that. You should absolutely feel proud of yourself.


Your personal experience does not apply to everyone

However, some of us aren’t there yet. Some of us do not have the same background, opportunities, and resources as you. If you started from the ground up and made yourself rich coming from poverty, then cool, that’s a great story that should be part of your brand. But you should not compare yourself to other people and their situations. If you are a coach, your story is important, but it’s pretty lame to use your background to disclaim others’ motivations. Compassion is missing here, and I feel it’s a pretty important quality for a coach to have.

If you’re a coach and you feel that way, coaching may not be the right path for you

I get that you’re trying to be motivating, but when you use that as a marketing tactic, the only thing I feel motivated about is succeeding without your help. So I don’t know if this kind of manipulation is really working in your favor. It’s great to personally carry that mindset and let it be your motivator, but you can’t approach other people that way and expect them to listen to you. If you can’t even take the time to relate to their situation, they are not going to relate to you and hear what you have to say.

Yes, mindset matters, but reality matters more

I get that it’s frustrating to deal with people who want free help all the time, or keep making excuses about a) why they won’t buy your services, or b) do whatever the next step is to get their business making money. That nonsense is draining.

But here’s the thing: some people really do have very limited resources. Some really don’t have the money to buy your service. That doesn’t make them less serious or driven. I’ve heard the argument that “it’s not about affordability! You just aren’t making this a priority!” Well, sometimes we have to deal with more basic priorities like paying bills and keeping children fed. Which means that it’s TOTALLY about affordability. Not mindset or “not being ready for success.”

Marketing this way limits your audience

You know what, though? Entrepreneurs lacking resources tend to become very resourceful. They could eventually be your next big client or provide complementary services that bring you income. But they won’t, because they felt disrespected by your arrogant ideology that has somehow become part of your marketing pitch.

I would love to know you and work with you, so don’t make the assumption that my lack of success is because I have a flawed mindset.

Everyone starts somewhere.

I want to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with believing that it’s all about mindset, and that if you want badly enough to make it happen, you will find a way. It is effective to adopt this attitude personally, because you know yourself well and you know what works for you. But don’t make the assumption that this is something everybody needs to hear. Save it for your client, once they become your client, and you know their situation a little better. This is not a “one size fits all” philosophy. Please don’t alienate potential friends or clients by making it your marketing line.

This guest post is written by Amanda Kelly of Amanda’s Fresh Copy.  She helps women create content that is perfectly tailored to their dream clients.



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