This article was co-authored by Fiona Walsh and Emma-Louise Elsey. Fiona is Emma-Louise's business coach!
Ever wonder how to differentiate your business in a world where there are many competitors? Your brand is a key tool for your company to capture your customer's attention in a crowded market.
And your brand is more than just your logo, or the look and feel of your website, although they are part of it! Your brand is also who you are when you communicate online - on social media and in emails...
Where everyone looks the same, a strong brand is more than a pretty picture. It tells your customers key things they need to know like:
- Who you are
- What you stand for
- What to expect from you and
- That their expectations will be met - or surpassed
One way of looking at it is to say that:
"Brand is the conversation people have about your company when you're not in the room."
Can you afford to be left out of that conversation?
Here are 4 things a good brand can do for you as a coach:
- Increase your business and personal profile - positively influencing how customers perceive you, often before you even meet them!
- Shorten the sales cycle. When people trust and have high expectations of your brand, they'll make a decision to work with you more quickly!
- People are more likely to talk about you and share your stuff. People are proud to be associated with you!
- Earn more $s! People don't pay premium prices for the product or service itself, they pay a premium for perceived brand value.
Remember that your brand sets people's expectations. When you meet or surpass expectations, brands eventually becomes a 'hook' that get you to a place of premium value. People happily pay $100 for a Versace T-shirt, $5,000 for a watch from TAG or $15,000 for a weekend seminar with Michael Jordan.
And here are 7 (free!) ways you can build your coaching brand online:
1. Take the time to find or create relevant, quality content
Express your unique coaching brand by sharing content and helpful information around your niche area, eg. quotes, articles, images and infographics. Share your thoughts as well as other people's information, but take the time to be sure what you share fits with who you are. Content sharing demonstrates your awareness of what's going on in your field - and purposefully builds your brand.
- Tip: Ask, "How much do I agree with this out of 10?" If it's not an 8 or more, don't share it!
- Tip: It's great to create your own graphics, quotes and articles to share. But remember to keep sharing other people's information too. If you only share your own stuff it can make your brand seem self-serving (and not very "social")!
- Tip: Don't spend TOO much time crafting and finding the lots of perfect content to share on social media. Think about the return on your (time) investment, and focus on quality rather than quantity!
2. Help others
There are so many people who are busy promoting themselves online. Social media is called "Social" media for a reason! So help others, reply to questions with helpful information, links, recommendations and suggestions. This shows (rather than telling) people that you know what you're talking about!
- Tip: Remember you can also share other people's stuff when helping others - it makes you appear generous, open and engaged in your area of expertise.
3. Show people who you are!
Who you are is your greatest asset - especially as a coach! This doesn't mean sharing personal information as so many people fear. One easy way to show people who you are is to say what YOU think of something you're sharing. "I found this thing, it's pretty cool - number 4 is super helpful" or "I found this, but I disagree with X". Other ideas include telling the world what you stand for - and what you will not stand for. Another great way to show people who you are on your own terms is to tell a story - especially a success or "lesson learned" story.
4. Own "your voice"
How you talk about things, the words, expressions and images you do (and don't) share are utterly unique to you. The conversations you have and comments you make online also represent your brand. Before posting, ask yourself, "Does this sound, look or feel like me and how I want to be represented in the world?"
- Tip 1: If you're unsure, read it aloud. Is this how you might talk? If it sounds flippant, wooden or stiff, you may be trying too hard. Say it how you would say it to someone in person!
- Tip 2 : Your voice is yours alone - so be careful what you hire someone to do for you!
5. Pay attention to your social media and newsletter stats (but not too much!)
Learn how to use the statistics provided by the various social channels or from your newsletter provider. Mailchimp, Facebook and Pinterest for example give you lots of information! Learn which topics and posts resonate with your audience and which don't. Learn the best times to send or post things online. AND while it's good to get lots of likes, comments and shares - it takes a while to build a following. Not only that but people are incredibly busy and have short attention spans, so don't take it personally!
6. Consciously build trust
Here are a few ways you can build trust in your brand online.
- Check your facts (as much as you can!) before sharing.
- Check for errors! Once people know you, you'll be forgiven an occasional spelling lapse or typo. But you want people's first interaction with your brand to be top-notch!
- Keep what you share "in line" with your brand and who you are (see number 4 above). Don't confuse people with mixed messages.
- If you're going to disagree with someone online or post a controversial topic, keep it civil and give others the benefit of the doubt. Remember that everything you do and say online can be found again in the future - and shared everywhere.
- Do what you say you're going to do - even if no-one is watching.
- Communicate regularly - even if it's daily or weekly. People like to know you are predictable.
- Make the effort to check for and respond to comments. And show that you're appreciative of the time someone took (even if it's not a 'good' comment).
7. Become a thought leader!
This means thinking about the issues in your niche, and around the problems and goals your clients have. Then share your thoughts in a helpful way! Contribute a new angle to a discussion, share an article on what YOU think is important. Showing that you are not just "following" the crowd is a great way to establish your coaching brand (and build trust too!).
In Summary - you're a brand, whether you like it or not!
Build your coaching brand on quality content, personal engagement and thought leadership - and your business (and bank account) will thank you!
If you liked this article on brand and marketing, you may also like:
- Are You Disco Ball Marketing? | By Steve Mitten
- Two Key Types of Coaching Clients & What You Need To Know To Easily Market To Them | By Stephan Wiedner
- How to write an About Page that Rocks! 6 Key Tips | By Julie Nowell
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