Episode 9: Finding Your Ideal Clients

In this week's episode, we're going to explore the two paths you can take to find your ideal clients. Plus, I'll share with you the number one mistake I see coaches make when it comes to finding clients.
Finding Your Ideal Clients - Coach with Clarity Podcast with Lee Chaix McDonough

9: Finding Your Ideal Clients

I know the idea of starting a coaching business in the midst of a global pandemic can be unnerving, but one of the many great things about offering virtual coaching services is that our businesses can still go on in a relatively normal manner. I'm even seeing this with my own business.

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Show Notes

I know the idea of starting a coaching business in the midst of a global pandemic can be unnerving, but one of the many great things about offering virtual coaching services is that our businesses can still go on in a relatively normal manner. I’m even seeing this with my own business.

I’ve had to make a few tweaks, like recording this episode at my husband’s dental practice since quieter than my home at the moment, but it’s pretty much business as usual for me.

So, with that fear aside, let’s dive into how you find coaching clients for your business.

Topics covered

  • The number one incorrect assumption I see many coaches make when they first start their business
  • The two paths for finding coaching clients
  • The three questions you need to ask yourself if you want to directly engage with your ideal clients
  • Why you shouldn’t focus on driving traffic to your website in the beginning
  • The one question you need to ask yourself if you want others to refer your services
  • How to approach someone you believe might be a good referral connection

Resources mentioned

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Well, hello friends! Welcome to another episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast. My name is Lee Chaix McDonough and I am so honored to have you join me today. 

So a little bit of behind-the-scenes for you. As I record this, it's April 1. I am recording this in my husband's dental practice, because it is currently closed due to the Coronavirus epidemic. And with my husband and my children at home, I realized that the best, quietest place for me to record this podcast would actually be at his office, because there's no one here. So, you can imagine me sitting in my husband's dental office recording this for you, and figuring out how to move forward in my business and with the podcast, even in the midst of a global pandemic. 

And I suspect many of you who are listening can really resonate with that. There are very few people, if anyone, whose lives have not been affected by Coronavirus. Many of us are under stay at home orders. Many of us are finding that our businesses are significantly impacted as a result. And so if that's you, I just want you to know that you are not alone, that my family is going through it, and if there is a silver lining in all of this, and it may be a little early to look for silver linings, but if there is, I believe the silver lining is that we are all witnessing just how interconnected our world is and how connected we are to one another. And my hope, my sincerest wish, is that this newfound level of connection and empathy that we are all experiencing will lead to some truly positive growth in the world.

That's what I'm holding on to during all of this, that even as I struggle some days to figure out how to create a new routine for my family that balances virtual school with running a business, and all of the stress that comes from social distancing, and not having our typical outlets of connecting with friends and family, I still hold on to hope and hold on to the belief that when we are through this crisis, we will be more connected, more compassionate, and more understanding than we were before. 

So, just wanted to start off the podcast kind of sharing my perspective on things. And I will also tell you that even though Coronavirus has disrupted a great deal of my life, it actually has not disrupted my business too dramatically. And that's because as a coach, I'm able to work pretty much anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

That's one of the advantages of coaching is that there's so much flexibility inherent in how we work with people, that when we face crises that disrupt everything, we can find some stability within our coaching business. I certainly have. I've loved that I'm able to continue to support my private coaching clients, and my Coach with Clarity members, regardless of what's going on in the world. I know that I can hop on a Zoom call, or I can dial into my members only room, and we can show up and connect and I can support and pour all sorts of love into my people. 

So I want to share that too, because if you're listening to this podcast, and especially because today's topic is all about finding clients, I want to serve as an example of what's possible – that even in the midst of a global pandemic, where the world has been turned upside down, it is still possible to connect with and serve our clients, to do so in a way that comes from a place of love, while also growing our businesses and bringing in revenue that can support our families.

So it is possible, and if you would like support with that, well, that's exactly what I do, both within the Coach with Clarity membership, which you can learn more about at https://www.coachwithclarity.com/membership, but also with a limited number of private clients that I serve. And if you're interested in one on one coaching, you can learn more at https://www.coachwithclarity.com/coaching. 

So with that, why don't we dive right into today's topic, which is a big one. It's all about how to find clients. And before I share some strategies that I've used to find clients and grow my business, I want to start off with the number one mistake, or maybe the number one incorrect assumption, I see many coaches make when they're first starting out. 

So many of my clients who are just starting out, spend a lot of time and energy and money at the very beginning creating a perfect website. And this website has all sorts of pages and links, and don't get me wrong, oftentimes they are beautiful. But they have invested so much time in that because they assume that once they have a beautiful website, then the clients will just come rolling in. 

I also see a lot of clients who spend a lot of time on their social media profiles, whether it's their Facebook business page or their LinkedIn profile, again, with the assumption that once they have their profiles and pages all set up, that the clients will just find them and roll in. 

And I want to caution you about that, because the truth is, early on in your coaching practice, your website and your social media platforms and business pages are unlikely to find you new clients. 

When I talk about websites, I really look at them having two purposes. On one level, they can be a lead generation source, so it is a way to bring traffic into your business. And it is the first place a potential client finds you. So, that may happen further into your business once you've established a presence online, once Google's algorithms are rewarding you so that when people are searching for you or your niche or coaching, then perhaps you will be at the top of the list. 

But when you're first starting out, or even when you're within the first few years of your business, your website is probably not going to be the first encounter someone has with you. What I find is that a website tends to be more of a verification tool for your ideal clients. 

So what that means is that they've already come into contact with you elsewhere. Perhaps they saw you at a public speaking event, or they are in a Facebook group with you and saw some of your comments and the value you were contributing to the group. However they entered your world, your website was not step one. Your website is where they went, once they were aware of you, and they wanted to learn more about you. 

So essentially, they were verifying that you are who you are, and that you do what you say that you do. In that sense, I think websites are incredibly important, and I do think that when you are first starting out, it is important to have an online presence. You want to have some virtual real estate in the form of a website. But it does not need to be this huge, grandiose project right away. 

In fact, I generally recommend that my clients start with a simple, one-page website. I wanted to have your picture on there. I want it to describe your ideal client and what they are experiencing right now today in this very moment, and where they want to be, and then introducing yourself as the guide that can get them from today to their ideal tomorrow. And then at the bottom, you can have a contact form or a link to your email or to your calendar, but that's really all you need at first – just a very basic one page website where people can see who you are, what you do, and find a way to contact you. Because again, this website is going to be where clients verify you, not where they initially find you, at least not at first. 

In many ways, the same goes with your Facebook business page or even your LinkedIn profile to an extent. Most times people will not be discovering you for the first time through your Facebook business page or even through your LinkedIn profile. They probably already met you at an event or seen you online. If you're publishing blogs or on Medium or podcasts, perhaps they've learned about you there and then are going to your social media profiles to connect with you further, which is great. But again, they are not initially finding you on those platforms or profiles, they're finding you elsewhere, and they are verifying and connecting with you xext, that's the next step. 

So when we're talking about finding clients, I don't want us to make the mistake of thinking that if we have a website, or if we have a Facebook business page or LinkedIn profile or any other social media platform, that that is sufficient. Those are all wonderful resources to have, and I highly recommend them, but we need to think about them as verification tools, and not as the primary methods our clients will find us. 

So that's the number one mistake or faulty assumption that I see coaches make – relying on their website or their social media page or platform to do the work of finding clients for them.  Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk about what you can do to find clients and to build your business. 

So when it comes to finding clients, there's basically two paths you can take. And actually, I recommend that you take both of them – more on that in a bit. But the first path is to engage directly with your ideal client. Now, if you've listened to the earlier episodes of the Coach with Clarity podcast, then you already know all about how to identify and clarify your niche. And if you haven't checked those out yet, I highly recommend that you head over to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/podcast and take a look at the past episodes because there's so much good information in there about developing your audience and clarifying your niche. 

We're going to start from the assumption that you know exactly who your ideal client is and who you want to work with. With that knowledge. I want you to answer three questions. Number one, where is your ideal client already? Number two, what does your ideal client need and number three, how can you fill a part of that need for them where they already are? 

Let's break down each one of those three questions separately. First, where are they already? I've heard a lot of people talking about driving traffic to their website or to their offer, and asking the question, How can I bring more people in? How can I drive traffic to me? I'm going to suggest that that's not the right question to be asking, at least not at the start. 

Instead of focusing on driving new traffic to us, we need to pay attention to where the traffic is already going. So if you know that your ideal client is already heading in a certain direction, then you want to meet them on that path, and maybe even disrupt the path so then they start moving towards you. 

Here's an example of what I mean. Let's say your ideal client is a corporate mom. So she is a working professional, she's got kids, she's probably juggling a lot in her life. Where is that corporate mom already? So we can answer that just by kind of taking a look at her day to day calendar. Well, certainly we know she's at work at least eight hours a day, probably more than that. Depending on the age of her children, perhaps she is heading to daycare in the mornings in the evenings to pick her kids up, or maybe she's heading to schools or after school programs, so those are other places where we're likely to find her. 

And hopefully, she's also finding some time to take care of herself and all of that. Maybe she attends yoga classes, maybe she enjoys getting massages, so we could think about other places she might be. 

We could take this even further and start asking ourselves, what kind of hobbies would she have? What professional associations or community associations might she be involved in? So we can start thinking about where she is in the real world. 

Now if she's like most people She also spends some time online. So then we can ask ourselves, alright, so where is she hanging out online? Is she reading blogs? Is she listening to podcasts? Is she in Facebook groups? Or are there certain Instagram hashtags that she's following? So we can now take this idea of where is she and apply it to the virtual space as well. We can brainstorm all sorts of possibilities about where our ideal client already is both in the real world brick and mortar, and also online. So we're going to come back to that in a second. 

But first, I want to go into question number two, which is, what does your ideal client need? Now if you've taken the time to really explore your ideal client and do some of that niche development work that we talked about in earlier podcast episodes, then you're going to be able to answer this question pretty easily. You understand your ideal clients challenges and struggles and you know their desired outcome. So what they need is a way to get from point A to point B. 

So let's take our working corporate mom again. She is balancing a lot, she is balancing the demands of her job with the demands of motherhood. If she's married, then she's also factoring in the intimate relationship as well. And not to mention the fact that she needs some time for herself in all of that as well. That is a lot to juggle. 

And if she's feeling stressed and overworked and overwhelmed, then on some level, perhaps she's feeling like she's not able to balance all of those needs effectively. So that could be something that she needs some guidance or some support in creating a plan to balance all of that. So that's one example of what she needs. 

Again, you are becoming the expert in your ideal client. So you will know through your research, through having conversations with people who embody the traits of your ideal client, you will start to have a really solid understanding of their needs. And so that is something to keep in mind to, what does your ideal client need? 

Because then when we pair the answer to question number one – where is your ideal client already? – and the answer to question number two – what do they need? – we can start creating a path forward to answer question number three, which is how can you fulfill part of that need? 

So our corporate mom, she is working really hard, feeling stressed, having difficulty balancing all of the responsibilities in her life. We know that she's spending eight to 10 hours a day at work. She's probably at schools or daycare. There may be some community or professional organizations that she's a part of. And then there may be some places where she goes for some self care 

If we can meet her where she already is, and provide a service that addresses part of her need to find balance and some order amidst all of her responsibilities, then that is going to be a perfect opportunity for us to find her, or really for her to find us. 

So for example, perhaps an option would be to connect with the HR manager at a local business or corporation and talk about providing a lunch-and-learn about work life balance and managing stress. Or maybe you're going to go to your local yoga studio and propose a workshop on a similar topic. 

So once we understand where she is in the real world and what she needs, we can provide the beginnings of a solution for her where she's already at, so we make it super easy for her to find you. Because again, we are paying attention to that traffic source. We see where she's already going, and we're simply positioning ourselves where she already is. 

And when you pair that with showing up and providing something that will benefit her, something that she will value, then we make it even more likely that she's going to reach out, that she's going to connect with you that she'll go to your website or your Facebook business page to verify you, and that's where you can continue the relationship. 

So when it comes to finding clients, the first path is to focus on the ideal client themselves. Ask yourself the questions: Where are they already? What do they need? And how can you fulfill part of that need, where they already are. When we do that, it opens up channels for us to connect with our ideal clients. It gives us the opportunity to serve them before they've even really entered our world, and it makes it far more likely that they will want to connect with us, learn more about us and come into our business as a paying client. So that's the first path, which is engaging directly with the ideal client. 

The second path I want you to consider is engaging with people who can refer your ideal client to you. So these are your referral sources or your referrals. For many coaches, it's this path that brings them their very first paying client. It certainly was for me, and it has been the case for almost all of my clients that their very first paying client came through someone they knew through a referral source. So this is a very important path to explore. 

And one question I want you to ask yourself about the referral is – how can making the referral benefit them? So you may have heard the term WIIFM or “what's in it for me?” That is a question that we do need to keep in mind when we are thinking about our referral sources. We want to make it not just as easy as possible for them to refer people to us, but we want to solve a problem or fulfill a need for them as well. 

Now, for some people, it may be as simple as feeling helpful or feeling of service, and knowing that by connecting you with someone who needs you, they get to be the hero. That's their good deed. And there's a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from being the person to help. And so sometimes that's enough, just letting referral sources know just how helpful they've been both to you and your business, but also for the person they're referring, because you're going to be able to really show up and serve them powerfully. 

In other cases, the benefit to the referral source may be even more direct. So let's look at that working mom example again. One place that she goes is the pediatricians office, right? Especially if she's got little little ones, she's going in there on the regular, but at least every year, if not more often for sick visits and so forth. Well, I know that most pediatricians would love to spend a lot of time connecting with their patients and with the parents, and that they want to be able to engage deeply and show up and serve their families. That's especially the case when the family is feeling stressed out or anxious or struggling. 

But the way that our medical care system operates, oftentimes, that's not possible. Pediatricians are running on a very tight schedule, they only have a set amount of time that they can spend with every patient, and that creates a lot of pain for them, because they want to be a part of supporting and caring for the families and the parents, but the current structure doesn't necessarily allow for that. 

Well, what if you came in and you had a conversation with that pediatrician, and you framed your services as a way of benefiting the parents. And you could say, “My specialty is helping overwhelmed stressed out moms find more balance in their life. And so if you are coming across an overworked stressed out mom, perhaps I might be a good resource for her.” 

In doing that you give the physician something that they can do or something that they can offer to their families that will benefit them. And so then they can move forward feeling like “Yep, I've done my part, I'm helping out my people. I'm taking care of my families the way I want to.” 

So you get the benefit of having a referral, and they get the benefit of knowing that they're continuing to support their families and ensure that there's someone out there who will be supporting them through it. So that's just one example of how we can look at a potential referral source and see how making the referral could benefit them as well. 

So when you are engaging with potential referral sources, it is so important to be explicitly clear about who you serve. You want to make sure that you have your message dialed in, so that within 15 or 20 seconds, you can clearly state who you serve, how you serve them and what the end results are. And then, if they want to know more, you can elaborate from there. 

But you want to make sure that you have that message really honed in. And you may find that the message you deliver to your ideal client differs a bit from the message that you deliver to your referral source. And that's totally fine. In fact, that's preferable. 

We want to make sure that our marketing messages are really attuned to the people we are talking to. And in this case, you're talking to your referral source. So dialing in your marketing message is going to be step number one. 

Step number two is to make the ask. And I know that this can seem really scary, but it's one thing to say “Hey, I'm a coach and I work with working moms who are struggling to balance the demands of their profession and their career with home.” Well, that's great. Okay, that's pretty dialed in. But you haven't really asked your referral source to do anything. So step two has to be make the ask. And that can look like just asking the question, “Who do you know who could benefit from working with someone like me?” Or “Who do you know, that could use a little support around work life balance?” 

It doesn't have to be high pressure or salesy or anything like that. It's simply sharing who you are, who you serve, what it looks like, and then asking them “Who do you know that could benefit from my services?” 

Now, sometimes you might be surprised, sometimes that referral source might turn out to be an ideal client. And the answer to that question is, “Well, that sounds like me.” Well, if so great, now you can start engaging with them as a potential client. But oftentimes, they'll say, “You know what I know so-and-so, I should connect you” or “You know what, I work with a lot of people who fit that bill, I wonder if you would want to come in and maybe do a presentation.” Whatever that looks like, we want to follow up on that. 

Oftentimes, I will ask the referral source to share my information with that person, just because for me, I don't necessarily like to reach out to someone who doesn't know me and it's completely cold. I would prefer to have the referral source reach out to that person and say, “Hey, I met someone that I think would be a really good contact for you.” And then a few days later, I will send an email to the referral source and thank them for making the connection. 

I'm starting from a place of assuming the best and assuming that they've passed on my information. That way if they have, I'm merely thanking them for something they've already done. And if they haven't, it's a gentle reminder to share my information with them. But I always want to follow up and I always want to follow up with a thank you, and thank the referral source because they are supporting you. They are helping you and a little bit of gratitude goes a long way. 

Okay, we have covered a great deal in today's episode. I've talked about some of the mistakes that I see new coaches make when it comes to finding clients, namely, relying on their website or their social media platforms to do the work for them. And then we've explored two paths that you can take to find clients, one path focusing on the ideal client themselves, and another path focusing on the referral source. So this seems like a perfect time to transition into our Clarity in Action moment. 

So this week, your Clarity in Action moment is a bit of a challenge, if you choose to accept it. So for path one, where we're focusing on the ideal client, I want you to answer those three questions for your ideal client. And as a reminder, those three questions are: Where is your ideal client already? What does your ideal client need? And how can you fulfill part of that need where they already are? 

So this is going to be some brainstorming on your part to get really clear about where they are, thinking about real world as well as their online presence, and thinking about how you can show up and serve them where they already are in a way that fulfills part of their deepest need. 

That might look like providing a workshop or a webinar at their place of business or at the local library. Maybe it looks like pitching yourself for a podcast that your ideal client is likely to listen to. Maybe it's writing a guest blog for someone, there are all sorts of ways that you can show up and serve your ideal client, but it's time to get creative. 

So set your timer for 5,10,15 minutes and give yourself the gift of brainstorming. There's no bad ideas, just get it out on the paper and see what comes up for you. That is going to be the start of your connection plan with your ideal client. 

And once you've done that, I want you to shift your focus and start thinking about your referral sources. What are some genuine and good-feeling ways that you can connect with them? What would it feel like to send out an email to your friends and family, letting them know about the work that you're doing and who you serve. Or, perhaps at your next professional networking event, you can set a goal of talking to five people about who you are, who you serve, and asking them who they know that might benefit from your services. 

Again, we can get creative here. There's no right or wrong way to do this. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll get at it, and before you know it, you'll be finding all sorts of avenues to connect with potential clients. 

I hope you have found today's episode to be inspiring and helpful. I would love to hear how you put what we've discussed today into action. So you can join me over at the Coach with Clarity Facebook group and let me know just head to https://www.coachwithclarity.com/facebookgroup to join and feel free to post your unique creative ways to connect with your ideal clients. I can't wait to hear all of the innovative creative ideas you have for doing so. 

You can also find me on Instagram @coachwithclarity and feel free to send me a DM and let me know how you are putting these tactics into action in your business. 

My friends, wherever you are, I hope you are safe. I hope you are well. And I want you to know that I remain committed to serving you as you build and grow your dream coaching practice. I will be back next week with another episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast and until then, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough encouraging you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity. 

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