Posted by: Kristen Beireis, Trust Marketing Expert

hurdleSo, I get a voice mail message from Dad one morning that NPR is doing a segment on Life Coaching and it’s very “interesting.”  I figured it was just another interview with a Life Coach about the benefits of coaching (heard it a million times and I already know the answer), but I checked it out anyway.  I’m really glad I did, because it definitely WAS interesting.

Tom Ashbrook, of On Point Radio, led a very REAL 45 minute conversation about coaching.  For years, I have been saying that there is a “mistrust” of the coaching industry and this show brought it out front and center.  While coaching is gaining ground and credibility is becoming more widespread, there are still some stigmas attached to it.  These stigmas were brought forth side-by-side with the benefits of coaching in this segment about Who Needs A Life Coach? I highly recommend that every coach listen to the recording and take copious notes.  This is what you need to overcome in your marketing.  Here are some of the highlights that stuck out for me and suggestions for overcoming them.

1)  From the show -  ”That sense of epiphany and that sense, that your life is transformed, is easy to come by.”  ”Especially, if someone is already primed to be transformed.”  ”Being a friend is more important to me. [than being a coach]”  - Genevive Smith said after going through core training at CTI and being asked whether it made her more interested in having a Life Coach.

Mistrust that was brought out - First of all, I want to say that there were more positive things Genevive said about her training as well.  She does feel that some people can benefit from coaching.  Just not her.  This is something I hear all the time.  We’ve come far enough that people believe coaching can be helpful, but they just don’t see how it applies to them. I certainly wouldn’t trust someone with my money, if I don’t see how their service applies to me.  Would you?

One change you can make today: Define the challenges you solve - Get specific about all the challenges you solve for your clients.  From the challenges they know they have and will ask you to solve.  To the deep down challenge that they have no idea is there, but you know they must overcome before they get what they want.  Educate them on how the deeper challenge is causing their problem.  Let them know why YOU, specifically, are the one who is uniquely qualified to help them overcome that challenge.

2) From the show - Dr. David Ley (a practicing Clinical Psychologist) brought up; “The challenge is that in an unregulated field, there aren’t a lot of protections.”

Mistrust that was brought out - While Dr. Ley does agree that coaching can help a large group of people who aren’t in need of therapy, he brings up a big issue of mistrust.  While you and I know that there are organizations who have a Code of Ethics each member must abide by to maintain their credential, there are a lot of people out there who still aren’t aware of this.   I was actually surprised that credentialing wasn’t mentioned at all in the segment.  Especially since the picture on the show page is from the ICF.   There are a lot of people, who don’t understand the industry, need help and won’t seek it out because they don’t trust someone with no guidelines to follow.

One change you can make today: Share your code of ethics. If you are credentialed through a coaching organization with a code of ethics, share it.  I see a lot of websites that have some sort of button that acknowledges certification, but does NOT include a link back to the organization’s Code of Ethics.  Usually there is some sort of reporting process too.  Let them know that there are protections in place.  That you abide by a strict set of guidelines.  This is a great way to set it up that you hold a sacred and safe space for them to explore.   It doesn’t have to be a whole paragraph.  Just a button and a link that says “I am certified and I’m bound by these guidelines.”

3) Mistrust that was brought out - Tom Ashbrook did a great job of playing Devil’s Advocate through the entire segment.  The question that kept coming up over and over again was “Why would someone pay for coaching?”  This is what the biggest skeptics ask about any kind of coaching.   Why not just talk to a friend, a mentor, a spiritual leader etc…? Those are all free resources that anyone can take advantage of.   Why would anyone pay for something they can get for free?

One change you can make today: Debunk the agenda. I absolutely loved how they immediately created legitimacy for the coaching industry, on the call, by pointing out agenda.  Friends, relatives, mentors etc… they all have an agenda for you.  When I read coaching websites, I see the words “You hold the agenda.” or “I don’t have an agenda for you.”  Most people outside the coaching industry have no idea what that means.  Debunk this myth throughout all your marketing.  Give examples and/or stories of clients who DID go to a friend, relative etc… and point out how that agenda got in the way of your client.  Add in a sentence like “I’m sure you’ve gotten the advice…. and here’s why that didn’t work.”  Don’t just talk about agenda.  Show them what holding their agenda looks like and in everything you do (telseminars, e-mails, blog posts, social media etc…) show them that you have no agenda for them except to create the change they want.

While I don’t like to see negative publicity about the coaching industry, I do feel this interview shared both the skepticism around coaching and the positive impact coaching has been having as it becomes more mainstream.  Even Genevive admits that coaching isn’t going anywhere and I am in total agreement!  Coaching is just gaining steam and there’s still work to do in bringing more legitimacy to the industry.

What did you learn from the interview?

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