Marketing coaching: Lessons from the other side

Over the past year I’ve started offering marketing coaching as a service. Before I took on my first coaching client, I had a very clear idea of what I had to offer and how the relationship and meetings would be structured.

But as with any coaching/mentoring situation, the details can’t be planned. With coaching, it is very much about building a relationship and exploring themes together in the context of clear goals.

In the first session with a new coaching client, I always chat about objectives. We work together to identify what the client wants to achieve in the immediate, short and long term. This provides the overall structure for the rest of the sessions. The following meetings are relatively fluid, with topics influenced by previous discussions as well as whatever is going on in the client’s business at that time.

Having now worked through a few cycles with different coaching clients, I have a good idea of what it takes to get the most from working with a marketing coach. Here are my thoughts.

Do the work

My approach to marketing coaching is based on ABC: Accountability, Bravery and Cornerstones. The business owners with whom I’ve worked so far have all mentioned accountability as one of the things they’ve found most valuable from our relationship.

We all know it’s more likely you’ll do something if you’ve told someone else you’re going to do it. That’s why people have accountability buddies for everything from exercise to quitting smoking. But even with the best intentions a friend won’t offer you the same level of accountability as a coach would.

A good marketing coach will have sympathy for your situation, but won’t give you an easy way out when you start making excuses. They will also help you identify what is standing in the way of your progress and work with you to find strategies and tools to overcome those obstacles.

The most successful coaching clients I’ve had so far are the ones who didn’t want to look me in the eye and admit they haven’t sent that email they said they were going to send. Or ask if we could postpone because life got in the way of them doing their homework (because I give homework).

So instead they committed to getting things done, using the techniques we discussed in our meeting to make sure they made the time to do it

Reflect and celebrate

One of the biggest issues small business owners have is lack of time. I get it. You are often wearing many hats: owner, finance, marketing, buyer, IT … the list goes on. If you find yourself somewhat frantically going from one job or decision to the next, you will know that weeks and months can go by with no real chance to stop, breathe and think. Constantly winging it means you miss out on the chance to think strategically about your business.

You just keep on doing things the way you’ve always done them as you can do it with your eyes closed. But old tricks become old hat pretty soon.

That’s when you need Bravery - the B in my ABC of marketing coaching. But breaking out of the mould of how you’ve always done things or thought about your business requires time.

Regular marketing coaching meetings help because they provide time and space every couple of weeks or once a month for you to sit down, think, reflect, dream and plan. It is reinvigorating. It gives you back inspiration and enthusiasm.

They are also an opportunity to celebrate. It’s so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of running a business and thinking about next steps, that we often don’t take the time to look back and reflect on how far we’ve come.

This is important, because it reminds us that we’ve made progress because we are good at what we do and because we work hard.

And it’s especially rewarding when you’ve done that brave thing. It feels amazing when I reflect with a client on how they have ventured outside of their comfort zone and unlocked something new in their business.

It’s not me, it’s you

Coaching isn’t about you bringing a list of marketing questions and me telling you what to do. In fact, you’ll probably find that I ask more questions than you, and there’s a good reason for it: you already have the answers. You just need someone to help you unlock them, to unpick your tangled thoughts and ideas, and give you a fresh perspective.

The old adage is true: give a business owner a marketing idea and they can run one campaign, but teach them some marketing fundamentals, and they have insights that can last them forever.

Or something like that.

For me this is about the C element of marketing coaching: Cornerstones. If you invest in marketing coaching for your business, you are buying far more than 6 hours of time for yourself to think. It is the foundation of a new marketing approach for your business, and the foundational tools and knowledge to make better marketing decisions forever.

Is marketing coaching for you?

Marketing coaching isn’t for everyone, and every marketing coach isn’t the right match for every business.

So rather than just sell marketing coaching packages to anyone who’ll buy them, I first have an exploratory call with anyone thinking of working with me. This way we can see if we’re right for each other and whether now is the right time for us to work together in this way.

Interested? Then send me a message so we can chat. I only have two more spaces for new marketing coaching clients available this year: one in October and one in November.

Perhaps marketing coaching isn’t for you - at the moment or ever! That’s totally fine! If you want to hear my thoughts in a different scenario, why not sign up to my newsletter for marketing tips and advice?