What You Promise in Marketing

Are you worried about what you’re promising in your coaching promotions and feeling like you can’t deliver?
I want to explain a few basics about messaging, what coaches do, and how to describe your services in a way that is congruent, transparent and authentic so that by the end of this dialogue, you feel clear and comfortable with what you are promising.

The Backstory
A lot of coaches tell me they are worried about making big promises that they can’t keep, or about giving people the wrong idea.

Some coaches also feel they aren’t a good enough coach to help the person get a result, so they are worried about being able to deliver.

Today, I am going to help you to clear up these myths and solve these challenges once and for all, so you can promote your services confidently and authentically.

Let’s start with a reminder of what coaches do and don’t do, some promotional messaging basics, and then talk through some examples so you can be clear on what you ARE promising, and what you are NOT promising. Then we will finish with an explanation of what health and wellness coaches do.

Remember – What Coaches Do and Don’t Do
Firstly, and before we break down the marketing copy, remember that as a coach, you are not treating or administering any therapy to a client that would make you responsible for their result.

As a coach you are helping people to create the time and space to focus on developing habits that will get them a result they want. And that’s very different.

Please keep that in mind as we proceed with how we help people.

Also remember that your promotional messaging is NOT about what you do or how you do it. You need to know how to answer that question if asked (and I will cover it at the end), but your promotional copy is ALL about your niche client.
Let’s dive in.

Promotional Messaging Basics
I think part of the reason that coaches struggle with their advertising is that they don’t know what to say to attract clients and then explain what they do to these prospective clients.

The foundations of good promotional messaging are built on trust, rapport and relationship.
Good messaging creates these things by focusing on three foundational points.

Right now, I’d like you to imagine a triangle that has those three points

  1. Your niche clients’ big struggle in their words
  2. Your niche clients’ success or vision, in their words
  3. Your solution and how it fills the gap.

    Your advertising needs to speak to those three things.

    I think where a lot of coaches get caught up is in describing the problem and solution. When they do this, coaches feel kind of responsible for fixing the problem and creating the results.

    No, no, no.

    This is the first myth I want to clear up.

    The reason you describe the niche clients struggle and success is so that they recognise you as someone who understands their specific needs.

    They can recognise themself in your words, so you become visible and attractive to them.
    Here’s a really bland example. It’s like me saying – are you wearing a red shirt and white sneakers, but wish you were wearing a fancy black tracksuit?

    In this example it’s clear that I’m not going to give you a tracksuit! I am calling out anyone wearing a red shirt and white sneakers who wishes for something more stylish!

    So that’s the first point – speaking to their struggle and success to show that you understand them. Your marketing copy needs to cover these two points in the triangle.

    The next bit is explaining how your solution fills the gaps.

    Note that this is not describing WHAT your service is – it’s explaining HOW it will help them.
    Let’s break it down so you can get clear on what your role is in their journey, and how to convey it.

Describing HOW Your Solution Helps
When describing how your solution helps, you need to be clear that you are helping people to follow a process to get to the result they want – you are NOT promising the result itself.

Your clients are the ones who are responsible for doing the work, not you. You can’t follow them home and make it happen.
But you CAN help people to get a result by helping them follow a process.

It’s very clear that we want people to be attracted to the outcome that they want to achieve.

And you were going to speak to that outcome, but you’re not going to promise to deliver it.

You are going to show them the technique and the process for getting there and you are going to hold them accountable to doing that work. And that is the difference.

Let’s use a fairly benign example to illustrate this point – dentistry.

Let’s say you are a dentist who is also a coach and you are doing a promotion for your services.

You know that you have to make the service sound really appealing and so you want to talk to the results that people are going to get. Then you’re going to walk them through how they’re going to get that result so that it’s clear that you are not responsible for the result but they are.

The dentist example
Let’s say that your program promises to help clients achieve clean, white teeth free of plaque and holes, following a proven, three step process.
Sounds good, right? So what is the three step process?

Well firstly the dentist is going to make sure that you’re accountable to brush your teeth every day three times a day following his recommended method. He’s also going to make sure that you are accountable to floss your teeth twice a day following his recommended method and at the right time in relation to brushing your teeth.
And thirdly he’s going to recommend that you use a specific toothpaste and mouthwash at the time that you’re brushing your teeth.
So as you can see it’s a very simple three step process that anybody can follow.
The problem is that most people don’t follow the method or aren’t sure about the best way to do it, or they lack commitment and self-responsibility to keep doing it.
And that’s why coaching is so important. If the dentist was a coach he would be helping you to figure out how to make those daily habits happen so that the result would follow.

The weight loss example
Let’s say that your program promises to help clients lose weight by developing a healthier relationship with food using an evidence-based method.
Sounds great. What does it mean for you?

Your evidence-based method is positive psychology and (in coach speak) it includes a vision, realistic and enjoyable goal setting, and perhaps some positive psychology exercises.

Your program helps them to develop positive and enjoyable habits that are linked with weight loss, and that if done consistently, should see weight decrease. They choose the habits. The weekly goal setting and review process helps to create accountability and navigate obstacles.

As you can see, in this case, the client will follow a process of what’s important and feels good, which moves them away from the negative thoughts, judgement and restriction that often accompanies weight loss.

Explaining what you do as a coach
As you can see, it’s very important to be clear on using your client’s own words in the promo copy for your program.
If asked, you should also have a clear and simple explanation of your role as the coach.

But for now, let’s assume you want to position professionally and give some info on the benefits to the client. That is the ‘rough’ formula for your statement of what you do.

The Coaching Psychology Manual by Moore and Tschannen-Moran discusses the fact that coaches facilitate client-directed neuroplasticity – in other words, forming new habits that change the brain.

Words to this effect, and/or discussion of coaching psychology and/or positive psychology are relevant to set the scene around what you do.

In addition, remember that we help clients develop their own foolproof process for change, that they can enjoy and be consistent with, so that the result can be realised.
Coming up with a simple statement is important. Make it relevant to your audience, but it could be as simple as something like this:

Health and wellness coaching is based in coaching psychology and it facilitates neuroplasticity – your brain’s ability to change.

My role as your coach is not to advise or direct, but to help you follow a step-by-step process to achieve and be consistent with your health goals.

When you work with me, I will walk you through this process so you can develop your own fail-proof habits and process around healthy eating, sleep, stress management, exercise or any other area so that you can feel more energized, focused and confident.

Marketing is all about your ideal client and it needs to focus on their story.

It’s easy to get lost in explaining coaching services or being plagued by the thought of promising what you can’t deliver, or simply underdelivering.

As you can see, the thing clients are stuck with are not WHAT to do, but HOW.

Therefore, your job as a coach is to explain the process by which you help them, in words that they understand, so that your scope of practice is clear.

Melanie White

Melanie White has worked with business start-ups and in business management, leadership and wellbeing since 1994. She helps individuals and businesses to build resilience and do business ‘their way,’ so they can have an impact in the world and change thousands of lives. Melanie has helped to launch four successful businesses across three industries including her own successful coaching business. She has helped countless graduate coaches to launch their own small businesses.

Her vision is to help people gain the clarity, structure and confidence they need to turn their passion into a profitable, sustainable business that is authentic and purposeful. Melanie delivers the Passion to Profit business program for students of Wellness Coaching Australia.