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Conscious Marketing For Coaches


Host: Stacey Chadwell

Interviewee: Paulette Rao, MCC

Show: TCE Coach Radio

Date: October 21, 2009, 8:00pm

Length: 30 minutes

Paulette Rao shares about fear and marketing with Premier Coach Stacey Chadwell on this episode of The Coach Exchange’s Blog Talk Radio. Paulette is the principal of True North Resources, her executive coaching and consulting firm helps leaders advance their skills and get clear about their goals. Her coaching is founded on her twenty-eight years experience as a senior leader and marketing expert.

Stacey: Paulette is the principle of True North Resources, executive coaching and consulting firm, where she helps leaders advance their skills and get clear about their goals. She also has created a company called Conscious Coaching Institute, to train and develop coaches.

Thank you for joining us tonight, Paulette, how are you?

Paulette: Great, thank you Stacey, I’m wonderful. Good to be here.

Stacey: What does it mean to consciously market?

Paulette: That’s a good question. To consciously market means to awaken to your sense of how you’re showing up in the world, and allowing your actions to flow from that place. It’s having a clear understanding of your thinking, of your being, as well as your doing.

Marketing today is often thought of as a doing activity, so consciously marketing means going on the inside, examining the thoughts and feelings, and then allowing the doing part to flow from that place.

Stacey: I see. So, do you have an example of what that would look like?

Paulette: When I work with coaches who are looking to build their practice, they often come to me and say that they’re struggling. There is a lot of effort, there’s fear, there’s lack of revenue, and they’re simply not making money doing what they love.

So, an example of helping someone consciously market themselves really means working with that person to, not by first looking at their marketing plan, and looking at their actions, and looking at their strategies, but by really saying “How are you feeling about marketing? Let’s start on the inside. Let’s take an inventory of your thinking, of your feelings around marketing.” More often then not, Stacey, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of discomfort, and it makes sense to them that the marketing efforts are not translating into new clients and revenue.

Stacey: I can see that. So it’s a very kinesthetic approach.

Paulette: Yes and, I would add, organic.

Stacey: That’s a good word, I like that. So, how do you define “marketing”?

Paulette: I have a very different definition than most people. Again, it’s as a result of holding a different view about marketing for coaches. For me, marketing is revealing who you are and what you offer, authentically and naturally, so as to attract the people you most want to work with. I tell coaches, in order to be conscious with your marketing, you need to fall in love again with what it is that you’re offering, and then enroll people in that.

Stacey: So selling it from a position of passion, perhaps.

Paulette: Exactly – it’s about passion and connection, and really sitting in the middle of the gift, the contribution that you put out in the world, and talking to people from that place. Not from the place of products and features and benefits and rates, but rather from your passion and commitment to wanting to really help people, facilitate positive change, helping people develop and move forward.

When you speak to people from that place, they can connect to you. They catch it, they get it. They know that you’re committed to their results, they know that you’re committed to them, and it becomes a very easy process for them to say, “Wow, I’d love to work with you, may I have your card?”

Stacey: That makes sense – nobody feels like they’re being sold to, so you’re taking that out.

Paulette: Right! You hit the nail on the head. Oftentimes there are so many marketing tools and books and programs out there that teach you to come off a bit like an infomercial, a bit sales-y. What happens, especially with coaches and trainers and consultants, is that they entered into this profession because they truly want to affect change in the world. Not necessarily because they wanted to make a lot of revenue, because it’s not typically known as a profession that is the highest earning, although it certainly can be, if you market yourself authentically. So what happens is that people who are very committed to helping others fall into ways of marketing that simply are incongruent, and what that creates is a very uncomfortable and unattractive vibration and connection to other people, where others think “Ooh, I’m being sold to,” as you say, or “I’m not sure this person cares about what I need or who I am, but I see they have a product to sell. I’m getting that loud and clear.”

So this is really about not selling anything, but about sharing your gifts, and I think that a very organic way to sell benefits, as your say, or features, is to tell a story. Storytelling really communicates the features and benefits, so to speak. For instance, there’s someone that we’ve worked with that had a problem, that was up at night with some sort of issue, whether it was meeting a target in an organization, or maybe it was a coach looking to get credentialed, and we helped them find the solution. Telling that story, and having a few of them in our back pocket, allows us to communicate our value, without having to do the checklist of features and benefits, and coming from that very inauthentic, sales-y place.

Stacey: Exactly. Well, you talked about fear a few minutes ago, before. Can you expand a bit on the parts of fear that mitigate our ability to grow?

Paulette: Of course – there are so many, and it’s different for all of us. It’s also to a different degree but in working with coaches for the last five years who are failing to fill their practice, and really working with them to identify their self-limiting beliefs and fears, there are a top five to seven. There’s the fear of failing, no surprise there. Another one of the biggest is fear of rejection, the fear that if someone finds out that you’re flawed, they won’t like you, won’t want to work with you, that they’re going to say no to you. There’s the fear that you’re annoying people by marketing.

Thinking “I can’t put out a note through Facebook because people don’t like that. I know I don’t like getting things in the mail or in e-mail.” They’re afraid they’ll be disliked if they’re successful. They’re worrying what other people will think or say. The problem with these fears is not whether they’re true or not, it’s just that they hold us back from going out there and expressing ourselves, and speaking to potential new clients. They stop us cold from marketing, these fears, especially the fear of rejection.

My feeling is that, when people can really get clear as to these fears that mitigate our abilities to create results in our practice, and get present to what those fears are, you have a new awareness. You start noticing your little gremlins that are ramping up every time you get into a networking situation, or you’ve just given a seminar somewhere and now it’s time to mingle with the crowd, and the gremlin is on your shoulder saying, “I don’t really want to bother them, I hope they don’t think I’m selling anything to them. You know, the economy is really awful right now, no one has money.” The gremlin has numerous scripts, and it’s going in your ear, and if we’re listening to that stuff, what comes out of our mouth, our way of being, energetically, is tainted. And people get it. They might now know exactly what’s happening, but they sure know, “The energy doesn’t feel right, I’m not really okay with this conversation.”

This is the strategy for putting them aside – notice it, realize it’s just a gremlin. It’s false evidence appearing real, my acronym for fear. Put it aside as powerfully as you can, reconnect to why you chose this profession, and speak from that place. If you need to do that ten or twenty times, that’s ok. You start getting quicker at noticing the fear, better at putting it aside, and it becomes easier to reconnect with your gift and start speaking from that authentic, honorable place, where you know that you can help people and you want to. You are the answer to their prayers, and they just need to spend a little bit of time with you to figure that out.

Stacey: Well I have a question – Let’s say that I do have one of these fears, or any of them. How do I manage to get past them to build my practice?

Paulette: Again, it’s really a three step strategy. Noticing it is the first and most important step. Noticing it in and of itself makes you realize, “It’s not me, it’s my fear,” because how could you notice it if it were you. So noticing it immediately reduces its impact. And then, if you go to step two, by putting it aside and choosing another way to think, is really the formula for teaming the gremlin, as I call it.

Stacey: Besides managing our fear, what else is key?

Paulette: Our mindset, the inside piece, is first and foremost. But once we really get a handle on that, we need to start creating messages that are impactful and powerful, concise, compelling, that people want to hear. People like to talk a lot about what they do, and the results that they create, but there really is a marketing syntax. There’s a way to speak about what we do that really has impact. So the second piece is creating compelling messages. And the third piece is creating an action plan, where you can take all those messages, and your new mindset, and go out there in the world, and meet up with the people that you consider to be your target markets. And the very last piece, and that I’m finding really critical, is that when people finally get to that place, and they’ve done those three things, accountability is key, because, over time, the gremlins start ramping up again. If we have accountability, if we’re part of a mastermind group, if we’re working with a mentor, we really get the support, the inspiration, and the reminder to keep checking in about the fears, and to keep staying centered and grounded in who we are and what we offer, and to keep working our plan.

Stacey: Well that makes sense. What is the first step that you would recommend someone to do in order to get more conscious about their marketing?

Paulette: I think the first step is taking an honest inventory of how you feel about marketing. Really asking yourself, “What are the thoughts that come up when I think about stepping into a room of people, whether it’s a conference or to do a keynote speech – what am I truly feeling? What are all the self-limiting beliefs that I have?” That is step one. And once you identify that for yourself, then start identifying, “How well equipped am I, what’s in my toolkit? Do I have my messages prepared, do I have my stories? Can I speak about my value and my credibility? Do I know what makes me different? Do I feel comfortable speaking about all these things?” And then, if you see some shortfalls, then I say get a marketing mentor and get to work.

I notice that a lot of coaches spend so much money, Stacey, like myself, on getting credentialed, on getting “skilled up”. I went to two different coaching schools, and then I got credentialed by the ICF. I invested so much time and money, and worthwhile time and money, in doing that. But oftentimes I meet coaches who tell me they read one marketing book, or they took one marketing class. And actually, it’s preposterous if you think about it because marketing is more than fifty percent of what we’re doing as coaches, especially when we start out, it can be up to eighty percent. And to think that we’d spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours getting skilled up as a coach, and we might buy one book or take one class in marketing really doesn’t make sense, when we understand how critical marketing for coaches is to our success.

So I say use your hours that you need to get anyway, your CE hours to become a coach, and seek out mentors in the industry that have built a practice in a way that feels authentic and natural, and ask them if you can learn from them.

Stacey: You recommend using mentors to help you get that extra knowledge?

Paulette: Yes, coaching and marketing mentors.

Stacey: Excellent. Do you have any other advice for anyone that is maybe starting out in the coaching field? Because that’s where we learn our bad habits of sales, when you’re listening to these gurus telling you “This is the way to do it.” So what would be your advice for someone looking for marketing for coaches?

Paulette: Right out of the gate, take a class in marketing. This way you really are starting out well-armed, with tools and skills and ready to go. Oftentimes I find coaches will start looking at their marketing one or two years into it, when they’re having a hard time. Instead, make it part of your primary education as a coach.

Stacey: I think that makes sense. Well, Paulette, I really appreciate you being on the show tonight, thank you so much.

Paulette: Thank you, Stacey, it’s been a pleasure to be here.

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