Like most coaches, you probably wish you had more clients. And if you want more clients, you’re likely doing things to achieve that, like trying to build an instagram following or going to events related to your coaching niche and hoping that you might meet someone.
But even if you are trying these things and finding success at meeting and engaging with people, you’ve probably noticed that turning those people into clients can be hit or miss.
When I started as a coach, I wished someone would give me a simple formula for creating clients that would also give me the flexibility to do it my way.
So I spent some time observing how I get clients and how the coaches I know get clients, and I came up with a formula myself. I call it the Client Acquisition Formula (good name, right?)
Here is how it works:
My Client Acquisition Formula
- First, someone gets a level 1 experience with you. They become aware of you somehow, whether they hear you speak on a podcast, watch you on YouTube, meet you at a conference, or something similar. A level 1 experience is any experience that creates curiosity and interest but is 1-way in terms of the connection itself.
- Next, if the level 1 experience resonates with someone, they’ll become curious about you and want to learn more about what you do or who you are. They will go on your website and book a call with you or send you an email––whatever contact method you’ve made easy for people to find is what they will use. This call or email will then be a level 2 experience, an experience that goes two ways. You’re in a real conversation with them. You’re talking to them, and they get to respond.
- Finally, if the level 2 conversation indicates that you’re a good fit for them, then some of these people will go on to hire you. The key here is that people only hire you after having a level 2 experience of you. And most people will only ever have a level 2 experience of you if they’ve first had a level 1 experience of you and your work.
The Single Most Important Question You Should Be Asking
Rather than asking yourself how to get more Instagram followers, the more useful question you should ask as a coach is, How can I give enough people an experience of me so that they will want to hire me?
When you ask this question, it evokes much more creativity and possibility––and provides a much more exciting way to find clients.
For example, one of the coaches in the CoachingMBA used to work in HR. He felt that many LGBTQ people in HR didn’t have a strong community, so he thought it could be great to run a group where people could discuss the challenges of working in HR and being LGBTQ. These calls gave people an experience of who he was, and as a result, they hired him, referred him to others, or shared his work with others. These calls combined something he was passionate about with the art of giving people an experience of him.
As another example, there’s a coach I know who was at some point interested in doing plant medicine, so he started attending plant medicine ceremonies in Costa Rica to learn more. But because he’s a coach, he wouldn’t just show up to learn for himself; he’d help people learn how to process their experiences with the medicines. And as a result, some of these people hired or referred him. Again, this worked because he gave people a personal experience of him throughout these shared retreats.
Yet another example is my partner Nicolette, who is currently trying out a bunch of different offerings. She does Tai Chi, Tarot Readings, a Masterclass, etc. Because her business is new, she doesn’t know what exactly will work, but the crucial factor is the same––all her offerings give people an experience of her.
Once people have a genuine, personal experience of you, they are much more likely to hire you.
Your marketing isn’t providing an experience of you.
Coaches tend to hate marketing because we think it’s a game of hooking, tricking, or convincing people. But that’s not what excellent marketing is about.
A lot of marketing breaks down when people don’t get a realistic experience of you. There might be a pitch, copy, or photo, but it doesn’t work because there’s no you in it. Or there’s no real experience in it. Like it or not, you will generate more clients and sell to more people by letting them see you, not just your branding.
So focus there first. Ask the question: How can I give enough people an experience of me such that they will want to hire me? And then aim to answer it with everything you do.
So if you want to try this out, here are the steps:
- Make a list of all the things you do or enjoy in which people get an experience of you, like speed dating, cocktail parties, social dances, anything.
- Then filter your list by the ones you think will be most effective and that you actually want to try. At this stage, you are still determining what will work, and it can take some trial and error.
- Notice what works and do more of it.
But remember the fundamental question––it’s not how do I get more followers or get on podcasts? Those are actually the answers. The question is, How can I give enough people an experience of me such that they will want to hire me?
When this is your focus, everything else, like podcasts, Instagram, ads, events, and conferences, becomes a tool for you to accomplish that.
Finding more clients requires switching your focus to what you’re creating, a.k.a. the experience, rather than focusing on how or where you’re creating it. That’s where the real juice is.