In this post, I’ll show you exactly how to design a coaching niche that you can lean on for as long as you work as a professional coach. A niche that makes sense and that will draw in easy-to-find potential clients, people easy to connect with, and – most importantly – people you’ll love to work with.
In our 15 years as business and life coaches, my husband Nick Cownie and I have met brilliant course creators, consultants, therapists, coaches, and other professionals.
People trained in fascinating modalities that really create life-changing results for their clients.
People so incredible in fact, that we’ve hired many of them to keep us growing, improving, and learning.
And yet… No matter how powerful, impressive, or impactful their skills were, the only coaches, mentors and course creators that sustained a regular flow of clients and able to build a name for themselves are the ones able to define who their perfect clients are, where to find them and how to speak to them.
In a nutshell… They have niche clarity and have done the work to identify and evaluate their avatar.
It’s common for new coaches to struggle to define the type of person you should focus on because the skills learned in your coach training and other professional skill development courses are designed to help people. All sorts of people. It is both the beauty of the industry and its pitfall.
The struggle is real!
Indeed, why limit yourself to helping only “single, corporate ladder climbing males aged 35-45 struggling with finding their life partner”, or “ web designers starting their solopreneur journey and in desperate need of lead generations and sales skills” when you know you can change the lives of literally thousands more – if only – you expanded your perfect avatar and niche definition just a little?
And the answer is…
Because without a clear focus on who you’re willing to help, you will struggle forever and fail to elevate your skills and professional profile over time.
The reality is harsh. But it is what we’ve observed over and over and over again…
How can you market your skills if your clients can be both web designers and single men looking for love? (…this is about marketing your coaching business)
How can you guarantee that you will help those people if you cannot explain upfront what you will be helping them with? (…this is about maintaining your integrity as a coach)
How can you convince someone to hire you if you aren’t able to explain to them what outcome and positive changes they will experience in their life/career/etc. as a direct result of working with you? (…this is about crafting your coaching business’s message to attract new clients)
The tools, strategies, and resources required to successfully coach a man searching for love will be completely different than the ones required for the web design entrepreneur, even though – and that’s a very important point – even though you lean on the same foundational principles, tools, and techniques.
Here’s an example: A large proportion of coaches are trained in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) (or they should be…) because NLP includes a wide range of tools that will help your clients overcome personal limitations, as well as empathetic, connecting, and persuasive communication skills.
Our relationship coach (in the example above) might use an anchoring technique to help their clients be in a charming, centered, and calm mood while going on dates; while our web designers’ sales coach will use that same anchoring technique to help their clients ignite a state of hyped-up confidence before engaging in calls with potential clients.
The result? Same skills, same techniques, same proficiency of outcome and client impact, yet wide difference in how the coaching skills are used in a professional manner.
The same can be said for hundreds (if not thousands) of other techniques and skills used by coaches.
So what makes a good coaching niche?
A lot of ink has been poured into discussing the topic. You will find dozens of articles and videos online dissecting the question, but we found that much of it is vague, imprecise, and leaves you more confused than before you started your search.
Ultimately, there is more than one way to define a good coaching niche. That’s where most fail to deliver a foolproof solution. Leaning on our experience, here’s our formula for finding and assessing your perfect and profitable coaching niche.
The Coaching Niche BUMP’ed
Just like a house, a good coaching niche requires solid foundations.
In the age of internet marketing, these foundations must include three components:
- WHO ARE THEY ONLINE?
A type of person easy to find online: your ideal client must have a specific relationship status (married, single, etc.), or maybe work a specific job (dance studio owner, architect, employees of medical centers, hairdresser, etc.), or maybe it is something else that is unique to them. But that is the key to your avatar identification.
Think of it like this: if you walked into a room filled with a complete mix of people and your task was to find a small group of potential clients in less than a minute, what is the very first question you would ask them to get rid of anyone OBVIOUSLY NOT right for you? What would you say to them?
- All hairdressers, come with me!
- Single women with children only.
- Who are the married white-collar professionals?
- People working on overcoming grief, please stay in the room.
Refine your answer until you’re happy that everyone left might be a possible prospect to you.
A note on a person’s income. Most coaches add criteria of minimum income in their perfect niche definition because they want clients that can pay for their services and not waste time doing the pre-work with clients who obviously won’t sign up for their programs. That’s fair enough and also something we recommend. However, keep in mind that we’ve also worked with countless clients who didn’t have the minimum income we recommended but were able to source funds by selling assets, getting a loan, taking on a silent partner, leaning on a family member to afford our services and benefit greatly from working with us. If you plan to set income criteria, we recommend you word it in an inclusive way such as an “affordability” criteria instead of setting monthly income only.
- WHERE ARE THEY PHYSICALLY?
Then, you need to make sure that you are happy with where these people are located.
Be clear on a specific city/area, country(ies), and/or language: you must know either where they live (specific city/area), and/or the language they speak (this is essential if you plan to welcome international clients or focus on coaching in a language different than English like “French expats in Australia”)
Will you coach people only locally and face-to-face, or go international with online meetings?
Are you set up to take payments in foreign countries and possibly other currencies?
Do you prefer to work with people in your time zone?
All these are important considerations because – and we may or may not have made this mistake before… 😉 – signing up a perfect client on the other side of the world that can only be coached between 1 to 4 am where you live is hard work!
You also want to make sure that you speak the same language as your client… (sounds obvious, but what if your ideal clients are highly educated bi-lingual Indian people living in Bombay? You want to make sure they are in fact fluent in English if you’re not proficient in Marathi. Language will in many cases become an important factor to specify.)
- WHAT IS THEIR #1 SHARED PROBLEM?
Once you understand who your ideal client is and where they can be found, you need to turn the dial towards you and decide what you are most interested in, qualified to do, motivated to help them achieve, or overcome as their coach.
If your perfect client is a single middle-aged woman running a hair salon and living in L.A…
How exactly will you help her as your main focus?
- Will you help her grow the confidence to date again?
- Will you help her shift careers?
- Will you help her sign-up clients in their hairdressing business? or…
- Will you help her shift their business model to a hair salon membership with only loyal and regular clients?
Your main coaching focus is essential to understand and elicit because this is the #1 problem you will market and help your perfect client with.
Harming Self-Talk Warning: As professional coaches, we both know that you will do much more than help them do that one thing. The details are to be clarified down the line as you get to work on your business model. For now, trust our process and decide what your #1 clear, specific, and highly impactful coaching focus is (what you help them fix/change/achieve in their life or business as a real-world result).
Now you should have a clear understanding of who your ideal coaching client is at its foundation.
How to check if your answer is correct?
Open Facebook, Instagram, or Google and type the keywords that make up your answer in the search bar. (i.e. “LA Female Hairdressers”) If the searches that come up wouldn’t be a fit for your coaching business, you need to further refine these criteria or change the wording of who they are.
What’s the next step?
Once these foundations are clear for you (Who, Where, Shared Problem), you need to “design” the look and feel of your house, aka your coaching niche.
These are the things that make you connect on a human level with your prospect. Once you have recognized a group of suitable prospects, which ones are “the ones”? What makes them different from the others?
- Is it their age?
- What are their personality types, traits, feelings, obsessions, and quirks? (introvert, extrovert, kind and generous, obviously angry and frustrated, addicted to their phone, hate technology, people who take responsibility for their mistakes, etc.)
- Do they have a specific interest, belief, or viewpoint that makes them just right for you? (keto diets for weight loss, dating offline “the old-fashioned way”, driving clients to a live webinar instead of a sales page, etc.)
- Are they all part of the same group? (a specific social media group/page, members of a club (sport, art, personal development, etc.), people who have gained the same qualification (wilderness survival experts, NLP practitioners, government job retirees, etc.)
This is where you want to spend some time thinking about the kind of person you want to spend your work life with… In most cases, you will deal with this “person type” for the duration of your coaching career, so it is vital for you to be able to recognize them easily.
As an example, an ideal coaching client for us is someone whom we would trust to leave safely with our children for a few hours. If we don’t feel comfortable doing that with them, we usually don’t accept them as clients.
Of course, we almost never actually leave our kids in the care of our clients! It is more of a character assessment. They are the kind of people that we trust implicitly. This criterion is in place for us because we know that if we trust someone, we will care enough for them to really do what it takes to help them through their growth journey with us as coaches. It’s a decision based on our own integrity.
As you can see, the decisions you make in regards to whom you want to work with will have deep repercussions on your daily experience as a coach. From the clarity of message, ease of connection, and increased chances of success, your coaching business will suffer if you fail to define your coaching niche.
Scroll down to the comments section below and share now your definition of the perfect client and the niche that you decided to work in as a result of reading this article.