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So you just got your health coach certification…now what?
For most people the next step is learning how to start a health coach practice. If you’re like most new health coach graduates, you don’t have a ton of cash to invest in marketing. Attracting clients will likely need to be accomplished on a budget…sometimes a TINY budget!
You’re in luck, because today, you’re gaining access to an interview I did with digital marketing expert and certified holistic health coach, Amanda Cook. You’ll learn how to get new clients with lots of free and low-cost marketing strategies. Plus, you’ll learn how to build a health coach practice even if you’re an introvert.
For 12 years, she worked in technology sales and marketing in the corporate world. 6 years ago Amanda Cook started her own natural beauty blog where she’s grown her audience to 30k visitors per month and over 8,000 email subscribers.
She now works with wellness entrepreneurs and brands to grow their own audience and business online.
What I like about Amanda is that she teaches others what is working RIGHT NOW in her and other wellness entrepreneurs’ businesses. That way, YOU can build a thriving business too.
So, let’s take some of the guesswork out of building your health coach practice, shall we?
How is marketing for health coaches different from marketing other small businesses?
Amanda Cook: One thing that is different in holistic health is that just through making some really basic changes, like cleaning up peoples’ diets for example, it can fix a whole huge range of problems.
I think that really causes a challenge in marketing because what the instinct of a beginner health coach is to say they can pretty much help anybody fix anything…and that is not good marketing.
Other small business owners will have a really clear idea of what it is they do and who it is they serve, but when you start out health coaching you think “Well, I could really help anybody and everybody could use my help”. That poses a really big problem.
Beginner Health Coaches need to get really clear on:
- WHO are the people they want to serve
- WHAT are the specific problems they are going to fix
The key thing to know is that just because a health coach says they work with a certain type of person to fix a certain problem, it doesn’t mean that they also can’t work with other kinds of people. It’s just that they are marketing to that specific market. A health coach just needs to be very specific about what kind of client they want to attract.
How do health coaches decide on their target audience or ideal client?
Amanda Cook: This is something that gets a lot of new health coaches stuck. It feels like by picking a target audience you are setting the path of your business forever. That feels really scary and limiting!
I really think you should start at what feels easiest.
You should start with the demographic that you are in or a health problem that you have personally overcome.
The idea of focusing on your target market is just to get traction. Just to get started.
Once your business gets going and once you have revenue coming in you can totally help people in other markets too. Once you have the revenue you can use the money to start expanding your marketing.
- Brainstorm all the different types of people that you could help.
- Take a little break
- Come back and look at the list to see if one specific type of person gets you excited
- Just start there, with the one that feels easiest and gets you most excited
What happens if a health coach chooses a market, and then a couple months down the line they think it was a big mistake?
Amanda Cook: Well that’s really normal.
That’s why I think it’s important not to spend a lot of money on your web site to get started…or you don’t even need a web site to get started. I pretty much guarantee that your marketing language, positioning and brand will change after the first few months of starting a health coach business.
When you’re first starting your health coaching business you’re just trying to figure this all out:
- WHO you want to work with
- HOW you want to work with them
- WHAT problems do you solve
- HOW do you get results
The only way you really narrow in on that is by trying several different things.
Many times the changes in your health coach marketing won’t require a full-on pivot.
Let’s say, for example, you want to work with Working Moms.
You might start working with them on weight loss or stress; but then you realize you don’t really like doing that. Instead, what’s been coming up in your sessions is something around helping them sleep better or having more life balance.
You don’t necessarily need to out of the Working Moms market, you just need to tweak your language in your marketing message.
Now, let’s say you just don’t like working with Working Moms. That’s cool. That’s a good reason to switch your target audience. You shouldn’t feel bad about it.
The key is this: You need to be really careful about switching your target audience due to ineffective marketing.
If find a lot of times health coaches will pick a target market, then a couple months will go by and they’ll say “Well, I haven’t got any clients so I must have picked a bad target market When, in actuality, they haven’t really marketed it very well. They haven’t really gone for it.
If you feel like you aren’t getting any traction, take an honest look at:
- if you’ve REALLY given it at least 6 months
- if you’ve gone “all in” on your marketing efforts
- if you have a focused plan to reach out your target market
If marketing for health coaches DOESN’T include a big, beautiful web site at the beginning, then how do new health coaches get clients?
Amanda Cook: You do not need a web site at all to get started. What you need is an email list.
You can start an email list for free on Mailchimp.
What I recommend to everybody, even if you are still in health coach school, is to start your email list. You can add people to your email list from:
- People you know in the real world
- People you meet at talks or workshops
- People you meet online
What I recommend is that you create a free opt-in gift (aka lead magnet). Then, when people sign up for your email list, you give away the free gift. The free opt-in gift can be a:
- Free pdf
- Free audio meditation
- Free video training
- Free challenge
- other free incentives to get people onto your email list
So let’s say you host a workshop, you tell them about your free gift. That’s what you use to entice them to sign-up for your email list.
Even when you have a web site, most of your sales will come through your email list.
People don’t necessarily go to your web site and buy something. They’re not necessarily ready to buy.
They’re going to go to your website and at some point in the future you’ll make an offer, and they will purchase from you.
Some health coaches prefer to work in-person with clients, others prefer to work virtually. What are different ways in which these two kinds of health coaches get more clients?
Amanda Cook: There is actually a big overlap between those twos. For marketing, you need to play to your strengths and the things that you like to do.
You can give workshops as a marketing tool, then sell people on an in-person coaching package OR you can give workshops and then sell people on an online coaching package.
Just the same, if you use online marketing for your health coach business, you can get clients for your in-person OR online coaching.
Workshops and anything you can do in-person is REALLY effective, whether you want to work with people in-person or online. In order for people to work with you, they have to trust you first. People need to know, like and trust you before working with you and that happens much faster in person.
If you’re a health coach that needs to get revenue in the door quick, the best thing to do is go out and meet people in-person to sell them on packages. Whether you deliver the package in-person or online doesn’t really matter, actually.
You can do the same online with webinars, Facebook groups, a blog or a podcast but all of these things just take longer because you have to build your reputation online.
Not all Health Coaches feel comfortable speaking in front of groups or making YouTube videos. How does an introverted Health Coach start to build their business?
Amanda Cook: It all comes back to playing to your strengths.
Ask yourself “What does feel comfortable for you?” Knowing that always as you grow and expand your business, you’re going to push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone. But I get that not everyone wants to be in a YouTube video. That’s totally fine!
Really, there are three main ways people promote themselves:
Look at what you’re best at. If you’re a good writer; awesome, do written content. If it takes you hours and hours to produce a blog post then you might want to look at something else.
If you’re an introvert, maybe a video is actually okay because you’re not in front of people directly.
If video isn’t your thing, what about a podcast? Is that something you can use to build a rapport?
Can you go into Facebook groups and connect one-on-one?
Can you go to networking events where you’ll be making through personal conversations?
At the end of the day YOU HAVE TO MAKE CONNECTIONS with people. There is enough variety in the ways that you can promote yourself, that you should be able to find something that feels good to you. You don’t need to be a YouTube celebrity to be a successful health coach.
You mentioned Facebook Groups as a way to attract clients. Can you tell me how a new health coach could use a Facebook Group to interact with potential clients and build their community?
Amanda Cook: After you’ve decided on your target market, go into Facebook and search directly for keywords like “Working Moms”…or whoever your target audience might be. Find the groups and join them.
But here is the key: in the beginning, don’t promote your health coach services.
Just go into the Facebook Group and be helpful. Interact with people. Answer questions. Share resources.
Act like a member of the community and over time you’ll build a relationship and reputation – even within just a few weeks – THEN there might be opportunities to share how you help people.
You’ll be surprised. Let’s say you just go into a Facebook group like that and answer all the health related questions, by providing expert answers you’ll build up your reputation and people will ask you what you do. You don’t even need to be “salesy”.
Facebook groups are also great for market research.
By listening to what people have to say in those groups, it will tell you:
- what kind of blog posts to write
- what kind of products to create
- what pain points to address in your marketing materials
Facebook groups really are a gold mine of information.
You mentioned you don’t need to be “salesy”. Once a new health coach exhausts all their “warm leads” outside of their personal network, how do they find new clients?
Amanda Cook: Start your email list as soon as possible, so when you’ve exhausted your list of friends and family, you’ve gotten at least a few people on your email list that you can be nurturing.
Everyone starts with NO PEOPLE on their email list. So just get started.
It’s not like you have to “send a newsletter” each month, it’s actually about providing value to the people who are on your list.
If your target audience is the Working Mom, think about what questions she might have. What are those questions you hear being asked in Facebook groups? What are they struggling with?
Send emails and content that relates to those problems. Then, make offers in the bottom of those emails. That is how you use online marketing to promote your health coach practice.
But if you really need clients and revenue the FASTEST way to do it is go meet people in person.
Get More Great Marketing Ideas from Amanda Cook:
- Check out her Marketing Bootcamp for Wellpreneurs
- Listen to the Wellpreneur podcast
- Connect with Amanda on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram