My wife has a friend that would like to leave her job in higher education to pursue a career as a life coach. But like most people Rachelle is afraid to quit her cushy job to explore the unknown. I get it, it seems counterintuitive to leave a secure job that provides you and your family with a good paycheck every two weeks to start a business that is unproven and may not work out. That is just too much risk for some people.
Still Rachelle knows that nothing ventured means nothing gained. If she doesn’t try she’ll never know if she could be successful or not. But Rachelle wants to mitigate her risk as much as possible so she asked me, a seasoned entrepreneur who has started multiple businesses, some of which have surpassed the million dollar a year mark, to take a look at her business idea and marketing plans.
The very first thing I do to try to help Rachelle is find out if her business idea (becoming a life coach) fills a need in the marketplace. There is no sense in going further and reviewing her marketing materials if there are no customers for her services. According to the trusty Google machine coaching services are big business. Life and business coaching is now a $2 billion industry and still growing. It’s actually one of the fastest growing professions in America and has one of the highest employment and use rates of any profession.
O.K. Rachelle has passed test number one. She has chosen to start a business that fulfills a need in the marketplace. What’s even better for Rachelle is that she’s chosen an industry that is not only producing but growing! You couldn’t ask for anything better when researching what kind of business to start.
Now we move on to test two: Find out if anybody is willing to buy what she is selling. In today’s economy it’s not enough to enter a proven market; you also have to have products or services that people are willing to shell out their hard earned cash for.
Rachelle tells me that she wants to help her clients reclaim the passion in their lives that they’ve lost and help them find a new direction. Uhhhh…I don’t know about you but that all sounds a little hippie-dippy to me. Can you imagine telling your friends you’re going to see a life coach to rediscover the passion in your life? Your friends would laugh at you and tell you to not to waste your money on crap like that.
This is Rachelle’s problem. While she has a large customer base in which to sell to and a line of products and services, her offer is weak. Let me say it again: It’s not enough anymore to have a product that fulfills a need in the marketplace. You have to offer products that people will spend money on. That’s the hard part. Some products would be nice to have, but in this rougher, leaner economy you’ve got to create products that customers say they have to have.
So…How do you do that? The good news for Rachelle is she won’t have to change the services she provides or the methods she would use to go about helping her clients. I told her to instead just change the way she defines it. You need to define how your products can help people while always keeping in mind the bottom line.
Instead of helping clients rediscover the passion in their lives, Rachelle should focus on the tangible benefits she could provide her clients with. Like finding a new job or creating a business around their passions. Now she has defined the value she is providing to her clients. Her new message shows clients a tangible result they can achieve, yet her message is still broad enough to appeal to clients across all walks of life. It’s important to describe to prospective customers the value you can provide to them in the most tangible terms possible. You want to be specific and whenever possible mention a financial outcome.
Furthermore, the results she promises (making them happy, providing motivation, and helping them find new opportunities) are services that people are more willing to pay for. Would you be more willing to pay for services that will increase the passion in your life or for services that will partner with you to find new opportunities that will make you happier in life? The second option describes much more of an economic benefit. This is why marketing messages that describe how they can help a client find a new job opportunity sells better than finding passion. If your customers believe you can help them make money or save it they are much more likely to buy from you.
Rachelle came to me with at least some idea of the way in which she wanted to sell her services. But what if you don’t know what products or services your customers want? This is where market research comes into play. Your business will become successful much faster if you know ahead of time what your customers are looking for.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be successful in business. Nor do you need to spend a bunch of money to find out what exactly your potential customers want. In fact all you have to do is ask. Call up others in your industry and inquire about what products/services they are selling and at what price points. Additionally find out what services people in your target market have bought in the past and at what price point. Find out what their problems and goals are. The more you know about the spending and buying habits of people in your market, the better you will be at getting them to buy from you.
Like I told Rachelle the point of your marketing message and materials is to get clients to see your products as “have to have right now,” instead just nice to have. Services that help you become more passionate are nice to have, but not necessary. Finding new opportunities and partnering up with someone to accomplish your goals sounds more along the lines of something someone has to have and can’t wait till later on to buy. The more concrete you can be about the results clients can expect, the more likely they are to buy.
Food for thought.