Online marketing for coaches

So you’ve got a brand shiny new website (or maybe not so new) and you’re wondering how to promote what you do. And the thought of marketing on social media might have you quaking in your boots, especially if you’re an introvert!

I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit too old (and a lot too lazy) to be a perfectionist. I’m sick of second-guessing what other people think.

The good news is I don’t have to be perfect to have something of value to share and neither do you.

But I didn’t always feel like this – I struggled horrifically with public speaking when I was in college. I’d forget what I was talking about and it often ended in tears. The anxiety was crippling.

If you aren’t a natural speaker either, maybe you find it easier when you come from a place of trying to help someone else or when you have someone to bounce off.

That’s why I love the idea of taking content you’ve already created where you’re in flow – a workshop you’ve recorded or maybe a podcast and turning it into a piece of shorter content for social media where you share the gold nuggets.

If any of this is speaking to you, I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Kareem Mostafa from Chopcast where we discuss doing your online marketing imperfectly and showing up as yourself. Counter-intuitively, trying to project a flawless image online might actually put potential clients off! Don’t believe me? Watch the video below and see if you’re convinced.

00:00:01.530] – Kareem

Hey, Marie. How are you?

[00:00:02.920] – Marie

Hi, Kareem. Good, thanks.

[00:00:04.850] – Kareem

Awesome. I know we’ve been talking about doing this for a while, so I’m really glad that we’re finally getting around to it. I think it would be good for us to just start with an introduction from your side and from my side, for folks who may have not heard of us before. And then we can have a discussion around what we’re seeing in the space of personal brands as it pertains to coaches specifically. So, yeah, ladies first.

[00:00:30.170] – Marie

Thank you. I am based in Dublin and I’m a web designer for therapists and coaches. I do a lot of hand-holding because they’re not always feeling that techy, they might surprise themselves. So I guess that’s me in a nutshell.

[00:00:47.390] – Kareem

Yeah. Awesome. And yeah, from my side, obviously, like, we’ve started working with coaches on the content repurposing side, basically meeting them after they already have a website and are starting to really build their brand. We basically help them take whether it’s a podcast or just an ongoing video series. How do we take these longer episodes and actually create short-form content, which in many cases is the first thing people will see before they actually go back and consume the longer-form content.

So I was wondering, one of the things we’re seeing on our side is just a lot of imposter syndrome or the sense of perfectionism where you know that you’re dealing with a coach that just knows so much, but they just don’t see that about themselves. And yeah, sometimes it can be an uphill battle for us to be honest, to just let them know and just reassure them that they really already have everything they need to be able to put themselves out there. I’m curious if you’re seeing the same thing, though.

[00:01:49.410] – Marie

Absolutely. I think it’s so confronting for people because they’re probably looking at other coaches’ websites, and they’re comparing themselves a bit. We never think we have enough pieces of paper. And then maybe they say, I’m kind of saying, like, would you think about putting a media pack? And they’re kind of saying, “oh, well, I haven’t really been anywhere”. We go deeper and they’ve been on loads of podcasts, they might have been in the local press, but it’s like something happens, they just totally forget all that experience.

[00:02:24.190] – Kareem

Yeah, and I mean, it’s interesting because in a weird way, this is when… I’m not saying this is always the case, but in many cases, this is a telltale sign that they really do deserve to do that or that they really are qualified to do that. When you meet people who are like, you know what, I know enough to know that I’m not all that or I’m looking at all these other people, that’s how you know that they genuinely care about the quality of content that they do put up.

But interestingly enough, one thing that we’ve learned ourselves as just doing our own marketing and content, but also, obviously for other coaches specifically, is that quantity sometimes could be better than quality, which is a very controversial thing to say.

But it’s almost like if you and I wanted to learn how to, let’s say, ski, for example, we can sit together for the whole day and deliberate on what is the best technique to begin skiing, or we can just get on with it. And yes, we are going to fall a hundred times if it’s our first time. But in a weird way, the more we fall, the more we attempt that thing, aka quantity, the more we can’t help but get better.

Similar to like walking or obviously content as well. And yes, I was wondering if you’ve ever had that kind of like quantity/quality conversation with folks.

[00:03:39.750] – Marie

Absolutely. Absolutely. Because it’s, you know, I think like when you first start creating content, you’re so terrified about what people will think and then you realise it’s me and my dog and one or two friends looking at me. So it’s pretty safe when you’re starting out. And like with clients, once they go and do that first bit of content, normally people are very supportive and they’re kind of cheering them on so they get a nice bit of engagement.

[00:04:15.890] – Kareem

Exactly. And I mean, I can speak from experience, like being an introvert myself. In my previous job, I had to do a fair bit of just like public speaking or just speaking on stage and stuff like that. And I read all sorts of books just trying to figure out how can I stop stuttering on stage or how can I just be more confident on stage or just speaking publicly or providing some type of presentation publicly.

And one of the things I learned and unfortunately, I can’t remember whom I’ve learned this from, so I’m totally stealing right now. But basically, the thing that I learned is that we put too much focus on ourselves when in fact if we put the focus on the audience and generally like what we’re hoping to teach them and start from an educational standpoint, because a lot of people think, oh, well, but I’m not funny, I’m not engaging, I’m not charismatic.

And so a much easier bar, let’s agree, is can you be educational in the content that you create? And then we’ll worry about the charisma or the funny stuff or the engagement piece later on. Because keep in mind, there’s a lot of other people out there who are not like, we’re being observed and judged by Tom Cruise in the audience and Beyonce and so on.

A lot of the people will almost resonate with the message that you’re trying to share and your communication style as well if they see that you are relatable. But if you spend so much time being so polished, like so impossibly polished, that actually draws you away from people, you become less relatable because you’re just so impossibly perfect, or at least trying to be, which is obviously a fallacy, and in so doing, you actually lose the audience. So, I think it’s an interesting dichotomy of like, the harder you try, the less engaged they will be almost.

[00:06:13.830] – Marie

Well, you’re speaking to a woman who discovered she has hair dye on her forehead this morning, so I am nothing if not relatable. That’s one thing I’d say. But the other thing is if you’re trying to say, is this the right coach for me? You really want a sense of who they are, and you can’t. The easiest way I think, to get that is probably video or hearing them speak. And I love that piece about being an introvert because isn’t that a lovely gift as well? Because you can really tune into it might be harder with a big group, but you can really tune into that one person. I know some lovely extroverts as well, but we all have something that we bring, don’t we?

[00:07:03.620] – Kareem

Yeah, absolutely. And I think to your point, Marie, I think it almost becomes something that is a desirable quality of one of the reasons why you’re doing such a good job attracting folks. It does sound a bit cliche to say, but you just need to let your personality shine through because the better that I think it was either Ralph Waldo Emerson or someone else equally as smart who said to be yourself is like the biggest accomplishment of all, or something like that. I’m paraphrasing horribly here, but basically it’s hard enough being yourself genuinely without any kind of filters, or if you are able to talk to people the same way you talk to, let’s say, your partner or your kids or your family and so on, that’s really how you know that you’re genuinely getting as close as possible to being your true, authentic self.

And you’re speaking to other humans as well. So maybe it’s a little bit unexplainable, but people can’t pick up on when on how hard you’re trying to be polished. So, I think this should come as good news for coaches specifically, that the more you really let your personality shine through with no effort and no added anything, the more success you will have in terms of just creating content that will get the other person to say, you know what, this person actually gets me.

This person is someone I can relate to, so on and so forth. I think if people just focus on the educational aspect of what they are doing, whether it’s them sharing stories of something that happened with a client, obviously in full confidence, or even just something that they’ve learned personally, or if it’s just documenting their journey, which is another thing that I wanted to ask you about.

Sometimes people don’t exactly know what to create content about. They might come up with an idea for something and then crickets, basically for the next two or three months. But one of the things that we’re learning as well is just like the ability to just document what you are doing throughout your day, throughout your weeks, what you’re learning as a person. That’s definitely something that we’re seeing pick up for sure.

[00:09:15.890] – Marie

I love that. And as I was listening to, you know, what came into my head, I read this email and it was so cool. The question was, are you catfishing your clients? And it was like, if we present this perfect image on our website or on our social media, and then as a coach, they come in for the first session or they meet you on Zoom and they don’t even recognize you. And I love that about documenting the personal journey. Like, it’s so relatable. I can think of a coach in particular who’s popping into my mind, she’s learning a new skill at the moment, and people love it and they’re really cheering her on.

[00:09:59.790] – Kareem

Yeah, that’s true. And I think another thing as well, just building on your point, Marie, is that people sometimes think, you know what? Again, tying back to the whole imposter syndrome thing we spoke about earlier, when I’m there, then when I’m good enough, then I’m actually going to start sharing my experience or my expertise. When I achieve guru status, then this is the first time I’m actually going to go out. And what’s interesting again, I’m terrible with attributing quotes to people, but there was a quote or something that I’ve read recently in a book that says that sometimes people will learn from fellow students more than from a master.

Because the master or the so-called Guru is just so far removed, so perfect, so ahead, that it’s just so difficult to relate to them as opposed to it’s the same way like me and my wife, when we watch cooking shows on Netflix. We relate a lot more to the cooking shows that are targeted towards just like, everyday people who are just entering these competitions as opposed to the professional, Michelin chefs battling it out. We can relate more to the first group because we’re like, hey, if we really put our heads together, we can probably figure this out just like these guys, as opposed to someone who’s super out there.

[00:11:16.730] – Kareem

And so I think one thing that we’re learning is definitely it’s just a lot more endearing and it’s a lot more interesting when people share their imperfections and share that they too, are learning on this journey, as opposed to saying, hey, guys, we figured it out. Here’s what I have to say as a guru, if that makes sense.

[00:11:39.390] – Marie

I love it. And again, I’m just thinking it just gives people permission. Like, just give it a bash.

[00:11:50.050] – Kareem

Yeah, absolutely. You don’t have to mention any names if you don’t want to. But I’m just wondering, like, are there some people that come to mind that you’ve worked with before that you feel they’re actually an embodiment of all of these things that we’ve been talking about? And what was it about them that actually made them really good at what they do as such?

[00:12:17.950] – Marie

Yes, there is someone, and I won’t name them, but they know who I mean. She was in a networking group, and when she was struggling to do something, she’d kind of get their support or she’d bounce it off them. And I could see that making a really big difference. And whenever she posts content, she’s really generous with engaging what other people create and sharing, and you can just see that being reciprocated. So, I think there’s one that really stands out, and it wasn’t for the sake of it. Like, you knew it was really genuine.

[00:13:04.500] – Kareem

Yeah, I can imagine. And I suppose how can you mirror some of these qualities on the website? Like, given obviously your expertise as far as website design is concerned? How does one go about creating an inviting or like a relatable sort of brand on their website, if I’m making sense?

[00:13:26.450] – Marie

Yeah, that’s really interesting. I think it’s about thinking about the person coming to your website. So how are they feeling? So let’s say you’re dealing with anxiety. You need that to be quite clean, and easy to get around. Maybe your FAQs are really easy to find. Maybe you’re very reassuring with, these are the directions. Or this is what happens if your zoom link doesn’t work so the people aren’t having to dig for that. And then, like, sharing your story and who you are and your struggle that can be written and if it’s nicely laid out, we don’t want a big wall of text, but if you’ve got pictures and you’ve got it just easy to follow – the process is to book in with you. Don’t make people guess. So if I click this button, oh, my God, am I going straight to your phone? No, thank you. Or can I just submit an email to get in touch, just things like that. Just think about the range of personalities, I guess.

[00:14:42.890] – Kareem

Absolutely. And you actually got me thinking of someone now, someone that we’re working with. And I love just going back to something important you said around telling your own personal story, including obviously, any struggles or any points that might be relatable to the audience you’re targeting as a coach. They’ve done a really good job of doing that on their website, but beyond that, also doing that in their summary section on their own LinkedIn profile.

And so we find that what I love about what they’re doing is that, well, it’s one person, but then he has like a group of sidekicks, if you like. And so what I love about what they’ve done as a team is that they start by telling that story on the website, but then when you follow them on social media, it’s almost like an extension of that story or like the details of that story day in and day out. And it’s like, hey, this is something I used to do, but what I’ve learned is so and so. I’m just sharing this information in case it could be helpful or we’ve recently worked with someone who’s struggled with so and so and what we learned working with them is X, Y and Z.

[00:15:50.180] – Kareem

And so I just love this idea of sharing something, not because, hey, I’m going to tell you what to do. It’s more so like, I’m here sharing value. I’m just sharing what I have been learning. It’s almost like your online journal, I’m just sharing what I’ve been learning. And if it affects one person or even zero people, as long as they just get into that habit of just documenting their learnings, that really takes off so much pressure, doesn’t it, from just figuring out, right, what am I going to craft and what will my creation be today for the world? I think that it’s just a very pressuring way of going about it, isn’t it?

[00:16:34.110] – Marie

I think we’ve all seen those posts that are quite directive, shall we say, and telling people what they shouldn’t be doing. And there’s something in me that my stomach kind of turns and I kind of go, maybe that person is doing their best.

[00:17:25.630] – Kareem

Absolutely. And I suppose to wrap up, what is one piece of advice you would have for coaches who have previously made their riches? So to speak just through word of mouth, but they’ve never really taken the step into the digital realm seriously. Like, what would be your one sort of golden tip? Or actually, based on what we’ve been talking about, what would be your one learning that you’d offer them?

[00:17:53.510] – Marie

I think it might be to create your own opportunity. Like put yourself up to write a guest blog or fill in a form and say, I’d like to be on your podcast and just go for it and don’t wait till you’re ready because you might never be ready.

[00:18:19.150] – Kareem

Yeah, absolutely. From my side, the one thing I’d say which would pretty much like complement that, is to focus on quantity and not quality. Because for those who really know, they will realize that quantity begets quality. And so rather than just waiting until your perfect Einstein idea comes to your mind and you finally publish it and it’ll be gone, just take solace in knowing that any post you make, just with the speed of content that’s going on the news feeds right now, within a couple of seconds, people will already get served the next piece of content anyway.

And so I’m not saying this to demotivate, but rather to motivate that like, hey, there should not there’s no pressure. Even if I do create something that’s particularly not perfect or as polished as I’d like it to be, because it is a quantity game. And as I continue to take more steps, so to speak, I can’t help but get better at taking steps and walking and so on and so forth.

[00:19:23.670] – Marie

I love that. And the other thing is, how do you become the person who’s top of mind if they can’t find you?

[00:19:32.310] – Kareem

Yeah, exactly. And just the way social media channels are, obviously, and this will come as no surprise, is you can’t just create, I think a lot of folks approach publishing pieces of content, like writing a book. It’s like, that’s my post. I’ll see you guys in three or four years or something. Enjoy that now. As opposed to like, hey, I need to actually understand how to play this game. And the way to play this game is to not overthink everything in the short term and to just keep the ball rolling.

Because to your point, Marie, that’s exactly how you stay top of mind and how you get people back to your website and getting interested and so on. Thank you for your time today and yeah, hopefully, this discussion was helpful for folks. Did you have any final thoughts to share?

[00:20:20.530] – Marie

I just want to say thank you so much because it’s really interesting to hear someone else’s point of view. So you’ve given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks!

[00:20:30.590] – Kareem

Of course. Likewise. All right, we’ll see you soon. Take care.

Key takeaway – “Courage isn’t the absence of fear – but the triumph over it. The brave man isn’t he who does not feel afraid – but he who conquers that fear”. – Nelson Mandela.

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