List Building to Get Coaching, Consulting Clients

 Several of you have asked how to build your list. So, I’ll spend some time over the next few days talking about how to do that. 

But, first, let’s take look at the overview of how that fits into the overall building of your business. If you have no goal for how many people to reach out to when using your initial list, or if you don’t know how that list fits into the bigger picture, it’s likely that your list building won’t deliver what you really need in the first place.

You’ll need at least Two List Categories . . . Several Lists in Each 

List building is the first of several steps to acquiring a client. It’s important to see how that list fits into those because a lot of coaches are making the wrong offer to the list. If your goal is to SELL COACHING, which is your end product, to that list . . . it probably won’t work

There are several models you might follow for your marketing funnel. Here is the one I follow with two alternate paths.  

We’ll discuss the whole model at a later time. For now, it’s enough to know that the list building starts this all off and then feeds to the free giveaway or initial evaluation coaching session. Your job is to develop an “Offer They Can’t Refuse” as he next step. Develop something that is so compelling, and mouth watering, and they’ll snap it up.

In any case, for now, the rest of our discussion will be about the list building itself.  

list building to get coaching clients

Is there more than one kind of list?

Yes. We’ll be maintaining two lists.  

The first is the list of SUSPECTS, the ones who haven’t even heard of us yet . . . . this is  list of people who fit the characteristics of the ideal client, ideal income levels, within the types of businesses (for business coaches) or ideal lifestyle characteristics (for life coaches), ideal jobs (for career coaches); ideal buying patterns, ideal behaviors, etc. It is a list of potential buyers that are the most likely to need our service, the most likely to buy our services, and the most likely to spend the most money for our services.

The second list is the pared down list after they’ve raised their hands to say they really do want and need some first step with us . . . and after qualifying the suspects (we don’t want just everyone who walks through the door, some still are not IDEAL clients. We are still separating them.) In any case, this second list is now following us receiving emails, following our blog, and even showing up for some of the freebie or low cost teleseminars, or local workshops.  

The second list is composed of followers who now know us and want more.

Notice in the marketing funnel that the second block says “opt-in”?  The ones on the second list have “opted-in” to become followers. 

It sales, those who actually buy have “gotten to know us, like us, and trust us.” The marketing funnel is a series of steps where they re getting to know us, like us and trust us, so the first list is turning into the second list as they get to know us better as they sample more and more at each step until they are chomping at the bit to spend some money to get even more from us.

Measuring and Optimizing Success 

This is IMPORTANT, so don’t forget to do this.

At every step of the marketing funnel from the first one on the left, to the last one on the right, there will only be a percentage of those that entered that block moving to the next block. Your job . . . if you decide to accept it . . . is to optimize each block . . . what you say within that box to the participants . . . and how many times you say it . . . so that you are constantly increasing the percentage of those that move to the next block as they get to know us, like us, and trust us. 

The measurement of percentages that move from block to block is your measurement of success in each of those blocks of how many really get to know us and like us.

We also have to be in control of how many people are fed into the box on the left at all times. And this isn’t random number. Once you know what your current percentages are in each box, and what your wants and needs are for the number of clients you want in the far right hand box, you know how many people you should be reaching out to.  

The reason that most businesses fail is that they do a little of this and a little of that in marketing, they are throwing something against the wall to see what sticks. They keep the marketing activities low until they see some significant numbers roll out. But when they don’t know how many should be rolling out, most NEVER see any real results come out. They don’t know that if they had reached ENOUGH people, or if they had tweaked their marketing message their numbers would have skyrocketed. Instead, they dabble, and end up throwing the marketing out, and going back to freebies with the same marketing message that didn’t work in the first place. They create a marketing failure . . . it’s built into the way they market, and they eventually give up saying, “Well, no one wanted my coaching/consulting anyway.” But there were hundreds a month within your city, and 10’s of thousands a month around the nation looking for what you do. But you are missing out by not approaching it properly.

So, let’s say that you want to make $100K this year, and that your focus is more on the mastermind groups than on one-on-one coaching. At $500 a month per person, that’s $6,000 per member if they stay for a year. If your goal is to make $100K, then you’ll either need to have a group of about 17, or possibly 2 groups of 8-9.

My suggestion is to shoot for 10 in a group and then if you fall short you’re still on target at 8-9 in each of 2 groups. 

In any case, now we know we need 17 mastermind clients if we are only going to do mastermind groups, but some of those will ask us for the more personal one-on-one coaching help.

I’ve adjusted the marketing funnel income below that comes out to $100K. Just keep in mind that those coming out of the Info products step, some may go straight for the one-on-one coaching, so those numbers will actually be higher.  

Just assume that this is a “model” to help you get started, and your numbers will be different at first, and the actual flow you end up with may work around one or two blocks once you get it working smoothly. This is a rough starting point for you.

Actually, later, I’ll show you how to invert your marketing funnel. For now, they enter at the left and work their way up to the one-on-one coaching. When we get further along I’ll show you that within that “Initial free coaching” step that we’ll invert the marketing funnel, by “selling them on the whole concept” and then giving them an opportunity to CHOOSE which of these methods they can afford and want as their starting point. 

As I said we want to start with the END in mind, so we started knowing that we need 12 in our mastermind group, and 2 or more coaching clients throughout the year. (You should get more! This is for our discussion).

Let’s take a look at the “12” mastermind clients coming out of the “Info Products” box. Within the “Info Products” box is a 15% conversion. Which means that, for this to deliver 12 people, we will have to feed 12/15% = 80 people into that box.  

get coaching clients marketing funnel

So, you can calculate backwards, until you get to the first number, which is how many people do we have to go after with our marketing efforts, 5,000.

I hope that makes a very big impact on you since most coaches are talking to 5 to 10 people a week. That would be 800 weeks at 10 people a week to get just those 12 mastermind people and 2 one-on-one coaching clients . . . most coaches will not survive more than a few weeks at this rate.  

Either we’ve got to reach out to this many people, OR we’ve got to increase the response rates in many of these blocks. Those are your only two variables to adjust.

You don’t have to follow this model, but you will have to follow this, or design your own model. The idea is that if you can’t make it work on paper, you won’t be able to make it work in real life.  

So, design your business, along with the measurable results, on paper first. Then measure, measure, measure . . . the REAL results. When you get real results you can plug those numbers back into the model.

If your real results show lower response rates then you adjust . . . usually the first and fastest fix is to increase the number of people you reach out to so that your results are coming right away . . . and while you have done that . . . tweak your marketing message to get higher response rates. Eventually it will all come together. 

If we worked that a little different, and said that coaches who are meeting 10 people a week would, after about  a year of this, have 1 or 2 clients for their mastermind group.  Or, as I said above, adjust the number you reach out to higher until you fix your marketing message and you’ll see these numbers reach up fast.

One of the reasons that you’ve heard me hammer on you about marketing messages is that the marketing message is a BIG key to this all becoming easier.  

Now, if you are getting more than this model shows, great! Then plug in your numbers for each of these blocks and you’ll discover an even better way to do what you are doing while using this model. For now, I’ve used some rough conversions that aren’t too challenging for coaches.

Over time, we’ll work together to raise each of those numbers for you once you have your own numbers plugged in. 

For now, this is to show you how to manage your business with the end result in mind and constantly tune up any block that needs tuning up.

Back to your list building. 

What is the purpose of the initial list of suspects?

Take another look at the marketing funnel. The first box on the left is to reach out to the ideal suspects that don’t know us, and turn them into our second list of followers who do know us and have raised their hands saying they want more from us.  

Within that first box are LOTS of different ways of getting those people coming to you after hearing about you, or experiencing something from you.

Article writing – doesn’t require an initial suspect list because you have written article that people who need what you have were looking for. You had keywords in the article that caused the search engines to help people find that article. Within the article they read about a suggestion you had for them, and IF they liked it, at the end of the article you gave them an offer to signup for a newsletter, or get something free that they wanted and needed. That’s when they stepped up and signed up. They raised their hand, said they wanted more, and moved to your list of followers.

Networking – not a whole lot different from the articles. In this case you met someone either at a local networking event, or an online event, they got to hear someone you said that would help them, and then you made them an offer to get your newsletter, signup, or come to one of your events where they experience even more. They just raised their hands saying they want and need what you have. They just joined your list of followers. 

But two of the options within box 1 are different. The direct mail and cold calling require that you have a list first before you can identify who to send to.  

In the eBook you should have already read, I helped you identify the ideal suspect, someone who needs what you sell . . . and meets all of the characteristics of your ideal client . . .

Characteristics of an ideal coaching client:

  • They already have a problem you can resolve (a negative issue, a pain, problem, obstacle holding them back)
  • They already WANT something they can’t reach (a positive want or need to move forward).
  • Identify the niche they fit,
    • A narrow area within a type of business or social situation. (NOTE: DO NOT try to sell to the whole world. That’s the BIGGEST mistake coaches/consultants make. It DOESN’T work. Narrow down on a niche, identify that niche with the specific problems they typically have and then talk to that niche. IF you do want to sell to a broader market, find the NICHES and talk to each one individually, not to all of them at once. It WON’T Work).
    • Niches also identify mindsets, beliefs that will either STOP them from buying from you, or make them EASY to buy from you. For instance, I focus mainly on the above $500K business (the higher the better) because they are USED to spending money to fix problems, while the small (really small) businesses AVOID spending even when they need what you have.
  • Demographics versus psychographics –
    • Demographics define the physical characteristics of your ideal clients so that we can find them on a list. We can say they are within a field, or type of business (for business coaches), or go to certain events or social events (for life coaches), or other behavior where we can find a list. For instance, my background is engineering; therefore I connect well with high tech people and other engineers. I also have discovered that most high tech people are more comfortable with running the techy things in business, so they are really weak at managing a business, selling, and marketing. So one of my niches is high tech types of business run by high tech people, engineering companies, architects, doctors, scientists, manufacturing companies of all kinds, etc. And suddenly that just got big, not as small of a niche. So, I target each one separately. I build lists within each of those demographics.
    • Psychographics – the psychographics are the way people think. As I said earlier, high tech people are focused on “what they do, the engineering” and very rarely do they “work on the business.” So they have big struggles. It’s their belief system, what they believe they SHOULD be doing, so I already know where I can help them. Here, the psychographics, the way they think, can be identified within the demographics, so it’s easy to build a list around the demographics.

Another psychographic is that the small businesses haven’t learned how to manage money yet. They will AVOID spending any money at all costs. They WILL NOT buy even if I show them I have the answer. But the bigger businesses understand the need to spend to resolve problems. They will buy if only I show them that I have the answers. So, I focus on the higher revenue levels because their way of thinking is different. Again, it’s easy to translate that into a demographic (income levels, revenue generated, number of employees) that I can identify. For instance, I focus on high tech companies above $500K, sometimes that’s above 10 employees. In fact, I have identified that a company that can generate more than $200K per employee is operating successfully, but one that is generating less than that per employee is not operating efficiently. And on the other end if they are generating more than $500K per employee they are probably overworked and need help on the other end.  

In any case, once we know what beliefs are hurting them, we can tie those back to a demographic that we can use to identify a list. 

So, where do you find those lists?

There are several decent list companies out there where you can either get a few names and contact info for free, or you can buy the list.  

The biggest is Hoovers, but the one I highly recommend is Reference USA. It’s available online from most libraries. You can actually do your research online, looking for people within your target demographic and geographic area.

Each library has it’s own internal limits, but mine allows me to download 25 names at a time . . . for free. So, if you want a small list, 100 to 1000 names, you can download them 25 at a time. You can also use this as marketing research to find how many companies of your target demographics there are.  

When I’m in a hurry to get about 1,000+ names mailed due to an upcoming local workshop I want filled, I’ll just download them myself.

But if you want a bigger list, or don’t have time, you can give them a credit card online, and they will email the list to you at about 15c a name. If you want an email list, it costs about 35c a name, and sometimes higher.  

It also provides lists of individuals and residences that life coaches and B2C types of businesses would need.

I also recommend that you call InfoUSA, the parent company of Reference USA, or any number of other smaller and independent list companies to talk to their research people. Most of the time they’ll discuss what you need, and even make recommendations where you can find a list. 

For instance, for a life coach targeting retirees, or a financial planner consultant looking for retirees or investors, call them up and ask what is the best way to find your target market. They can tell you what magazines your target market is likely to be subscribed too, and can supply you that list.

For instance, I recently had a Wall Street money manager client who works with retirees, and we connected with a list from the AARP magazine of retirees as our first approach, but they were also able to identify some local social clubs of retirees, and other magazines. In some cases, the subscribers have filled out personalized information on a bingo card within the magazine, so they have a really detailed list of how much they have to invest, how much they have made or are currently making. 

For a marriage coach/counselor, there are magazines on marriage pre and marriage problems, etc.

In any case, I recommend that you call those list companies directly to ask them how to find your ideal client. They know a lot more about the lists available than I’ll ever know. The initial brainstorming is usually free to help you find the list, then they’ll sell you the list.

How to Manage List Size: Sometimes they’ll tell you that they only sell a very large list which could cost a lot more than you may want to spend right now. They probably won’t offer you an option at first. But just ask how you can pare that list down. You don’t have to buy the whole list. In fact, narrow down.  

Narrow down to zip codes instead of their whole list, or whole city, or whole state. Narrow down until it fits your budget.

However, many of the list companies may have a minimum purchase of several hundred dollars. Once you have a GOOD marketing message this won’t be a waste of money.  Without a good marketing message it could be costly. 

Your real marketing costs are THE COST TO ACQUIRE A Coaching or Consulting Client.
Your upfront costs aren’t your real costs.

I can’t emphasize that enough. Once you learn that little gem about marketing your business will take off. 

For instance, if you are going to send some direct mail, and let’s assume it’s 50c per mailer. If you send out 1,000 pieces, that will likely be 15c for each name on the list, and 50c for printing and mailing, or 65c each, which comes out to be $650 for your first mailer, but after that you have a list that can be used several times.

In any case, you’ve just spent $650. If you get 10% response rate it has cost you $65 per lead for 10 leads. If half of them buy, your cost to acquire  client is $120 each. If you are making $500 to $1,000 each (assuming a one time purchase), then it’s well worth it. You have an ROI of $120 in, to get $500 (400% ROI)  to $1,000 (800% ROI)  out every time you do it.  Your questions should be “How many of these do I want to buy” not whether you should stop spending that much.  

But if your marketing response rate drops, at 5% your ROI drops to 200% to 400%, still not bad. If it drops to 1% your ROI drops more.  Below that you have only one choice, FIX THE MARKETING MESSAGE.

I emphasize this so that you focus on the RIGHT things. Most coaches, AVOID spending money, while trying to reach the 5 to 10 people a week . . . totally for free . . . and end up never having enough clients so that they can earn a real living at coaching/consulting.  

Cold Calling for Coaching Clients

Cold calling is almost the same as I mentioned above, and, by the way Cold Calling DOES WORK as long as you do it right. But that’s a different article. So, back to cold calling not being free. In this case, you won’t have the mailing expense like you did above, but don’t confuse FREE with real marketing costs. Your time is NEVER free.  

For instance, if you intend to make about $100 to $250 an hour for coaching. Just assume that whenever you do anything, it’s either generating that amount of positive cash flow IN, or it’s costing you that amount going out.

For instance, a lot of coaches go networking, because they see it as free. If it doesn’t generate you at least $100/hour (if that’s what you are charging for coaching), then it’s not producing for you. In that case fix your marketing message until it does produce t least that much per hour.  

Just assume that if it does bring you $100/hour in paying clients, your total income is now $50/hour. You spent one hour bringing in a client, and then delivered your services to that client where he paid you $100. 2 hours for $100 income is $50/hour.

Always assume that you spend about 50% of your time in marketing and sales, and that your real income is about 50% of what you charge hourly.  

I remember the first time that hit me right between the eyes. I had the misconception that I should be charging what I had made working for a corporation. That was bout $50/hour. Pretty soon I saw that the reality was that I was making only $25/hour, and that my maximum income would be limited to less than half what I was making when working for someone else. And even lower if I didn’t at least spend ½ my time coaching, and ½ my time marketing.  Not where I wanted to be.

In any case, over the next week, I’m going to break down different kinds of coaching/consulting into some opportunities, different kinds of lists, and where you might find them.

Alan Boyer

Helping coaches, consultants, trainers reach another $100K to $250K within 3-6 months and to stop playing at building a business.

Look for the second part of List building to get coaching and consulting clients over the next few days.

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