Adrienne Sheares, social PR and personal branding coach, talks about the importance of connecting with ideal clients in person in order to test out if they are the right fit for your coaching business and style. Re Perez, founder of Branding for the People, discusses the process of starting a coaching business and the three focuses to have when choosing what clients to attract: the craft, the people, and the outcome.
At the top of the episode, Adrienne dives into the significance of meeting potential clients face-to-face to ensure a fit with your coaching style. She unpacks her journey from social media marketing to coaching, reflecting on how introspection helped her identify her ideal clientele.
Re Perez, founder of Branding for the People, unpacks his approach to kickstarting a coaching business, highlighting the importance of understanding your craft, identifying people you enjoy working with, and measuring your impact on clients’ lives.
Adrienne narrates a pivotal encounter with a ‘dream client’ that led to a significant realization: she needed to focus on attracting clients who truly fit with her coaching approach. This pushed her to reevaluate her marketing strategies and led her to some insights she shares with us.
- Find where your clients are and use those channels effectively. For Adrienne, this meant leveraging video content.
- Make sure your personal and business branding align to draw in the right clientele and demonstrate your expertise.
- Utilize your network to promote your coaching services. Clarity in marketing is essential for this step.
Re Perez shares his thoughts on the power of perception, authenticity, and how these concepts played a role in launching his business. He emphasizes that unique elements, such as your speaking style, can help you stand out and attract the right clients.
Adrienne echoes these thoughts, sharing three steps for business elevation: do what you enjoy, pair with where your clients are, and maintain consistency. She also reassures new coaches about limiting their potential client base, emphasizing that specificity can actually accelerate business growth.
Balancing authenticity and professionalism, Adrienne endorses being your “happy hour self” in professional settings. Re Perez further elaborates on maintaining a human touch in your marketing, without oversharing personal challenges.
The duo rounds off their discussion by emphasizing the role of personal branding and effective networking in reaching the right clientele, highlighting the power of clear communication about your coaching style and clientele.
Ready to dive in? Grab a notepad and your favorite beverage, and join us as we explore ways to attract the right coaching clients!
There’s no substitution to actually talking to your clients or the clients that you would like. And so whenever I have an offering, I test it out first with actual people. And it’s simple as, I have a list of people who I think would be my target audience, and I ask them their opinion on things of, “Tell me about this challenge that you’re going through.” And we’ll have a conversation and then also say, “Hey, I’m thinking of coming up with an offer for a problem like this, and it would entail this type of program or coaching program, and it would cost this amount. What do you think?” And sometimes they’re like, “Yes, I would absolutely pay for that.” Or they’d be like, “I would absolutely never pay for that.” And so I let the actual research take place, not just coming up with things in my head.
That was Adrienne Sheares, a social PR and personal branding coach. And as someone whose core work was in social media, it’s interesting to hear her now emphasize branding in person. Welcome to the Coach Factory podcast. I’m your host, Shawn Hesketh, and today you’re going to be hearing two coaches break down the influence personal branding has on attracting the right coaching clients to you. Adrienne’s story of becoming a coach is one many of us can relate to, and her decade of work as a social media marketer inspired the way she connects with clients.
So social media marketing has always been, I would say, maybe a unnecessarily high stress job because everything is 24/7, everything is fed up. And so the expectations of a lot of social media marketers is really high, of a crisis breaks out on a Saturday, the first thing you see on Twitter is people like, “Where’s the social media manager?” Like they expect one person to do everything. And so that really came to a head in 2020 because I had to start thinking, “Do I want to do this when I’m in my 40s? Do I want to do this in my 50s?” And the answer was no. And so I started intentionally taking a more, I guess back role. I was working and training social media marketers as kind of a way to distance myself from the stress, from the anxiety and from the 24/7, because we know we’re meeting at this time, we’re doing this. It’s like a very set agenda. And so I liked it.
And I also noticed that a lot of social media marketers were coming to me that were clients, and our meetings kind of evolved to more coaching than meeting. And so I had been told for years like, “Oh, you should be a coach.” And I kind of scoffed at that because I’m like, “I don’t actually know what a coach is,” to, “I’m a marketer, I’m really enjoy marketing.” But what changed my mind was me having a coach. I really was focused on what I should do, which is you should have an agency or you should be a marketer. These are very tangible things for me. Being a coach was not a tangible thing. I’m like, “I don’t know coaches. Who does a coach.” But then I also learned some people that I admired had different types of coaches, so it had me take a very different look.
And so for my journey, I actually had a client that I ended up being my first coaching client. They had several people that they wanted coached on personal branding, mainly because I was there to do communications and social, but through a weird chain of events, they actually did not have control over the different communication channels that I was supposed to be doing. And so very strange, but I was like, “I’ve actually been testing out doing personal branding and helping people being thought leaders.” And they’re like, “Actually, we need that.” People have really cut social media budgets. They still want social, but they’re not really willing to invest too much in that. But what I found interesting is people were interested in hiring coaches or individuals because they’re scared of the recession, were more open to investing in themselves and being able to stand out from their peers. So it turned out to be this interesting chain of events.
As a coach, you already know that branding is massively important when it comes to connecting with the right clients. But Re Perez, the founder and CEO of Branding For The People says there are three main focuses when starting a coaching business, the craft, the people, and the outcome. And what I found interesting was the weight he put into each one of these and the order to consider each one when deciding your branding strategy.
I think it was first the craft and then it’s a really second of the people like the who I was going to work with. This is at the time, this is when I first started, and then I think the outcome. But I think when I first started out, and you’re bringing me back like 12 years ago, when I first started out, it was about, “Hey, look at this amazing thing that no one’s talking about. This thing called branding. Look at all the things that it can do. Look how cool it is. Look how it’s more than just logos and colors.” But then even that, “Look at what we can do from logos and colors and what you’re typically used to seeing.” So it was about being a stand for the craft, for the art and science of branding. And then it marries with, “Okay, look, no one in your industry, the coaching industry, is doing this. This could be a game changer for you.”
Then I started to see the outcomes. Then I started to see, “Oh wow, people are actually able to accelerate the business beyond what they thought possible.” That was pretty cool.
But if you’ve been coaching very long at all, you know that finding the right client doesn’t always go smoothly at first. Adrienne shares her experience of having the right client on paper, but then being an imperfect match in the way you actually work together.
But I had some clients, and one I thought was my dream client, and this is for once again, social media marketing, not necessarily coaching. And the thought leadership portion of social media is so important, especially for business to business or B2B SaaS or education, what have you. And so this client, they came in hot, rearing to go, and so I was analyzing their presence and their content and they didn’t have much, but they did have a strong reputation in the industry. And even better, they had this really dynamic CEO that was just made for social. The challenge was because they didn’t create any content or have anything, I needed to use him, he essentially needed to be the face of the company. We needed to use his social channels because they’re quite frankly more popular, and they were just completely unwilling to participate in that.
And so I had noticed, I had a few clients like that, who were just unwilling to invest in thought leadership. They simply wanted to do what they thought social media was, which is just sharing links from blogs or news articles, which was frustrating because they weren’t in the news articles and they didn’t have a blog, so it really wasn’t helping their cause, but they were just quite frankly, too busy. I essentially fired them as a client because I couldn’t help them be successful. And at that point, it’s like, I’ve done everything I know how to do, we’re just not a match. And so I decided to take that time to invest in my social media presence because I was quite frankly tired of people wanting to hire me that knew less about social media and weren’t necessarily open to how I approached it. They were more interested in what their competitors were doing, whether it was right or wrong. So I decided, why don’t I just do the thought leadership for myself to get the type of clients that I wanted?
Finding the right network or channel for you to attract clients through is really important in how you brand your business. So I think you’ll find these tips from Adrienne really helpful for taking that first step in attracting them to you rather than hunting those clients down.
And so now my main task at hand is to grow the coaching part of the business, which is actually pretty fun because the way that I like to attract clients is really by, lack of a better term, being myself. So what I noticed from my research is people really resonate heavy when I speak, when I’m on video and when I’m on podcasts, that’s kind of where I see inquiries go up. So my main task has been to find more of those opportunities to attract those type of clients. Also, it’s been, like I said, leading by example. So that means I’m talking to my clients about their LinkedIn. Well, what does that say for my LinkedIn? I can’t be sitting here critiquing your LinkedIn, knowing my LinkedIn is not up to par. So a lot of my work, I would say before I was a coach, was really focused on clients.
Now I’ve made a more concerted effort to not just focus on clients, but really be more intentional about my own personal brand and making that time for the social media, for the speaking, for the getting my expertise out there, which before I didn’t feel good doing because the clients pay the bills and the branding eventually pays the bills. And I had to do a mindset shift of, “You have to do this. This is a part of your work as well.” So it was a little bit of work giving myself permission, but now I’ve bought into, “You need to carve out the time and it’s just as important as your client time, so you need to block that off and get that work done.”
After spending years working for large consulting firms, Re was told by an HR director that he wouldn’t be promoted because he didn’t have enough gray hairs. So perception plays a key role in attracting clients, but it can also impact when a coach steps away from certain types of clients.
I was like, “Well, you could still do branding, you just have to work with different people.” And that’s when I decided, okay, well, how do I attract people for a business? I’ve never ran a business before, and then how do I attract the types of people that I want to attract? So first I think it started by getting clear and writing it down and declaring here’s who I want to work with. And then because I was doing lots of personal growth and development, I started interacting with entrepreneurs who are in a growth mindset.
So it would seem that knowing your expertise has a huge influence on how you attract clients. And Adrienne has three elements to evaluating your branding process, and I think they’re particularly powerful because they can work for just about any niche.
So you first have to ask, what do you enjoy and what are you good at? I like public speaking, but other people do not. So what does that look like for you? How does unleashing your expertise look like for you? I had a colleague, she does not like video, but she loves audio, so she’ll do little sound clips of her expertise. So what works for you?
Then the second is finding that happy marriage of then where are your clients? Where are your target audience and how do you pair that? So if you’re audio, how do you make sure your audio gets to your target audience? Or if it doesn’t directly, how do you indirectly get to them? So it’s kind of a little bit of a dance there. So the main focus always needs to be what are you good at. If you’re good at writing, then lean into writing. Don’t do things that other people say just because they say it, because to be consistent, you have to like it and to some degree or you’re just going to find a reason not to do it, or we all have that item on the to-do list that just never seems to get done.
One theme I picked up throughout these conversations about the process of attracting clients is authenticity, and it’s so significant, personally and professionally.
So for me, the way that I’m defining authenticity, and it’s been a self journey for myself, but how I’m defining authenticity is to the degree to which how you’re perceived, how you perceive yourself, and what the actual perception is. When all three of those things are in alignment, there’s a strong degree of authenticity. It’s real, it’s aligned, it’s genuine. So you’re not saying one thing externally, but then you’re believing another thing internally, and then people’s perception of you is a different thing. So it really is that congruence and then alignment. Now obviously using the obvious ones, which are look and feel, but even your messaging. So you picked up certain things around some of the languaging that I use. The voice of your brand, Gary Vaynerchuk has a particular voice and style and tone personality to what he says. If Oprah Winfrey started talking like Gary Vaynerchuk, it would seem weird. It would seem completely inauthentic and vice versa. So your brand on a tangible level or your authenticity can come out in the way that you speak and the voice and the tone in your personality.
There’s another word that comes to mind when I think of authenticity, and that’s confidence. But confidence has to come from you in order to pass it on to your clients.
So in terms of mindset, that confidence comes from knowing who you are and your value and your worth, and that confidence comes from having your own experience. And then the third thing, it also comes from making a decision that you are going to make something happen. So I think oftentimes when people are indecisive, it kind of affects their confidence level. So I was determined that I was going to build this business. I was determined that I was going to work with businesses that made a difference. I was going to determine to do something that was in my zone of genius and something that I provide value. And that just created this sense of this attraction that I know that you talk a lot about is people wanted to be around me.
People are like, “Hey, I got to hire this guy because he can completely transform my business.” And then people started hiring me, and then all the big coaches started hiring me, and then all their followers wanted me to brand them. So I guess the confidence first comes there. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’ve had some journeys along the way where I kind of chipped away at my confidence because I kept expanding. But I think the through line across all of that was that I was decisive that I was going to make something happen, that I was in full control and 100% responsible for the outcome, positive or negative.
It can be really tempting to try attracting every type of client in the beginning because you just want to be bringing in business, but Adrienne’s experience demonstrates how being specific builds both your business and your confidence.
I think as far as attracting the right audience, you need to make sure you’re aligned with your audience, meaning don’t be afraid to be specific on who you serve. If you are trying to market to everybody, it’s not going to work. And this is from a person who used to, I did any type of social media. I did not have any type of expertise, and it was a bit of a nightmare because not only did people not know who to refer to me, I wasn’t maybe known for something as specific in social media, which was a bit of a challenge. For me I like showing the way I think, and that’s where my social posts come in, it’s where my video comes in, because people are doing their due diligence on you. They’re going to Google you, they’re going to check out your social profiles, and it’s not uncommon for me to be on a call and then people just start referencing things I’ve written a while ago and they’re like, “I knew you were the right person based off of your post really resonated with me.”
So be yourself. I don’t want to say be your whole self because your whole self just may not be be appropriate for professional settings. My social profiles are essentially work, maybe happy hour Adrienne. So it’s not like weekend Adrienne, but we have fun, we have good insights, and so that gives people a taste of what it would be like to work with me because we do have fun, but we do, of course, focus on the work and getting it done.
The phrase, “Happy hour you, not weekend you,” really creates a clear picture to me about the boundaries in this job that can be so personal.
You have to remember that you’re giving, as a speaker or as a public figure of someone you’re putting yourself out there, you’re creating a persona. You’re actually creating the perception that you want people to have of you. And so that does translate sometimes to here are the highlights of myself, but for some people it actually translates to them openly working through something that’s really challenging in their life or being really vulnerable and open. So it goes back to the question of if it’s authentic for you to publicly be that vulnerable and open, then do that. If it’s not authentic to you, don’t do that.
I’m a pretty evolved person, but in my own challenges, I don’t process things publicly. I don’t say, “Here’s what I’m dealing with.” That’s not the platform. I don’t use social media for that platform. So that’s inauthentic. And if someone were to see me to do that because I took a course and someone said, “Oh, you should really share…” This is what I was saying about the comparison thing. It’s like, “No, no, that works for someone else, but that’s not my expression, so I’m not going to do that.” So I only post that which is relevant that gives people the chosen persona characteristics that we want to convey, but it’s certainly not the totality of all of who you are.
And while you may be looking at how your coaching persona can attract new clients, remember that your existing network can be a resource too.
It’s still a work in progress, but what I’ve noticed about my LinkedIn is it’s reignited my current network, so it’s kind of reintroduced myself to them, and that’s actually activated them as far as, “Hey, I had a person talk about they needed some help with personal branding. I sent them your name,” so it’s really activated. And honestly be on LinkedIn I have family members that had no idea what I did, now are like, “Oh, I know what you do. Have you talked to so and so?” So I think one thing that people think about is new people, and that is good, finding new clients or whatever, but your current network needs to know what you’re doing because they need to know if they can, how they can actually help you. What I would like more of is to start getting out of my own bubble on LinkedIn. Right now, my LinkedIn is primarily people like myself, other marketers, other social media marketers, and that’s not necessarily my client base anymore.
And so I am also looking forward to spending more time, not just posting my own content, but actually getting beyond my bubble on LinkedIn and really starting to join different groups and really starting to engage with people who could be my target audience and kind of get away from my comfort zone, which is other marketers. We like marketing and we can chat about marketing all day, but preaching to the choir doesn’t necessarily help me get new clients, but it does invigorate my network. So it’s kind of like a interesting dance and interesting balance there.
I have started doing LinkedIn Lives called Unleash Your Expertise and giving a platform to my incredible network on different aspects of personal branding that I think could really help my current clients or target audience or just people who are really interested. And I say it’s unleashing your expertise and not personal branding with the fluff, because there’s a lot of fluffy like, “Oh, be yourself, be authentic.” And it’s like, “Okay, that’s nice. Thank you.” But having other people on that have monetized their personal brand or have made a career pivot from personal branding or how someone has used personal branding for their business, there’s a lot of aspects of personal brand that I think a lot of people don’t think about. They think about the logo and the headshot and the colors, which is nice, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The process of personal branding can seem like it’s less important than the work of coaching itself, but Adrienne’s right, that the tips and processes you learn today are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attracting clients rather than chasing them.
A special thank you to Adrienne Sheares and Re Perez for sharing their insights into personal branding and the experiences that gave them the confidence they have today to attract the right coaching clients.
Thank you for joining me on this episode of the Coach Factory podcast. I’m looking forward to hearing the ways you attract and discover your ideal clients. This episode of The Coach Factory podcast was produced with the support of Come Alive Creative. To hear more episodes, get the show notes and learn how to start, run, and grow your coaching practice visit CoachFactory.co.