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How To Market Your Career Coaching Business in 2024

Updated: Jan 2



You did the work. You got certified. You’re officially a Career Coach. But… let me guess: you’re creeped out by the idea that you might seem “salesy.” You hate marketing—in fact maybe that’s the career you fled in the first place! Or, you’re open to “selling yourself” but you don’t really know how.


I feel ya! Here are some strategies that we at the IACC tend to find useful. Some of them are more tactical, and some are more mindset issues—both matter.


1. Know Thy Niche

The death of any marketing strategy starts by saying “I’m a career coach for everybody!” In marketing there’s a saying that if you’re for everybody, you’re for nobody. Get specific about your ideal client. Who are they? What do they do? Why do they need coaching? What do they read, listen to, watch? It’s likely that you know a couple of people in this situation already, so ask them if they’ll spend a half hour with you to chat about what they spend their time reading or doing. One great question to ask is “If you had a magic business wand, what would you want it to magically get rid of for you?” Assuming you have started to work with a handful of clients, now is a great time to ask them why they decided to use a career coach at this point in their career. Did they try to solve the problem you’re now working on together in any other way? Maybe they found themselves scrolling r/careertips for hours on end to no avail and your other prospective clients are doing the same! Once you see these themes emerge, your niche area will likely become clear if it wasn’t already.


2. Understand Your Authority

Trust is a massive hurdle as a career coach. You’re usually asking people for their hard-earned, personal money, not budget from their company, so it’s extremely important that they trust you can deliver on their specific challenge—especially if they are currently unemployed. Maybe you’ve done what they’re trying to do (think, pivoting from healthcare into tech, or coming back after spending a few years at home with young children or ailing elders). Maybe you once hired people into roles just like the ones they’re going for. Think about why you’re the best person to be coaching your niche and lean into that in your marketing materials wherever possible.


3. Hook ‘Em

Have a killer lead magnet! A lead magnet is a piece of high-value content (written, video, or audio) that truly gives your target client TONS of valuable information. Usually, it lives on your website. To access the content, your lead will usually need to provide their email for a mailing list. Some coaches worry about sharing too much information. Don’t. In most cases people don’t have the time, motivation or skill to do what they need to do to reach their goals. By giving them a peek behind the curtain on your process, you’ll make yourself easier to trust—which makes them likelier to convert to a paying client.


4. Learn the Lingo

Speak in the language of your ideal client. If your ideal client is in tech, avoid using overly formal language that will frankly just make them cringe. By the same token, try using techie jargon on a lawyer and watch as their eyes go blank.


5. Understand the difference between in-market and out-of-market

In-market audiences tend to be much smaller. These people know that they need a career coach and are probably actively searching “career coaches in my area” and the like on Google. This group is small and expensive to reach via ads because surprise, surprise, everyone wants to reach them with their ads!


Out-of-market audiences are several factors larger. These are the folks that are likely to need a career coach soon, and they’ll be looking for different information depending on their niche or industry. If you're a career coach in tech, your out-of-market audience might be keeping a keen eye on layoffs in the industry or maybe they're watching to see which companies have recently raised a huge round of venture capital or are experiencing a hiring boom, thinking there could be great growth opportunities for them there. Whatever the case may be, positioning yourself as an expert in the areas an out-of-market audience member cares about is the long game but helps you make sure you’re top of mind when they’re ready for career coaching.


6. Start with LinkedIn… but Don’t Stop There

Leverage LinkedIn to build your personal brand and share snippets of valuable advice through posts on your personal page. When starting out, pick just ONE platform at a time to test in addition to LinkedIn—until you have budget and time don’t go on too many or you’ll be doing a lot of things but not all that well.


Once you find out where your ideal customer is looking for advice—be it online or in person—see how you can get involved in the community. Offer advice; don’t “sell.” As long as people know you’re a career coach, they’ll reach out if they're in the market for a coach. Speaking events—particularly in person—can be a great way to meet prospective clients. Even if you’re not a speaker, go and network. Not as a sales person, but just to meet people and learn what makes them tick. This is also a great way to build your understanding of your niche. As a caveat, I’d say think carefully before pouring energy into webinars. Unless you know that your ideal audience loves webinars (say your niche is people who organize online events …) it’s likely that your webinar will yield few leads. Frankly, post pandemic, we’re all tired of online events.


Help your community connect with each other. Community led growth is a great, generally inexpensive way to take the momentum you have and continue to grow your practice. This works particularly well if you coach people in the same industry (tech for example) or function (marketers or accountants) because your clients can learn from each other thanks to you. While there are tools to facilitate community led growth (like bettermode or meetsy.io), you can also simply make a habit of connecting clients past and present with one another to help them build their careers, share learnings and grow their positive sentiment towards you and your brand, making them much more likely to recommend you to others.


7. Seriously, TikTok.

There are quite a few TikTok accounts giving career advice, but many won’t be addressing your niche. And if you think “I’m too old for this,” I promise you’re not! Case in point, my TikTok. No dancing here. But I answer questions I see people asking OR give tips based on challenges I see my own clients facing. Even if your videos don’t get loads of views they’re great resources to share with clients or leads so they get a sense for how you think and work with your clients.


8. Happy clients refer happy clients.

As a coach, your reputation is your single greatest marketing tool, so don’t complicate this one. Once an engagement with a client is complete, thank them for their time and the energy they put into the process and (at most) let them know you’re interested in referrals should they have any. While referral incentives can be helpful, they aren’t always necessary (and could give off a whiff of “trying too hard.” Try launching your referral efforts without an incentive first and see where that gets you. If you still feel the strategy needs a boost, go ahead and offer a referral. Most of the time, you can count on people to talk—a lot—about their positive and negative experiences with any personal service. If someone loves the results they got working with you, they will tell everyone.


There are plenty of people in career coaching (and other client-facing, one-on-one businesses) who do little to no marketing, and get 100% of their clients by word of mouth. That said, partnerships can also be helpful for some. Partner with associations that service your niche, and offer them discounted rates for their members AND commission for each member that signs up as a paying client to you. In the meantime, quality relationship building really is the main game here.


There’s no secret sauce, no gimmick, and it’s not something you can fake. As a career coach, you are the product, and the single best thing you can do to market yourself is to build a track record of being knowledgeable, helpful, and insightful. Focus on being someone who gets great results for your clients. The marketing will often take care of itself.

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