The Biggest Marketing Problem Facing Coaches (That Not Enough People Are Talking About)

Invisible woman

Have you ever seen the Sixth Sense? The movie where the only person who could see Bruce Willis was the little kid? No matter how hard Bruce tried, no one else heard or saw him. (Almost) No one knew he existed.

The truth is, a lot of coaching practices are in the same position. No one knows they exist. Maybe not literally no one, but an exceedingly small number of people know about the business.

I’ll even go so far as to say this is one of the single biggest marketing problems coaches (most small businesses, actually) face. A lack of awareness that they exist.

And the consequences of that are pretty serious. If virtually no one knows you exist, then virtually no one is going to buy from you. And if no one buys…well, you won’t have a business for very long.

Here’s a real world story about what a lack of awareness looks like.

I’ve worked with a company that manufactures and sells wheelchairs. In the US, people spend about $2 billion every year on wheelchairs. About 2 million people need a wheelchair for the first time every year. That doesn’t even count anyone buying a replacement chair.

I can also say that the chairs my client makes are higher quality and more comfortable than a large majority of what’s available in the market. And they’re not some super expensive luxury product. They’re priced competitively with other brands.

With a market that huge and a product that good, you’d expect that my client was raking in millions in sales, right? Nope.

In a good year, he sells about 300 chairs. And that’s only because he’s done a lot of work over the last 2 years to make his company more visible. It used to be less than 200 per year. That works out to less than 0.2% of the market.

His story is not unusual. So many small businesses toil away in near total anonymity. And that means they have to expend huge amounts of time actively looking for new customers. If people don’t know you exist, they aren’t going to be calling you.

So let’s talk about awareness.

It’s the critical first step in any buyer’s journey. If they don’t know you exist, they’ll never consider you. If they never consider you, they’ll never buy from you.

And, as I said, it’s perhaps the biggest marketing challenge small businesses face.

Building awareness is important for all businesses. But it’s particularly important for businesses who sell expensive or complicated services.

The lack of awareness problem is two-fold. 

  1. If people don’t know you exist, you’re never getting the call about possible work. That's pretty self-explanatory.
  2. If they find you or get referred to you, they still know nothing about you. That means you have a very steep hill to climb to win that work. That’s because no familiarity equals no trust. And no trust equals no sale.

So what can you do to increase awareness of your business? 

Luckily. A lot. 

Here are three big things.

1. Be more visible where your target audience hangs out

In the modern world, that often means being more visible on social media.

Becoming someone your market regularly encounters online by demonstrating your understanding of their problems and providing valuable information to them is an effective way to build the know, like, and trust factor with potential customers. You can do this by publishing useful content that’s relevant to your target market and that helps them get to know you.

This strategy works because it helps you become a familiar face and a known source of useful information. The reality is, especially for expensive or complicated things, a person will start researching long before they ever get to the point of being ready for the sale. If it’s your content they are consuming while doing the research, you are building trust and educating them that you are the best solution to the problem. 

And when they’re ready to buy, who do you think they’re going to call?

2. Get involved in groups your target audience belongs to.

Is there a trade association that your B2B customers belong to? If so, try to speak at their conferences. Write for the Association publications. Sponsor events. Get involved in the association’s board. Become the person everyone knows.

This is an excellent way to get the people in your market to know, like, and trust you. And only when they know, like, and trust you, will they do business with you.

3. Get more reach with paid media.

The third thing you can do is advertise. In fact, paid advertising can work exceptionally well in conjunction with organic social media. On many social platforms, adding a paid component to your content can greatly increase your reach.

This works because the only way to reach beyond existing connections and followers on social platforms is to pay for it. Sure, you could slowly build up an organic following and avoid paying for traffic. But that takes time.

Think of it this way. Growing your reach organically is like filling up a swimming pool by dumping one bucket of water at a time into it. Growing your reach with paid traffic is like filling up the pool by opening a fire hydrant.

So, what are you going to do to become more visible?

What's most important is that you do something.

The perfect plan doesn't exist. So don't wait around until you have it. If you're not sure where to start, just try something. If it works, do it more. If it doesn't, do something else.

But do something!

Ed Erickson

Ed Erickson is the CEO of Pitch Perfect Digital, a digital marketing agency serving coaches, consultants, and other service providers. 

For more information, visit his website (

Subscribe to get the latest updates