As well as running my own coaching practice, I also run a coaching training provider with my brother.
The majority of our revenue comes from government funded apprenticeships.
Here’s what happens: twelve learners sign up. We forecast that we will retain about 85% of those learners on programme, which is highly ambitious compared to national retention rate which works out at about 39%! This is worked into our budget but when you’re a new and small business with little cash flow, any leavers beyond our forecasts puts us in precarious situation.
And a lot of reasons learners leave programme are unpredictable and beyond our control: a learner could be made redundant or fired, they could change roles or just fall ill. Whichever way, when a learner leaves programme, we know, as business leaders, that we need to recalibrate by re-visiting the budget and re-organise the business so that we have enough cash to pay everyone’s salaries and support the business in its growth trajectory.
It’s easy to go into panic mode when learners leave because of all of the above and the pressure it puts on the business. However, Seth Godin has been a brilliant teacher in helping us gain perspective on client attraction and re-framing client loss as opportunities rather than losses.
I have made some notes below on one his recent video: Purple Cow, How to Be Remarkable, and the Secrets of Marketing in 2023: with Seth Godin – YouTube
These notes highlight some of the key principles we follow as a business in attracting the right clients as well as how to manage client retention.
Whether you are a new or established business owner, I hope you find the notes from Godin’s teaching useful:
- Share ‘tricks’ or ‘secrets’ of the trade with clients, for example, we train coaches and not only do we teach our trainess tools and techniques to be great coaches but we put on Career webinars to teach them the tricks of the trade like how to avoid landing yourself in a ‘pyramid’-like scheme once you’re qualified, something which many coaches easily fall into after training. This acts as a building block for trust.
- Godin tells a great story about a restaurant he kept visiting where he kept asking for adaptations of the meat dishes to suit his vegetarian preference until one night the chef visited his table and said that there was a Vegetarian Restaurant down the road and he would be better suited to that one; being bold enough to say to client’s ‘this isn’t for you’ if they are looking for something that is completely unaligned to your product or service values and features, is the sign of a confident and successful business leader. Equally, when you lose clients, it’s not as straight forward as you ‘failing’ them – though this could be the case – it could be that the client is best suited to another product or service that better suited to their needs. A good business leader will have the right mechanisms in place to figure this out quickly.
- It’s not about hustle or hype or control or getting people’s attention – contrary to popular belief, although social media can support client attraction, it isn’t as successful as we may think in pulling in the punters. Number of followers does not necessarily reflect the success of business. When I think about how we have attracted the majority of our existing client base, it was through building relationships and network marketing. We built relationships with key partners and People started telling other people about our product. Godin gives the example of having 100 readers for his blog in the first year – now he has more because people started telling other people.
- I agree, one size doesn’t fit all, but the unifying principle here is ‘relationship building’ – rather than looking outward, look inward. Who are you already serving and how can you leverage the existing trust and loyalty you have already built in attracting more clients?
- Marketing is about getting specific about target audience; serving them in such a way that they will tell others about your product.
- Speak to someone not everyone.
- Stand for something! This stood out to me because I think the clearer we get about what we stand for the more confident we are saying ‘this isn’t for you’ to clients who aren’t right for us. Clarity also gives us the confidence to identify whether we could have done more to retain leavers or simply be at peace knowing they weren’t right for our product.
- Medium is less important than how you show up and how you seek to make a change – this goes to back to social media – flashy stories and fun reels are great but if you aren’t ensuring you are putting the same effort, if not more, into your frontline service, they just become a façade.
- How will you know the people you serve are starting to trust you more? Good question. This is key because, once trust is built your clients will do anything for you. What are the indicators for trust? Increased engagement? Increased attendance? Referrals or testimonials? – it all depends on the type of business. But good business leaders figure this out quickly.
- Sales – transferring the emotion – giant corporations don’t have sales forces! This is an interesting point Godin makes because it reminds us that the bedrocks of trust must have already been established, maybe?
- Take care of your clients and they will take care of you.
- Customers know more about the market and competitors than you do – ask them about this by embedding feedback mechanisms into your customer experience. How are you consistently gaining structured and unstructured feedback from your customers?
- This idea of ‘control’ – surfing analogy; wave is different every time. We are surfing now, not playing golf any more (Gold is more rigid; controlling) so how are you riding this wave with your customers?
- Connection – you don’t need to be in person for this. Magic can happen on Zoom – does a human care enough to connect? Going virtual could fail because institutions use it as an excuse to not show up.
- Get clear on this and don’t waver for greed – how much did it cost that company to serve that purpose? Corporations making decisions that are going to harm the culture that they live in are wrong. E.g why does Facebook take political ads? They don’t have to do this. There are other ways to make plenty of money.
- AI – likening AI to electricity. Interesting point – really bad things done by it; until this happens with AI, you have a patient magic trick to play with.
- How will you use this new tool to disrupt status quo? We need to empty our cup and start again.
- Where can you create value? A mistake is ‘I do X and how can I add AI to what I do?’ you need to start again
- Embrace mistakes/failure. Regret doesn’t get you far.
Hope this blog and my notes help you in attracting the client base you deserve.