Marketing Blueprint for Self-employed Trainers and Coaches

One of the hardest things in the coaching business is acquiring clients. Most train the trainer programs teach you how to be a great trainer but don’t teach you how to acquire clients.

One might be a great coach, but that’s not enough to acquire clients.

And word-of-mouth only takes you so far.

Trainers and coaches need to have tried and tested systems to consistently generate new clients and keep old ones.

Here I present a marketing system that I have used for many years.

I have broken it down into a step-by-step process to make it easy to understand.

Step 1: Choose a High Demand and Low Competition Niche

Not all niches are created equal. Some are better paying and have higher demand. There are others that are saturated and pay less.

It’s just the nature of the industry.

You also want to make sure that the high paying and high demand niche has low competition. Too much competition generally means trainers getting into a pricing war trying to underprice each other.

The top three most in demand niches are sales, leadership, and communication.

Step 2: Personal Branding

I am a big believer in branding. Coaching is a knowledge-driven business; it’s not a commodity. Not all coaches are perceived equal. Clients are looking to hire the best person for the job, someone who can help them achieve their goals.

So it’s imperative for a coach to differentiate himself from similar trainers by building a strong personal brand.

How do you build a personal brand?

Here is a 7-step process.

#1 Identify your niche

Some trainers train people in everything. Well, I haven’t seen that work for too many people. Just like doctors specialize is a unique area of expertise, coaches need to do that too.

If you are everything to everybody, then you are not a brand.

Branding is about finding a niche and polarizing an audience.

Here are 47 niches in the training business.

#2 Identify your audience

Imagine a singer trying to cater to teenagers and baby boomers, does it work? Most likely no. Targeting everybody might be tempting. But it rarely works.

Find a target audience with big spending power.

#3 Demonstrate value

One of the top reasons seats get filled in a workshop is because of the high-value trainers have already demonstrated to their audience. The trainer can demonstrate his knowledge through email newsletters, blog posts, videos, and others.

#4 Build an emotional connection

Stories are a great way to connect with people. Your audience wants to know your story, how you overcame a similar problem, which adds credibility to why you can solve their problem.

#5 Packaging

Most perfumes are sold because of the bottle rather than the stuff inside them. Skill is essential for a trainer, but packaging that skill to communicate value goes a long way in getting people to pay for a workshop or a training session.

Packaging includes personal grooming, style and dressing, online presence, and your creatives. In most cases, attendees pay for a workshop before they even see the trainer in person.

#6 Communicating with your audience

Branding is not a one-way street. It involves staying connected with your audience. It could be through social media, email newsletters, direct mail, or any other communication medium.

#7 Building Authority

People listen to experts, not just anybody. So it’s important for trainers to position themselves as an authority.

Some ways to position yourself as an expert include:

  • Speaking opportunities at major conferences
  • Media mentions
  • Guest columns and interviews in top publications
  • Having a book in your name is one of the fastest ways to earn instant credibility, respect, authority, and increase your perceived value.

Wondering if you can have a book in your name without writing, check out our book publishing service, click here.

Step 3: Build Your #1 Asset

I believe your mailing list is your number one asset. Here’s why:

  •  90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of your Facebook subscribers even see your posts in their News Feed. – Forrester Research
  •  Employees spend 13 of their working hours each week in their email inbox (on average). – McKinsey & Company
  •  Your opt-in email list is yours.
  •  It’s more personal and intimate.
  •  You make the rules.
  •  Social media is not under your control.
  •  Facebook and other social networks can change the rules at any time.

Three Pillars of list building

List building involves three main ingredients

  • Opt-in
  • Lead Magnet
  • Autoresponders

#1 The Opt-in (Permission based marketing)

Sometimes, there are trainers, even experienced ones, who meet someone at a business conference and add them to their list. Or even worse, some of them buy a list from an external source, add them to their newsletter, and bombard them with emails. It’s not just annoying, but it is a bad email marketing practice.

Every marketer should always build an opt-in list.

An opt-in list is a list of leads where your prospects have explicitly given you permission to email them. Leads can be collected through a pop-up, a form on your website, or a landing page.

If you collect leads offline, ask your prospect if you can add them to your mailing list, only then should you add them to your list.

Required Tool: An email marketing software like Aweber. SignUp here for a Free trial. Or, you could use ClickFunnels which is an all-in-one solution with landing pages, email marketing, and webinars. Sign up here for a Free 14-day trial.

#2 Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is something of value that entices people to subscribe to your mailing list. Think of it as a catalyst or a bribe.

It could be an ebook, video, a discount coupon, a consulting session, a webinar, or even a free pass to one of your live events.

The purpose of a lead magnet is to get more people to subscribe to your mailing list.

#3 Autoresponders

One of the single most significant time savers in business is automation.

Almost all email marketing softwares have something called an autoresponder.

You can schedule a sequence of emails to be sent as soon as someone signs up to your list. So every subscriber gets the same sequence of emails.

For example, if John subscribes to my newsletter, he automatically gets a welcome email almost immediately, another email after three days, and so on.

I am building a relationship with my audience on autopilot without investing a single minute of my time, other than writing the initial sequence of emails.

If I am writing the same email 100 times to different people, then it makes sense to automate. One-on-one selling and one-on-one relationship building only takes you so far.

The secret to exponential growth is automation.

And it all starts with your mailing list.

Many people are so driven by social media that they forget the basics of direct marketing – money is in the list.

Getting people on your list might seem like a challenge, but the harder part comes after they are on your list. This is where the relationship begins.

Required Tool: An email marketing software like Aweber. SignUp here for a Free trial. Or, you could use ClickFunnels which is an all-in-one solution with landing pages, email marketing, and webinars. Sign up here for a Free 14-day trial.

What to do after people subscribe to your list?

Send follow-up emails (autoresponders) with an intention to:

  • Build Trust
  • Get to know the prospect
  • Position yourself as an authority in your niche
  • Warm the prospect up for the sale

There are basically six types of autoresponders.

#1 Welcome Email

Letting people know what they signed up for, and instructions to collect their FREE gift (lead magnet).

It’s always nice to let your email subscriber know what kind of emails he’ll be getting in the future.

#2 Educational Emails

Information that helps the subscriber achieve his goals, or solve a problem.

#3 Offers

They are a great way to make some sales, and eventually, make money from your list.

#4 Personal Stories

If you watch television, the most prominent shows are reality shows.

We live in an era of reality television. If you check social media, the profiles getting the highest attention are of people who share personal stuff.

People want to hear your story, and how your experiences can benefit them.

Tell them your story. Use emotion and life experiences. But don’t overdo it. Maintain a balance.

#5 Informational Emails

Purpose of these emails is to inform your prospect about what’s happening in the industry. Just like the local news, it’s about informing your prospect about the happenings around the world that is relevant to them.

#6 Surveys and Questionnaires

Here is an opportunity to get to know your prospect, and create training and coaching programs specifically beneficial to them. Sometimes the best ideas can come from your audience. So don’t underestimate the power of surveys.

Sources of Leads

There are various ways to get subscribers on your mailing list, but we’ll focus on predominantly:

  1. Social Media
  2. Search Engines
  3. Other blogs and websites
  4. List exchanges
  5. Ad Networks
  6. Offline – Live events, business conferences

Most of you might already be familiar with social media and might be using them. However, the most essential part of any marketing campaign is to build your mailing list.

Social media platforms should be used to build your mailing list.

The dominant social media sites are:


It is the largest social network with over a billion users. Almost everyone you know is on Facebook.

There are options to create a personal profile, group, or a business page.

One of the first things to do on Facebook is to create a nice business page.

Paid ads – Paid ads are a great option on Facebook. They have several options that include boost posts, increase the likes on your page, promote your web page, increase RSVPs for your event, and also collect leads.

Every ad campaign you do should be done with the intention of collecting leads for your business. Therefore, I like promoting my landing page rather than boost a post or increase likes on my page.

Facebook is still relatively cheaper compared to Google AdWords.

The trick to increasing your subscriber base with Facebook is to target an audience based on interests and geographic location.

Tips and tricks

It is possible to add a mailing list tab on your Facebook tab. Use it and encourage people to sign up for your mailing list.

Ads can be placed to collect leads. Try it to generate leads using Facebook’s lead collection form.


It is a great platform to get access to professionals. The biggest advantage with LinkedIn is that you can get access to people based on designation, size of company and industry. I’ve found leads on LinkedIn to be of high quality if you search for people based on certain specific parameters like designation, size of company and industry.

The biggest disadvantage with LinkedIn is that paid advertising is very expensive. I’ve found ads to be sometimes at least ten times more expensive than Facebook.

If you have the budget, and your target audience is on LinkedIn, it’s worth a try.


Twitter has over 320 million users. They’ve just started with paid ads, where your tweet is promoted for greater visibility. Here too, it is possible to promote your web page which can also be a landing page that can be used to collect email subscribers.

The ad rates seemed to be much more expensive than Facebook, but it again depends on the location you are targeting. It is also possible to target audiences similar to that of your competitors; this is a significant advantage.

If you can get access to the followers of your competitors, who are already buying what you are selling, it’s a big bonus.

Twitter is also a great place to follow and engage with influencers.

Tips and tricks

Follow people who you want to connect with. People get a notification whenever someone follows them. This is free publicity.

Use hashtags in every post, preferably ones that are trending.


Pinterest is a very visual medium. If your focus is predominantly on visuals, it’s a great place to promote. At this point, they provide promoted pins only for US users.

It is possible to follow a lot of users on Pinterest which gets you visibility. However, following and engaging people can be a bit time-consuming.


Engagement on Instagram is pretty high compared to other sites. Advertising on Instagram with your Facebook account is possible.

Instagram is again a visual medium, where interesting images and pictures work.

Hashtags and storytelling are keys to success on Instagram.


If you create videos for your business, this is another place to build a reputation and a personal connection with an audience. If you are promoting videos on your website, YouTube might be an excellent platform.

They have paid advertising too. Paid advertising is a method where you can get a lot of visibility for your videos pretty quickly.

Google Plus

Google’s answer to Facebook, although the number of users are relatively significant, it hasn’t gone on to beat Facebook at its game. However, it’s still good to have a G+ profile.

I have seen that every time I share a post or an event on G+, my followers who have Gmail accounts get notified. This is a big advantage with Google Plus.

There are a few more good quality social networks like StumbleUpon that have fairly less expensive paid advertising options.

Periscope is another platform worth exploring.

Initially, you might want to experiment with several options, but eventually, it’s best to focus on fewer platforms and be consistent on each of them.

Users of social networks want to socialize rather than be sold, so It’s important to get personal. People want to know the real you.

Even if it’s a company page, it’s important to mention little details about the CEO and staff members. Photos of office parties and special occasions can build that emotional connection with your audience.

Just like your email autoresponders, social media messages also create that little spark, and emotional connection.

Using a tool like HootSuite, social media messages can also be automated. But be a bit careful on social media, it’s a place where you can end up spending too much time for too little results.

Search Engines

Before social media, search engines were one of the most predominant ways for people to find information.

It’s still very relevant today.

There are two ways in which you can use search engines to promote your business—Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

  • SEO: As the term states, optimization of your site is key here and can help your site get higher rankings on search engines. Keywords, Meta tags, and internal and external links can help you achieve this goal.
  • SEM: This involves buying ads related to certain specific keywords, using a bidding system.

In other words, you can get website visitors either organically, or by placing ads on search engines. We’ll talk about ranking high on search engines later in the chapter.

Some Popular Search Engines to Help Promote Your Business

Google: This is by far, the most widely used search engine. Statistics indicate that it gets about 55 to 65 percent of total searches.


  • You can register your business for free in the Places for Business section
  • These business listings feature on Google Maps
  • Customers get the option of leaving feedback and reviews on your Google+ page

Bing: Second only to Google, this search engine backed by Microsoft is another place to promote your business. It’s not as popular as Google but the next best.

Yahoo!: In third place, this search engine accounts for around 20 percent of all searches on the internet. Though it might seem like a low figure, even this comes up to millions of searches per day.

Ask.Com: It has been around for a long time, and though it has not gained as much popularity as Google or Bing, this search engine has several benefits.


  • A visually appealing user interface
  • Great presentation and groupings

DuckDuckGo: If you want to look beyond Google especially when targeting users who do not want their search data to be retained and tracked. This is where DuckDuckGo scores over many counterparts on the world wide web.


  • Has the third best conversion rates and lowest average order value
  • The syntax used is a unique one
  • Provides zero-click info and permits interface changes
  • Sponsored links are currently syndicated through Yahoo! Don’t be fooled by appearances. It is a search engine that combines search results from various other search engines including Google, Bing, and Yahoo.


  • It does not rank sponsored or pay-per-click advertisements
  • Also does not accept direct submissions or advertisements from businesses
  • Good positioning on other major search engines is the best way to get on this one

YouTube: It is a search engine for videos and a great means of advertising or promoting your business through videos.

The pricing of keyword ads on search engines is usually on a pay-per-click (PPC) model. Another type of pricing is the cost per thousand impressions (CPM). This means that the advertisers have to pay every time the ad is clicked or viewed per thousand potential customers.

Tips to increase your opt-in rate

#1 A Great Landing Page

A landing page is any page that a reader lands on. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the homepage.

What makes a great landing page?

#1 Talks directly to their prospective customer

#2 Touches a pain point

#3 Has one objective – The biggest mistake with landing pages is trying to do too many things at the same time. You are either acquiring leads, making a sale, or just trying to increase inquiries. Never all three.

#4 States the benefits clearly – Tell the reader what will happen if they hire you or attend your training session. Will they become bigger, stronger, happier, funnier?

#5 No Distractions – A lot of websites have shiny objects all over the place. What do I mean by that? They have so many columns, there’s a column to the left, right, another one in the middle, and the visitor has no clue where to look on the website. Keep your landing page – nice and clean – no distractions on either of the columns.

#6 Very clear call to action – Landing pages should tell the reader exactly what to do. It could be asking them to sign up on your mailing list, or even ask for a sale.

Formatting Tips

Make it easy for the reader with headings and sub-headings.

The purpose of the heading is to entice your reader to read the first line. The first should entice him to read the next and so on.

People don’t usually read word to word of an article; they scan through the article. So sub-headlines are a nice way of catching their attention.

Your copy should have short paragraphs.

Long paragraphs are usually intimidating. Small paragraphs break up a long landing page into smaller blocks of content that are more easily digestible.

A paragraph of not more five sentences is a good guideline. But they can be shorter than that if you desire.

Readable and large fonts

Your font shouldn’t be too large or too small. They should be just enough for the reader to read comfortably.

Bullet points

Another method to make your copy more readable is bullet points, and numbered lists. It just makes your copy more organized.

#2 A great lead magnet

Your lead magnet should be something that is highly valuable. It has to be something your prospects must be willing to pay for, not just an ebook filled with fluff.

#3 Build your credibility

Prospects no longer give away their contact details to just about anybody. So make the time to build your credibility online through media mentions, blog posts, conferences, videos, and social media.

Tools you might need for your marketing

Email Marketing Software

Aweber – One of the most popular email marketing softwares. Lets you embed forms, schedule autoresponders, and create campaigns.

Getresponse – Another similar software to Aweber, but we prefer Aweber to getresponse.

Landing Pages

Leadpages – It’s a software that helps you create landing pages quickly. It can save you time and money on a web developer.

Clickfunnels – A far more robust tool than just creating landing pages. This software helps you create an entire sales funnel, along with landing pages, website builder, payment gateways, autoresponders, webinars, and much more.

Webinar Software

WebinarJam – A software that helps you set-up and conduct webinars.


Landing high paying clients is one of the cornerstones of building a successful coaching business. Marketing should be taken as seriously as the training content and delivery.

Sometimes it might be a good idea to outsource the marketing, if you don’t want to do it yourself. Check out our marketing for trainers service, click here.

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About the Author: Vinil Ramdev

Vinil is an entrepreneur, trainer, marketer, and a passionate blogger.