My marketing strategy is based on empirical research I have done over the years. I am clear about my ideal client and how I can help them.
Cheryl Procter-Rogers, an executive coach who assists busy C-Suite executives, high potentials, and entrepreneurs in corporations, universities and national non-profits talks to us about her executive coaching journey, and the various opportunities in this industry.
With over 20 years of experience as an executive coach, here’s what she had to say.
Tell us about your journey.
After I earned my bachelor’s degree from Bradley University and relocated from my native Chicago to Los Angeles, I landed a position in the public relations department of an insurance company.
Realizing I didn’t know much about public relations, I pursued and earned a professional designation in public relations from UCLA’s extension program.
As a result of what I learned, I was able to implement strategies that caught the attention of senior management. I now know that I was “coaching” senior management on effective communications and employee engagement.
While there, my community relations efforts caught the attention of the marketing managers of Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch who encouraged me to resign my position at the insurance company and establish a PR consulting firm, taking them on as my first clients.
So, in 1986, I established A Step Ahead Public Relations with those two clients.
My client base continued to grow and included Nissan, IBM, Jewish Federation Council of Los Angeles, Drew University and Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente and others.
It wasn’t long before I realized that my lack of business acumen was a barrier to the success I envisioned. So, when Nielsen Marketing Research in Northbrook, Illinois recruited me to relocate back to Chicago to create a proactive public relations department, I said yes!
I served as director of public relations and advertising and managed a 2.2 million dollar budget, coordinating the PR and advertising strategies for headquarters and all subsidiaries in the U.S.
In addition, I served as liaison between Dun and Bradstreet and Wall Street analysts on Nielsen Marketing Research business. I was later added as a member of Dun and Bradstreet’s worldwide communications council.
In this role, I often coached and counseled senior executives on their communications and internal employee engagement strategies, often creating awareness about their limiting behaviors.
It would be several years before I would follow-through on my goal to earn an MBA and I chose Keller Graduate School of Management’s executive MBA program and earned the degree in 2000. This additional degree and expertise created business opportunities that eluded me prior to this accomplishment.
How did you choose your niche?
I believe my niche chose me.
While executive coaching was integrated into my PR and business strategy work since the 1980s, beginning in the early 2010s, I began contracting with individuals who were interested in executive coaching only.
Senior executives from my public relations and business strategy work, which is concentrated in the areas of major corporations, national nonprofits and universities, began requesting this expertise because of my background and years of experience working with senior executives in these sectors.
Is there any specific training you took to become a coach?
Yes, I knew there was much to learn and it was also important to me that I be part of a larger coaching community.
I researched and found the premiere coaching organization, the International Coach Federation (ICF).
To join, one must have completed 30 hours of coaching training and on track to complete another 30 hours. So, in 2014, I returned to school and earned the distinction of a certified master coach, completing 60 coach training hours.
I went on to invest in my competencies by completing 75 additional training hours in executive coaching specifically.
In June, I graduated from DePaul University with an MA degree in Leadership and Change Management. As part of the degree program, my focus area included extensive research to design my own executive coaching process.
How did you get your first client?
I announced to my network that I was expanding my practice in 2015 to include executive coaching as a separate practice. I made the announcement through social media, email blasts and whenever I was before an audience speaking on leadership and other communication topics.
As a result, I secured clients without giving away my services, even though I offer a 30-minute complimentary session.
How do you acquire clients?
I am a member of ICF and earned a professional certified coach (PCC) credential. I receive inquiries through the organization’s coach match program and network through the local Chicago area chapter. I always seek any opening to begin a conversation about the value of coaching with friends, colleagues and strangers. I have crafted an elevator pitch that helps create interest.
I have a website that outlines my coaching process and provides some testimonials from clients.
My marketing strategy is based on empirical research I have done over the years. I am clear about my ideal client and how I can help them. I work from my strengths and areas of expertise to create a coaching relationship that creates a safe environment for change.
What is your pricing methodology?
I do have any hourly rate, but contract for a minimum of three months for a program fee that includes assessment(s), plan development, coaching to the plan, and post-coaching plan. Clients have access to my professional library of tools and articles.
What are your revenue streams, as a coach?
I offer individual and group coaching. I also offer a hybrid of training and follow-up coaching sessions for senior leaders. I am currently working on a book and workbook.
If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have done the book first. If I had a nickel for each time a person asked if I had a book, I’d be practicing meditative mindfulness on my private island.
What tools do you use to manage your coaching business?
I love my scheduling tool by Schedule Once. I am a bit old fashion with paper files and an electronic project management system.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a coach?
Don’t under estimate the value of investing in a coach training program. Do your homework and find the school that aligns with your unique gifts, interests and passion. Become a part of a coaching community—globally and locally.
What is the value of executive coaching?
There is increasing research on the impact of executive coaching and its value as a business strategy or tool to implement sustainable organizational change.
At the core of executive coaching is creating awareness about an executive’s limiting beliefs and behaviors.
Coaching is an emerging profession and many disciplines are already beginning to migrate to coaching as a natural extension of their education, training and experience. The academic literature supports the notion that executive coaching can create transformational leaders. ICF has completed a great deal of research on this topic that may be of value to any coach or potential coach.
Cheryl Procter-Rogers is a high-energy, dynamic coach with a focus on leadership development, corporate presence, personal branding, effective communications, work-life balance, career transitions and time management. For more information, visit www.AStepAheadPR.com