Building an Authentic Brand in the Coaching Industry Part 2: 6 Steps to Building a Brand
Missy Mitchell-McBeth, MSEd, SCCC, CSCS, USAW
In Building a Brand Part 1, we discussed what a brand is and why you might want one.
The focus of Part 2 will be the strategic steps to take to create an authentic and viable brand.
Step 1: Determine YOUR vision for your brand.
In Part 1, we defined a brand as how others view you or your business. You can’t control this, but you will influence it by how you present and market your brand. Ultimately ask yourself this:
“How do I want people to feel about me or my business?”
To assist with this, it can be helpful to determine your core values, as you likely will want your brand to reflect them. Many purport to know their core values, but when asked have difficulty naming them. Others define their core values using buzzwords, but they don’t actually act on them.
If you find yourself in either situation, the following series of exercises extrapolated from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can help you discover what you value most:
Peak experiences: consider a meaningful moment in your life. What happened? What values were being honored that made this so impactful?
Suppressed values: consider a time when you were upset. What happened? What values were being ignored that made this so unsettling?
Must haves: Beyond basic needs, what do you require in life for fulfillment?
Likely, the values that show up in one or more of these three scenarios will be a great starting point in uncovering what you want to serve as the foundation for your brand.
Step 2: Determine your target audience.
If you read Part 1, it will come as no surprise that I’ll ask you to first eliminate who is not a member of your target audience before determining who is. I was once asked at an event how I would convert a “the-way-we’ve-always-done-it” coach into one who would implement a well-designed strength and conditioning program. My answer was this: I won’t. I have no interest in wasting my time trying to convert a customer on the polar-opposite end of the spectrum.”
When marketing a product or service or pursuing a new position, eliminating those customers or jobs that do not align with your brand’s values can save you a lot of time, effort and heartache. Ruling them out can also give you insight into exactly who you want to market to.
Something of note: the more general your target audience, the more competition you will have in that space. Conversely, the more specific your target audience, the fewer potential customers. From a less sales-y perspective: a strength and conditioning coach who is a generalist vs one who specializes in a given sport will be able to apply for more positions, but will also go up against a larger number of applicants.
Once you identify your target audience, ask yourself questions like:
● What does your typical customer/athlete fear?
● What problems do they typically encounter?
● What are their goals?
● What type of media do they consume?
The answers to these can help you tailor messaging in a way that demonstrates how your brand will be of value to your specific audience.
Step 3: Differentiate.
In a pile of 50 resumes, what makes yours stand out from the other 49? Whether it is marketing a product or seeking employment, you need to be able to clearly communicate what sets you apart from competitors.
Here are two questions that can help determine what differentiates you from others:
What do people ask your advice about/what would people pay you for NOW?
Firstly, what a great litmus test for whether or not you need to focus on building your resume or building your brand! If no one is asking you for advice and no one would pay you for your ‘expertise,’ perhaps a greater emphasis should be placed on building your resume.
Ultimately, what do people want to learn from you? Knowing what information or services people seek out from you gives insight into what others see as your differentiating traits or skills.
What pain points can you address with your target audience?
Start by writing a list of every problem a member of your target audience may have. For each of those problems, list out every possible way they can make that problem worse. If you’ve ever attend the Art of Coaching Brand Builder workshop with Brett Bartholomew, this is what he calls a ‘pre-mortem’ assessment.
With that information in hand, determine how you can address those pain points and how you or your product/service addresses them better than your competitors.
Step 4: Build your Brand Proposition Statement
A brand proposition statement is created to clarify what your brand is to others, and has four component parts:
Category in which the brand operates
Benefit to the customer
Why the brand will deliver on its promise
The statement will look something like this:
(Brand) is a (1) that provides (2) with (3) by (4)
A more specific example would be for my LLC, SaFe Iron:
I teach coaches how to prepare athletes for the demands of sport using simplified strength and conditioning systems.
As a business owner or coach, the creation of this statement can help you deliver a clear and concise message about exactly what you/your brand offers members of your target audience.
Step 5: Build Your Value Proposition
Now that you’ve clarified your brand’s offerings, you need to communicate their value.
Ultimately, what will someone gain by:
● Spending time on your content
● Purchasing your products
● Hiring you for a position
If you are unable to pinpoint a specific reason that what you offer is of value to your target market, you will fail. This seems incredibly simple, but too often coaches take the road of “I’ll let my work speak for itself.” Great! You should. But at some point…you have to speak for your work, because your competitors are speaking about theirs.
A sample value proposition, from Lumin, is as follows:
The only sports platform you need to bring your people, data and decision-making together.
This statement clearly defines what is to be gained from purchasing their product. Your value proposition should do the same.
Personal Branding Step 6: An Online Presence
You need an online presence of some type in 2023. This can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it, but one or more of these items can help promote your brand:
● Social media accounts
● Content on other channels - articles, blogs, podcasts, etc.
With this online presence, brand consistency is important. While it was discussed in Part 1 that a brand isn’t a logo, font, or color scheme, having a consistent style and voice across all online outlets can help people quickly and easily identify your brand online.
Final Branding Step: Collect feedback
Remember, a brand is how others view you or your business.
Once the above steps are implemented, seek feedback from others to evaluate whether or not the branding strategy hit its mark. You might find out that your brand is perceived exactly as intended, or you may learn that you need to adjust your strategy.
In either case, the only way to determine this is by opening yourself up to input from others and acting on that input.
"We are a sport and a team with such a diverse work force which is geographically dispersed. Keeping in touch with each other is critical , every day that a rider is not able to train is a day lost to the team and to the rider. Technology and the partnership with Lumin has enabled us to be more connected than ever in a meaningful and relevant way, keeping us on the road."
"Since using the Lumin Sports platform, we, as a high performance football team have been able to consolidate a-lot of our existing data storage and analysis platforms so that we can now use one central platform throughout the department. Seamless integrations with real time visuals has been at the forefront of my work and where I see the most benefit and potential from the Lumin platform from my point of view."
"Time is a valuable resource and having everything in the one place meant we got some of it back. Having performance data, communications, and critical information all in one central hub streamlined our admin processes."
"Using the Lumin platform to track player health and wellness is an easy process to help with player compliance; and a logical dashboard for coaching, medical and performance staff to visualise list availability and status at a glance. It’s been a really valuable addition to our program."
“Lumin Sports has helped our coaches and trainers overcome communication barriers with an easy-to-use, accessible, and collaborative platform. The simplicity of the mobile app has improved communication and planning efficiency. This has undoubtedly enhanced both the coaches and athlete experience, ultimately contributing to team success.”
‘"Both the NSCA and Lumin Sports share a similar mission to advance strength and conditioning. We value having Lumin Sports onboard as a coaches sponsor and appreciate their commitment to supporting the association and our members."
"Lumin Sports has provided an easy, fast, intuitive and visually enticing to collect, analyse and visualize all training load and wellness data. We are doing more as a department than ever previously in regards to our applied sport science efforts from profiling, internal and external load monitoring, subjective questionnaires and more and none of it would not be possible without Lumin Sports."
"As Head Coach, the usability and visual nature of the Lumin platform means I can quickly get a snapshot of how the players are feeling, but also how the team is tracking as a whole. The Lumin Sports Platform is now an important part of our day-to-day lives."
"Before implementing Lumin, time was our biggest pain point. As a club and performance department, we were simply not equipped with the time to monitor even simple metrics like RPE, training loads and wellness. With the Lumin Platform, our athletes can now complete simple surveys and input valuable data in seconds that give us key information that influences our players' performance on game day, it's simply a game changer!"
"Lumin, to be honest, is the best platform on the market. It's fantastically simple and easy to use, there are several AMS systems out there that are complex, hard to use and that really struggle to get athlete buy-in. That is what attracted us to Lumin Sports in the first place was how easy to use both the athlete app and coaches dashboards are. It now gives our coaches far greater detail what our athletes are doing outside of the gym which provides us so much value as an organisation."