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.
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"Lumin's Arc platform is a game changer in professional cycling. Arc has given our team real insights into the athlete’s performance and how they are feeling and training every day. This has and will continue to improve our decision making in a globally disparate team."
"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."
"I can comfortably say that Lumin has saved us well over 40% in time spent collecting and preparing data, meaning we can spend more time putting the data to use."
“I am able to see all of my data in real time combined into the one system. Everything from my wellness to my performance data on one system is incredibly powerful. I’m able to connect all of my data to my coaches, performance staff and the people allowing me to be at my best. I’m able to integrate my 3rd party hardware and it will upload instantly to the Arc platform for instant analysis. As an athlete we often are asked to use a variety of different tools to monitor all of our performance metrics, With the Arc Mobile and Arc platforms this now consolidates this monitoring and data collection to very few seamless steps, allowing me to concentrate on racing and performing at my best."
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