Why Health Coaches Need a Brand ... and How You Can Create a Strong One

branding Jan 22, 2020

I remember when I was first starting my business back in 2016.  It felt like there were a million things to do ... and they all needed to be done right now.  

Of course the most important thing a business needs is clients.  You need to  keep the lights on and put food on the table.  And to get clients, you need to do some kind of marketing. 

Now here’s where most people starting a new business get things botched up.

Most people believe the first thing they need to do is get a logo and a website. But if you’re a health coach, something else needs to be at the top of your list.  When you do this one thing first, it makes everything else you do to market your business MUCH easier and much more effective.  

What is this one thing?

You first need to create your brand. 

Not your logo … your brand.

You need to have a brand because brands help people choose what they buy.  Having a brand helps you create your own unique place in the market.  

And a brand focuses your marketing.  When your marketing is focused, you help people find and choose you.  

What this means is your brand gives you a unique marketing advantage. And it helps you dial-in your messaging.  

Once your messaging is dialed-in, you’ll know what to put on your website, in your social media content, and in your advertising.  (It will also help your designer come up with a logo that does a better job reflecting your brand.)

3 Health Coach Brand Essentials

Okay, so you need a brand.  Now what?

Well, there are 3 essential elements to a strong health coaching brand. As you’ll see, these aren’t just brand decisions… they’re business decisions, too.  

On the surface, some of them may seem like they’ll prevent you from getting clients.  But stick with me. Because I’ll show you how they give you a much stronger marketing foundation.  And better marketing always wins

So the 1st brand essential is this – You need to get very clear on who you want to help.  

People often think this is about demographics (gender, age, etc.).  And demographics may be part of it. But a health coach needs to look beyond the demographics.  You need to look at the problem you’ll help your perfect client solve … how you’ll transform their life.

For instance, your perfect client could have a specific health goal.  Maybe it’s losing weight, building stronger bones, or clearing up acne. 

Or maybe it’s a specific health condition, such as allergies, high blood sugar, or digestive issues.  The point here is that the more specific you are, the better your marketing will be. 

Now I can tell you from working with hundreds of health coaches that getting specific is one of the hardest things for them to do.  First of all, health coaches can solve so many different types of problems for so many different types of people. 

Then there’s the paradox with this approach. It’s very natural to think you’ll have more potential clients if you can solve more types of problems for more people.  While this seems to make sense logically, it’s a recipe for disaster when it comes to effective marketing.

The amazing power of the “smallest viable market”

You may have heard of Seth Godin.  He’s a marketing genius and author of a handful of books.  

Godin tells people that successful marketing is not the same kind of numbers game it was in the past.  Instead, he tells people to focus on the “smallest viable market.” By that he means you should make your target market as specific as you possibly can, as long as it still gives you enough people to support a business.  

Let me show you this in action using Anne, a health coach I worked with. 

Anne is a nutritional therapist.  She helps people with lots of different problems.  

When I first started working with Anne, she wanted to focus on helping people with type 2 diabetes.  That’s pretty specific, right?

Yes, it is.  But watch what happened when we got even more specific.

Anne told me she works with a lot of truck drivers.  As you can imagine, sitting in a truck for hour after hour, day after day makes a trucker extremely prone to all kinds of health problems. So much so, in fact, that the DOT (Department of Transportation) requires truckers to regularly pass a special medical test.  Otherwise they lose their license.

That’s serious business.  Passing the test means the difference between being able to feed their families and keep a roof over their head or not. 

So instead of helping people with high blood sugar, we made Anne’s perfect client a trucker in not-so-good health who has the DOT exam coming up.  Now take a look at how this changes her messaging ...

Instead of saying something like:  I help people lower their blood sugar in 8 weeks ...

Anne’s messaging can be more like this:  I help truckers lower their blood sugar so they can pass the DOT test in as little as 8 weeks … without losing time on the road or eating a highly restrictive diet.

See the difference?  If you’re a trucker with blood sugar problems and your DOT test is coming up, that will certainly get your attention!

If getting specific like this makes you anxious, here’s a good way to look at it.

This doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t ever help people who don’t fit your ideal client.  You can certainly branch out over time.  

But the beauty of this approach is that it gives you a solid platform to launch and market your business so you build a track record of success.

Okay.  So hopefully you see the advantages of getting clear on the problem you solve and who you solve it for.  Now let's get to the 2nd brand essential.

How You Do That Magic That You Do

There’s something almost magical about having a system or process.  It gives people confidence that you can help them. There are two reasons for this.

First, it helps to position you as a subject expert.  You show your prospective client exactly how you’ll get them from where they are now to where they want to be.

Second, people feel more confident when they know there’s a specific plan.  This shows them that there are certain steps, each of them with a specific outcome, that will create the transformation they desire. 

So once you know the problem you solve and who you solve it for, you need to come up with what I call, your Signature System. Here’s how.

First, map out all the steps you’ll take your ideal client through.  Start at the very beginning, even if it’s a free consultation.  

Include milestones along the way, such as a certain amount of weight loss, when their brain fog will disappear, or when they’ll notice their energy starts to increase.  Write down every step.

Next, group the steps together into logical categories. What you want to do here is to simplify your process.  You want it to be easy to explain and easy to understand. Your goal is to have 3-5 steps total. Any more than that could get too complicated and start to feel like too much work.

Keep in mind that I’m not saying you should eliminate steps when you’re working with your clients.  You just want to group steps together under a few categories so you can explain your process easily.

Once you’re done with this, come up with a simple name for your system.  The best names will have a benefit in them, such as The Fat Loss Activation System.

Okay, so those are the key factors that focus on the change you want to make.  Now let’s get the 3rd brand essential. This one is the more “behind the scenes” part of your brand.

How to Tap into Your Brand’s “Emotional Identity”

Your potential clients want results.  But when it comes to who they work with, they’ll be looking for more.  

It doesn’t matter what kind of coach you are … people ultimately make the decision to work with you based on the rapport they have with you.  That rapport comes from your brand’s emotional identity. And it’s made up of 2 important factors:

First is your values and beliefs.  These make up the foundation of your business and guide what you do and how you do it.  Let me give you an example that has nothing to do with coaching, but will help you see what I mean.

A while back, I popped into a CVS drug store to buy some Kleenex tissues.  I asked an employee in one of the aisles where they were. He said, “Aisle 9.”

So I went to aisle 9.  And sure enough, there they were!  CVS delivered.  

But I saw there was a long checkout line.  I was short on time and still needed to get to Trader Joe’s.  I’d never bought tissues there, but I assumed they must have them.  

So I went to Trader Joe’s and started shopping.  I saw an employee stocking the shelves in one of the aisles and asked him where the tissues were.  He stopped what he was doing and said, “Come with me.”  

As we walked through the store, he carried on a pleasant conversation with me.  When we got to the tissues he said, “Here they are. Anything else I can help you with?”

Wow.  What a difference!  He actually stopped stocking the shelves to walk me to the tissues. And he chatted with me along the way. 

Both stores delivered what I needed – a box of tissues.  But each delivered it in a very different way. And here’s the kicker...

I wouldn’t have thought anything of my experience at CVS … until my experience at Trader Joe’s.  

That experience changed my impression of BOTH stores.  It raised my perception of Trader Joe’s, and it lowered my perception of CVS.  

And this didn’t just happen … it happened over a year ago.  And I’m still thinking about it (and talking and writing about it, too!)

Why did the Trader Joe’s employee go to such lengths?  Because the #1 brand value at Trader Joe’s is Customer Experience.  They want their customers to feel like they’re shopping with friends.

So you want to spend some time getting clear about your most important values and beliefs as a health coach.  When I help a client with this, I take them through a few different exercises that help bring their values and beliefs to the surface.

One exercise is to think about 2-3 of their favorite brands.  Then I ask them to describe what those brands are like and, most importantly, how they make them feel.  And that brings me to the second factor in your brand’s emotional identity.  

Define Your Brand Impact

Many marketers will tell you to sell the benefits, not the features.  And that’s true. But I like to take things a step further.

Because behind every decision a person makes is an expectation … the expectation that the decision they made will make them feel a certain way.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a product, where to go on vacation, or where they shop.  

I call that feeling the Brand Impact.  To show you what I mean, here’s an example.  

Before there were farmers’ markets and Whole Foods stores, grocery shopping to me was mostly about convenience.  I went to the closest store, whether it was Stop & Stop, Grand Union, or the A&P. Since those stores are pretty much the same kind of store, my decision where to shop was about saving time.  That’s because none of those brands made any kind of impact on me. 

But when a Whole Foods opened up near me, I thought I had died and gone to grocery store heaven!  And I threw convenience out the window.

Whole Foods was a healthy-foodie’s paradise!  They had the best produce, and it was so beautifully laid out. I loved their selection of fresh fish, meats, and cheeses. And I could find all kinds of things there that “regular” grocery stores didn’t carry. Shopping there was like going on an adventure! 

Because of Whole Foods, I started to love grocery shopping. I loved finding new ingredients to try.  And shopping there made me feel like I was making healthier choices for me and my family.  I felt smart and conscientious. It was worth traveling 4 times the distance to get to.

So to me, the Whole Foods Brand Impact was that it made me fall in love with grocery shopping.  It made it a fun adventure. Shopping at Whole Foods made me feel healthy, smart, and conscientious.

Okay, now let’s look at how you can apply this to your coaching business.

You probably know by now that one of the things I do is to help health coaches develop their brand.  When I work with a health coach, I want them to gain complete clarity about who they serve and what makes their approach stand out. I want them to feel confident about their brand and their messaging. And I want them to feel certain about the steps they need to take to launch and market their health coaching business.

So my Brand Impact is about giving my clients clarity, confidence, and certainty about launching and marketing their business. 

Think about your perfect client and how you want them to feel both while they work with you, and after they get the results they want.  This is the impact you want to make … your Brand Impact.

I know I covered a lot here.  And hopefully you see how building your brand can make a powerful difference in helping you build your business. 

If you’d like more branding, marketing, and copywriting tips, please follow me on Instagram.  You can also like my Piper Wellness Marketing Facebook page.

Finally, I'll be opening up a few private coaching slots soon.  If you'd like one-on-one help with branding, messaging, or marketing your health coaching business, send me a note and we'll set up a discovery call. ([email protected])


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