Why your coaching business only needs 100 true fans

As a coach, you probably feel like you need to grow a huge online audience – the bigger, the better. This means you spend a lot of time and energy chasing more and more likes and followers. It’s exhausting.

Have you stopped to think about how you turn these followers into customers? Or how many you really need? It’s not as many as you might think.

Large audience for a tennis match

You don’t need a huge audience to make your coaching business work

In 2008, Wired editor Kevin Kelly wrote an essay called “1,000 True Fans”. The idea is that creatives don’t need to be super-famous, they just need enough super fans and they can make a comfortable living. Kelly’s formula was based on 1,000 people each spending $100 a year. Since then, tech writer Li Jin has suggested “1,000 True Fans? Try 100”, rebalancing the formula to be 100 people each spending $1,000.

Obviously, the exact numbers and amounts are fluid, depending on your needs (how much do you need to earn for it to be a ‘living’?) But the basic point stands: instead of just treading water on social media, chasing likes and shares and views… focusing your attention more intensely on a smaller group of people can get you better results.

Person standing on top of mountain

What’s a ‘true fan’ in coaching?

For a creative, a true fan is someone who buys everything they produce. What does the equivalent for a coaching business look like?

  • They take your coaching sessions/package and they apply the learning and guidance to get real results.
  • They read and share your blog posts.
  • They download and use your how-to guides, self-coaching exercises, etc.
  • If you write a book, they buy it, not just for themselves but for others too.
  • >And they recommend (rave about) you to their friends and contacts.

What true fans do for you

Apart from hand over their $100 or $1,000, you mean? Earning a secure financial living is only part of it. Your true fans are loyal. They want what you deliver and they know that you will. And this benefits your business. As mentioned, they rave about your services to others – whether it’s a personal recommendation or just sharing your stuff online, they’re doing your marketing for you. They also give you feedback (a true fan is much more likely to respond to a survey or other feedback request) allowing you to improve your business. What’s more, when you launch a new service or offer, your true fans are first in line. It’s not an impersonal supplier-user setup; they feel connected in some way to you and what you do. 

Maybe you’ve never thought in these terms about what you do as a coach. Maybe you don’t feel you have an offer or service you can charge $1,000 for. That might be true – especially if you currently charge by the hour. But rethinking how you package your services, creating a bolder offer*, allows you to sell more, charge more. Think of it as the difference between buying a utilitarian off-the-peg outfit and going to a bespoke tailor – your true fans come to you for something only you can give and appreciate the fine work you produce.

*We’re launching a guide on how to create a bolder offer for your coaching business, join the email list to be the first to know when it launches.

Audience at a music concert bright lights on stage

Finding true fans

Fans are not followers. Your followers are people who have clicked ‘like’ on your Facebook page or follow your LinkedIn account. A fan is someone who regularly engages online, comments on posts and articles, responds to polls, opens every email, attends events and webinars… You need 100 people like this who are willing to buy at some point during the year.

Again, followers are not fans. But 1 in 10 are potentially on a journey to becoming fans. For every 10 people in your audience you’ll get one convert. So for your 100 true fans, you need an audience of 1,000. How do you find them? How do you encourage that 1 in 10 on their journey?

  • Offer something unique – The service, the branding, your perspective…
  • Excellent customer service experience – Listen, reply promptly, be personable, be reliable.
  • Know your clients – Treat them as individuals, remember their needs and circumstances and target your offers accordingly.
  • Give them priority – Developing something new? Invite your true fans to comment and feedback; involve them.
  • Give them value – As a coach, you’re in the business of supporting people to make their lives better.
  • Show your appreciation – Find a way to acknowledge and reward your loyal fans.
  • Don’t be a hero – People don’t follow heroes, they watch them from a distance. But they will travel with a guide, someone who will make them the hero and support them to achieve their quest (BTW “quest” = coaching goals!)

So far, so good. The key is to focus your offer. Niche it. Tailor it to the needs of a smaller, specific group. When you spread your business too thin, it’s hard to generate that ‘true fan loyalty’. Focusing on the needs of a niche group of people means you can make an offer just for them, and charge more for it.

Old wooden chest contain a mystery offer

But… I don’t have an offer I can charge $1,000 for.

We understand, narrowing the appeal of your offer seems counterintuitive – usually, the default marketing goal is: more customers! But in this case, it really can be a case of ‘less is more’: less clients, more business, more income. To read more on the benefits of finding your niche, check out our recent blog post, “How to niche your coaching business”.

And remember, the actual amount is variable depending on what a ‘living’ is for you.

Don’t compete. Focus.

Nobody’s saying this is a rapid process. Finding your 100 true fans means getting to really know your audience. It means putting in the energy and effort to engage with them. It means giving them access to you. It means building a unique offer that gives them exactly what they want and need.

To grow your audience and nurture your 100 true fans, join our community jam-packed full of marketing tips, tricks and inspiration for your coaching business.

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