You may have the same ingredients but your recipe is distinct

It is often said that nothing is original. In many ways, that’s so but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In marketing your services, there’s often an assumption that you need to be the ‘next big thing’.

But is that really true?

Think about cookery books. In theory, there is no need to write or publish any more. By now, there are no ‘new’ ingredients, surely?

But despite the ingredients being the same, the recipe, the aesthetic, the balance of flavours, and the overall style of each dish is different, depending on who is interpreting it.

The same is true with marketing. Most people are selling broadly the same service using the same basic ingredients. But the way they prepare it and serve it up is different, maybe even unique.

As a coach, you have the same ingredients as other coaches – your skills, your methods and models, your time… But the way you coach, the way you use the ingredients – and therefore the dish you serve up – are different.

Salad ingredients on a table

The best recipes are a blend of fresh and traditional

Difference is attractive but you don’t have to be unique to stand out. (Which is good news, considering how many coaches there are!)

Familiarity is an important ingredient too. After all, why do you think grandmas’ recipes get so much love? (And if you think that’s just a cliché, check out this Brooklyn restaurant serving only food cooked by grandmothers!)

People need to see something they recognise in what you’re offering. For a coach, that ‘something’ the client needs to see is themselves or, more precisely, their situation, their need, their challenge.

Being unique can often put people off. Being too different feels risky and it becomes a bit of a leap of faith to trust in what you’re offering. Show people familiar elements they can recognise and it will be easier for them to trust you.


Recombine the familiar…

Don’t expect clients to come to you, meet them where they are. When presenting your offer, appeal to potential clients by including the familiar.

Use words, phrases and examples that relate to their situation and how it feels – their experience.
Imagine yourself as a chef with a very particular focus: your ideal client.

Your recipe – the ingredients, the flavours, the presentation – should appeal directly to them. Including familiar elements with your approach.

Show them that you’re offering what they want and need. Fish‘n’chips? Offer them your fish’n’chips. Chicken tikka masala? Margarita pizza? Show them your version – something that is recognisably what they’re hungering for, but prepared and served by you.

The ‘secret ingredient’ is you

Explain what working with you looks and feels like. What is the change that they will experience? Don’t worry about giving too much detail of your process and technique, if that’s what they need.

Even if you give them every step of the recipe, they’re unlikely to do it all themselves. Think about the big chains like Leon or Wagamama, or the celebrity chefs with their own restaurants, they all have bestselling cookery books. But people still go to the restaurants, even when they have the cookbook on the kitchen shelf at home.

It’s the same with marketing your coaching offer. Take us as an example. Our coach’s marketing journey is available on the website. We explain all the steps you need to take, but we also offer a course to guide people through it. And people sign up for the course not because they don’t understand the material but because they value the experience of working through that material with us.

Scrabbled Eggs

But … My recipe is so simple, people can cook it themselves.

No. They really can’t. Or at least, they can do their own version but there’s an appeal to working with the chef.

Even if your recipe is really, really simple people will still come to you if they want what you’re offering. To briefly switch to our more usual ‘journey’ metaphor: the map for an expedition up Kilimanjaro is simple – but people still want (and insist on) hiring a guide.

People will pay for the experience, for what someone else brings to the process in the same way they will pay to go to a restaurant for which they own the cookery book. You don’t sit in Ottolenghi’s restaurant thinking, I could make this at home… – you’re there for the experience, the skills of the chef, and also not having to do the washing-up.

People don’t really want too much originality

The ‘next big thing’ always contains elements of the past – that’s how people can relate to it and understand just how great it is (you are). The truly avant-garde is never widely popular.

When you’re marketing your coaching, include familiar ingredients alongside the novel in your recipe to appeal to your ideal client.

Keep it simple, make it sound delicious and the right people will want to come and work with you.

If you’ve seen the film Kung Fu Panda, you’ll know about the secret ingredient soup. Remember, there was no secret ingredient in the soup, it was the person preparing it.

If you want to learn more about how you can use your coaching ingredients to make your own recipe then check out our Coach’s Marketing Journey course.

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