Have you thought about hiring a small business marketing coach?
Many business owners are taking the leap to get themselves to the next level with marketing strategy and results. You don’t want just anyone, though: marketing coaching should come from an experienced professional.
Over the last few years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that almost everyone now seems to be a marketing consultant or offering business coaching. There are tales of bad experiences with so-called gurus out there, so it’s understandable to show some caution before making a hiring decision.
This leaves the question, what should you look for in a small business marketing coach? Here are some key attributes we believe are critical:
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#1. Their small business marketing knowledge
We’ve got this at numero uno because there’s no way you want a “those who can’t do, teach” situation. If you’re really looking to learn more about marketing to stretch your own skills, then the person coaching you needs to have decent small business marketing knowledge themselves.
A good marketing coach has years of experience with small business strategies. They understand the challenges, opportunities and key factors that lead to business success. They didn’t complete an online marketing course last week – they’ve built their knowledge over years of practice.
You should expect that someone coaching marketing strategy has a broad knowledge base of key marketing services. At the very least, they should have in-depth knowledge of areas that you’d specifically like to target, such as creating a marketing plan, identifying a target market, social media, SEO and email marketing.
Importantly, the coach should be a continuous learner. Small business marketing evolves all the time, especially with new technology. A good marketing coach keeps up with the changes and understands their impact on businesses.
Action point: Find out about their own level of marketing knowledge, how they learned it and what they do to stay current.
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#2. Their own small business success
Generally speaking, a credible small business coach should be in that position because they have something to offer based on their own success. They may have owned a small business themselves, or they’ve offered marketing services and know what works.
In other words, you want a marketing coach with a proven track record of successful marketing strategy implementation. There’s a common job interview question where the candidate will be asked to describe a time they used their skills to get a positive result – this is what you want from your marketing coach.
It’s about having a wide breadth of experience too. If you’re paying for marketing coaching services, you should expect that your coach is more experienced or successful in the area/s you need help with than you are.
Action point: Ask them to give you examples of their own successful marketing efforts.
#3. Marketing coaching skills and experience
Generally speaking, years of experience in small business marketing will only get a person so far as a marketing coach. The fact is that not everyone who is good at something makes a great coach. Most of us have experienced this at some point, even if it was back when you played sports in high school!
Marketing coaching requires a very particular set of skills, revolving around getting the best from the client. For example, a good marketing coach will:
- Help you to conceive and stay focused on your core marketing strategy
- Ensure that you have a marketing plan and that it focuses on the right activities for your business.
- Help you to uncover core issues that you may not see yourself which can hinder business success.
- Help to connect you with the right marketing resources.
- Provide accountability to ensure you are following action plans.
- Motivate and empower you to do better.
One thing to remember is that the coaching profession is not a regulated industry. This means that anyone can nail a sign to their door calling themselves a coach. You might want to choose someone who has a coaching accreditation from a reputable coaching school.
Additionally, your marketing coach should have good coaching experience to draw from. This is the case most of the time anyway – occasionally you might be willing to overlook years of experience if they have a lot of relevant business success and experience.
Action point: Look for coaching skills in a coach. You can often learn a lot about this from reviews by their current or past clients.
#4. Marketing strategy skills for your specific needs
One of the triggers that often leads to a small business owner looking for a marketing coach is that they’d like to take a certain marketing strategy direction, but don’t know where to start. For example, perhaps you have mainly focused on traditional advertising but would like to do more with digital marketing – an appropriate coach for you will have extensive digital marketing experience.
In other words, the areas the marketing coach specializes in should match up with what you need. Preferably, they should have expert status in the area/s of marketing that you’d like to focus on.
What might denote expert status? Regular writing, speaking and teaching on those areas of marketing is a good start. These are things you can easily look up and verify. You can also usually find information about the relevant experience the coach has as a marketer.
Action point: Know which areas of marketing you want to focus on and check that the coach has relevant expertise.
#5. Marketing consultant skills
Chances are you actually need marketing consultant skills as well as coaching. The two terms might sound like synonyms, but they actually involve different skills.
For example, while a coach helps people with things like getting unstuck, managing their time, taking action and reaching their potential, a consultant is more about helping you develop a solid marketing system.
Consultant skills include things like:
- Brainstorming marketing ideas
- Giving advice on creating successful marketing strategy (a coach often leads you to your own realizations rather than giving advice)
- Creating and implementing action plans
- Providing an honest assessment of where things are and how they’re working.
Action point: Look to reviews of the coach to find out about their specific consulting skills.
#6. A coaching process that suits your needs
A marketing coach has to be a good fit for you. This includes things like their personality, values and their overall coaching process. There is no one blueprint for how to coach, so if the process one person follows isn’t really you, chances are there’s another coach with a process you’ll like.
Here are some things to consider about whether a coach is suitable for you:
- When and how do they meet with you? Does their timing and method work for you?
- Do you feel the coach is a good fit personality-wise?
- Does the coach seem to have the energy levels that are suited to you?
- Do you feel positive about the coach and their methodology?
- Do you feel that you can trust the coach and that you share key values?
- Does the coach challenge you to be better?
- Is the coach transparent about fees and are you clear about what you get for the price?
Action point: After an initial consultation with the coach, consider the points outlined above.
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A small business marketing coach can help you to work wonders for your overall marketing strategy and results. By finding an expert in an area of marketing that you need help with, you should be able to get a jumpstart on improving your own skills.
“Expertise” is a key theme here. Not every coach has valid experience and you have to remember that virtually anyone can use that title. Be diligent about seeking coaches with verifiable experience and positive reviews.
In the end, working with a marketing coach should be enjoyable and should lead to clarity and improved strategy. Find someone whom you will enjoy working with, who pushes you to stay accountable and do better, and who could write a book on the marketing strategy that you need.