A powerful marketing tool, your coach profile can make or break whether you win the business of prospective clients. Here’s how to perfect yours.
- Your coach profile is your “door opener” and can decide your future work opportunities.
- A well-written and presented profile elicits the right response from the right person.
- The tone, language, length and format of your profile are all crucial to the impression it creates – and annual revision is key.
Your coach profile is a powerful marketing tool. It is often your first point of contact with prospective clients and can make or break whether you win their business. “It pays to spend time and effort on it – and to revise it annually,” says John Paisley, Director of Procoaching.
As a teacher, lecturer, and learning and leadership specialist who has been involved in education, training and development for more than 30 years, Paisley has read literally hundreds of coach’s profiles. Here, he distills his observations into a handy guide for future coaches…
1. Who is it for?
Who is going to read your profile and what impression do you want to leave with them? In general, coach profiles are used for one of the following purposes:
- To win potential clients: When we receive an enquiry from someone looking for a coach, we send them some preliminary info (a story about selecting a coach, a coaching readiness assessment and a sample agreement). If they then demonstrate further interest, we will send three to five coach profiles, encouraging them to short list their coaches of choice. So, in effect, these prospective clients make their initial hiring decisions based on the profiles they receive. Good profile = the opportunity to be on the short list. Lousy profile = wastepaper basket!
- To convince organisational buyers: When selecting business coaches for clients within their organisations, company leaders often request profiles. Prospective coachees within the business are often provided with these profiles and subsequently base their choice of future coach on these.
- For hiring opportunities. You may wish to join a team of associate coaches in a coaching company and their initial assessment of your credentials will often be based on your profile. They may also send your profile to potential clients.
Whoever your target audience, your coach profile is your “door opener”. And, yes, while personal contact is arguably the more reliable way to choose a coach, the fact remains that, without a good profile, you may not even be awarded the opportunity to make such contact.
2. What makes a good profile?
A good profile elicits the right response from the right person. Who do you want to coach? What do you know about them? What will attract or interest them? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, do some research.
Ask yourself, “What do I do well? What do I want to do more of? What is my purpose and passion? What are my values?” The answers to these questions should come across in your profile. But, don’t inundate your reader with information. Put in just enough to pique their interest, and to provide them with a perspective of you as a person and your abilities. Give them a sense of who you are.
And remember, you can’t please all people all the time! Don’t try to be a Jack-of-all-trades. If you offer a variety of specialisations, it may be preferable to have a number of profiles: one as coach, one as consultant, one as facilitator, and each tailored to the work in question.
3. How should it be written?
First consider the kind of tone you wish to set. First person (“I spent 15 years in the financial industry”) conveys intimacy; third person (“Joe spent 15 years in the financial industry”) provides distance and perspective. Both are acceptable, depending on the audience.
Show command of language but don’t make it “flowery” – and don’t use industry jargon. It’s also a good idea to date your profile to show it’s current. As a general rule, one page is enough to convey the essentials without overwhelming the reader. Bullet points are easy to read while a narrative style is good for telling your story. Choose the style that best reflects who you are.
A picture says a thousand words, so include a portrait photograph. Ensure it’s flattering but professional – hiring a photographer is an investment that can deliver countless returns. But limit the visuals otherwise. You want your profile to be clear and easy to read, so no complicated layouts, multiple columns and decorations down the side.
You’ll probably distribute your profile electronically so make sure it’s in a user-friendly format. A Word or PDF file is fine; a Powerpoint presentation is not. Keep your photograph at a low resolution and don’t zip or encode your file – anything that makes it difficult to open or cumbersome to download will simply put off recipients.
Finally, test your profile on friends and colleagues. Would those you’d choose as clients choose you? And revise your profile annually – you’ll be amazed at how it will evolve.
4. A good example
I suggest the following structure:
Name and date (and photograph)
Perspectives: Here you list your qualifications, experience, your philosophies and approach, your professional memberships, your community activities, and so on. This helps the reader understand who you are, where you “come from”, and what “formed” you.
Process: Here you describe how you coach. Do you have a coaching programme? If so, what is your minimum/maximum number or duration of sessions? Do you use a particular process or model? What happens in a session? Which assessments do you use? Do you have an agreement? Do you have coaching rooms or do you travel? How far? What are your rates and payment terms? (These last are often left out if your profile is sent to a corporate buyer by a coaching company). In a nutshell, this section provides clarity on how you work and what is involved. Yes, you can be flexible, but at least give an indication of your parameters.
Purpose: Here you describe who you coach: your ideal client and your passion or purpose for coaching. Do you want to coach young people making career choices? Executives making strategic decisions? Couples facing relationship issues? Middle managers building teams? Here you want to create a sense of connection; you want your reader to say, “Ah, this coach will get me.”
Experience and references: Here you could list clients (with contact details) as well as short testimonials from previous clients (usually anonymous, but more powerful if not). If they articulate the change coaching has brought to their lives, so much the better.
Contact details: List your street and email addresses, cellphone and landline numbers, Skype ID, website, and so on. (Note: Do not include these if your profile is distributed via a coaching company as prospective clients will contact you through the company itself.)
Are you interested in becoming a coach? The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of coaching courses, all accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and aligned with COMENSA. For more information, enquire now.