How I got 12 New Clients by Creating a Coaching Program—and why it was a turning point for me!

Happy Coach on phone with New Coaching Clients

I was writing a workshop about 'concretizing' coaching—finding ways to demonstrate the value and power of coaching in a tangible way. And it reminded me of a turning point in my coaching business several years ago—a coaching program I created that got me 12 clients in 2 weeks.

I created the Coaching Program Outline and Poster in just one day!

It literally took me ONE day to put it together—the morning to plan and outline it, and the afternoon to create the poster and words.

My first new client signed up that very afternoon (our mortgage broker who had stopped in to get some paperwork signed). I had just printed off a few posters and she said, "Sign me up!". I  didn't believe her at first, until she got her cheque book out...

Coaching Programme Flyer Image

Click to see a larger version

Why this Coaching Program was a turning point for me

As I look at this poster now, it takes me right back to that time over 15 years ago, when I was setting my practice up, questioning myself, and struggling to describe coaching and get clients. I was on a tremendous learning curve and kept wondering if it would all (ever) work out.

So, getting 12 new clients in such a short space of time was a HUGE confidence boost for me. Up until this point I had been getting a slow, small and steady stream of clients: I would have 3/4/5/6 clients in my practice at any one time.

But it was launching this program and getting a substantial number of clients that made my coaching business finally feel real.

The overnight success that took 2 years...

But although it only took me a morning to create the program, it was actually the culmination of a couple of years of work, growing my business.

Just some of the things I had done up to this point included:

  • Building a newsletter list through a couple of years of networking, and running workshops (many of them free).
    • At this point my newsletter list was about 750 people—all of whom I had actually met in person!
    • I ran a lot of free workshops, and used my workshop feedback form to get people's permission to email them my newsletter.
    • At every networking event I went to, I would talk to people and ask them to go on my newsletter list if there was a connection. I would also take printed newsletters and my coaching tools and leave them at the back of the room at every event. At every event most of the forms and newsletters would disappear.
  • I had been sending a regular useful monthly newsletter to that list for about 18 months.
    • This was in 2007, before newsletter creation apps were a thing. I had been creating a two page newsletter in Microsoft Word, saving it as a .PDF and emailing it out as an attachment, without fail, every month.
  • Lastly, I had been creating coaching tools around common topics and issues I saw both in my workshops and with my clients. At this point I probably had 30-40 coaching exercises to draw upon to create the coaching program.

Why did I Create a Coaching Program?

Well, there are many different ways you can demonstrate to people what coaching is, like giving a great sample session, taking them through a coaching exercise or running a workshop or webinar. But first you have to get people interested and showing up so you can give that demonstration.

And I had been having such difficulty explaining what coaching was to people. I was so frustrated!

That day I had thought, OK, I'll just create my own coaching program using my coaching exercises—at least they're 'concrete'!

So, I gave myself a morning thinking—and listening to my intuition—to answer the question: What do my ideal clients need help with?

How I created the Coaching Program

Here is the process I followed in creating this first coaching program:

  1. I sat down and thought about the problems and goals my clients and contacts tended to have.
  2. Then I looked at the coaching tools and exercises I'd already created. I thought about the processes and nuggets of wisdom (reframes) I could potentially share.
  3. Next I wrote a bulleted list of 9 steps that would help people with these problems and goals.
    • I chose 9 steps as I worked with my clients for the first 3 weeks of every month (the 4th week of every month I spent working ON my business). 9 steps meant this would be a 3 month coaching program!
    • I had realised that most of the time people didn't know what they truly wanted or got them excited about life. So my program was about connecting to and getting to know yourself!
    • My program was about identifying what you don't like in your life, finding your vision, connecting with your strengths, learning where you get in your own way and taking action to move towards a more exciting version of your own life.
  4. Then for each of the 9 bulleted steps I identified 1-2 specific coaching exercises, ideas or processes that I could share with them.
    • The idea was that having these concrete exercises and steps made it super-easy for me to be confident when I explained the program to potential clients.

Naming and pricing the Coaching Program

I called the program, Free Yourself and Get Happy! I knew people felt trapped in their existing lives, not realising they had more power than they realised to change things!

And I gave this program a special promotional price of $195 monthly (for 3 sessions a month).

TOP TIP: Any time you offer a fabulous price, always have a good "reason" so that people understand why the price is lower than they might expect. This way you maintain your "value" while offering a price that is easy for people to like!

The 'catch' (my reason for the special price) was that I asked for a time commitment of 6 months (3 months of the program, followed by 3 months of follow-on coaching at the same price). And I wanted a testimonial if they liked what we did together.

This Coaching Program had many flaws!

This coaching program and the poster I made are FAR from perfect.

These days I would make the program simpler (I included far too many coaching exercises when I was planning it). I would also make the program more specific to a particular problem, goal or issue.

But this program—as it was—got me clients AND left me feeling proud and confident for the first time in a long while!

For more information: I talk about this and more on a teleseminar I did for Noomii.com: Practical Business Building Tips with Emma-Louise Elsey

So, why did it work so well? Here's what I think:

  • At last I could clearly describe what I would do with my clients!
  • My excitement and enthusiasm were infectious. I truly believed in what I was offering and knew these clients would learn a lot about themselves in my program.
  • The timing and topic aligned well. It was Spring and people were ready for a "Get Free!" type of program.
  • The special deal price was great (and knowing it was a really good deal, helped ME talk about it confidently).
  • I gave my program an inspiring title (even thought it was a bit grandiose and/or vague).
  • I listed the topics and exercises as CLEAR STEPS that people could imagine doing. The client understood what they were going to get from working with me.
  • I put a fixed timeframe on the program. This means the coaching was not some nebulous going-on-for-years activity.

So, we have excitement, enthusiasm and confidence from me.

And clear and relevant topics, good timing, great pricing and a time limited commitment for the clients.

What else did I do to make this happen?

Well, it didn't all happen magically. Just some of what I did to get those 12 clients to sign-up included:

  • I printed and put the poster up around town (in coffee shops, local gyms, stores, dentist and doctor's offices etc).
  • Sometimes this means going into places and asking if you can leave the poster or put it up somewhere. And I got many more "No"s than "Yes"s.
  • I emailed my contacts, and asked them to let anyone know who they thought might be interested.
  • I put it in my newsletter. This is where most of the coaching program sign-ups came from—people who already know and follow me.
  • Lastly I put it on my website.

So, it was a lot of work!

But it was totally worth it to get 12 brand new clients in under 2 weeks don't you think?

And this was before I was even ON any Social Media channels! So there was no Facebook, no Instagram etc.!

And yet, not as much work as it could have been...

I didn't spend days creating a detailed, rigid program that gave my clients all the answers. I just created a simple framework that told people what I would do with them to move them towards their goals and solve problems they might have.

I still coached people towards their self-defined goals. I still 'danced in the moment' during our sessions. But the program's steps gave us a focus—which took the pressure (to perform) off me, and gave my clients something concrete to picture themselves doing.

In fact, I use this loose framework in the Renew You, Love Your Life Coaching Program. We start by identifying goals for the client and the client works towards their goals over the 3 month period. Then we simply add on some fun and deep coaching exercises as homework to help them get to know themselves better, and make meaningful change in their lives along the way.

So, why not create your own Coaching Program?

Especially when you're starting out, a coaching program can be immensely helpful to help you clearly and confidently describe what you do in a way that people will understand. It's a client journey that you can explain, feel good talking about and use to market yourself and get some new clients!

In fact, if it helps, here is the ACTUAL Microsoft Word Program Poster I used*** for you as an idea! This poster is from 2007, and is exactly as I used it. And I have learned a lot since then.

***PLEASE NOTE: The poster is intended for inspiration, not as a template for you to use. However, you have my full permission to use as much or as little of the wording as you like in creating your own coaching program.

Changes you should make to this poster/promotion

  • I would recommend listing only 5-7 areas where you will work with people.
  • Come up with your own program name that addresses a specific problem or goal your ideal clients or target market has.
  • Pick colours, images and wording that ties in with your business. And that represent how your clients will feel once they're completed your program.

For some more ideas, here is the ACTUAL Program Detail with Tools I created for the first 3 Months of the program. You'll see I was clearly trying to do TOO much, but it felt great to have so many options up my sleeve and lots to inspire my clients!

Wrap-up

So there you have it: an "overnight success" that took 18 months + of hard work! And all of it done without Social Media.

I think in particular, working hard to build a small, but very personal newsletter list was an important part of my success. That, and then creating a regular monthly newsletter that was informative, interesting and that people came to rely upon.

I hope these tips, examples and ideas are helpful. And I wish you the very best with growing your coaching practice.

If you liked this article about creating your own coaching program to get clients you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools, resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

34 Comments

  1. Rhona Morris

    Hi Emma Louise

    What a great article! Some brilliant thinking and very practical advice! I loved the fact you described your early experiences of coaching so honestly and shared your original program details and the valuable insights you gained in hindsight.

    Trying to put coaching into words can be a stumbling block and having a "product" to sell rather than just ourselves provides so much more clarity about what we do, for everyone!

    Thanks so much, you're doing a fabulous job!

    Warm wishes
    Rhona x

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Rhona! Coaching can be a tough business to get started in... And a lack of confidence makes a HUGE dent in our ability to be successful! Glad you found it interesting. Warmly, EL

      Reply
  2. Steffi Black

    Thank you for such a clear and concise article..inspired me to get a new program for spring in the works!
    Thank you for taking the time to share tips.

    Reply
  3. Nicole

    Hi Emma-Louise,
    Thank you so much for this article. I love the idea and plan to make a program of my own. Can you tell us where you find some of your homework activities? Many of them sound interesting and might be helpful with my clients as well.

    Reply
  4. Lalitha Brahma

    Hi Emma

    Thanks a lot for providing resources.
    1. I am not a certified coach, but my clients give me feedback that makes me feel that I am doing the work of a coach, but not considering it as a revenue stream and adding to my business. I have over 17 years of experience in management position in banking and Immigration. I transitioned to self employment/entrepreneur in 2002. I do have the ability to help a person think beyond their barriers and act on their possibilities.
    2. I am very passionate about helping
    a) employees transition to entrepreneur.
    b) Women going through changes in careers/relocation.

    I want to start off by coaching one person and getting paid. Can you suggest the resources that I can use/buy from your website to coach one person first and see for my self, if that is what I really want to do.

    Thanks again!
    Lalitha

    Reply
  5. Sirli

    Hi Emma-Louise!

    It is incredible how one can think in such complex ways! I'm talking about myself here! 😀 I'm just currently putting together 7 weeks e-course to sell and to take the focus off myself and put it more in what I do and what are the results my clients will get.

    Your article though was an eye opener for me. I just realised that can use the same outline that I've put together already "7 steps to your dream" which has 7 different topics and coach my clients around that same framework in 1-1 sessions!

    How brilliant is that! 🙂

    So thank you for sharing this article and inspiring me!
    Sirli

    Reply
  6. Lillian Courtney

    Hi Emma Louise,
    Many thanks for that amazing article. I am a Certified Business & Life Coach with affiliation with the ICF just setting on on building my coaching Business here in Ireland.I have completed 3 seminars as to date but wanted to send around flyers. I was going to put more information ref my credits etc but now realise that would be on my fb ,Twitter ,Linkendin accounts. My Website is under construction therefore I just am going to order a minimum amount as I am taking a stand at a charity ball on Thursday .
    Many Thanks
    Lillian
    Lillian Courtney Coaching.

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Lilian! I am so glad you found the article helpful - and thank-you for taking the time to comment. Enjoy your stand at the charity ball! Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  7. Maureen

    Thank you Lillian, I've only just "discovered" you but I am so grateful to you for sharing your early adventures and how you made that first programme. I have only just become Certified and have been trying to work out how to go about making a programme for those elusive first clients and then onwards and this gives the template so I can formulate what I need to do, I just didn't have a clue and now i can dive right in, a thousand thank you's of gratitude

    I need to do the foor slogging round of Naturopaths, beauty salons and the like to drum up some potential clients and so become the coach I envision becoming.

    Maureen Quantum Leaps life Coaching

    Reply
  8. Bridgett Tulloh

    Thank you for this. Is this an offering you did at your office space? I'm at the point where I'm trying to find space to rent and am wondering about the feasibility of online versions of this for meeting with groups.

    Sorry for such a simplistic question, but I just wondered… Where do coaches actually meet their groups?? Thanks! Bridgett

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Bridgett, the simplest questions are often the best! When I started out I ran this program one-on-one with my clients over the phone. If I was doing it as a workshop, if you have enough space at home, yes you could do it in your office space or home. 4-6 people could be a nice intimate group. And if you want to do a larger group, a comfortable space that has a good feeling. You could think creatively - I used an art gallery for some retreats, have used library rooms (if they feel cosy/classy), yoga/exercise studios for a few examples. If you're going to offer a program online - it's still about the environment. But this time you CREATE the comfortable environment / space online. Sharing, warmth, space for people to get to know each other. I hope that helps. Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  9. Nicky

    Wow! Thank tou so much for this! I have tons of ideas for clients- once I get them! And this has reqlly helped me frame my work and give me a storng direction to work along. I have many ideas for workshops which is my aim but getting clients is hpwhat I need to run them! Big thank you for sharing. Totoally inspired byt this and the whole website, the Universe has answered my prayers!

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Nicky! Thanks for commenting - and so glad you found this article helpful! It takes time to build a business, loyal clientele etc. A coaching business is no different. But get out there and start running workshops, make authentic connection with people and over time you'll get a great following! Good luck and keep up all your good work. Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  10. Leah Delos Reyes

    This is a great site! Lots of helpful information here. May I ask permission to use your template?

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Leah,

      First, thank-you for your email and kind words! So, I'm not sure which template - but if you mean the poster or word document outline linked to on that page - then yes. Please use these as templates! Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  11. Joe Ranieri

    Hello:

    Thank you so much for the helpful article. My question is where around town did you put your flyers....how did you go about distributing them etc. I'm thinking of creating my own flyers but I'm not sure how to go about distributing them around the city? Thank you.

    Joe

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Joe, I put my flyers up in coffee shops, on notice boards like the health food store and at the gym. Think about where your target market hang out - and put up flyers/ask if you can leave flyers there.
      Other ideas include the doctor's surgery and dentist for example. But do ask for permission.
      Hopefullly that gives you some ideas 🙂 Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  12. Robin

    Hey Emma-Louise,

    Very useful and needful article you shared!! Really I feel motivated and wish to have my own coaching program 🙂 Thank you and keep posting.

    Reply
  13. Lori Carnale

    Hi Emma-Louise,

    Thank you for sharing your article and life coaching program. The customized coaching program is a terrific idea and can easily be tailored to various types of coaching strategies. Your easy to follow and articulate framework will be of help to many aspiring life coaches.

    Wishing you continued success.

    Lori

    Reply
  14. Emma Nunn

    What a great article. Thank you.

    Just what i need to see. So helpful

    Reply
    • peyushbhatia

      Peyush Bhatia specializes in life coaching and career coaching, Book a free consultation with a coach in Hyderabad, Delhi, India, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

      Reply
  15. peyushbhatia

    Peyush Bhatia specializes in life coaching and career coaching, Book a free consultation with a coach in Hyderabad, Delhi, India, Mumbai, and Bangalore.

    Reply
  16. Yagnesh Bhatt

    Hi Emma: I enjoyed reading your article. I need help and guidance from you.

    I have recently completed my Coach certification. I am a HR professional with over 20 years of experience. Since 2018, I have been in a transition from my job to working as an independent HR consultant but the flow of work is not at all financially rewarding. Worst happened due to the pandemic since March 2020 resulting in the lockdown. I never had imagined myself to be on my own and I am struggling to get assignments for work. I am located in Mumbai, India

    I am now looking for coaching assignments. Being an introvert person I do not have a very big social visibility. And I realize that I need to make my presence felt in sites like LinkedIn.

    How do I attract people to seek coaching from me?

    Reply
    • Michela Phillips

      You are most welcome, Shubham! So glad you enjoyed the article.
      - Kindly, Michela

      Reply

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