I had a fascinating conversation recently with top business coach Rob Garibay.
(Rob is part of Action Coaching and is currently ranked in the top 3 business coaches in the United States and in the top 15 business coaches in the world.)
Rob began his coaching business 10 years ago when he moved from Michigan to Oklahoma and at that point he didn't know a single person.
So he was starting his coaching business from zero with no clients.
The very first step that Rob took to build his business was to write a one page description of his ideal coaching client.
In other words Rob started his business with a very clear picture in his mind of the type of clients that he wanted to work with as a business coach.
Once he had that clearly defined Rob then used what he calls the A.C.T. marketing formula to get new clients.
A.C.T. stands for:
Let's take a look at exactly what Rob did
Rob wanted to create awareness of his business coaching services so he began networking.
He devoted 4-5 hours a week to his networking so he took it seriously
I had an interesting discussion a while ago with Dr Ivan Misner the founder of BNI and widely considered to be the 'Godfather of networking'. Ivan told me that you have to devote a minimum of 4 hours a week to networking if you want it to produce a good number of new clients for your business. (And that's exactly what Rob did.)
He joined Toastmasters, three different chambers of commerce, BNI and so on.
At every networking event that he attended Rob kept his eyes and ears open for people who matched the description of his ideal client profile.
Rob realised that making people aware of who he was and what he offered was useful.
However he also knew that he had to establish credibility as a business coach.
To do this he joined Chamber leadership committees and began taking an active role in these committees.
In his earlier business career Rob had owned and run large corporate organisations and achieved remarkable success in these businesses.
However in his new city no one knew about his past achievements.
So by joining Chamber leadership committees and participating actively people could see that he was very good at both leading people and dealing with other business leaders.
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.
At the same time Rob networked and made a positive connection with the managing editor of the local newspaper. (This took Rob many months to do and was one of his most useful strategies to grow his business.)
After establishing credibility with the editor of the newspaper Rob proposed writing a short article each week on business success in the Sunday edition of the newspaper.
The editor published the first few articles by Rob and these articles received a lot of positive feedback from the readers.
Rob went on to write over 72 weekly business success articles over the next 18 months.
This did two things for Rob.
First of all it gave him instant credibility with the people who read his newspaper articles.
Secondly it forced Rob to think deeply about what he was writing about.
Because he had to share something useful every week Rob actually got very good at the ideas and tips that he was writing about. So it actually improved his business coaching skills in a big way.
Rob then turned his business articles into a business book called "Energize Your Profits: 14 Solid Concepts for Growing Your Bottom Line!"
Being the author of a book established further credibility with potential clients as well.
Rob then hired a marketing person to help him gain more awareness and credibility in the market place.
And as soon as he did this his business doubled!
His marketing person began videoing all of Rob's talks and speeches and put them on his website. (And he did lots of other things to help Rob gain positive publicity.)
Rob began actively collecting both written and video testimonials from his clients as soon as they started enjoying results from using his services..
He also encouraged many of his coaching clients to enter into local, national and international business awards.
As a result his coaching clients have now won over 80 business awards.
When his clients win business awards they feel great and are more likely to continue using Rob's coaching services. (In other words it increases his client retention.)
Rob also began hosting group meetings for his clients.
He holds an annual planning day and invites all his clients to this day. He also does a quarterly planning day where his clients can plan the next quarter in their business.
Clients really enjoy networking with each other and Rob gains some excellent referrals as a result of doing this.
Rob also holds two client appreciation events each year.
A Christmas function near the end of the year. And another event close to July 4th to celebrate the independence of being in business.
Clients love these events and they generate both positive testimonials and high quality referrals.
Rob started with a clear description of 'who' he wanted as a coaching client.
And by using his A.C.T marketing formula he is now recognised as one of the top business coaches in the world.
"Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world." - Joel A. Barker
Have a look at what Rob did to build his business from a base of zero clients.
What part of what Rob did could you use or adapt for your own business?