Read the transcript of Discovering Your Divine Coaching Mission (with Nicola Grace) Here
Benay: Welcome to Coach Pep Talk, the podcast for people who run their own coaching businesses. Each week I talk to an expert who shares wisdom that helps us be better coaches and coaching business owners.
Benay: Coach Pep Talk is brought to you by Life Coach Office. It’s your one-stop shop for managing your coaching business totally online, you’ve got access to coaching journals for all of your coaching meetings. Your clients can upload documents, you can share files, you can upload videos and have classrooms that are predefined and set up that all of your clients can reuse. If you’re interested in consolidating all the things you’ve got for your coaching business online in one place that you can access from anywhere, go and check out Life Coach Office. You can try it for seven days with no credit card or anything required and hop on and see how that’s going to work for your coaching business. You can check it out at universalcoachingsystems.com/try-lco.
Benay: This week we’re talking to Chris Gaskill of Falaris Creative Studios. Now the Falaris team is wonderful and they create beautiful sites. They specialize primarily in websites for coaching businesses. But the cool thing about them is they’re not just designers. They actually take a holistic view of the site and understand how to build online businesses, which is quite a rarity these days in website design studios. So I was really excited when Chris decided to come on the show…agreed to come on the show and talk to us about how he works with his clients, his coaching clients specifically, to really hone in and get the right messaging across on the Website. So without further ado let’s hear what Chris Gaskill has to say about the secrets of profitable website messaging.
Benay: Hello Chris and welcome to the show.
Chris: Hi Benay! Thanks for having me.
Benay: Thanks so much for coming on. You know I was so excited when we were brainstorming what topic you thought would be really appropriate for a group of coaches and you suggested messaging and helping coaches with their messaging, I was so excited that you proposed that because there is such an important topic for coaches. I know I myself have struggled with it and its kind of an ongoing saga it seems for coaches. It’s a very common pattern that I see with lots of the coaches that I work with. So thank you so much for proposing this very valuable topic. I thought we could just kick off by you maybe setting the context a little bit because when you say messaging that could mean a lot of things depending on you know what experience different coaches out there have. So could you maybe set the scene, give us a little bit of a definition about what you mean when you say the word messaging? Like what’s included in that?
Chris: Absolutely. So the messaging is really you know all the written content on someone’s site is a good place to start. And a lot of people will copywriting or this content, you know depending on how it goes, but it’s truly I think more about the soul and the personality of what you’re saying, and you know other people are calling this branding or something like that, but it’s really not just what you’re saying to the visitors who come by your sites. Hopefully, who will eventually turn into potential clients, or newsletter subscribers, or just you know people who read your blog and possibly evangelize you, but you know it’s truly, it encompasses so much more than just what’s written but also how it’s written. How you come across. What you stand for. What you believe and all that kind of stuff.
Benay: Okay so I like how you say it’s sort of the soul, and we’re talking specifically here about a website is that right?
Chris: Sure, but I think it extends beyond that, you know generally speaking right now as far as what we’re talking about, we’re talking about the messaging on a website, but once you have that, you do have to carry that through to social media and everything else. You know you don’t want to suddenly sound completely different when you’re on Facebook or something like that.
Benay: Okay so it’s really here at your overall persona or your brand. So you mentioned content. Are there any sort of specific bits of content that you know that coaches need to have, like a tag line, or blog? Where you know, that makeup that that branding messaging piece?
Chris: It’s interesting because I think the page that sets the tone for a website, and when I’m working with clients on websites I actually think about page is the one that really showcases who you are and what you’re about and everything else. But that’s not to say that you know having a blog or even as you’re just distracting your coaching packages or services or the page. I mean it spreads all throughout there but in my opinion the place that you really make a stand is on the about page and the real issue I see with a lot of coaches is it’s just very dry, textbook, kind of robotic, where they just kind of describe who they are, maybe what their background is and some kind of generic messages about how they could help. And really when we’re talking about messaging and when I’m working with clients on that it’s to move away from that and move in to try to have more of a conversation with someone through a website, which is hard because it’s only one way, but you have to work towards that.
Benay: Okay. Okay so the about page is really key. Do you personally like taglines? Or Opt-In boxes? You know big headlines like that? Is that all a part of it too?
Chris: Of Course. You know I think that like I said I would be about page because it helps clients figure out how they want to talk to people. Then I wouldn’t say that taglines are super important but opt-in boxes and things like that absolutely. I mean if there was anything on a site that is you know the most important thing besides just saying who you are and what you do, it’s going to be getting them to take some kind of action. And when you can… I just I think that when you can talk in your own voice and not come across as maybe like a used car salesman commercial, where it’s like you get this for free, you know kind of thing. But actually, be very…offer something that’s truly useful and come at it from a, I want to help you standpoint. And speak just like a normal person in those. I think those kinds of calls to action you know tend to work better.
Benay: Okay okay. So what I’m hearing then is that we are talking in the context of our conversation today, we’re talking about messaging. We’re kind of talking about the soul and the brand that sits behind your coaching business and it incorporates lots of different pieces. And primarily there’s that opt-in or call to action and that about page that you think are really crucial pieces. Have I summarized that fairly? Anything you want to change or add?
Chris: Yeah. You know I don’t want to throw out too many things, because I could easily say, oh well you know the sidebar of the blog, it’s important to have a good call to action there and say some stuff. Or you know different parts of the homepage and whatnot. Of course all the different parts of the website are important to carry the message through, but I find that the places that you know you really shine are going to be the about page for people who actually want to learn more about you, and also the call to action areas specifically because their job is to get attention. So you know they should be designed in such a way that they are calling attention of the eyes and everything. So those are going to be parts of the website that are of course read the most. So there’s such an emphasis on getting those call to actions correct and making them really good and something that when people read them it inspires them somehow. And I think that comes again, from a place of speaking naturally not just some generic you know, download my thing.
Benay: Yeah well I think it’s really good to that, I mean I know that you can be very nitpicky and go straight for all the things that are wrong with something and I think that’s one of the things that I value about your expertise. But for the purpose of this conversation, per cent I think it’s great that your kind of focusing on the 80/20 rule. You know like what’s the two main things you could change straight away to get really big results. So thank you for like honing us in there, that’s really valuable. Okay. So can you tell us a little bit about you know why messaging is so important for coaching business specifically because that’s where our listeners are?
Chris: I think that when you are a coach and you’re running a website, it is so important and I’m not sure there is another industry, and there might be I don’t want to say that there isn’t, but as far as you know at the top of the list, you have to build a connection and trust through what you’re saying on the website for someone to feel comfortable reaching out. Because if someone is looking to you for some kind of help, aside from maybe therapy as well which is definitely distinctly different, but they both cross paths in that a client is coming to you for help with some kind of personal issues, they have to feel comfortable and confident that you understand what they’re going through, or what they’re needing help with that you have the expertise to help them with it. And finally that you’re the right person for them specifically and it’s the last point that I find in messaging…this is how people know if you’re the right person to talk to. Because there may be so many different, there’s many different coaches out there and they all have their own different personality, style of coaching, and all that kind of stuff. And you can’t please every person 100 percent of the time. So if you’re watering down your messaging and just doing a very basic you know general, Hi I’m Bob Smith life coach extraordinaire kind of thing, people aren’t going to know like, ok well what are you like? What’s it like to work with you and everything. So when you put more of a personal message and really speak more from the heart, type in a more conversational tone and everything, it’s going to let people know if they’re in the right place. Not, um, of course, the information you put out there, they’re going to process logically and by thinking about it, and seeing what you’re writing and saying Okay I need help with these kinds of issues, and know if they’re in the right place or not for that. But they’re also, if you’re doing it right, going to internally feel and it’s going to be an instinctual feeling if you’re the kind of person that they’re going to be able to get along with, that you’re going to understand them really well and help them. So If you are really displaying your personality and your brand for your content messaging, you’re definitely not advertising yourself to the people who are going to match with you, you know very well. And then the people who weren’t going to match with you anyway, they’re just going to move on anyway you know, because you’re not inspiring them either. So you are just missing out on potentially the people who might be really interested in working with you.
Benay: So let’s say that you know I’m out there, and with my coaching website, and I’ve nailed my messaging because you know my messaging helps people understand that I understand what they need help with, they understand that I have the expertise needed for that job, and then they also have this sort of connection with me that I’m right for them specifically because of something I’ve said that really resonates with them, like maybe I’m a mom or maybe I’m you know something that they can relate to. So let’s say I’ve nailed it right, or a coach out there has nailed it. And then what happens to your coaching business as a result of really, really nailing that?
Chris: Well obviously you’re going to get more inquiries, you’re going to get more people signed up to your, you know your newsletter, and email list and all those things, but I think truly what it’s about is you know I’ve had few clients come back to me. And the interesting thing is you can look at it from a stats perspective and you can see that there are certain people who are spending way more time on websites, looking around, taking in the information, getting feel and everything, then on a typical website that maybe is a little bit more you know dry, or bland, but then when I talk to some of those clients, some of the information I’m getting back is people go, wow your website just spoke to me so much. It, you know I stayed on there for you know at least half an hour looking around, if not you know an hour or more in some cases. One of my clients told me one time, that someone said like three hours or something ridiculous like that. When you can capture someone’s attention like that, you have… You are setting up the sale. You you’re taking off so much… Not only are you getting more people invested and interested in working with you who are eventually going to reach out, but you’ve also done a little bit of the pre-selling as well, where you’ve answered so much of, so many of their questions that are not direct questions, they are indirect questions, because when you get on a call with someone, sure you, like a sales call or a consultation call, initially to see if you’re going to work together and be a good fit. You know we say that term, is this person a good fit for me? Yes, you’re asking basic questions you know what is it you need help with? Can you afford my coaching or not and stuff? But really that call is all about getting a sense of you know who they are and them getting a sense of who you are. and if they can get a strong sense of who you are then you know when you’re going into that call that they’ve already partially made up their mind.
Benay: They’re already, yeah they’re already warmed up, you’ve got a warm lead there.
Chris: Right? Exactly.
Benay: Instead of a cold call, yeah. That’s going to make your job a whole lot easier.
Chris: Absolutely. You can go in with a lot more confidence and they are also going in a lot more confidence in that they feel like they already kind of know you a little bit. And you know if you are, whether you are just getting started or whether you’ve been around for a while you really can’t ask for much more than that when you are talking to you know, a potential new client, in any discipline coaching or otherwise.
Benay: I would like to I would suggest maybe even take that a step further because if you’re site and you’re messaging is really strong and you do nail those three pieces where they know that you can solve their problem, they know you have the expertise to do it, and they know that your approach is right for them specifically, they might even take a step and buy say a low cost entry level product, or even a high cost one for that matter, if they feel that strongly. So that can be a passive income opportunity as well for the coach, without the coach having to actually even have a conversation.
Chris: Absolutely and at the end of the day for anyone who you know has even kind of dipped their toe into the water of sales and if you’re a coach and you’re in business for yourself, or whether you’re a coach or any, again whatever you do, if you’re in business for yourself you have to know sales. The thing is people buy on emotions. Decisions are made on emotions and then your logic, and your thoughts, and the reasons back that up after the decision in your guts already kind of been made. You don’t go to… You might go around to different car dealerships, try test driving a bunch different cars, but you don’t always pick the one that that on paper has the best specifications. Usually, the one that you feel most comfortable driving in. You feel that it matches your personality. You like the look of it and all that kind of stuff. And as long as it doesn’t get like awful reports from like a Car and Driver magazine or you know, something like that that says oh, these go up in flames like every fifth car, it’s a lemon, um, you’re going to buy based on your emotion. so when you’re reading someone’s web page if you’re getting into it, it’s because they’re speaking to you and specifically their speaking to you, they’re not talking at you. They’re not giving you information, it is like a conversation.
Benay: Yeah one thing I see a lot in with coaches, and I’ve even been guilty of it in my early beginnings, is you know coaches will start to tell a story but it’s actually a lot about the coach and I what I’ve seen works very effective is when you actually stop talking about yourself and actually start focusing all your writing on the client, right? Because it’s about their problems. And so just changing that switch in your mind as a coach, it makes a huge difference in how you come across and maybe that seems really obvious to you but I see that problem all the time.
Chris: No that’s exactly right. So that’s a cardinal sin of most people out there and kind of going back to what I was talking about, the dry text that I see often. Hi, my name is whoever I do…
Benay: I do this, I did that, I have this degree.
Chris: Right! And okay that’s great, I’m happy for you, but that didn’t answer a single question about you know, do you understand what I’m going through? What I need help with? Are we going to be a good fit? What are you like? You know because that might be about them a little bit. I’m really asking that question about me, Are you a match for me and my personality? And just to take that step further, the about page as I was talking before, and that I think it’s a really critical piece, even that is about them. it’s Not about you as a coach. So if you are thinking about your about page, you really need to think about what their problem is. Now it’s fine to relate your own story. That say you know you are a business coach and so you were in the business world for a long time, but what you want to do instead of just saying oh I have this many year’s experience and everything, is really talk about your experiences you had. And then they by reading that are going to be able to empathize with you and vice versa, you’re empathizing with them about shared struggles in that role. And that goes back to what I was talking about when I said you know they need to know, do you understand my problem? You know, do you get it? You know, truly do you get it, not just say okay you did business for over 15 years. Do you get what I’m going through right now as a manager with an employee who is just driving me nuts and I don’t know how to turn this around right now or something.
Benay: Yes, you got to tell a story that’s a story about you but that’s really about them. It’s an art form. It truly is. Okay, We’re actually, um we need to get a move on. Where I might have to get you back on the show too. Okay so let’s just say Chris how if somebody is wants to go about creating new messaging for themselves and this is a two-part question we’re going to need to kind of be a little bit snappy with this one, because I’m trying to keep these shows to 20 minutes. But how can somebody how can a coaching business owner go about crafting good messaging for their coaching business? And is it different if you’re just starting out versus if you’re tweaking something you’ve already got something in place? So if you can kind of give us some wisdom on that, that’d be cool.
Chris: Sure, so you can definitely, I’m gonna answer the second part first. You can definitely kind of take what you have already, but generally speaking, it should just kind of inform you I think about making sure that you do fill in the details. People in some cases are going to want to know your credentials and things like that. Even though that’s not the focus, you do want to make sure that some of that still gets in there. But how can they do that? I think there’s, you know there’s two parts to this. The first part is when I’m working with clients you know I often have them develop what would be called a buyer persona form or an ideal client avatar. Things like that. You can google this, you’ll find it all over the web, different examples. And really the point is to write down either your ideal client, either one you’ve already had, or just one you kind of make up in your mind, so that as you’re writing you can look and keep this person in mind. And go, okay well what would this person want to hear for me? Like how do I speak to them and things like that. The second answer is I find that most people when they sit down to write they get too caught up in thinking like, well oh this is how I should write or something like that. Like I have to make sure I sound very official and in fact, you really want to be very conversational about it. So a trick, and this is what I use with clients, and I actually take them through a very long series of questions, but anyone at home could just go to someone that they know who preferably kind of knows what they do but maybe not too much. But really anyone that you feel comfortable talking with. Find some way to record the audio. Sit down for 30-45 minutes and have them start asking you questions about your business and just start off, hi what do you do? all that kind of stuff and just you know answer as naturally as possible to them and then they should be following up you know going a little bit deeper here or there. And when you listen to that recording you’re going to hear how you actually naturally talk about your business and how you are conversationally when describing it. And you want to either, you could get it transcribed, you can transcribe it yourself, or you could just as your listening to it you could be like, oh that line I said was really good and write it down. Those are two key ways I would think that you could get started working on the copy for an about page and then follow it through on the rest of the site.
Benay: Okay. So let me just repeat just in case somebody missed those steps. So the first step is just get really clear on who your ideal client is and maybe map out a little bit of a persona which, can you just briefly explain what a Persona is for people who are unfamiliar with that term?
Chris: Sure. So like a buyer persona would be, it’s basically kind of like a worksheet where you would fill out like okay what is their name, their age, socioeconomic status, their interests. What would motivate them? What would not motivate them? You know what are the things they do for fun and all that kind of stuff. The point of this is to really build up an image of someone in your mind and not just a generic person, like I’m going for women in their 40s. No it should be like her name is Ann, she’s 43, married with two kids. She makes you know 80 thousand dollars a year. This is her job. This is the magazine she reads. This is the TV show she watches. All that stuff. You really want to have a very, clear, vivid picture of the person that you’re going after so that as your looking back at that, as your writing, you know coming up with your branding, and coming up your messaging, you keep going back to it and go, would this person you know really be interested in what I’m saying here. Would this capture their attention? Would this you know get them really excited, or fired up, or feel empathetic towards my situation because I’m empathizing with their situation. That kind of stuff.
Benay: Mm Hmm, okay, so that persona… Come up with your ideal client, write a persona for them and that’s sort of step one and then another step, it sounds like, yep, you could actually do these quite separately, it’s just interview somebody that you feel comfortable talking to you. Record you talking to them about your business. And then take notes and see how you sound.
Chris: Yeah. And the reason I say you know ask them to… Have them ask the questions, and it should really be something kind of very casual, don’t like plan out the questions ahead of time because then you’re going to be in your head and think like, how do I answer this perfectly?
Benay: Yeah, you want it to be a natural conversation, right?
Chris: Exactly. The more natural you can be, the more natural that you know when you’re listening to it, you can take a natural conversational style speaking and just to directly basically transcribe it into what your writing to put on the website.
Benay: That’s great. I love that. I haven’t heard that technique before I really like that one. Thanks Chris. Okay. So I know we need to start wrapping things up, but before we do that, what common mistakes do you see coaches specifically making in their messaging and what tips would you like to give them?
Chris: You know it’s really the of course, I have kind of talked about being you know kind of dry, or textbook-y, but it’s really about making a stand, putting your personal personality out there and just being vulnerable and open and honest. You’re not going to really help anyone if you know you can’t put yourself out there. Because you have to take a first step in being vulnerable for them to come to trust you. You know you’re the person who is looking for help and everything. They’re not the ones with a website that says hey I need help, someone come apply to be my coach. So you have to put yourself out there. And even though that’s not like a very specific actionable tip like some of the other stuff we talked about, like buyer persona forms and kind of focusing on them as your writing your copy, but that should be the high level overview that’s informing everything you’re doing as you’re writing your content for your website.
Benay: Okay so would that mean that common mistakes that you see then are that coaches don’t make a stand?
Chris: I don’t think enough coaches put enough of their true personality, and feelings, and beliefs, and experiences out there. You know often I’m working with… Just about every time I’ve ever worked with a life coach, the reason that they’re in their specific niche, or with a specific client they do, it’s because they have personal experiences. It’s sometimes extremely traumatic experiences. And you know some people are you know maybe grief recovery specialists and things like that. You can’t just say I’m a Grief Recovery Specialist, if you’ve gone through something very traumatic and like actually came to understand and learned all these tools that you used to help you move past it, and then became so inspired to help others. Talk about that journey, talk about how you went through you know whatever it was it was really tough for you to go through and how you came through it. And people will sit there and go wow you know this person gets it, they went through it. It’s not just someone who took some classes somewhere and you know they’re coming at it from a science textbook kind of like oh I went to college background; no this is someone work through it. They’re going to get it because they came out on the other side and they can help me get to the other side as well.
Benay: Excellent. Okay. Okay so I guess your tips are really for coaches to just to make a stand and be very clear about I guess what problem they solve and be open and honest and to be vulnerable.
Chris: Yeah mainly in the last part. It’s one thing to say, hi I’m a you know a business coach or whatever, It’s another thing to delve into actually the problems that you faced, the problems that you felt the clients face, and everything else. So absolutely just go for the latter and just try to be very human about it. The more human you can be and the less robotic you can be in your messaging; the more people are going to connect.
Benay: And that’s interesting that’s really what it sounds like there is really a shift, you know since the early days when I started life coaching back in 2006. You know it was like everybody was really focusing on being perfect and being the best. And now there is this nice shift towards you know I guess because there are so many more coaches in the marketplace, to expressing vulnerability and focusing more on problems and connecting through that common problem space. This is fascinating from an industry evolution standpoint.
Chris: I think that people now especially with the evolution of the Internet and navigating it, their B.S. detectors, let’s say,
Benay: They’re getting better.
Chris: They are very good. So you can’t you can’t come out and be just robotic and perfect because you go, ok Well you know.
Benay: That’s not me.
Chris: I’m missing something here. Something’s not right. This doesn’t feel right. But if you are more human, especially in something like coaching, like I said that requires so much trust when someone hires you. Because they’re about to talk to you about some really big problems in their life. If they’re actually going to hire someone to help them and those problems are very personal, and very big and they’re going to want to feel very comfortable when working with you.
Benay: Yeah, that’s so true. Okay. I think that’s a great way to end this. You know it’s really this you’re messaging is really all about helping your client, your ideal client, trust and feel comfortable. So.
Benay: It’s a part of your raport package, coaches! Awesome stuff Chris. Thank you so much. If somebody listening wants help with their messaging or just wants to learn more about Falaris, how can they find you?
Chris: So you know I run Falaris Creative Studio, we are on the web at falaris.com. You can also find us on Facebook, LinkedIn, all that kind of stuff, not that I do the social media thing too much. But you know, I would say go to the website. You can see great examples of conversational copy and content on there.
Benay: Yeah. Yeah.
Chris: I’m happy to talk to anyone about this. Just to give tips or anything. I love talking to people about, and life coaches specifically about all this.
Benay: Yeah. You worked with a lot of coaches and a lot of really beautiful sites in your portfolio. So if anybody is looking around, definitely recommend they check out that website and I’ll put the link in the show notes. All right we got to wrap it up. Thank you so much for being on the show Chris.
Chris: Thanks, Benay!