11 Biggest Marketing Mistakes Coaches Keep Repeating

With far-reaching impact, these mistakes stifle lead flow and challenge client success. Left unchecked, these marketing mistakes will cripple a coaching business.

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by Pat Sgro
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by Pat Sgro

Good coaches keep making the same mistakes

These mistakes directly sabotage how many new clients you get, and how many clients you keep.

Because of these 11 big mistakes, as time goes on it gets more difficult to book calls and generate leads. It’s why people stop responding to your content -- it’s why marketing seems to become less effective.

It’s also why many coaches feel like they are on a treadmill. Making content over and over, always trying to get more leads. And feeling like they have to get louder and louder trying to get people onto calls.

In this article, I’m going to share what we do to attract and enrol ideal clients, without doing anything that gobbles up time or doesn’t align with who we are.

*Click to Watch the video version of this article

Not your standard info

If you’re a coach who’s been around for a few years, you know the kind of marketing advice that’s been propped up and recycled.

Based on the fact that you’re reading this, I’ll assume a few things;

  • you're not satisfied with the volume of leads coming in
  • the quality of the calls you’re taking
  • the calibre of clients you get to work with

AND biggest of all

  • you’re not satisfied with the amount of effort and time required to generate enough revenue to make it all worth it.

Well, I have some good news. We’re not only covering the 11 biggest mistakes coaches keep repeating. I’m also going to share with you, for the first time ever, how we acquire ideal clients.

Instead of breaking this all down as a “top ten” series, I’m going to do things a little differently. I’m going to lay this out logically, so you can see how we come to these conclusions. It’s much easier to learn that way.

Plus as a bonus, I’ll give you a shortlist of 4 steps to take control of this area of your business.

Healthy Perspective

I’ve had some great coaches over the years. It started back in the brick-and-mortar days when I first fell in love with marketing. After consulting and running fractional CMO for a few years, I found myself helping other coaches with their own marketing. Since then, I’ve helped many, many coaches get clients.

I’ve seen what works in the short term...

I’ve seen what works in the long term….

And I’ve seen what works against you.

See, the majority of the coaches right now are making a hatchet job of their marketing. Whether you’re aiming for a coaching business doing $20K per month, or $200K per month -- the same no-nos apply -- and the same best practices apply.

This article isn’t tips and tricks.

It only takes a few new clients per month to have a great business. And then pretty quickly you could be in a situation where you’re enrolling 4-6 clients per month.

That’s real revenue, and despite what many recommend, you don’t need a team to do this either.

So, I’ll do my best to break apart some bad ideas. And I'll show how simple it can be to build a thriving and impactful coaching business. One that will serve you for a long time.

What Got All This Started

I’m sharing this because new clients would start with me and we’d have to go through this stage of un-learning.

See, marketing experts always bang on about the ‘big three’ -- saying 1st you attract people, then you nurture them, and then FINALLY you convert.

And on the surface, this makes sense.

But - this is generic advice. For COACHES, this is terrible advice.


Let’s forget the fact it’s boring and time-consuming

When following "Attract, Nurture, Convert"

1) Results take too long.

While you’re putting out content, sending emails and doing lives, the best prospects have moved on and found someone else to help them. So you end up waiting months for calls to get booked -- but with average prospects.

2) The success rate is too low.

Because it’s usually here that the coach usually takes a look around and realizes there are less talented coaches doing better than them. And, the coach then gets super frustrated and resorts to marketing nonsense.

And it manifests like this:

  • either too much follow-up (ie they live in Messenger and generate all their leads from badgering people)
  • or they end up engaging in an overabundance of attention-seeking on social media.

I’m sure we’ve all seen this in action.

Look, it’s not only embarrassing, but as we’ll see soon, it’s damaging.

But guess what? It doesn’t have to be this way.

And that’s because coaches… are lucky.

See, we sell a unique type of service to the marketplace. It's one that makes the standard “attract nurture convert” not only unnecessary — but actually not ideal.

And this is where it gets exciting.

Because what I’m about to share with you has the potential to improve everything about the way you market your coaching business.

In Your Ideal Prospects Shoes

Ok, it all starts with the prospect.

As a coach, your ideal prospect is a person who wants help, they’re just not sure who to get help from.

Think about what they want:

They want change. They’re ready to learn, and they're prepared to invest in themselves.

Do you think they also want:

  • To get in someone's funnel and have a drawn-out nurture sequence?
  • To receive a series of emails over weeks or months?
  • To be put into a FB group and told to watch a welcome video, and then to consume a bunch of videos?
  • To do a free “mini-course” to get a smaller, weaker version of the results they ACTUALLY want?

This one might hurt a few feelings…

  • Do you think… they want -- you -- as the coach who they’ll be looking for mentorship from… in their DM’s? Messaging them, hassling them to book a call with you?

Absolutely not are you kidding me?

This kind of nonsense repels people.

ESPECIALLY your ideal prospects.

Ideal prospects are ready to move now! They want to start solving their challenge within days -- not months.

So then -- if ideal prospects are ready to buy now, how does it make sense to force prospects through some elaborate nurturing phase?

It doesn’t. Well done, you’re not crazy, you’re right, it doesn’t.

But the reason coaches are still doing this stuff is due to generic marketing advice passed on across industries. And eager, motivated coaches ready to get their business up and running take this advice, because it sounds legit enough, and they run with it.

Let’s not do this.


Let’s skip the generic stuff. Let’s specify. Let’s cut the bullshit and get to the heart of what makes people buy your coaching packages. Then, let’s simplify it, and turn it into a process that can be applied over and over like clockwork.

But first, let’s look at the size of the opportunity in front of us. By looking at how wasteful most marketing is, we can learn how much there is to gain, and the best ways to go about it.

skipping the nurture stage - Required Criteria

1st up, I said before that coaches are lucky in that they can skip the nurture stage.

Here’s why.

There are 3 Criteria to skip the nurturing stage and go straight to a call:

1) Be expensive & solve a big problem

So if you’re a coach actually helps people achieve something real, and who charges what you’re worth, then that’s you. Check ✅

2) Capacity

The next criterion is easy: the ideal prospect needs to be able to afford what you're selling.

The good news is that you control your marketing and what kind of person you attract.

So let’s give that a check 2 ✅

3) Urgency

Now the final criterion is urgency. This is deceptively tricky -- we need to break through so much indoctrination based around "you need to nurture your audience" -- so I'm gonna have to get a little nerdy here and explain some things because data doesn't lie.

And this is where you’ll see all that “attract nurture convert” advice fall over in real-time.

This might just change the way you look at all your marketing from this moment on.

Oh, this is exciting.


Most prospects want to be nurtured slowly. 

Most ideal prospects want to move fast.

Let’s skip the generic stuff. Let’s specify. Let’s cut the bullshit and get to the heart of what makes people buy your coaching packages. Then, let’s simplify it, and turn it into a process that can be applied over and over like clockwork.

But first, let’s look at the size of the opportunity in front of us. By looking at how wasteful most marketing is, we can learn how much there is to gain, and the best ways to go about it.


So instead, let's design our marketing to empower our ideal prospects.

What a novel idea! Market to the ideal prospects!

And what do ideal prospects want to do? Most ideal prospects want to move fast.

That’s part of the reason why they’re ideal!

Side note, about average prospects…

  • most average prospects either NEVER buy
  • or if they do, they like to be nurtured over months
  • they book calls and then don’t show up
  • then finally on a call they um and ah, and then need a third call to enrol
  • usually pay with a minimum deposit
  • they don’t do the work you set for them
  • they fall off the scene
  • and then sometimes decide to cancel

This is why we do not even want to attract average prospects. They just clog everything up.

Ok, enough about average prospects -- here's some nerd stuff

We analyzed 6 months' worth of our clients and their clients.

Here are the averages.

Time Taken To Enrol New Clients From Stranger - Chart

72% of new clients took less than 2 weeks to enrol, credit card down. In fact some as fast as 4 days.

Think about that. That’s from being a stranger, becoming a lead, deciding to book a call, matching up times in calendars — getting on the phone, then pulling the trigger, taking out the credit card and enrolling.

Stranger to client on a high-ticket coaching offer in less than two weeks, and as quick as 4 days?

I'd say that's pretty damn fast! Imagine if 72% of your next clients were like that.

And the other 28%? Huge difference. These averaged around 9 weeks but in some cases up to almost 2 years. These people really needed nurturing.

So... this means that if nurturing is your primary strategy -- and if you're mainly enrolling these folks, you're missing out on the lion's share because these ideal prospects already moved on and found some other coach to help them.

Sobering thought right? That's a lot of work for only 28% of the catch.


And here's the real kicker, the real gut punch.

That 28%? These are just a fraction of the size of the audience being nurtured. All those leads and all that work, for such a small return.
Now of course, as the nurturing audience grows, those numbers grow too -- but this takes years!

And in my experience, coaches don't have time to wait for that!

As coaches -- we deal with humans who want change to happen fast, and these people are prepared to invest their time and money to get results fast.

So, Urgency? You bet, there's check number 3 ✅

Getting Prospects To Book Calls All On Their Own

Enrolling 1-4 clients every month is alarmingly simple.

Most coaches are ok once they get people on the phone and talk to them -- it’s getting the calls booked where things get stuck.

So now that we’re thinking from the perspective of Ideal Prospects, let’s figure out what not to do:


What makes an ideal prospect not book a call?


Well... Those expensive marketing programs lied to us.

See, just because coaches, people like you and me, genuinely want to help others -- that doesn’t mean we’re immune to ‘persuasion’ by cheeky marketers, duped into believing and doing some weird shit.

Most of the marketing activities that coaches are doing are not good.


On one hand, you have people doing these low-level, repetitive activities. This reduces years of knowledge, insight and experience down to a mere numbers game.

On the other hand, we have large sums of money being wasted on manipulative ads that don’t work and lead gen that doesn’t deliver as promised.

Look, what we offer the world should be seen as it is -- a life-changing opportunity for our clients.

But somehow coach marketing has become something cheap, and ugly. And it requires people to “take a chance on us” after trying to sell them over the phone.

This - all of it - is our own fault.

If you’re the kind to take responsibility, excellent, do it now.

If not, you might as well stop reading now, because you’re not gonna like what’s next...

Why It Gets More Difficult To Book Calls

The sad reality of common coach-marketing advice:

  1. Friend Request (en-mass)
  2. Post
  3. Engage
  4. Get Into DM's
  5. Convince people to book calls

OR the “advanced” version 😅of the model:

  1. Start FB group
  2. Do the same as above ^^

It’s like this for a number of reasons… but just know this: these practices actively repel ideal prospects.

Meaning, the client-getting process gets exponentially more difficult as time goes on.


Authority Kryptonite

I’m just gonna come out and say it.

If you’re doing what I call “Authority Kryptonite” you’ll never get to have a business full of ideal clients.

These three are the biggest offenders:

1) Friending people en mass.

This weakens your authority and sets up a fractured foundation for any chance of a working relationship.

2) DM’s and ‘grinding away in Messenger’

This damages your reputation. It both repels your ideal clients and engages the time wasters.

3) Trying to convince people to get on a call with you.

This causes pushback, putting the prospect on defence.

“Authority kryptonite” positions you in the marketplace with freebie-seekers and bad-fit prospects.

You’ll have a coaching business you’ll feel trapped in.

You’ll be dealing with all kinds of challenges that make you sometimes question if it’s all even worth it.

I know, because early on I flirted with some of these mistakes too. For a short time it worked, I even passed on this bad advice, too. I contributed to the problem which is why I’m working to clear it up for folks now.

The key is to realise that none of these “Authority Krypotite” behaviours ever address the REAL issue going on.

We need something better. We don’t want to be doing the chasing.


why do ideal prospects book calls?

Now earlier we stepped into the shoes of your ideal prospect.

Let’s do it again - but instead of looking at why they don’t book calls, let’s study their motivations, and let’s figure out why ideal prospects DO book calls.


“My ideal prospect wants to learn, is excited for change,
and is ready to invest in themselves”


Ask yourself, what are these ^^ individuals doing right now?

I’ll bet you a box of delicious craft beer that they are:

  • Actively looking for answers, consuming content to scratch their itch
  • Taking notes, bookmarking, mentally preparing to invest in the right solution
  • Fiercely ignoring people trying to sell them stuff in their DM’s
  • Connecting with individuals providing “ah-ha” moments, eager to explore possibilities

Understand this, and the way you look at content will be forever changed.

The motorbike Principle

I’ve used this with many clients, and it usually helps them...

Do you ride a motorbike?

One of the first things you learn is “where you look, you will go”.

See, our brain does this cool thing, it registers where our eyes focus, and then it takes over. Our guidance system doesn’t care if we’re focused on something good or bad. It’s exceptional at doing one job: to get us to where we are looking.

Now, when seated on an engine with two wheels, results… can be deadly. It doesn’t matter if you’re focused on the road you want to ride on or the tree you want to avoid -- where you look, you will go. It’s amazing how fast it all happens.

The same principle applies here. When building out your marketing: If you focus on the wrong objectives, you’ll take the wrong actions.

And coaches everywhere are focusing on the wrong objective.


Wrong Focus = Wrong Actions =

A Cycle Of Wasted Time & Energy


Simply put, “I want to get a client” is the wrong focus.


Not only does it encourage temporary, low-leverage actions -- but makes the coach disappear into a noisy sea of mediocrity. Lots of other average coaches, all competing for attention, all competing on price, all competing for authority -- all racing to the bottom.

Simple adjustment, profound ramifications

So what to do instead 🙂

Instead of “I want to get a client”, change the focus to “I want to build a lever that gets clients whenever I decide to use it”. This focus change forces an entirely different set of actions.

Example: You’ve got 10+ hrs this week for marketing

  • Do you spend your time trying to get attention (with content) and bugging folks to book calls with you (with DMs)? With a low ratio of results, Only to repeat the process next week?
  • Or instead, invest the same time building a lever that gets clients whenever you decide to use it?

Take Josh, for example, a financial coach in Australia. Despite a decent social presence and being brilliant at what he does, Josh rarely had booked calls. And when he did, the prospects couldn’t afford him.

But when his focus changed, his actions changed. People started booking calls all by themselves. Within 5 months his client roster was full. FULL. So full in fact, we had to do something he never saw coming. We literally turned his marketing off so we could rebuild his program, so he could take on more clients.

He has a “lever” now to use whenever he wants new clients.

I might do a separate video on his story, if/when I do then I’ll link to it here.

Build marketing assets to do the heavy lifting

We empower our audience to step up and become ideal prospects by giving them what they need to make good, sound decisions.

By confidently leading people, and by allowing them to come to their own conclusions, we avoid all that “Authority Kryptonite” stuff. This avoids putting our prospects in a defensive state.

And instead, we allow them to get into a solution-chasing state.

And when you have prospects chasing solutions, you’d better give them some damn good marketing assets for them to engage with. Do it right, and they'll want to binge it.


These marketing assets need to:

  • Trigger
    Something that allows an audience member to raise their hand and become a lead.
    Done well, this asset will satisfy a curiosity the prospect has based on their core desire. It will also give them hope. I talk more about this in this video here.

These marketing assets need to:

  • Explain
    When a prospect is binging content, be it articles or videos, they are in the very process of questioning things they have always known. They are considering what to keep and let go of, and actively building a new reality of possibilities based on what they are learning.

So, your marketing assets need to explain stuff

- About the problems they are facing
- About the solution to their problems

These marketing assets need to:

  • Deal with questions
    Before the prospect even has them. They’ll begin to understand the way you work, what you do, and how powerful your solution is. Then the prospect will start thinking about you and your solution at random times during the day. Even in the middle of the night.

When this happens, you’ll never again feel the need to chase a lead.

When this happens, the prospect WILL book a call with you. All on their own. It becomes inevitable because they need to know if you can help them. They need to know if you are the solution they have been looking for, and if you are the coach to run with them for the next season.

Once you have these marketing assets in place, you’ll see how they are the difference between a coach running around in circles always doing so much -- and one that is cool, calm and collected while their business continues to grow.

There are two marketing assets critical to being able to bypass the nurture stage of client acquisition...



Stop using traditional lead magnets.

You know, things like free downloads, pdfs, mini-courses, templates, blueprints, pieces of training etc.

None of these things will enable you to skip the nurturing stage -- because by design, these grow email lists.

I go deep into Unique Lead Mechanisms (ULM) in this article here and this VIDEO here.

But for now, just know that a well-built ULM is a bridge to bypass the nurturing stage. And once you have one, all your marketing can become streamlined, coherent, and logical.

And... You’ll find yourself taking calls with a lot more ideal prospects.

And... you’ll be in a position to only enrol perfect clients.



What is Epiphany Triggering Content (ETC)?

Picture your favourite outfit, the suit or the dress you bring out for special occasions. You know this outfit presents you at your best, and you know you have the best chance to make the right impression.

Well, you want some carefully selected content for your business like this.

Not temporary stuff to throw on social that will disappear with the feed. But rather, content that crafts an experience for your ideal prospects. It should guide them through the lead process, empowering them to make good decisions.

Without Epiphany Triggering Content (or ETC) you’ll remain stuck using weaker levers to make up for the lead flow.

And you’ll have to keep making tough decisions about whether to enrol clients who are not ideal.

For more on Epiphany Triggering Content (ETC) see this article here and this VIDEO here.

BONUS: Action Steps To Simplify Client Acquisition

Whether you want to enrol 2 ideal clients every month -- or if you want a simplified method to ethically and elegantly scale up your operation -- these steps build the kind of coaching business that you want -- full of ideal clients.

1) CHANGE your focus from “trying to get a client” to ”building a marketing lever”

This first one -- this is the moment. This is where the old busy structure can start to dissolve, and a simple, elegant one can begin to grow. This becomes a lens through which to view all your marketing activities. This gets you off the treadmill.

2) STOP pushing ideal prospects away with “authority kryptonite”.
Never again will you be kicked out of a Facebook group. No more endless hours spent in Messenger. Say goodbye to hassling people, and trying to get them to book calls - those days can be in the rearview mirror.

3) START giving people epiphanies.

This is the whole point of your content. I call this ETC (Epiphany Triggering Content) more info here. It does the heavy lifting.

4) MAKE it easy, logical, and friction-free for ideal prospects to reach out for more.

I call this a ULM (Unique Lead Mechanism) more info here.

4 Steps to Build A Business Full Of Coaching Clients

Final thoughts: Getting Off The Coach Marketing Treadmill

When you stop with the "Authority Kryptonite" nonsense, you signal to yourself that you respect yourself enough to find real solutions.

No more band-aids.

You’re not playing checkers anymore, you’re playing chess.

You signal to the marketplace that you have something of value, and that you won’t be pushed around or forced to do things you don’t want to - out of a need to make payroll.

When you set up a coaching business this way, you decimate the amount of time spent marketing.

You no longer feel like you’re always wanting more. More attention, more leads, more calls. The reason people feel like that is because they don’t have control. Good marketing assets give you that control.

Then, you start noticing that more of your clients are getting fantastic results. Client success soars because you’ve got more ideal clients on the books. Bad fits quickly become a thing of the past.

And as you learn to handle more, you’ll continue to receive more.

Before you realise it, your current client roster will fill up…

At this moment, you realise you have a new set of challenges.

And therefore an exciting set of decisions to make:

- Do you expand your operation?
- Or do you simply keep things at this pace?

Either of which is completely up to you. Your business, your clients, you run at whatever speed you choose.

But the difference with having this kind of coaching business is that you are no longer chasing attention, no longer chasing leads, no longer trying to book calls, no longer dealing with bad-fit clients who you should have never enrolled --

Because you escaped the treadmill. And you never have to go back.

What’s next

The video version of this article is here.

If you haven't used the calculator yet, check it out below.

Estimate the impact ETC will have on your coaching business. This calculator shows your client enrolment potential 90 days from now.

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