marketing 101
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4 key marketing concepts to grasp before selling your coaching services online

4 key marketing concepts to grasp before selling your coaching services online


You want to sell your coaching services from your website but you don’t know where to start right? First you need to start by grasping 4 key concepts.

If you are brand new to the funnel concept, I have a summary of marketing and funnel terminology that you can download to help you understand what the heck I’m talking about! So if you didn’t grab them earlier, now’s your chance!

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These concepts ensures;

  • You don’t come across as a sleazy salesperson.
  • You sell in a natural, non pushy way that feels right for your customer.
  • Your sales process can be automated, saving you time.
  • Your customers become advocates and market your business for you!

Once you understand these core concepts, you will be in a better position to plan out a strategy for finding and converting website visitors into customers and clients. Each concept addresses a different part of the sales puzzle. If your online marketing hasn’t worked for you so far it could be because one of these elements is missing or you haven’t been able to unify them successfully. Let me show you what they are and how they work together to get your strategy started.

CONCEPT 1: There is an order to the way people research and solve problems. AKA The COMPETENCE scale.

competence scale

Have you heard the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know” ?

It comes from the fact we can be blissfully unaware of our problems. We might be experiencing side effects of our problems without ever knowing the root cause. If we don’t know the cause we can’t go looking for a solution can we?

The competence scale has 4 levels. As awareness and competence grows your level changes. Your ideal client is on this scale somewhere. Your job as a business is to help them through each level.

Let me explain.

Level 1: Unconscious incompetence.

At this level your customer will be experiencing side effects of a problem but they know nothing of the problem causing their suffering. They might even be in denial and be ignoring their suffering.

E.g. Someone suffering regular headaches might not realise it is because they get eyestrain using a computer and they need glasses. The problem is their eyes are deteriorating. The side effect is the headache. The solution is purchasing glasses.

Someone at this level will not be receptive to adverts about glasses because they don’t know they need them yet.

The first step of your marketing should be to raise awareness of the problem by talking about the symptoms. Your blog is the perfect place to do this. The goal of your awareness blog posts is to raise awareness of the problem and move your customer to level 2 on the competence scale – without them leaving your website.

Level 2: Conscious incompetence.

At this level your customer is aware they have problem but they don’t yet know the solution. If I had headaches, there might be other causes than poor eyesight. I would probably be searching around the internet for all the possible causes.  Again your blog is a great place to create content for this level. You need to create that helps people identify the problem. Checklists and quizzes are useful for this group of people. Once people have identified their problem they then look for a way to solve the problem. ‘How to’ articles and guides are useful at that stage.  In this level people are learning about their problem and the possible solutions. They are deciding if they can fix it themselves or if they need to pay someone for help. Your goal is to educate people enough at this point that they believe you are the one to solve their problem. At which point they buy from you.

Level 3: Conscious competence.

At this level your customer has made a purchase and their problem is beginning to go away. If you have sold them training, they begin to use your training. At first it takes a conscious effort for them to become competent. If they have bought a service from you they will be getting to know you and how your service works. There may be obstacles in the way to make the problem go away. You goal is to help them make their problem go away so they no longer have to think about it.

Level 4: Unconscious competence.

If you have sold a product, at this level you customer should be experiencing exceptional results. Their problem has gone away so much they no longer think about it or they can solve their problem easily without the need for much effort. If you sold them a service this is the point in your relationship where there is a lot of trust because they are experiencing the effects of having you solve their problem. Life is good for them.

Now, you understand the levels people move through when learning, next let me show you how this relates to the sales cycle.


CONCEPT 2: People buy only when they are ready. Your customers buying cycles – your sales cycle.

If you have studied marketing at any level you will have come across the sales cycle. If you have not, don’t worry – here comes the condensed version.

Before people make a purchase there are a set of steps most people go through. If you try to sell to someone before they are ready you will almost definitely get a no, you will be wasting your time, your money, your resources and you will scare your potential customer away. This is where you come across as sleazy and desperate which I know, deep down you don’t want.

The key to this is identifying your customers sales cycle so you can sell to them when they are ready.

A typical sales cycle goes like this;

Stage 1: Unaware. They are unaware of their problem and unaware of your solution. Selling to them at this point will fall on deaf ears.

Stage 2: Awareness. They are aware of their problem and they are looking for solutions. You might get some results if you try to sell at this stage but your customer hasn’t yet done their home work on all their options. You run the risk of sounding pushy at this stage. Sometimes people buy before they are ready but often they suffer ‘Buyers remorse’. This means they start to regret their purchase decision and will ask for a refund.

Stage 3: Consideration. They understand their options and are considering their next move. Who to buy from? At is at this point people are most receptive to sales messages.

Stage 4: Purchase. They are ready to buy, their wallet is out.

Stage 5: Evaluation. Post purchase, your customer evaluates their solution. Was the purchase the right one? Did they have a good experience with you? After sales care is important for ensuring customers stick with you. Which leads to the next stage..

Stage 6: Retention. You customer is happy with their purchase and you and they decide to hand around. They will be on your email list, they might visit your website next time they have a similar problem. You ability to hold customers in this phase increases you ability to sell more to your current customers.

Stage 7: Advocacy. Your customer may have bought multiple times from you. They love you. They are loyal to you and they tell everyone they meet. The provide free marketing for your business. This is the ultimate stage that you need you customers to be in so your business gathers momentum and can grow.

Hopefully that brief explanation gives you a simplified view of the sales process. Now lets see how that fits in with the competency stages to work out at what stage in someones online learning and research should you try to sell.


The ideal time to sell is when someone is aware of the problem, aware of the solution and also aware of how hard the problem is to fix by themselves. You marketing needs to seamlessly get people to that point where you can sell to them. The sale will be easy, your customers will be almost begging for your help. I say almost because now I need to explain how you are going to stand out among the other advertisers trying to sell similar solutions to your customer.

It’s all about the relationship you have built before asking for the sale.




CONCEPT 3: People need to know, like and trust you before they buy.

The importance of relationships.

The rise of the internet means more selling takes place remotely, i.e. online and not face to face, This affects the ability to build trusting relationships with customers and as a result there is less commitment and less loyalty from customers because they don’t get to know the person behind the business. It makes it easier for customers to shop around and find other businesses they ‘like’ more. If you do not build up relationships you will find it difficult to encourage loyalty, which means less customers becoming brand advocates and you missing out on the easiest way to grow your business.

Relationships are built on intimacy stages. Desmond Morris (a famous zoologist) identified 12 stages we go through before we become intimate with one another. He states that the speed is unimportant, you can go fast or slow, it doesn’t matter so long as everyone is happy with the speed. However, the order of stages are important. It is ok to skip a couple of levels but more than two is almost like assault!

Let’s go a bit deeper into this.

The theory…

First, understand that asking someone to buy something when they don’t know you is almost the same as asking someone to marry you at a party. You are asking for commitment and intimacy before the other person is ready. The result? Almost always a no. The odds are stacked against you which means you are wasting your time (and damaging your reputation). You will look desperate and sleazy. No one wants that.  You need to move through the intimacy stages identified by Desmond Morris.  I would like to add that lets not forget you are in business. The goal is to grow your business. You don’t want to waste your time with people who are unwilling or unable to become customers. So at each intimacy stage, you also need to ask for commitment. This weeds out the time wasters and leaves you engaging with ideal customers who are willing to buy from you.

Stage 1: Eye to body:  For someone to notice you at a party they first see your body. They don’t make eye contact yet.  In business this stage is where a potential customer becomes aware of your business. They don’t much about you yet or how you can help.

Stage 2: Eye to eye: At the party, you make eye contact. This is a good sign they might want to talk. In business a potential customer becomes aware you might be able to help them with their problem.

Stage 3: Voice to voice: At the party, you walk over and start to talk. In business, your potential customer gives you permission to talk to them by subscribing to your newsletter or connecting with you on social media. The have shown they are willing to commit by giving you their email address.

Stage 4: Hand to hand: You have agreed to meet for coffee and you are chatting over coffee. It’s OK to make gentle, non invasive physical contact . In business you prove you can help by giving value.

Stage 5: Hand to shoulder: The coffee date went well, you decide to ask for a dinner date. More intimate contact on the shoulder won’t feel threatening at this stage.  In business you can make a low price, high value offer. Enough trust will be built to make this offer feel acceptable. This stage demands another level of commitment and they can only go forward with this relationship if they can show they can commit.

Stage 6: Hand to waist: You have dinner, if it went well it might feel appropriate to put your arm around each other. In business you will want to follow up with your previous offer. Make sure everything is OK for your new customer.

Stage 7: Face to face: At the end of dinner, you get walked home, if it feels right you kiss. In business the time is right to ask for a higher offer. You are offering more value but you are asking for even more commitment in return.

Stage 8: Hand to head: The kiss goes a little further……  You deliver your value and prove again that you can be trusted.

Stage 9,10,11,12: Censored! In business it depends how far you want to go. How much intimacy and commitment are you asking for? The final goal is advocacy.

Here is a diagram showing how the stages of intimacy fit in with the sales cycle from before.

Sales cycle and stages of intimacy

A brief word about touchpoints

You may have heard about touch point marketing. It has been proven that people need between 6 and 8 touch points with your brand before they buy from you. That means they need to come into contact with your brand 6 to 8 times before they buy. The flaw with this is relationship building is not being taken into account. If your potential customer consumes 6 pieces of free content they are less likely to purchase from you than someone who read one blog post, watched one webinar and then went on to book a call where they purchased your highest paid training. If your content is not building the relationship and asking for commitments you will end up building an audience of freeloaders who have no intention to become a customer.

CONCEPT 4: Content builds relationships and guides the sales process.

Before the internet, relationships were guided by the seller. Cold calls, questions, meetings, all designed to qualify a lead, warm them and get them to buy. That approach was time consuming and expensive. If you were a one man band, well growing your business just took too much time and the little guys were forced to stay little.

Technology has now advanced to a point where the whole relationship can be automated, and feel authentic at the same time. All it needs is clever content. I don’t mean content that has been written by Einstein, I mean content that segments your customers so you know who is interested in what and what sales messages are relevant to them. Allowing for a completely personalised experience.

This is where it all comes together so pay attention..

Combining the theory so far identifies 4 distinct groups of people.

Combining the 4 maketing principles

Group 1: Unaware. These people are unaware of the problem but are suffering from it’s side effects. They might have just started looking on the internet to find relief from the side effects (or symptoms). They don’t yet know they can buy a solution that fixes the problem because they haven’t yet identified the problem. They have no idea you even exist.

To attract this group of people into your business you need to provide blog posts that talk about the symptoms of the problem. You can also create simple quizzes that help people identify the cause of their symptoms.

Group 2: Potential customers. The people are aware of their problem and are learning all they can about the solution. They then move through the sales cycle as they identify different solutions and work out which one suits them best.

To attract this group of people you need content that educates them about their problem and helps them find a suitable solution. You then need to show them that you have the solution and your solution is their best option. If you are able to provide a seamless transition through the necessary content, they will remain on your site. This will start to build the relationship, build trust to where you can eventually ask for some level of commitment from them. This is where you will be able to identify them as a prospective customer and not a time waster.

Types of content are blog posts about the problem. Comparison charts to help them compare their options. Testimonials to give you credibility and to build trust. Content that changes the relationship by asking for commitments include lead magnets (quick to consume, high value, free content given in return for an email address), trip wires (small offers up to $50 such as a mini training) and up sell products (a larger offer priced between $50 – $100, offering lots of value).

It is this group of people who are rapidly consuming data and looking for solutions. You have the opportunity to help this group out, build relationships and convert the right ones into customers.

Group 3: Customers. This group of people are those who have purchased your core offer. They understand that fixing their problem needs your help. You have built up a relationship with them. They trust and believe you  and think yo are the right person to solve their problem.

The content you need for this group of people now depends on what you have sold them. You need to have a great on boarding process to eliminate buyer remorse and reduce your refund rate. Sharing testimonials, providing guides (if applicable) and access to FAQs will encourage a positive post sales feeling.

Group 4: Advocates. If you delivered on your promise to your customers they will become advocates for your brand. Also, you want to be able to sell again to this group of people in the future. You need to keep in touch with them regularly. Sharing blogs and testimonials with them will keep them interested. Sharing lead magnets with them will help them self segment for your future offers.

What’s next?

I’ve saved the dreaded F word till the end… What’s the word? It’s FUNNEL. Did you know that you can automate the process of finding people in group 1, where they are unaware of their problem and you can automatically move them from group 1 to group 3 with very minimal work on your part. That means no cold calls, no chasing up potential clients, no dealing with time wasters. Imagine if every sales call you made was too someone who knew who you were, who already trusted you and liked you and knew that you could fix their problem? Your sales conversations would be much easier to close.

The system used to automate all of this is called a sales and marketing funnel. Read the next post to find out what type of funnel you need for your business.

Need quick answers to your funnel questions? Join my Funnel Fixers community for tips, help & advice.

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