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15 Ways For Professional Coaches To Differentiate Themselves

Professional coaches are indispensable leaders in nearly every industry. However, they’re not one-size-fits-all. Every coach has a unique philosophy, coaching style and personality, but with so many other coaches—and types of coaches with similar industry niches—to compete with, standing out from the crowd can be a serious challenge.
15 Ways For Professional Coaches To Differentiate Themselves

Whether you’re a career, life, executive or another type of professional coach, there are effective ways to differentiate yourself and your coaching practice. Below, 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council share the best ways to create a unique coaching brand, based on their own experiences doing so.

1. Grow Expertise In Coaching And Other Industries

I differentiate myself from other coaches by growing my expertise in both coaching and other industries. I maintain my pre-coaching credentials and thought leadership in the areas of economics, analytics and technology. I bring that industry expertise together with coaching to help people and businesses understand, adapt and thrive in the disruption caused by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC

2. Have Your Clients Help Identify Your Strengths

I help my clients figure out how to bridge the gap in their situation within the first minute of conversation. My strengths, according to my clients, are my abilities to dive deep to help them identify the root cause of their problem and then create a career roadmap that rebuilds their confidence in leveling up in their career. My goal is to be able to change people’s lives. – Holly Lee, Holly Lee & Associates, Inc.

3. Invest In Your Clients’ Success By Believing In Them

I ask questions to learn what is important to the client, what they are most proud of, what they see as their challenges and where they want to head. I listen and believe what they tell me. As a result, I begin emotionally investing in their success. People want to know someone believes in them and what they can accomplish, and will still tell them the truth even when it isn’t what they want to hear. – Leann Wolff, Great Outcomes Consulting

4. Examine Your Clients’ Career Successes In Context

My business philosophy is that everyone has a compelling story that can be discovered by examining career successes in context (versus merely rewriting job history). It’s fascinating to take clients on a journey down the “memory lane” of their careers! By competitively branding job seekers and coaching them on top search methods, I’ve proven that they can find fulfilling work at an optimum career level. – Laura Smith-Proulx, An Expert Resume

5. Clarify Your Personal Values And Unique Value Proposition

I differentiate myself using authentic personal values and a unique value proposition. It’s not about me. It’s about my client. How successful a coaching process is depends, above all else, on the choices made and how the individual matches with the coach. How successful a coaching result is depends on an effective and proven methodology to get real and undeniable results. Finally, it’s fun to work with successful clients. – Cristian Hofmann, Empowering Executives | SUPERGROUP LTD

6. Combine Your Education, Knowledge, Experience And Worldview

As a business psychologist, I combine doctoral-level education, deep knowledge of psychological principles, years of business experience and a systemic view of the world in my work as an executive coach. I deliver increased ROI on engagements, as they are viewed with a lens that looks beyond the initial presenting issue at how it indirectly impacts people or teams who are not “in the room.” – Julie Kantor, JP Kantor Consulting

7. Develop Your Own Signature Processes And Methodologies

One thing I’ve done to differentiate myself from the masses is develop my own signature processes and methodologies based on my tenured years in business and leadership experience. I also focus on building relationships in my marketplace. I always come from a place of service. I provide free resources with no holding back and offer my paid services without hesitation. – Brandy Mabra, Savvy Clover Coaching & Consulting

8. Meet The People You Coach Where They Are

I work very hard to meet the person I am coaching where they are. It’s not about what is most comfortable for me as the coach; rather, it’s about what the person needs. I also am clear that executive coaching is not some kind of off-to-the-side adult education. It works best when something that matters is at stake. As a coach, I need to understand the person’s real-life challenges to make that happen. – Kathy Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions

9. Bring Clients Into A Higher Level Of Consciousness

I focus on bringing a higher level of consciousness into leadership than many traditional models allow for. My work increases the connection between people by breaking down unnecessary, title-based barriers and creating the conditions for the organization and the people in it to operate as a highly functioning community of communities. – Jeffrey Deckman, Capability Accelerators

10. Focus On Lifelong Learning So That You Can Adapt

Far too often I see clients who express frustration because prior coaches wanted to force them into a box based on their limited styles. Clients will never be one-size-fits-all, so it’s important that we, as coaches, can also adapt to their unique temperaments, needs and targets. It’s critical to embrace continuous learning so that you can meet clients where they are. – Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors International

11. Be Specific About Who You’re Helping And Who You Are

Most of us in the coaching industry know that being specific about who we are helping (our niche) and what kind of problem we solve allows us to stand out as experts in our field. However, I think the biggest thing that differentiates me from others is simply being me. My personality, background and experience are what only I can offer. My goal is to let potential clients see this as soon as possible. – Cole Taylor, The Starting Line

12. Focus On Who Your Clients Want To Be

Most coaching guides people toward accomplishing goals, which is not of particular interest to me. Instead, I focus on who my clients want to be. I do this by providing the kind of relationship they don’t have with anyone else—one in which they engage in deeply freeing and honest, put-it-all-on-the-table conversations with themselves, guided by my questions, challenges and candid feedback. – Lisa Schmidt, Worksphere

13. Don’t Require Multiple Sessions If Clients Don’t Need Them

One thing that I do not believe in is the concept of a set number of sessions. Many coaches require a commitment to multiple sessions before they will engage, which, in my opinion, is simply to guarantee them a certain amount of fees. My coaching tenure with a client is solely based on the client and their needs and situation. If we can solve the problem or come to a solution after the first session, that’s great. – John Lowe, Ty Boyd, Inc.

14. Focus On Customizing A Unique Coaching Path For Each Client

To differentiate myself, I focus on customization and accessibility. I work one-on-one with my clients and guarantee my work. For me, it is about getting to know my clients and finding a coaching path that is unique to them by working with them to create specific and measurable goals, which I am constantly following up with them on. – Jon Dwoskin, The Jon Dwoskin Experience

15. Remove Barriers To Trust In Unconventional Ways

I stopped trying to be like anyone else long ago. I don’t curb my enthusiasm for my clients. I actively look for barriers to trust and engagement and remove them everywhere I can—even when it goes against traditional theories of how the coaching industry should be managed. My clients are untraditional. Why should I be any different? – Erica McCurdy, McCurdy Solutions Group LLC

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