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How to hire a marketing coach ... or not

When I started my business, I wanted to save time and make more money. A marketing coach, I thought, was the answer.

Here's what I wish someone had told me before I reached for my credit card.

1. Hire a coach who knows your product and your market.

Coaching, pet-sitting, organizing, marketing and weight loss services are not marketed the same way. You can't reach high-powered business owners and stay-at-home moms the same way.

Don't accept a canned list of tips, tricks and techniques. What you need is an understanding of your customers and how they buy.

2. Ignore the coach's "here's what I did" stories unless you, too, are a marketing coach.

A marketing coach uses different strategies from other kinds of coaches, let alone other businesses.

And some marketing coaches don't understand their own success. One "book coach" admitted she never looked at her own web statistics. She had no idea where her own business came from.

3. "If it ain't broke, don't fix."

Feeling discouraged by your numbers?
You may be doing better than others who have been in your business a comparable length of time. In that case, a marketing coach will just tweak your tactics with no impact on results.

4. Just because a lot of people are doing something doesn't mean it's working.

You want to know, "Are they making money from what they're doing?"

5. Calculate expected results in dollars.

"Double your ebook sales" sounds good -- but what if you've only sold one for $20? Sell two and the coach kept his promise!

At t his rate, you'll need a hundred years to recover the coach's fees.

6. Your coach should read and analyze your materials before each meeting -- not during the call.

You need thoughtful insight, not impromptu, top-of-mind ideas.

7. Insist on a results-based guarantee.

An idea may sound terrific till you implement it.

Don't thank the coach or offer testimonials till you realize what you've gained. You may be thrilled with the coach's ideas when you first try them out. You may want your money -- and your testimonial -- back after three months.

8. Get an idea of what process the coach suggests.

There's no magic in marketing. Generally you need to network, give talks, identify benefits, and make calls. If you already know what you need, but can't or won't do it, why pay a coach?

9. Anyone can get great testimonials from clients. If you can't get a referral from someone you know, pay for a single session.

Try out a few ideas. Allow enough time to see results. Then, and only then, schedule follow-up sessions.

10. You can lose more than the fees you paid.

One marketing consultant said, "I charge $100 to evaluate your website and I guarantee my work. There is no risk!"

Wrong. If you follow bad advice you can lose clients and business for months. One "expert" tells clients not to schedule free sample sessions -- a mistake in the career and life coaching business. Anyone who follows her advice will lose a lot of potential business.

And there's the rub. You hire a consultant because you feel clueless -- but blindly following advice can do serious harm. Some of the most successful business owners I know haven't paid a dime for marketing help. They follow their intuition, which is not for sale. They may hire someone to implement their ideas, such as a web designer, but they know their market well and won't let anyone else create their strategy.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast move to career freedom. Visit her site or call 505-534-4294.

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