Updated: Jul 24
If you're a coach or a therapist, when was the last time you checked in with the way you feel about marketing? How comfortable are you with what you've been told about attracting the right clients? Are you OK with the values behind your social media strategy? Do you respect your prospective clients as much as the people you've invoiced this month?
In this coffee-break read I explore some of the ideas and insights I've gained from working at the rock face of digital marketing - namely copywriting and creating tone of voice guidance - and how these can lead to greater authenticity and integrity in the way we represent ourselves online.
Before we go any further, a short explanation.
What is tone of voice?
I could write a book about this and I think maybe one day I will but for now think of the social media craze:
‘Tell me you’re [blank] without telling me you’re [blank], I’ll go first’ - insert [a fussy eater] [an annoying sibling] [messy] - whatever's trending/edgy/relatable. This is basically how it works.
TOV is all about being clever in communicating your message, values and the uniqueness of your service without saying it directly. You’re careful and purposeful about the language you choose and it becomes less about what you say and more about how you say it.
I’ve been writing this kind of thing for the corporate world for years but just recently, I’ve been doing it for people working in the coaching and therapy sector and I’ve noticed one glaring disjoint and I thought it was about time I spoke up.
I work with everyone from high-ticket corporate coaches to holistic and spiritual healers - and even the clever ones who combine the two. And I haven’t yet come across one who doesn’t want to make the world a better place. Whether that’s one person at a time, one organisation at a time or overhauling the whole damn thing and changing the way that everyone works.
And here’s my point.
If you’re working to make the world a better place, why are you still selling with fear?
It’s a stalwart pillar of traditional marketing methodology but I can't help thinking that it just doesn’t fit in this sector.
It’s like the elephant in the room. If it’s connectedness and harmony you’re selling, then fear will be leaving huge dollops all over grandma’s heirloom rug and knocking holes in the telly.
Now, if you’re not engaging in these shenanigans and you're already 100% onboard with it (probably emphatically shouting hell yeah at the screen) then go make yourself a great cup of tea as a treat - you deserve it. Thank you for being naturally in tune long before I opened my laptop to write this.
Because in my experience, fear hinders, it doesn’t heal. And whether you’re a coach or a therapist, you’re doing the job you do because you want to heal - whether that’s someone’s career prospects, toxic corporate culture or your client’s injured knee.
Why fear can clear off
What do I mean by fear? Let me give you an example.
FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is used a lot and usually takes the form of ‘buy my service or you’ll end up at the bottom of a pit with nothing to show for your hard work’. Now if there are genuine pitfalls out there that you want people to avoid, highlight them by all means. I work with coaches who after having suffered the effects of burnout, wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else. They spend their waking hours creating programmes and courses and spending 1:1 time with clients trying to help them avoid the same pain. Or to lift them out of it if it’s too late and they’re already there. They’re passionate about it.
I’m not talking about you, lovely people. You keep this up, you're saving lives.
I’m talking about examining the fear you’re using to sell and what’s behind it. If you’re warning someone off a harmful route and getting them back on track, then that fear is healing in nature. It’s a warning.
But if the true root of the fear you're using is that you won’t stand out against your competitors or you’ll miss out on abundance if you don’t manipulate enough clients to sign up, then you might want to rethink your approach in what should be a compassion-focused sector.
Consider using your imagination and creative energies in the service of love, not fear.
Make your lead magnets honest, transparent and full of value. Reward your blog reader with something useful, thought-provoking or inspiring - as well an opportunity to feel good.
[Tell me how restorative you are to work with without telling me how restorative you are to work with. You go first.]
Don’t be scared that being generous will inhibit your own abundance, that’s not the way it works. And don’t be frightened that what you’re doing is not the same as everyone else. What you long for, longs for you back.
Just do you
There is nothing wrong with the insights you’ll get from doing some research on the effectiveness of social media algorithms, for example, or getting a professional in to help but take their advice and then use it in a way that feels natural for you. The same goes for getting a coach - if they’re a really good one and they’re the best fit for you, then whilst their insights might be an exciting or challenging revelation, what they suggest will not feel harmful. If they’re overly pushy, don’t listen to you or cause you malady, then move on. That’s perfectly OK.
I think what I’m trying to say is that it's easy to fall foul FOMO yourself and then pass it on. If someone suggests a way of selling that doesn’t feel right to you, don’t join in. You’re not helping yourself, you’re not helping the industry and you’re not helping your prospective clients either.
Take time to check in with yourself
Do more things in the service of love than fear. It’s a brave thing to do when the world seems big and bad sometimes but the tiny, beautiful and lasting things that embody the confidence, power, wisdom and fortitude that you bring to your clients are like warm stones that you can pop in your pocket to ground and delight you. Even when the confusing noise of what everyone else is doing seems deafening.
Have faith. Write with compassion and kindness. Be yourself.
I’ve seen this simple formula work for my clients time and again. I hope it works for you too.
If you've read something that you agree with, are confused by or makes you feel like you want to punch holes in cardboard boxes, please let me know. Drop me a line, book a chat or share with your friends.