How to Pick a Small Business Marketing Coach

If you’re looking to take your startup to the next level, finding the right small business marketing coach is vital. Still, with all the options available today it can be hard to know how to pick the right one that matches your individual needs.

To pick the best small business marketing coach, you should first understand your business needs and goals. Then, find someone who is knowledgeable, has a good deal of experience, and is proficient in not only coaching but consulting as well.

Let’s discuss what you need to do on your end so that you are equipped to pick the right candidate, and what attributes you should look for in your coach and/or consultant. Further, we will discuss the difference between coaches and consultants so that you get all of your specific needs fulfilled. 

What Should You Do Before Picking Your Small Business Marketing Coach?

Before you actually pick your small business marketing coach, there are a few simple steps you should take to make sure everything on your end of the relationship is in order. They include:

  • Have an idea of what you would like to accomplish and how long you think it should take. It’s really useful to list these things out in a document that can easily be shared with prospective coaches so you’re both on the same page. This will also help you decide whether a coach, consultant or a mixture of both is best for your purposes. 
  • Have a basic plan of what you’d like to accomplish written out. Your coach can then help you fill in details, like benchmarks and how to get there. 
  • Know what you want out of your marketing coach. Are you looking for someone who will push you to your limits or someone who can simply guide you closer to your goals? Different people work better in different environments, so you should always make sure you know what best suits your needs.
  • Make sure you really need a marketing coach. Coaching mainly exists to get you going and help you properly manage tasks and time as well as develop skills. If you’re looking for more than that, you may actually need a marketing consultant–or better yet a person who can do both. In the following section, we will take a deep dive into the differences between the role of coaching and consulting. 

Business Coach vs Consultant: What’s the Difference?

The key difference between a small business marketing coach and a consultant is that the former helps develop people and the latter helps develop projects. Coaches are what you need to help you develop time and task management skills as well as increase your ability to communicate with clients. Consultants, on the other hand, will aid you in seeing a project through to the most successful end. 

Remember that this is not really an either-or scenario. You can find many coaches who also act as consultants and vice versa. With either type, you always want someone who is going to push you to fulfill your personal potential and help you to develop the best strategies that can put those skills into action. 

What Attributes Should You Look For in Your Marketing Coach or Consultant?

Once things on your end are put into order, you’ll be ready to pick the right coach for you. Below we have highlighted some of the most important attributes your coach should have.  

    • Knowledge is power. Look for an individual who has some credentials to back up their coaching and/or consulting skills. Remember small business coaching is not a regulated title, so anyone can call themselves one even if they have little experience or expertise. Further, if they have experience running their own small business and it has been successful, it’s highly likely they can help you too. 
    • Check testimonials. This goes hand in hand with the above tip. Remember the old joke, “what do you call a doctor who graduates at the bottom of their class?” The answer is of course, “doctor.” Sometimes credentials are not enough and even if they have run their own business, that doesn’t mean they can always communicate the ways in which they did. Testimonials give you a practical idea of how they work.
    • Can they both coach and consult? If you’re just looking to increase your own personal skills you only need a coach, however, if you’re like most people and need someone to develop strategies for specific projects as well, you’ll need a consultant. Fortunately, there are many people out there who do both.
    • Know who you’re going to work with. Depending on who you work with, you may end up stuck with a subcontractor from a whole team whom you didn’t expect instead of the main coach advertised. Make sure that you know exactly who you are expected to work with.
    • See if they offer a free consultation. A free consultation can give you an opportunity to see how your prospective candidate works without having to sink any money into one that doesn’t fit your needs.
    • Check their availability. Getting a small business off the ground or expanding one you’ve already got takes a lot of work. You want to find someone who will devote time to your needs when you need them.
  • Make sure they are straight forward about fees and services. While most small business marketing coaches and consultants are working for the right reasons, there will always be grifters. If they aren’t clear on what they will charge you, that is a huge red flag. 
  • Will your coach challenge you? If it’s not tough, it’s probably not helping. Your coach shouldn’t overwhelm you too much, but if you feel like you’re not being challenged at all, it’s time to find a new one. 
  • If they take on the role of consulting make sure they have a plan. Your business strategy coach should first introduce you to an ideal client profile. All business starts there. If that’s not where they start it’s another red flag.

What to Expect At Your First Session or Consultation

The prospect of your first consultation can be an intimidating affair but fear not for there are some basic things you can expect to discuss and actions you can take ahead of time to prepare.  

  • Be prepared to discuss your goals. It really helps if you go into this part of the discussion knowing exactly what it is you want to get out of your coach or consultant.
  • Be ready for straightforward, systematic questions about the issues you are having. It can be uncomfortable to talk to someone you’ve just met about the problems you are facing in your business, however, it’ll make things a lot easier and less awkward if you have a few points prepared ahead of time. 
  • Your coach or consultant will want you to commit. They are likely to organize some preliminary actions that they’ll want commitment towards. Usually, these early actions have to do with an organization that you can build upon later.
  • You’ll likely spend some time setting up systems of accountability. Your coach or consultant will want to have an accountability system set up to make sure that your goals stay in sight.    

So, How Do You Actually Pick the Right Small Business Marketing Coach?

To find the right small business marketing coach and/or consultant, you should first have some idea of what you want to accomplish and how you think a coach/consultant could help you to get there. It always helps to have a basic plan written out that can be filled with benchmarks to help facilitate clear communication and direction. 

You should understand that a coach helps develop you as a business person by pushing you to fulfill your potential and a consultant helps you develop strategies for your specific projects. It is ideal to have someone who is proficient at both skills, with a degree of knowledge surrounding your niche. While they certainly don’t need to be a complete expert in your field, a dynamic knowledgeable person will play a huge role in your success. 

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