Sharon Pearson, founder of The Coaching Institute, talks about the importance of market research, customer service and marketing
In 2004, Sharon Pearson founded The Coaching Institute. Since a first student intake of just 9 students, The Coaching Institute has gone on to train over 1600 students, as well as deliver Coaching for Managers training for organisations throughout the world.
In just seven years The Coaching Institute has become the leading provider of coach training in Australia, is Australia’s leading coaching business and the most accredited coaching school in Australasia.
The Coaching Institute was selected as the winner of the 2006 & 2010 Telstra Business Awards, winning the Victorian Micro-business category & Business Women’s Award. As the resident life coach on Channel 10, Sharon appeared regularly on the national show, ’9am with David and Kim’ throughout 2006 offering insights and tips for its viewers.
In this Q&A interview with Alex Pirouz, Sharon Pearson talks about how market research, customer service and innovative marketing strategies helped her build Australia’s biggest coaching institute.
Q: How did you go from cold calling to running Australia’s biggest Coaching Institute?
I learnt about a technique called Relationship Based Marketing, so instead of me going out and chasing clients, I worked out that it was more about getting the right type of clients coming to me.
Q: Can you briefly describe the steps involved in relationship based marketing?
Well, within this marketing method, there are five steps. Step one is all about understanding who my ideal client is; who I really want to work with and who would love to work with me.
Then step two is working out where they all congregate so that I can reach them easily. Step three is then to get in from them with a gift so that they can notice me.
Then step four is all about building a relationship with them over a period of time until they feel comfortable that I am a trusted advisor for them. Once you build trust by providing great value and answering all their questions you then make them an offer, which is the last step.
Q: When looking to purchase a product/service, what do customers look for these days?
I think these day’s people can be quite sceptical, I know I am and most of the people I speak with are. One of the biggest problems of being a marketer is how do you get your product or service in front of someone without yelling at them.
So I think the key thing that a client is wanting is something that is authentic and that is a complete match for a problem they have without them having to think about it.
Clients have every right to be sceptical, but by doing so it makes it very hard for them to find what they are looking for. Clients these days have higher standards then ever before.
Q: What form of marketing do you believe is most effective these days, besides Relationship Based Marketing?
I don’t, after investing over $350,000 and eight years of testing every other method possible with very little success, I have come to the conclusion that nothing else works as well as relationship based marketing.
Q: How important is it to conduct market research within your business?
I think the only thing that matters when you start marketing is market research, and I don’t mean the old traditional style of research where you have focus groups and surveys.
I am talking about asking and listening to your clients when they join up with you. Ask them why they purchased from you rather then someone else, what they liked about your service/product, the style and approach of your marketing, etc.
Too many businesses fail because they build and hope that clients will come; whereas if you know exactly who are targeting you will increase your success in marketing to the right demographic.
Q: How do you establish the right price for a product/service when launching a new business?
The system is simple: find out what the competitors are charging, find out what they are delivering, what problem they are solving and then find out how to add more value then they are by including more bonuses and charge client market price for it.
Q: If you could offer one piece of advice to any individual who is looking to create a successful marketing campaign in their business, what would that be?
Before you do anything in business, work out why you’re in business. Work out your ideal average day and create a business model around that.
Alex Pirouz is the founder of RIDC Advisory Pty Ltd. A Business and Sales Advisory firm partnering with Australia’s largest and fastest growing companies to further increase their revenue. Visit www.ridcadvisory.com.au for more details.