It’s now easier than ever to start and run your own business professionally, thanks to technology, and the growing acceptance of remote services. Combined with fewer barriers to entry into the coaching profession means a much more competitive environment for health coaches.
To some extent, the increase in supply has resulted from an increase in demand. The general public is far more health-conscious than it was a decade or two ago. And there is now a far better general understanding of the impact health and fitness have in other performance and wellbeing areas. The wellness and fitness industry in the United Kingdom alone was worth £23 billion in 2020.
The competition in the health coaching industry has led to a decrease in rates and could make you feel like you’re devaluing your services by having to constantly give out discounts. But there is another option, and you can in fact remain competitive with your peers without lowering your rates.
Is it possible to compete with other coaches without lowering my prices?
Taking the old business adage of “supply equals demand” is usually what triggers health coaches to lower their prices. After all, if there are too many health coaching services, and not enough people to want them, then it’s a ‘buyer’s market’. But, dropping your prices is a slippery slope that will undermine your value and impact your lifestyle negatively.
In truth it will likely lead to burnout as you have to take on more clients to meet costs, and you’ll end up hating the very thing that you created!
So what’s the secret to remaining competitive in any market? Providing more value. Let’s look at how your health coaching services can compete, not on price, but value with your fellow coaches:
1. Form Discount Partnerships
Discount partnerships are similar to affiliate sales, except the “commission” goes to your client in the form of a discount instead of being paid to you. You don’t make any money, but you provide additional value to your clients, which your competitors don’t, and hopefully, this will help keep them loyal to you.
You can make private agreements with local businesses such as gyms, restaurants, and retailers in your area. Or you could apply to the influencer programmes some of the big brands offer, in which case, they will create a discount code for your social media followers to use. These programmes can be tough to get into because big brands are usually selective about their influencers and quite prescriptive about content. They do, however, pay their influencers.
Top Tip: Approach local businesses to create a specific package. It could be 2 hours of health coaching a month, combined with 2 free personal trainer sessions at the gym and 2 free consultations with a nutritionist for a set price. Everyone gets new business, and your clients get a reduced rate on services that they don’t get anywhere else!
2. Stand out by getting referrals
Total all-around health is greater than any one service provider can secure; by surrounding yourself with people who offer complementary services, you offer a more comprehensive service to your clients and you end up with referrals that are far more effective than any other marketing tactic.
Complementary providers could be psychologists, gym owners, chefs, and even tax accountants – think broad and long-term. The benefits of collaboration are realised with consistency.
Try the following forms of collaboration:
- Co-host an event or podcast
- Co-coach a group
- Guest post on each other’s blogs
- Use each other’s offerings as “order bumps” or additional value
To be top-of-mind for collaborations, it’s essential to be known and present in your industry. Attend conferences where you are likely to meet potential collaborators. Join industry-focused groups online and be an active participant.
Also, be clear about your niche. If people know exactly what you do, they can easily see how you can work together. And will know they need not feel threatened by competition. Become the go-to expert for related professionals wanting to know something about your niche.
Top Tip: Don’t be afraid to collaborate with other coaches who work outside your chosen niche.
3. Create a Loyalty Programme
Loyalty programmes give clients a “retrospective” discount by rewarding them for using your services. Better pricing based on longevity or total spending will make clients feel appreciated without undermining the value you provide. It can also give them something they can aspire to as part of their health goals.
Top Tip: To avoid the administrative complexity of multiple pricing structures, keep things simple by offering freebies (e.g., a free session for every ten completed). A simple card and stamp system to start with can help you keep track of when rewards are due.
Keep your coaching knowledge up to date by attending conferences in your niche field. But also skill yourself up on business, marketing, and technology. Younger coaches entering the market tend to be tech-savvy and have a good understanding of internet marketing. You may be a more experienced coach, but if they get to new coaching clients before you do, you might not get the chance to display your experience.
So, if you don’t know about online marketing, start studying now. If you’re not familiar with the latest apps in your niche, start testing them. In the end, the coaches who will stand the ground are those that can combine a core set of skills to get the best results.
5. Know exactly what your audience wants
When you understand exactly who you’re targeting, you’re already narrowing down your competition by making your offer very specific. If you cater to a specialist issue, for example neuropathy or rehabilitation you can create core products and services that are unique and have much less competition. The fact that you cater to something so specific also creates a lot of value and then makes you viewed as a specialist.
It also works the other way. If you are catering to busy mums for example, then they are likely to appreciate getting a package deal of multiple services from you, in one place that is easy to manage and less admin for them.
Top Tip: If you’re unsure if your current health coaching packages are providing enough value, create a target avatar and learn as much about them as you can. Once you know their fears, desires and aspirations, it can help you decide on what would provide the most value to them.
Health coaching is a double edged sword because there are results but they aren’t always tangible or immediate. This can make it difficult to show results. Instead, provide your clients with something to supplement your services, for example:
- Set of videos or online course they can go through at their own pace
- eBook or guide with additional knowledge e.g. why they are having the problems they have, or a how-to on form before they start working out
- Workbooks or journals where they can write their own thoughts and progress
You could even provide merchandise like t-shirts, hats, or pens that they can get as a pack when they start. This doubles up as branding for you and staying top of mind so has a double benefit.
7. Take something off of their plate
It sounds silly but a lot of health coaches don’t take this next step. They give their clients the tools they need in order to succeed, but sometimes (particularly early on) clients can feel overwhelmed and need to be given the answers so they can see changes and commit.
This could be anything like:
- Creating a meal or workout plan specifically for them
- Writing down a shopping list of health ingredients
- Give them easy recipes to start them off
- A guided meditation that you’ve recorded so they don’t have to meditate themselves
Sometimes being given a simple shopping list has saved them the mental load of having to apply all the tools and figure it out for themselves. Which overcomes a barrier to reaching their goals, and has a huge value for clients!
Remember to be patient (and wait out the competition)
Whilst this may not provide value to your client, exercising patience is one for you. A huge part of making a small business work is sheer tenacity. You’ve come this far – don’t let the stress of competition get you down. Start each day with the intention of putting in your best efforts and trust yourself to win out.
Coaching can look like an easy profession from the outside, but as you know, it takes hard work and dedication. Many of the new entrants will find they’re not cut out for it, and their services won’t live up to expectations. After all, it’s almost always a case of ‘you get what you pay for’ and then your higher-tiered pricing can show your reputability to clients who have been let down in the past.
Foster your love for coaching and continue to excel, clients will see this!
In the meantime, if you need help figuring out how to show off your value on your website or in your branding, drop me a message and we can work together to keep you competitive without dropping your prices.