Why things don't sell (and how to fix it!) - Coaching Blueprint - marketing for life coaches


So–You’ve done your personal growth work. You’ve learned a bit from here, a bit from there, and altogether, the tools and practices and workshops and books and coaching and therapy and experience have added up to make you into one pretty amazing dynamo.

So you think to yourself:

“I’m going to create an all-inclusive e-book that takes a holistic approach to personal growth, leaving no stone un-turned!”


“I’m going to create a 6-month coaching group for women who are ready to move forward in powerful ways!”

or, perhaps you’re even like I was, my first year:

“I’m going to create a year-long course! It’ll be called The Courageous Year! There will be different levels, and over the course of a year people will create their lives from the ground, up.”

You’re thinking of how high-value this offering is going to be–how it’s going to save people all the time or struggle that you went through, by taking the very best of what’s out there, and putting it all in one place, with you as the experienced guide who knows how this rolls.

Also, you might be thinking of how financially lucrative it is. Instead of winning one coaching client at a time, you get a circle going, charge thousands for it, maybe add in a retreat or a weekly call–wouldn’t that be a much more efficient than getting a client at a time?

It’s a truly fantastic idea.

In fact, there are a lot of coaches out there, who are trying it.

There’s just one (tiny-HUGE) problem:

It doesn’t sell (easily).

I know. “It doesn’t sell? But this is exactly what I wish I would have had! When I look back and think of all the searching I had to do to transform my own life, it’s nuts! Why wouldn’t someone want to save all that time!”

But–it doesn’t sell.*

Why It Doesn’t Sell

#1: People find all-inclusive, long-term programs to be really overwhelming. Think of the last time you tried cutting sugar out of your diet. It’s like the whole world cap-sizes and suddenly, sugar is everywhere. It’s overwhelming, and that’s just ONE small dietary change.

Now imagine someone staring down the barrel of Massive Life Change through Your Six-Month Program.

You might be a self-help junkie. You’ve been drinking the kool-aid. They haven’t.

#2: Even though people buy a gazillion self-help products, they often think (secretly) that it probably won’t work for them.

  • Astonishing truth: Sometimes people buy things to feel like they’re doing something about a problem, without really setting up systems in their life so that they’ll actually…do something.

It’s like buying a book on eating more vegetables and reading it–but not actually implementing the steps. People do this with self-help, all of the time.

So imagine this: Someone is looking at your sales page, and you’re saying that it’s going to take six months to complete the program.

  • You’re thinking, “How great it is that I’m honest and not bull-shitting people into another 1-2-3 step plan that won’t truly work.”
  • They’re thinking, “I don’t want to wait six months for results” or “Since nothing else has worked, I’ll probably just waste six months and a lot of money on this and it won’t work, either.”

The problem at the heart of everything is not how great YOU are, it’s that people don’t think it’ll work. Because they don’t think it’ll work, they don’t put the time in. Because they don’t put the time, in…it doesn’t work. Then they think, “Well, that program wasn’t very good, anyway.”

I know. Are you tearing your hair out, yet? Because once I understood this, I kind of wanted to.

Welcome to the world of self-help: it is a land of people who truly desire life change, but who also have a whole host of defenses around changing, because it’s scary to change.

Compassion is advised as you proceed.

#3: When it does sell, long-term intensives might not pan out for you, financially.

You’re thinking, “I’ll run a 6-month program. It’ll be a thousand dollars per person. I’ll get 15 people to participate, and that’ll be fifteen grand. I can do that, plus have one-on-one clients, and I’ll run the 6-month program twice a year. That’ll be 30 grand a year just from the program, and I don’t even have to run that 40 hours a week! Aces!”

So, about that. Yeah.

Running a full-fledged program? It’s a ton of work. When I run group circles for just a month at a time, the work is constant. The emails alone take time and mental energy, and I’m not talking about “Can you send me the password, again?” emails. One person sends an email needing support because she feels like she can’t do it. Another person sends an email feeling upset because someone else isn’t participating enough, and she wants me to get the other person to participate.

I’m not complaining about these emails; they are all part of the job, and my job (your job) in such cases is to step up to the plate, and help people to use these experiences to transform their lives or their businesses.

But these programs are truly–no joke–a ton of work. Tech snafus. Recording phone calls. Someone can’t access something. Phone interference on the conference call line.

I charge $150 for coaching sessions with individual clients. There’s no way that I make that kind of money, per hour, with a group coaching circle.

So Why Do Them?

Because you love the work. Because you love community. Because you’re passionate about creating opportunities for people to grow and thrive. Because you’re good at it. Because you know it’s why you’re here. It’s my love of community that has had me run some pretty amazing group coaching circles.

When It Does Sell

Of course, when you get huge or when you have large numbers or if you have the right connections, you can sell people on entire life programs. When you have officially been elevated to self-help guru status, people want you to talk not just about personal growth, but about weight loss and wellness, relationships and sex, and on and on.

The thought then tends to be, “She has some great answers in this one domain; I’d love to see what she has to say about another.”

Hence the reason that self-help superstars like Marianne Williamson and Deepak Chopra have talked about weight loss, when their original popularity sprung from straight-up personal growth.

Also, there’s one domain where such programs do sell: If you are leading a mastermind or long-term commitment group on how to make money, then people will often over-ride their overwhelm or financial concerns, telling themselves that they’ll make a return on investment when the money comes in, later.

In the Meantime?

Keep it small. Sell micro.

Don’t sell programs that cover career, AND relationship, AND wellness, and on and on.

Sell bite-sized.

Sell digestible.

Find one corner of a huge problem, and sell something that will tackle that corner.

Your people will be less overwhelmed, and they’ll actually make measurable progress. Seeing that there’s success to be had in that one little corner will pave the way for a belief that greater successes can be had, too.

That’s really what we’re all creating, here–the sustained belief in possibility.

This week’s exercise to benefit you and your business:

  • Review your current offerings–coaching offerings, e-books, courses, etc. Really ask yourself: What are the small, measurable things that someone gets from doing this work?
  • If an offering isn’t selling well, ask yourself: If I were to break this down into a smaller offering that would target one or two successful outcomes for the person who used this, might it sell better?


kate swoboda

Kate Swoboda (aka Kate Courageous) is a life coach who teaches people how to work with fear and practice courage. She’s the founder of www.CoachingBlueprint.com and creator of the Coaching Blueprint digital program.

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