Are you selling a problem or a diagnosis?

I want to talk about one of the biggest challenges I see for new coaches who are trying to market their new coaching businesses.

This is SUCH a common mistake that I see being made mostly by life coaches, healers, and other types of businesses that are not super concrete in terms of the results they offer.

The mistake is trying to sell your DIAGNOSIS of what is going on with your clients, versus selling a solution to the problem they KNOW they have.

Notice I said they have to KNOW they have the problem– it seems obvious when you think about it, but sooo many new businesses are trying to sell solutions to problems that people don’t know they have, or problems they are not looking for help with!

If you can grasp this concept early on it will entirely shift the way you write your content and the way you market your business, and greatly expedite the process of helping you get paying clients.


Selling a diagnosis


As a coach or an expert in whatever it is that you do, you have a unique insight into WHY your clients are really struggling. You can see many layers deeper than they can, and so you have a very different way of looking at their problem than they do.

You can almost “diagnose” why your clients are struggling the way they are. Similarly to how someone shows up to a doctor, who sees a patient’s symptoms and can diagnose what their illness is, your clients show up with all kinds of complaints and struggles, and you can see the deeper reason for what is going on. 

But your clients aren’t aware of this reason (yet!). So in your marketing, you have to be careful not to focus too much on talking about your diagnosis and instead focus on the problems they KNOW they have.


An example:


Your clients might be having trouble finding the right person to date. They keep getting into relationships with assholes, and they never stay around long enough to actually work through problems.  YOU as the relationship coach can see that they have a problem with self-love and self-worth. This is what is the root of all their dating woes. 

So you go out there totally inspired to help change this for your clients, and you write a whole bunch of content, make some videos and reels, and write all your website copy sharing the idea that self-worth, or self-love, or [insert whatever you know their problem truly is], is all they need.

And you’re not wrong — that IS likely the thing that they really need.

But here is why this approach is totally wrong and not going to help you get paying clients: 

You are sharing your DIAGNOSIS of what is really going on with your clients. 

Meanwhile, your clients are out there totally self-absorbed in their own problems.  They are not out there googling “self love”, because they don’t know that is what they actually need. 

What they ARE Googling is “how to find the right person to date”, or “why do I keep dating assholes”.

You can think of it like they are searching for help with the SYMPTOMS of their problem. 

But you are marketing help for a DIAGNOSIS…. One they don’t even know they have yet.

Think of it like having physical health symptoms and looking for help.

You have a sharp pain in your abdomen,

It burns when you pee.

You have a fever.

You might see an ad for a medication that helps kidney stones, but you don’t KNOW you have kidney stones, so you skip right by it. 

Then you DO see an ad for something that says it can help with your exact symptoms – sharp pain, burning pee, etc. They are literally describing you, and your ears perk up, you click the link, and you book a session/buy the thing/whatever.

Turns out you have kidney stones, but you didn’t know that, so you never would have bought the thing marketing itself as help for kidney stones.

When you are marketing your business, you need to be marketing to the “symptoms” of a problem that your clients KNOW they have.

There is a saying that goes “sell them what they want and give them what they need”, and that is what we are talking about here (within reason, obviously… We don’t want to be doing a total bait and switch! But we DO need to be meeting people where they are at).

Sell them on the idea of having better relationships, and once you are in sessions with them, you can give them what they really need in order to have better relationships, which is help with self-love and self-worth.


Are your clients problem-aware?


Often, new coaches get stuck with this, because you might think “my client totally KNOWS they have self-worth issues”. 

Sure, maybe they do now that they have been working with you for a while!

But we want you to think about your client’s level of awareness when they FIRST found you…. NOT after they have drunk your kool-aid and worked with you. After working with you, their awareness of the problem and your diagnosis will be much more clear to them, and they will indeed recognize that it was about self-worth all along.

But when they first found you online, they didn’t know that, so you want to stick with marketing to them around problems they know they have at the beginning, and are looking for solutions to.


The room and the door


I once heard niching described as like a room and a door. 

Your niche and the problem you solve for them is the door — it needs to be specific enough that people see the door and instantly know that it can help them, because it is describing their problems so clearly.

But once they are in your room, you get to use all your coaching brilliance and expertise with them and give them what they need, and it is often WAY more than what was written on the door. 

But we need a clear sign on the door for them to come into our room in the first place.

I always use our Uncage Your Business program as an example when I teach this concept in our program.

We have SO many sneaky agendas in this program because we know alllll the things you REALLY need to succeed in your business! We want to help you make faster decisions, build a strong mindset and resilience to failure, and help you understand the process of building a business, etc. There are many things we teach that are not on the actual sales page for the program.

But the DOOR for the program says we will help you find a niche, create your packages, and ultimately learn how to get clients.

If our door said that we would be helping you fail and keep going and helping you make decisions…. It’s very unlikely you would sign up for our program.

Those things might sound nice, but they are not the IMMEDIATE problem you are looking to solve.

So it’s very important that you focus your marketing and content and language on your website on the clear problem your clients know they have, and know that you will still get to help them with allll the things they need once they get into your “room”

If you can get your head around this concept early on, it will save you months or years of marketing the wrong thing.


Sell the problem. Keep your diagnosis for once they are inside the coaching room with you!


We have a lot more to say about this as there is nuance to it and there ARE ways to share your diagnosis in your marketing in an effective way once you learn how… If you want to learn how to market in this way, or need help figuring out what your problem is because you now realize you have been marketing a diagnosis — come join us in Uncage Your Business! We go deep into these nuances in your marketing so that you can market more effectively and have more clients say YES to working with you!