Discovering what a thriving coaching business might look like without social media means questioning everything I’ve been taught about the rules of marketing.

One of the biggest assumptions:

“You need a bigger audience, more followers, more reach and more subscribers for more income and impact.”

MORE! MORE! MORE!

Is this true?

While it seems to align for some coaches, it really depends on what you’re after.

What type of “impact” do you desire? 

It could be:

  • Tony Robbins global reach and visibility
  • A presence well-known only your micro-coaching niche community
  • A few dozen long-term clients with whom you create lasting change

What income do you desire?

We’ve been brainwashed to see the “more, faster, better” paradigm as normal, and it’s certainly prevalent, but what you choose is completely up to you.

You’re about to meet two more entrepreneurs who are quietly choosing something different.

Less Hustle, Deeper Impact

I turned to my friend and fellow wonderer, Nico Olivieri. Nico is a writer, a poet, and a transformative coach finding his own way in business and marketing.

And he’s moving it away from Facebook.

Frustrated by the pressure to shout louder to be heard in the noise of Facebook and create click-bait content for visibility, Nico has created a slower, more authentic space to share with people who actually choose to be there.

“No Way! Living life on our own terms!” is a free-spirited community that’s about moving forward in life with boldness and grace, where Nico will share his writing without catering to algorithms, on the community and email marketing platform called Substack.

Substack is a free publishing platform where writers can start a newsletter, create a community and make money by selling subscriptions. It takes 10% of subscription sales only when they’re made.

Nico has both a 100% free membership and a paid membership that comes with extra perks like podcasts, videos, “After Party” content and Q&A sessions. 

Instead of chasing down potential clients and begging for followers on social media, Nico and others like him who are moving to private platforms that deliberately make it more difficult for people to subscribe.

“I only need 100 people who really resonate with my writing,” Nico says. “They will be my ambassadors.”

(By the way, I’m one of the paid members of Nico’s No Way community because I’ve enjoyed his wonder-filled writing for years and am thrilled to support his art.)

Nico’s use of the Substack platform allows him to connect with his audience via their email inbox and his private community. The open rate from this smaller group of subscribers is 80%, compared to his general business email list which is much lower.

“There are no guidelines nor gurus, just our capacity to trust ourselves and our desires.” – Nico Olivieri

1,000 True Fans

Contrary to what marketers preach, it can be an advantage to erect barriers between people and your content, because the people who show up are your true fans. 

It’s the 1,000 True Fans concept first expressed by Kevin Kelly; you only need 1,000 true fans and repeat customers to make a good living. It’s a focus on quality over quantity when it comes to your audience.

If this sounds shocking, GOOD. 

It’s an opportunity to upend your assumptions and explore this for yourself.

But why would anyone pay for something they can get for FREE?

Because they believe in what you’re doing. Because you inspire them. Because your message is so good they’re happy to contribute.

I’ve been donating $3 per month to the Brainpickings newsletter, which is 100% free, for almost two years, because I receive so much value from the brilliantly curated content that it feels good to pay. When Tim Ferriss did an experiment last year to suspend his podcast advertising and take donations instead, I volunteered to pay $10 a month for what would otherwise be free content, because what I’ve learned from him has transformed my life.

You don’t get these kinds of fans overnight. It was months of enjoying Brainpickings and the Tim Ferriss Show before they’d earned my trust and respect, but when they did, I became a superfan.

Tim Ferriss did end up cancelling his fan-supported podcast experiment. Similarly, this approach isn’t for everyone, but if you’re craving a new way, it might be worth exploring.

The Magic of Client Connection

Sharon Castle, Life Coach and Transformational Kinesiologist at Sharon Castle Coaching, has been a full-time coach for the past 12 years and a part-time coach/trainer in the personal development space for 38 years. She’s paid thousands to a social media marketing company because she was told you “have to” be on social media to have a successful business.

Yet upon reviewing her stats, her posts weren’t creating client inquiries. Rather, her past clients are her #1 source of referrals, mainly generated through her WhatsApp community messages.

Sharon has 800 people in her Whats App community (divided into three groups due to the app’s limitations) who receive regular wellness tips and occasional offers. This allows her to send personal-looking messages directly to their phones, where people read and respond to the notifications in real time.

What makes this different from an email list or social media following is that all of the people in Sharon’s Whats App community are past or current clients who already have a relationship with her, and who most importantly they really want to be there.

Recently, Sharon sent this broadcast message to her Whats App groups: “THIS IS A BROADCAST GROUP, IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE REMOVED, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.”

Out of 800 members, only two asked to be removed.

Sharon loves using Whats App because it feels personal and easy. When she posted an offer for her upcoming retreat on Facebook, a few people engaged, but no one reached out. By contrast, 20 people on her Whats App group immediately messaged with interest. Clients forward her wellness tips to their friends, who then inquire about coaching.

Her success with a small, engaged group of followers is no coincidence; Sharon has always felt drawn to work locally in her South African community. She values real, in person connections with clients in workshops, retreats and sessions. 

While her Whats App list grows slowly when compared to aggressive promotions to an email list and lead magnet, the people who join are interested, engaged, and more likely to become repeat clients or refer new ones.

“My wisdom was already working and I blocked it because I thought they [the experts] know better. I’ve discovered that they don’t.” – Sharon Castle

Your Wisdom Can Do Marketing, Too!

The fascinating thing about both Nico and Sharon’s experience is that when faced with similar frustrations regarding social media marketing, they’re taking very different paths towards an alternative.

They were guided by their own inner wisdom to explore alternative means of connecting with their audiences that align with their unique talents, interests and skills. Led by their curiosity, intuition, and what just seems fun to them, these entrepreneurs are pioneering their own way of marketing and doing business.

There is no one-size-fits-all marketing solution, but you have something better: your own inner guidance system.

The same wisdom that reminds you to call a friend just when they need you, or drops a brilliant idea into your head, will also guide you to a joyful way of sharing what you love to do, with authenticity and power.

This is what I’m seeing. What do you think?

Yours in creative play,

Steph

P.S. If you’re successfully getting client leads without social media and would like to be featured in the Unmarketing Experiment, contact me.

You’re also invited to subscribe to my email list here for updates on my No Social Media Unmarketing Experiment.