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Marketing 101: Using The Competition

The Competition Conversation

People in business suits lining up for a sprint on a race track
Is this how you view other coaches?

Competition is a heated word. It implies winners and losers, doesn’t it? It implies rankings of success and failure. It brings to mind struggling—the more competitors you have, the harder it will be for any one person to succeed…right?

As much as competition might sound like a threat to your business, it doesn't have to be. Coaching isn't a zero-sum game.

Join CLCI Live as Jen Long (MCLC), Jerome LeDuff (MCPC), Lisa Finck (PCC) Anthony Lopez (MCPC), and Brooke Adair Walters (ACC) talk over the merits and marketing advantages that come from studying your competition and how adversaries can turn into assets.

Using the Competition: The Who

So who even is your competition? It may seem like a simple question to answer. As a life coach, your competition is just other life coaches—right?

Consider your coaching niche instead. What sort of competition do you have within that niche?

A competitor could be another life coach, but it could also be a therapist, counselor, religious figure, self-help book, an influencer, and more. A successful coach has an ideal client and targets that specific niche. Whatever ‘thing’ you do, whether it's speaking to couples transitioning to the next steps in their relationship, working with single moms who want a better relationship with their kids, or high-powered CEOs who are founding a startup, your competition will be any service or person that also has that niche.

Consider a relationship coach. Chances are that a nearby business coach isn’t going to really be crossing paths with them all that much. But a couples counselor might. Even relationship self-help books or social media influencers who discuss relationship advice could end up drawing business away from this coach.

You’ll be sharing a niche with your competitors. And, as with anything competition-related, you could think of this all as an all-out-fight for those clients. Well, if you want to win over those clients, what is something you need? Good advertising. Relevant marketing. A stomach for fighting for what's yours.

But maybe there is another way to go about this. Maybe this isn't a fight and your competitors are unconventional benefactors—because sometimes the best ways to improve your marketing will only become clear when competition is in play.

The Why

Charlie Grinnel, CEO of a marketing strategy service, makes this bold claim in a Forbes article:

Marketers who are willing to study the strategies and tactics of competitors, and then make them into something similar but different, are often the most successful marketers in the industry.

Consider authors. In 2012, the successful author Terry Pratchett was asked to provide advice for other writers. Was his reply to tell others to write like he did? Was it to avoid any reading to not be influenced and copy anyone? No. In order to write something good you have to “read everybody”? Why? Because, Pratchett said, “You have to know what works. You have to know what’s gone before.” Marketing is very similar.

The marketing of your competitors; the marketing of the pathfinders who came before them—study it all.

Grinnell argues that “by taking inspiration from your competitors, you’ll save precious time, money, and resources that can now be spent on executing an effective marketing strategy.”

Sounds great! But how are we supposed to study the strategies of our competition?

The How

Interlocking cogs and wheels
With these tools your marketing will run like a well oiled machine

There is no one right answer to that because it will depend on the circumstance that you have. However, we have a few questions to get you started:

First, identify the competition. What is your niche? Who is your ideal client? What businesses or individuals around you might be attracting/trying to attract that client to them? After identifying some, you can start to study.

One way to study is to use tools like Google Alerts. This tool allows you to monitor your competition and the industry as a whole by setting up keyword searches. Any new information that matches your query, such as mentions of your competitor online, is then emailed to you.

To investigate further, you can explore your competitors' social media posting style and interactions. Another way could be to check out their website. One tool that can help with website analysis is SEMRush. It allows you to see search engine traffic and ad performance of your competitors' websites, giving you an in-depth understanding of their online presence.

Looking at advertising, both virtual and physical, is also important. Using a tool like HubSpot's Marketing Grader, you can check how your website stacks up against your key competitors, providing you with a comparative evaluation based on factors such as content, readability, social media presence, and domain authority.

Look at what strategies the successful competitors use. See what works best for them. Does this mean that you will be adopting the exact same strategies? Not necessarily. But you should certainly try testing out their methods to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Remember, the goal isn’t to completely copy anyone’s strategy. Test out different marketing methods and refine them until they are your own.

Competition doesn’t have to be a losing battle. It doesn’t have to be a fight over clientele. Your competitors might just be the secret to finding new and more fitting tools for yourself and your business.

Let competition be a trigger for self-reflection. See where you can improve and make those improvements. Let yourself expand the horizons of your approach to life coach marketing.

Competition might just be the key to saving time and finding new ideas to work with. Using the right tools and strategies, you can transform competition into a stepping stone towards your business's success.


Thank you,

Jen Long (MCLC), Jerome LeDuff (MCPC), Lisa Finck (PCC) Anthony Lopez (MCPC), and Brooke Adair Walters (ACC)!

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