What bugs me about online marketing in the coaching industry

Before you dive into this post— please note this post is geared more for readers who in the early stages of their business who tend to spend a lot of time researching marketing tactics. While I know this is relative to many of you (hey girl hey!), some of you might want to skip this one and head back to safety.


Back when I created a “business” Instagram account and Facebook page for CATCHFOOT + RUN, I started getting bombarded by ads from my competitors.

They were selling master classes, webinars, access to private Facebook groups, something called click-funnels that I should be implementing...

There were literally hundreds of online coaches, consultants, and gurus offering me free things— unmissable opportunities to up my game and rake in six, no—seven! figures in my first year. Some gurus drove Ferraris. Most took lavish vacations. All of them were living their #bestlife.

And guess what?

I clicked on every single one of their ads.

I set calendar reminders to watch their webinars at nine, noon, three, and seven. I tuned in during the kids’ bath time, while jogging, and sometimes while driving.

After several of these info sessions, a pattern emerged. It was evident that there were major online marketers at the top (like Marie Forleo and Tony Robbins) setting the tone, who had mid-sized protegés all around the web— each with a different niche or flavor... but mostly selling the same thing: online business success. 

What. Even. Is. That.

No one could define this in terms other than cash and freedom. Many seemed to be copying and pasting from each other. One pair of guys was literally selling their “exact funnel” and “email copy” for thousands of dollars. I became obsessed with learning WHY this was happening.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Here’s the playbook for pushy online marketers trying to sell you marketing:

Step 1: spend thousands of dollars on Facebook ads advertising free webinars.

Step 2: get people to attend these webinars (whilst collecting their email address to kick-start a very intense drip-campaign).

Step 3: at the end of the webinar, upsell the captive audience on high-end mastermind classes or online courses.

Step 4: send real aggressive emails. Hey Rachel, I noticed you haven’t taken action yet and I won’t let you slip through the cracks. Yeah, really.

None of this is inherently... wrong.

In fact, this is just a classic marketing funnel and textbook sales techniques. We see this used in many industries— real estate, higher education, career fairs, and expos.

But what rubs me the wrong way, and maybe my list of examples just gave it away— is that it all feels sort of predatory.

The success of these online marketing gurus is predicated on attracting others who want to become marketing gurus themselves.
Want to grow an online business?
Take my online business master class!
Want to be an Instagram influencer? Buy my step by step process.
Click here for my magic formula!
Be me!

What’s more...when they spend more time marketing their lifestyle than their expertise, it feels no different than classic MLM tactics. “Let’s gloss over the product...it’s the result I’m selling.”

We’ve all listened to The Dream, right? OY!

A graduate of Marie Forleo’s B-School myself (five years running and proud), I get it. When you’re optimizing for SCALE you need to target a large, vulnerable audience and prey upon their insecurities and emotions. 

But for me?

No way. Not my style. I can’t sell you my success.

I don’t want you to choose to buy from me because you want to be me.

So what’s the alternative? Oh, I’m so glad you asked! I have a whole session on how to sell without being slimy (see I’m doing it right now) and it all boils down to one key thing:

A long courtship.
Do not try to propose to me our on the first date. No sir.

Look. If you want to convert someone into a buyer after a one week ad blitz— someone who didn’t know you before, good luck. 

Sure, you’ll make some sales this way. It’s a numbers game, right? (just ask Billy McFarland). Sure, you can stuff strangers into a webinar and charm their faces off and inflate your numbers for a tick... but that experience will always pale in comparison to selling to someone who’s primed—that is someone who’s been following you (and feels like they know, like, trust you) for months or years.

There is no magic pill that allows you to circumvent the cultivation of real community. If you plan on being in business for a long time, work on building trust first and wait until you have a loyal following to make that ask.

And for everyone else who’s fallen victim to the black hole of webinars and click funnels...burn your inbox. No, really.

Here are three key areas to investigate before handing your email or credit card over to an online coach, consultant, or guru:

  • What am I buying?
    Is this person selling me something tailored to my individual needs… or am I buying an expensive PDF and some pre-recorded videos? Or worse, a copy+paste job of someone else’s “fool-proof” work?

  • Is this person legit?
    Does this guru or expert have a LinkedIn profile? Are they recognized within their industry as a leader or authority? What does a quick Google search tell you about their expertise and reputation?

  • Does my network trust this brand?
    Do I know anyone else who follows this guru or business or social media? If so, well respected are those people?

Have you seen someone doing a particularly great or terrible job with click (sales) funnels? I’d love to check them out. Or, do you completely disagree? I want to hear from you too! Shoot me an email. rachel@catchfootandrun.

Until next time,


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