American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

What is a "target market"? In the context of building a health coaching practice, it is the demographics of the group—both businesses and individuals—you are “called” to serve. This is distinct from your “niche,” a term that is commonly and erroneously interchanged with “target market” in publications and discussions on the topic, but actually represents the services you specialize in delivering, as opposed to the market to which you will deliver them.  

Clearly identifying your target market helps you determine where to find potential clients. Remember, the only way to effectively reach new clients is to know who they are and where to reach them. If you start marketing your services without knowing the who and where of your target market, you’ll likely miss the mark. Knowing your market also allows you to take advantage of built-in networks of communication within those communities, while simultaneously letting them know that you’re dedicated to working with them.  

A common misstep when beginning a health coaching business is to look at all available opportunities and attempt to offer services to all types of businesses and clients. Unfortunately, when we focus on everything, we end up focusing on nothing in particular. Narrowing your focus as you get started will help you hone your skills, develop expertise and know where to show up to market what you have to offer. As your business grows, you can expand your target market or stay within your target market and offer new services. 

It’s important to highlight that having a narrow target market will not limit your opportunity for growth. On the contrary, it will best position you to grow in a natural and meaningful way in the future. 

The best way to identify your target market is to ask yourself the following questions, and to answer as truthfully as you possibly can: 

  • What are you most passionate about?
  • How can you make use of your natural talents?
  • How can you use your knowledge and interests to serve clients?
  • What types of people might use the services you provide? Which of these groups can you relate to best or would you be most excited to work with?
  • Do you know people in any of these categories? Do you already have clients in these groups?

You may also want to consider “out of the box” opportunities in your area, remembering that this is secondary to the questions listed above: 

  • Doctor’s offices and hospitals: While many health coaches are employed directly by individuals seeking to improve their health, many doctors’ offices and hospitals have begun hiring health coaches to help their patients implement the lifestyle and behavior changes they recommend. 
  • Insurance companies: These companies recognize that when people make better lifestyle choices, such as improving their eating patterns, becoming more physically active, and reducing or eliminating risky behaviors such as drinking and smoking, they will suffer from fewer health problems and recover more quickly (and at a lower cost) when health issues do arise. 
  • Workplace wellness programs: These are also on the rise, and for many of the same reasons outlined above. Healthy employees cost less to insure, take fewer sick days and are less likely to require disability leave.