The Ultimate Guide to Establishing Your Baseball or Softball Coaching Brand | Level-up Fast
January 09, 2024
50 min read
In an ideal world, every budding baseball or softball coach would spend some serious time working on defining and establishing their brand before even considering the creation of an Instagram account or any other social media presence.
We don’t live in that perfect world, of course, and most of you likely already had your social media accounts up and running for months to years.
Luckily, brands can be dynamic – especially if they are not yet well-known on a national scale – and everything we outline below is still 100% recommended to do.
In fact, the number one advantage of solopreneur and other small business brands is that they are more agile and dynamic than large corporations who are much slower to experiment, test, and innovate.
And with 1/100th of the R & D and marketing budgets that well-established brands enjoy, single person or smaller baseball or softball operations must use agility to their advantage as much as possible.
This is a long way of reiterating that if you have already been on social media a while and have some sort of brand established already, you will still absolutely want to go through everything in this ultimate guide to make your brand that much stronger.
We would even venture to say that regardless of whether you’re new or not, these learnings and exercises are the foundational groundwork upon which everything else you do or say both online and in-person is built – when you’re acting as a personal brand or a coaching business, of course.
You are first creating and then tuning your brand’s compass so that it can guide you true north for years to come. But, like all things, you get what you put into it.
Okay, but what exactly do we mean by brand, you might be asking?
As you’ve decided to become a part of the entrepreneurial world, you might have heard such phrases as growing your brand, branding strategy, or brand marketing.
In simple terms, your “brand” is equal to your digital personality. We’ll expand upon that below.
Living in an era where online social media platforms are dominating, online presence is becoming one of the primary ways for businesses to connect with audiences, showcase their identities, and drive sales.
To carve out a place in the baseball or softball industry today, you need to confidently define your brand, and then live up to it.
So, let’s dive in headfirst.
#The Definition of Baseball or Softball Coaching Brand
Having a “brand” in marketing isn't about the business name you’ve chosen for yourself or a nicely designed logo.
Your personal brand is how you present yourself to the public, your conduct, and your brand story – the compelling narrative that tells how you’ve overcome adversity and strived to become who you are today.
Branding can take many forms. One of which is this brand story or statement.
📖 Brand Story Example:
Baseball has always been an essential part of my life. Sharing my passion with young ballplayers and seeing them develop in both their skills and confidence is what keeps me going.
Having a consistent net positive effect on the journeys my guys have in the game is not easy. I know that I am competing with a constant influx of modern-day distractions and even misinformation from select others inside the sport.
But we, as athletes, live for competition. I earn my player’s attention every day with the tools of the trade: personal experience, genuineness, empathy, a well-cultivated growth mindset.
I strive to be both a guide and a model for what grit and dedication can achieve.
Brand experts, the kind who get paid small fortunes by big corporations and fully- funded startups, often look to screenwriting manuals as much or more than they do marketing books.
They will tell you that a powerful brand narrative should hit many of the same beats that a great screenplay does.
These screenplay beats, very generalized, are:
The introduction of the character, their goals, and their unique world
The introduction of a clear problem or antagonist that is misaligned to the character’s goals
A resolution, wherein the character overcomes the problem or antagonist for the greater good of their unique goals and world.
In the example above of a personal coaching brand statement, can you see this screenplay play out?
The first sentence, “Baseball has always been an essential part of my life.” establishes history and context, but also jumps the reader into filling in a lot of gaps and going right into the next statement, “Sharing my passion with young ballplayers and seeing them develop in both their skills and confidence is what keeps me going.,” which further develops the voice and goals of the brand as a “protagonist.”
The next two sentences, “Having a consistent net positive effect on the journeys my guys have in the game is not easy. I know that I am competing with a constant influx of modern-day distractions and even misinformation from select others inside the sport.” introduce and identify a problem in modern society and within the game itself.
These things are the “antagonist” to the goals our brand hero had previously established.
The last two sentences, “I earn my player’s attention every day with the tools of the trade: personal experience, genuineness, empathy, a well-cultivated growth mindset. I strive to be both a guide and a model for what grit and dedication can achieve.,” are the resolution and show how our brand/protagonist addresses and seeks to conquer the antagonist for the good of his clients and customers, who are, of course, the audience of any screenplay or brand’s messaging.
As you see, brand and branding is not only the purview of large corporations.
The exact same principles can and should be applied to your personal brand.
In today’s terms, those who have succeeded in building a personal digital brand are often called social media influencers.
📚 Definition: A social media influencer is a user who has established credibility in a specific industry; they have access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.
Which is precisely what having a brand allows you to do.
Quick Side Note:
The word “influencer” has a bad rap these days. It can conjure in some people’s minds an image of someone vapid and superficial with little to nothing to contribute to society.
Because of this, some professional marketers have switched to using a “person of influence” instead.
I’m sure you can think of some well-respected people of influence in baseball or softball.
People like Tom House, Natasha Watley, Steve Springer, Jessica Mendoza, Matt Lisle, Amanda Scarborough, Casey Smith, and the list goes on and on.
This is what we mean when we say “social media influencer” or “person of influence” in the context of our industries. People who have built amazing brands through hard work, consistency, and tirelessly educating and helping others at scale.
Okay, now that that’s been addressed. Let’s continue.
#First impressions and the jobs-to-be-done framework for coaches
Each time a potential customer comes across your brand on Instagram or elsewhere, you have entered a metaphorical job interview, and you and your brand are in the hot seat.
This concept is a small part of what’s known by marketers as the “Jobs-to-be-done framework.” We mention it, just in case you want to dive deeper into it on your own, but what it’s called is not really important here.
Think about actual job interviews:
Depending on the field you plan on working in, would you benefit from appearing more serious? Creative? Perhaps it’s a hands-on job, and you are expected to show off your skills on the spot?
Whatever the case may be, that first impression is what will determine whether or not you get the job (i.e. get their business).
That's what a designed brand sets out to do. It tells people whether or not they should give you a chance and invest in what you have to offer.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what establishing a brand can do for you, coach.
Wanna grow your baseball or softball coaching brand?
Get connected to new local and online lesson clients—along with all the tools you need to scale.
#In What Ways Does Establishing Your Baseball or Softball Brand Benefit you as a Coach?
Good branding can do a heck of a lot for you and your business. But, before listing out the benefits, let's lay out a few of the realities you'll be up against.
Each year, more and more pro athletes and coaches finish up their contracts, and more and more college athletes graduate.
Many of them will consider leveraging their personal brand into a business.
And they will be vying for the same pie of private instruction clients, clinic attendees, or affiliate sales as you.
When more and more freelancers are entering the same job market, they are determined to distinguish themselves from the rest, and the competition keeps getting increasingly fierce.
And nothing creates distinction like brand.
On top of this competition, marketing itself isn’t the same as it was just a few years ago.
Professional marketers even consider branded content on social media to be considerably more effective than old-fashioned advertising methods such as magazines, radio, or TV.
This is good news because old media is ridiculously priced and notoriously difficult to measure.
Nowadays, consumers do not simply buy from or use the services of a company without reason, and according to research, 84% of millennials trust neither traditional advertisements nor the large brands that create them.
Instead, they crave personal and more authentic-feeling interactions with individual creators like many of you or the types of brands who make it explicit that they are made up of real people willing to educate, listen, and respond to their audience.
This is an opportunity.
The majority of parents who will purchase your lessons and products for their young ballplayers fall into this millennial demographic – so it’s worth taking note of these realities.
It’s also likely that Generation Z, born roughly between 1995 to 2012 – who currently make up most of your potential lesson clients – will continue this growing trend of brand mistrust.
To illustrate this point, let’s picture a common scenario outside of the game.
You know that coffee shop in your neighborhood that has good coffee, but maybe not quite as good as the one a few blocks away.
But, year after year, you stay loyal to the first shop simply because you find the employees, owner, and overall environment so friendly, making you feel at ease?
That’s because, in essence, we like to connect with people, things whose attributes match (or we think match) our own.
That is how your online image – or should I say reputation – inspires people to associate you with the qualities and lifestyle that they strive to manifest in their own lives.
When talking about the importance of brand, other benefits come to mind:
Long-term plans: Your brand will stay with you as you evolve, as you get into more projects and decide to expand your business
Authority: With a recognizable brand, over time, as you gain larger audiences, you will be seen as an authority figure in your industry; one who fellow experts will know and want to get in touch with
Partnerships: When it’s clear to people what you do, what you stand for, and how you operate, it is easier for other entrepreneurs to think about collaborating with you when your values match
All of your future marketing strategies will be linked to your designed social identity.
Therefore, actively building up and developing your brand is fundamental for ensuring your success.
#How To Create A Successful Coaching Brand in the Baseball or Softball Industry
Okay, we’ve beaten you over the head with its importance, but how do you go about defining and establishing a brand?
One of the most common mistakes newcomers make to branding and marketing is trying to appeal to everyone.
The maxim inked into a thousand business books is true:
If you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one.
In both the baseball and softball communities, coaches, solopreneurs, and businesses often take their target audience as a given, which is a big mistake.
Maybe you’re a baseball hitting coach wanting to grow your in-person and online lesson clients, who thinks: “My target audience is people who want to get better at hitting a baseball, duh.”
Firstly, we don’t appreciate the attitude. Secondly, according to the most recent data available from Statista, the number of people playing baseball aged six years and older is approximately 15.64 million.
Given how hard it is to hit a baseball, we’d say that the vast majority of these people would qualify under your current definition of a target audience.
You might see this massive number as an opportunity.
Many a naive entrepreneur has pitched investors with something along the lines of “We just need to capture 1% of this huge market, and we’ll be printing money.”
Well, 1% of total baseball players is 156,400 people.
It’s physically impossible to give hitting lessons to this many people as a single coach, unless you can also clone yourself a few hundred times – in which case, you should just focus on that.
But this isn’t the only problem with that kind of thinking.
For most hitting instructors, a consistent 60 clients singing your praises in the ballfields and post-game pizza parlors of America is something to aspire to.
For those keeping count, 60 baseball hitting clients who love you and your teaching style is 0.038363171355499% of that 156,400 people, which itself, remember, was 1% of the total baseball player market.
Smart coaches spend their time cultivating a small group of people who similarly believe in them and will actively support their mission.
We call that small group a target audience.
Read on to find out exactly how to arrive at this group. And, we promise, no more math.
Referring to the previous point, how financially independent your audience is can influence how they spend (and how much).
Moreover, having an approximate idea of how much clients or customers are earning and willing to spend is significant to how you set up your pricing.
If you’re already offering services or selling products, what types of jobs do your patrons have?
Even though taking inventory of current clients’ financial strata can help you know what you’re attracting right now, they may not be representative of the target audience you wish to go after in the future.
🚨 Important Note: All this money talk feels awkward to most former players and current coaches. And we get that. But, whether you like it or not, everything you and your brand puts out will send a signal to potential clients and customers that will either elicit a “This is for me” or a “This isn’t for me” response.
If you or your brand are more blue-collar, then lean into this and the values associated with it. If you want an affluent clientele, then everywhere you and your brand appear needs to express that what you offer is for explicitly meant them.
What solution do you have to offer to your consumers that will solve their problems?
What particularity do you have that gives you an upper hand or sets you apart in the industry?
Basically, how are you uniquely poised to solve a specific problem?
Is it because you once had the same problem, or have you solved the same problem for many people before or both? Many will think about this “Solutions” category exclusively as the type of product or service they’re offering.
In these questions, we don’t only mean things like: a physical product of wearable tech or a new hitting or pitching training aid, your travel team, organization, or recruiting consultant service, or even your online video courses, private remote or in-person lessons, or those nationwide clinics you’re rolling out.
We mean, what “job” is the customer or client “hiring” your product or service to do for them, and why should they choose you?
Basically, how does your solution solve their pain point?
This is what you first need to figure out and then communicate your answers vigorously and consistently to all future clients and customers.
You must always consider your target audience’s interests and values, but there’s another way for you to identify and categorize them, and it is by understanding thefour main personality types.
These four types can be summarized as follows:
Amiable: Friendly, these types value personal relationships and want to trust the businesses they decide to engage with.
Drivers: Competitive, independent, and goal-oriented is how you would describe this type. This type is sometimes called “drivers.”
Expressive: Similar to Amiable types, they also place a great deal of importance on relationships but are a bit more focused on the well-being of the people involved (how you treat your employees, your former teammates, and current customers).
Analytic: No-nonsense people who go after the data, the facts, and the technicalities of subjects.
Think about which personality type or types are most represented in your target audience and do what you can to communicate your brand and its offerings accordingly.
Anti-Persona's are the opposite of what we've been talking about so far.
These are the people you do not want to be targeting, your “not ideal” customer.
To figure out what their profile is like, brainstorm with the question “what type of person would not be a good match for my brand or services.”
This exercise is something all high-level marketers and brand experts employ.
It can help start by listing the photo negative opposites of your answers for all of the previous target audience questions above.
But the secret to branding and positioning is not to stop here.
To gain dynamic energy and social power in any industry, you need to be as clear about what you are against as what you are for.
🧢 Pro Tip: It’s best practice to never be against specific people, but, instead, position yourself or your brand against a common practice, training method, or what you see as a wrong way of thinking.
We practice what we preach here at SeamsUp.
Even though baseball and softball coaches can list and be connected with fully vetted in-person lesson clients within our marketplace, what sets us most far apart is our done-for-you system for managing and scaling your coaching business on autopilot, while offering your clients any online private lesson variety imaginable.
We saw how coaches were doing remote lessons before we came along and thought it was categorically wrong, so we created a solution that’s 100% free to use for all coaches.In order to give you a real-world anti-persona example from our space, here’s how we wrote about exactly what we are against:
Creating an anti-persona helps you establish yourself in any market by clearly stating upfront to prospects what you are good at and can help with and what you either can’t or don’t want to.
Setting such expectations from the get-go increases the trust people have for your business and makes them feel like a part of your specific tribe – as opposed to the tribe that your anti-persona occupies.
Don't forget to do some research on your competitors and colleagues as well.
Observe their most popular content and try to analyze their target audience. This will give you insight into how you can improve yourself and your business to differentiate your value proposition.
One of the most popular frameworks for competitor analysis is called SWOT.
📚 Definition: SWOT is an acronym that entails looking at and analyzing your competitor's: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
To get started, ask yourself:
What is your competitor crushing right now?
Some areas to look at are their product, strategic partnerships, social media content, and influencer marketing.
What area is your competitor the weakest?
For example, they are great on social media with content and influencer affiliates talking about their offering, but their actual online educational video course or hitting gadget is not high quality.
Or, maybe, they simply don’t know how to monetize their wonderful social following through things like remote lessons.
What do you or your brand have to differentiate itself from, and gain an advantage over, your competitor?
Are there any opportunities you can find in the market that your competition has yet to capitalize on?
What’s the biggest threat your competitor poses and why?
Once you have gone through and answered all the brand questions to the exercises above, you will already be miles ahead of most who ignore such target audience analysis in the baseball and softball space.
#What Are You Ultimately Trying to Achieve with Your Personal Brand, Coach?
After getting deep into the nuances of figuring out your target audience, it’s helpful to take a step back and reconsider the big picture.
What do you want to be known for once you've reached a certain level of recognition?
What’s your truest passion?
If you had to choose that one thing to be the expert on, what would it be?
And, finally, to drill down a bit more, are you trying to increase your profile in the industry to land a collegiate or MiLB role?
Or, are you looking to make a living with your online and in-person services and products?
Both are noble and, of course, worthwhile goals, but you should be as singularly focused on a single mission as possible.
#How Can You Deliver Your Baseball or Softball Brand’s Message?
Okay, so you’ve got your brand questions answered – now it’s time to think about delivery and execution.
This is probably one of the trickiest things to figure out as a solo entrepreneur.
Having a clear relationship with yourself will ultimately make it easier for you to have a relationship with your community through your brand.
People will find it easier to understand what values you are reflecting to them.
64% of people cite shared values as the main reason they have a relationship with a brand.
What are the key values you associate yourself with?
What specifically do you stand for or against?
Consistently standing against a certain way of thinking or coaching is, again, a surefire way of differentiating yourself from all of the other people in our space.
Boldness goes a long way in crafting a memorable brand.
The ultimate aim here is to figure out what makes you who you are and what message you want to consistently be sending out to your audience.
Can you think of one slogan you have, a phrase you always find yourself saying on repeat – ideally one that pushes you to keep going when you feel down?
This phrase or slogan is a wonderful jumping off point for your brand and its unique voice.
Your goal will be to make a promise to yourself and to your community that you will be who you say you are, and to uphold yourself to that promise by remaining consistent despite the temptation to adapt to new ways of being that may emerge as popular or trendy as time goes on.
Because even if people do not have the same values as you do, they will still be able to acknowledge and often respect your proclaimed identity.
Recognize your trials and accomplishments, be proud of what you were able to overcome by using that as your strength.
The value that led you to being the person you are today, the integral parts of your character, that quality is the one that will have the most powerful impact when presented to the world.
It may seem like we’re asking a barrage of questions here.
That’s because we are.
These questions are exactly what brand strategies ask the biggest corporations in the world to answer before they consider a full rebrand and sometimes before each new marketing campaign.
So, take some serious time to consider answers to all the questions above.
What topics or themes might my audience want from me?
Technical swing, pitch, etc. breakdowns and explanations
Drill introductions and explanations
Client success stories
Interviews with well-known coaches or players
College recruiting insights
Pro scouting insights
Baseball/softball humor and memes
Personal playing or coaching anecdotes
History of the game info
Sports performance/fitness techniques and programs
Sports science studies made simple
Event info (clinics, camps, tournaments)
Curation of popular baseball/softball posts
Info on particular products and equipment
I know that the three bullet-pointed lists above are super overwhelming.
You may be asking:
Where do I even start?
How do I know I’m creating the right type of content that’s resonating with my audience?
How do I choose which of these channels, content types, and topics to focus my time and energy on?
And just like that, we have crossed an invisible threshold from pure branding into the challenging world of what experts call “content marketing.”
In order to get your bearings in this new realm and, more importantly, get the most effective content marketing blueprint for baseball and softball coaches to follow, check out this portion of our free Coaching Upgrade Program.
And remember to take all the exercise answers you’ve collected around brand and use them to inform each and every strategy and tactic that you and your coaching business make moving forward.
Wanna grow your baseball or softball coaching brand?
Get connected to new local and online lesson clients—along with all the tools you need to scale.