Author’s note: This is a personal opinion piece, and since it’s written during the festive seasons (Chinese New Year), don’t take it too seriously, ok? Having said that, this is still a serious issues we’re talking about.

Yesterday one of my friend, Alex, who knew that over the past decade I’ve marketed and worked with international and local trainers, speakers and coaches, and being one himself, he asked:

“What is the biggest problem with local trainers and coaches?”

I thought for a while, careful with my words, and I said,


Now, I’m no branding expert. Frankly, branding is a term so loosely used and poorly defined, that most people don’t even know what it is. Heck, even I don’t have a correct answer for the definition, but I know when a product or service lacks of it.

Let me put out a few points why I say branding is their biggest problem:

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  1. Website

Most trainers I know don’t have a website. Now, it may not be uber necessary, but imagine your prospective clients Googling and can’t find anything about you. Some had websites but it’s so poorly maintain or not mobile responsive (seen websites that you need to scroll side to side?). Talking about poorly maintained, I’ve seen one that pointed to a viagra site. #ouch

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  1. Email

Some trainers still operate with a free Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail or Yahoo account. Frankly, getting a domain is less than RM70 (USD15) a year, and imagine your prospects getting your name card with a free email address. It kinda shows that the trainer don’t even bother to invest RM70 a year (that’s RM0.20/day) to get a proper email address. Would he/she be the right person they invest their training dollars with?

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  1. Web Presence

A quick Google of their name, and usually, their Facebook comes up. No published works (not online anyway), no website, and the Facebook may not have professional social updates even. Bikini pictures and videos of cat playing piano?

  1. LinkedIn Presence

It’s funny how some trainers who choose to spend more time on Facebook than LinkedIn, which is supposed to be their professional social front. In absence of a website, LinkedIn is the next best thing. Lots of HR professionals are on LinkedIn too, to scout for talent, and most of there HR managers are usually in charge of training as well. #gofigure

  1. Content

Poor quality blogs, articles, videos. Most don’t even have one. Not having a website is ok, because there are blogging platforms like LinkedIn (Pulse), Medium, Blogspot etc to leverage from. And best part, most of them are free.

  1. Book(s)

Ok, having a book is not a must have, but it’s a nice to have. It shows credibility, estalishes authority and projects reputation. Sadly, most local trainers, coaches, speakers and consultants usually produce books that are poor in quality. Check out these 11 check list to make sure you hit one or two, and if you don’t, that’s probably why the oversea authors and trainers are doing 100x better. At least.

Sure, there are many trainers, speakers and coaches who got by without having all those above. Some would argue that as long as they deliver good value for the clients, that’s most important. That’s funny, because as a marketer, I would need to put the trainer through the door before the contract is signed and the trainer gets to be in front of the participants. And having all the above would really help in their chances. Marketers are simple creatures too: we will pick those are are easy to sell. Having the items above would make things easy.

Also, those who got by without, do remember that a newer, more tech-savvy generation of clients are entering the workforce. Sure, they may still ask for three quotations before picking a service provider, but I can pretty much guarantee they will Google your name before that, because frankly, they want to do a good job, and due diligence will make sure they don’t get shot down by the management later.

Having a good online presence is not expensive. As a matter of fact, to solve issue number 2, I wrote this little cheap ass guide to help. LinkedIn can be a good “website” for now, and your articles can be listed there.

Once you’ve pool up enough money, get a proper developer to build your website. Sure, with a WordPress Template, you can do it too, but frankly, are you a trainer or web developer? You don’t see the chicken rice uncle trying to be like the aunty next door who sells noodle soup, right? Stick to your craft, where you can generate the most income, and let a professional do their job.

I’m pretty sure you don’t want the web developer to do your training, right?

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Luckily I can be open with Alex because we are good friends, and he is brand conscious. Sure, he doesn’t have all of it covered, but he’s definitely moving forward with the right priorities he placed in branding and marketing. It’s no magic why his fees are almost 10 times more than some trainers, for the same type of contents, for the same market.

After he left, I spoke to my girl friend, Debbie, about the question, and I realised I have another thing to bring up to.


It’s surprising for professional trainers, speakers and coaches – advocates of personal and professional growth – are sometimes those who practice the least. Sure, they can impress you with the books they bought at the annual Big Bad Wolf Sale, that if lucky, got read. But ask them what they learned from the book and how they applied it, and you will truly know if the book is read or not. I’ve known clients who read more than trainers, and sometimes putting the latter in their place. So much for subject matter experts, huh?

One thing I learned from the truly great trainers here (yes, they do exist), along with growth, they have equal emphasis in self-reflection. John Maxwell once told me that,

Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is.

Most of the great ones, they are humble too, for they are aware that for every step forward they take, there are many steps yet to be taken. For every new knowledge consumed, there are new discoveries on the horizon.

So Mav, if I’m a trainer/coach, how to do spot the great ones? Easy. Check your Facebook. They are the ones who are always sharing posts that add value, remove themselves from the equations, ask thought provoking questions, and their number of posts? Far in between.

Business Development Strategist, Email Wizard, Content Magician and a Productivity Optimizer (codename: lazyass+cheapass), Maverick produces content for a living. With over 93% of his business starting from a simple (and often cold) email, Maverick consults SMEs, MNCs and startups on how to leverage on technology and creative story-telling to supercharge sales and rev-up customer engagement. When he's not working to put food on the table (and Lego in his son's collection), Mav loves to cafe-hop around the region with his partner-in-crime, Debbie.

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