Home Marketing Trends The Marketing of Professional Coaching: An Eleven Year Perspective

The Marketing of Professional Coaching: An Eleven Year Perspective

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The Current Status

We would propose first of all that the field of coaching has now been firmly established and that it is no longer a matter of broad-based marketing cycles. Professional coaching is here to stay and the case no longer has to be made for this human service field in general. Rather, it has come down to the marketing of specific coaching services by specific coaches and coaching groups.  Much as in the case of many other human service fields, it is no longer a concern for most potential clients of whether or not coaching is credible and of some potential benefit – it is now the concern of potential clients to find the right, credible coach or coaching services to address specific personal and organizational challenges. It is now less about at what point coaching is in the marketing life-cycle than about determining the best marketing strategies specific coaches can use. In building the case for individual marketing strategies we will first offer several observations about the field (building on the astute analyses offered by Maher and Pomerantz) and then offer a series of recommendations based on these observations.

Coaching in Organizations

First, there has been considerable growth in the engagement of coaching services within organizations around the world. Coaching is now increasingly viewed as a perk rather than as a form of remediation. It is now a component of training and development programs, as well as an integral part of leadership development programs, in many organizations. Furthermore, coaching is now often considered one of several leadership styles (Goleman, 2000) that are of great value in contemporary (postmodern) organizations. Organizational managers, senior managers and executives are now not only benefiting from the services being offered by their own coach, but are also seeking to be more coach-like in their own engagement with other members of their organization. Thus, the coaches are often coaching leaders about how to be more coach-like themselves—it is about the coaching-of-coaching.  The coaching style of leadership is promoted as a preferred management practice throughout the organization. This style, in turn, requires the development and refinement of interpersonal (emotional and social) skills that are now recognized as important for an engaged workforce.  A coaching style of leadership also requires, ultimately, that a learning culture be established and sustained in the organization—the coaching style and its requisite coaching skills are intimately interwoven and reinforce one another (Evans, 2010; Jay, 2010; Rosinski, 2010). The enhancement of organizational performance that emanates from this style and culture are key factors in promoting the use of professional coaching services and aligning organizations with the assumptions and values that underlie these services.

Coaching as an “Established” Industry

As coaching has expanded across the globe, it has touched more organizations and players in a variety of ways. For example, the increased recognition of the value of coaching has increased the need for organizations to sort out who to use for their coaching interventions. This is reflected by the finding that 89% of clients said that the coach-specific training a coach possessed was “somewhat important” or “very important” during the coach selection process (ICF, 2009). HR professionals are getting savvy about what will serve their organization’s best interests. For example, some service providers are offering to be a point of contact, collaborator about coach selection and resource management, even coordinators about internal and external coach engagements (Colon-Mahoney & Burns, in press). Claims of success, client lists, and specific offers of service must be vetted. Credentials are more often felt to be important in making selection decisions. In a recent ICF survey, 84% of the consumers who experienced a coaching relationship reported that it was important for coaches to hold a credential (ICF, 2010), as is the training program that coaches have attended and completed. Coach training, once the exclusive purview of training programs, is now being delivered by business schools and executive education programs as well. With traditional educational institutions getting more involved in the coach training/education process, the number of coaching degrees granted has also increased.

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