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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Coaching and Learning

Depending on the country, industry and company size, coaching may be recognized as one of several kinds of legitimate learning and development interventions (like training, facilitation, job aids, etc.). People (such as organizational gate-keepers and decision makers) may have an understanding that coaching isn’t to fix people, that coaching might be considered a perk and best practice for executives and high potentials, that coaching is the preferred way or only one of several ways to manage and/or lead, that coaching is the preferred orientation of the company culture, etc. This suggests that practitioners need to know and understand who they are speaking to and what is already known or believed by a potential client organization. This also strongly suggests that part of our job is always educating (as well as educating ourselves about) our client or audience in addition to practicing our trade.

Coaching and Accountability

This also leads us to the questions about what does coaching “success” mean, according to whom (which stakeholder(s)), and as measured by what? Success means the customer has declared ‘satisfaction’ but based on what? We might move away from the point of view that ROI is the only or best (or even relevant) measure of success to inquiring for that answer from our clients and customers.
The issue of accounting for the effects of coaching (as distinguished from those of other solutions) is one common to any learning and development evaluation effort. Methodological questions and concerns abound and there isn’t consensus about only or best answers. Phillips, Phillips, Stone, & Burkett (2007) offer one approach as a set of principles that, when applied, enable one to make conservative, credible claims about what happened, whether it was effective/satisfactory, and to what it was attributable. There are others.
In the end, evaluation and accountability will pivot around which stakeholders’ views of success matter, what that means, and how you can go about demonstrating what happened, whether it was successful and worth the investment. How, if at all, do you address this issue in your marketing? How do you speak the client’s language and what’s most important and relevant to them?

Coaching and Business Development

As professional coaching has grown, so has the recognition that practitioners are often ill-equipped to be entrepreneurs running their coaching businesses. Multiple years of ICF surveys continue to show a high percentage of coaches who fail to make sufficient revenue to maintain independent practices. This has spawned an entire industry to provide knowledge and skills training and support for coaches’ business development, including vendors and consultants with tools and other services. More recently, this has had the explicit support of ICF.

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