Research Paper By Dawn Waldron
(Professional Coach, United Kingdom)
This paper presents a coaching-centred model for finding a business niche with the aim of helping coaches and complementary therapists identify the market segment that they are best suited to serve. The author discusses classic niche marketing techniques and adapts the theory to provide a new model for identifying clients that takes into account the values and life experience of the coach as well as commercial considerations in order to target a group that is willing and able to buy the service presented.
The biggest challenge facing the qualified coach is finding a supply of regular clients. With the majority of coaches having less than 10 active clients, and most of these reporting 5 or less (ICF, 2008) the ability to earn a living from coaching is debatable. It is widely accepted that coaches are more successful when they establish a niche for themselves but the evidence shows that few coaches exploit the potential of this idea.
Over half of qualified coaches have obtained an advanced degree, and two-thirds place great emphasis on professional development but relatively few come from an established marketing background (ICF, 2008). Such emphasis is placed on authenticity and integrity that commercial sales and marketing models have little appeal. A model is needed that sits happily within the caring culture of coaching.
This paper presents a new marketing model which combines business analysis with a coaching approach to help small businesses identify a market niche that makes economic and emotional sense, allowing them to measure success by evaluating profit and purpose at the same time, without sacrificing one for the other. It is a useful model for coaches and for their business clients.
Fig 1: Number of active coaching clients per coach (ICF, 2008)