What is the future for the coaching industry?
The coaching market is changing and it’s changing rapidly. There are a number of powerful trends sweeping through the market, and every coach should be aware of them. These are the Seven Coaching MegaTrends, and they are set to change the coaching market forever.
They will affect your coaching practice, the way you reach your clients, how you interact with them, what you offer and ultimately whether you will continue to get coaching business. You’d best be aware of them – so read on to discover what they are.
Coaching MegaTrend 1: Increased Supply of Coaches
We are seeing a vast increase in the number of coaches qualifying from the rapidly-growing numbers of coach training establishments. And the number of coaches qualifying each year is accelerating. Recent estimates indicate that there are now between 30,000 to 50,000 active coaches worldwide.
As well as far more choice of coach training, there are far more good books, seminars and other support materials both on coaching and on managing your coaching practice.
This means far more competition for both newly qualified and established coaches alike, and these coaches are learning both coaching skills and practice management skills at a rapid rate.
Coaching MegaTrend 2: Increased Demand for Coaching
Marketers distinguish between four different stages of a market: Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. We see the coaching market as a whole as still being in its Growth stage, where the expansion of coaching significantly exceeds the growth of the economies in which it operates.
The characteristics of the Growth Stage of a market are increasing customer interest, with rapidly increasing sales and the equally rapid emergence of more coaches as competitors.
So there is an increased demand for coaching – but at the same time the coaching market is expanding, the competition from other coaches is also increasing significantly.In this stage, to attract new clients, the marketing activities of coaches become more and more important. On the plus side, several clients typically engage in repeat purchase behaviour patterns.
Coaching MegaTrend 3: Increasing Maturity in the Coaching Market
The Wild West days of coaching are over. A significant percentage of coaches have now been coaching for more than five years, many for ten – and they have a maturity of approach & experience.
There is an associated increasing maturity in the coaching market itself, with clients having an increasing awareness about coaching and its benefits. Purchasers of coaching services have changed from Innovators in the early days of coaching through Early Adopters, and now firmly into the Early Majority.
What this means is that there is a much bigger market out there – 34% of any market are seen as Early Majority, with innovators making up 2.5% and early adopters 13.5%.
The Early Majority are more cautious purchasers and need more reasons to buy. They are deliberate, not impulsive decision-makers. They have many informal social contacts that they rely on to know whether they should decide to do something. They adopt innovations – like coaching – just before the average member of the market. They seldom lead, are not the first, and not the last to do something.
This means that we need to take a different approach to presenting and marketing coaching services to the Early Majority.
Coaching MegaTrend 4: Niches & Differentiation
The need to differentiate oneself from the ocean of other competing coaches is more vital than ever. As competition in the generic life coaching market intensifies, more coaches will need to specialise to differentiate themselves.
There is more and more focus on niches – weight-loss coaching, presentation skills coaching, marketing coaching, career coaching, coaching for lawyers, dentists, executive coaching, relationship coaching…
Yes, these options have been available via life coaches for a while, but niche coaches focus on one specialisation, and therefore bring more experience and knowledge of what’s required in that niche to their clients.
The coaching market is already showing signs of fragmenting, with specialist coaching sub-markets continuing to develop rapidly. These coaching niches are growing faster than the rest of the market, with executive coaching, relationship coaching, career coaching and weight loss coaching growing particularly rapidly.
This is good news for coaches who can exploit these profitable niches, and is bad news for the undifferentiated life coach.
Coaching MegaTrend 5: Coaching Products
Coaches are increasingly using online products – both their own products and those of others – to achieve different marketing objectives. These products can be ebooks, articles, short courses delivered by autoresponders, teleclasses, downloadable mp3s, CDs, home study courses and combinations of the above.
Some coaches are using products to augment their coaching offerings, to appeal to different segments of their market. Others use them as a promotion device, to attract new prospects to their marketing funnel. Yet others are using products to leverage their time with clients – so that the client gets the maximum benefit while minimising costly 1:1 coaching time.
Coaches are finding that products can achieve multiple objectives – they can bring in revenue while building client loyalty and gently guiding prospects to the coach’s higher-value coaching services.
This means that with coaching products coaches can increase their revenue, leverage their time with clients, build their prospect list and increase their exposure in the market all at the same time.
Coaching MegaTrend 6: Coaching Programmes
We are seeing the growth of the specialist coach, who blends coaching with instruction and training, and sometimes adds consultancy. Coaching programmes have an overall aim, and a set duration and have specific content that is communicated in addition to the coaching.
They typically offer a programme – often between six and eight weeks – designed to build knowledge and skills in a particular area. Examples of this are CJ Hayden’s Get Clients Now! programme which typically blends training and coaching.
This trend is leading to the coaching market fragmenting somewhat – and becoming less homogeneous. It’s not enough to just be a coach, it’s what sort of coach are you, dealing with what sort of clients to achieve what?
Taken together with MegaTrend 4 – niches and differentiation and MegaTrend 3 – the increasing maturity of the coaching market, we are seeing coaches profiting from providing coaching programmes to specific market niches.
Coaching MegaTrend 7: Availability of Web-based Technologies
We are in the midst of an explosion in the availability of affordable, easy to use web-based technologies. And savvy coaches are beginning to realise what benefits this can have to their coaching practices.
A coach’s website is taken for granted these days, as is a their newsletter. If you look at several coaches’ websites you’ll see a remarkable consistency. They no longer differentiate. The area in which to compete has moved on.
Audio and even video are creeping into coaches’ websites. But the coaches who will succeed are those offering something that their market want – their content must be relevant and valuable to their target market.
Those coaches who utilise teleseminars, autoresponders and increasingly blogs that meet a client need will prosper. The next big technology trend is likely to be coaches’ podcasts. And the same dynamic will apply – the content must be relevant and valuable to the client.
We’re seeing far more use of internet automation – for keeping in touch with prospects via autoresponders and newsletters, online surveys, membership sites… …the list is long and growing.
The winners in the use of the web-based technologies will be those unafraid to experiment, who use technology for the benefits it can bring to them and their clients, rather than for its own sake.
Summary – The Coaching MegaTrends
So these are the Seven Coaching MegaTrends:
1. Increased Supply of Coaches
2. Increased Demand for Coaching
3. Increasing Maturity in the Coaching Market
4. Increased need for Niches & Differentiation
5. Growth in Coaching Products
6. Growth in Coaching Programmes
7. Growth in availability of Web-based Technologies
The Seven Coaching MegaTrends are affecting the coaching market now, and their power will increase over the coming months. You may already be seeing their effects.
The question is, what are you going to do about them?
Are you going to nod sagely, or take immediate action on them?
If you’re up for taking action, what are the three things that you can do this week to enable you to deal more effectively with these trends?