Viewpoint: accounting for taste

Camilla Arnold

Are you a Marmite or a Martini coach? Classic TV advertising can help clients find their perfect match

The power of a great advertisement is that it stays with you and becomes synonymous with the brand itself. There are two adverts – one old and one more recent – that seem particularly apt to me in the context of the current coaching market.
In the 1980s, Martini had the advertising strapline, “Any time, any place, anywhere” – the drink that could be enjoyed by anyone in any situation. More recently, Marmite took a diametrically opposed position and launched a campaign with the strapline, “Love it or
hate it.”
Acknowledging that the taste of the product has always divided opinion, they decided to turn it into an advantage. In other words, they had some fun with it, instead of trying to persuade the doubters.
As an executive coaching and development consultancy, TXG has assessed more than 3,000 coaches globally over the past decade.
We look for experience, expertise, confidence, professionalism and, above all, an innate knowledge of where each coach is at their best. Our experience is that this comes after several years of coaching, reflection, learning and self-development.
So often, we meet coaches who fall into the ‘Martini’ category when discussing their areas of expertise: “I just like working with people and can coach anyone, any place, any time”.
This comment is almost impossible for us to ‘buy’ – such coaches end up sounding, at best generic, at worst flaky. We understand their desire not to rule themselves out of possible work, but it makes matching the right coach to the client assignment much more challenging.
Over the past five years, we have started to see more coaches responding to the needs of the market, and to our requests for clarity – becoming more ‘Marmite’.
‘Marmite’ coaches truly know themselves and their strengths, and market themselves accordingly. This helps us see when they are the right match for an assignment.
The feedback from our clients is that it is much easier to make a decision at the chemistry meeting stage as to who will be the right fit.
If you feel that you know your specialist areas and preferences, make a list of them and then imagine a room of 100 coaches. If I were to read that list to the room, how many coaches would put up their hand and say, “I do that, too”?
If, in your mind’s eye, you can see more than 50 per cent of the room with their hands up, you are headed towards ‘Martini’; if less, then you’re becoming more ‘Marmite’.
Many coaches are naturally adept at working with a wide range of individuals and different areas for development. With an increasing number of excellent coaches in the market, knowing your areas of differentiation and being truly and uniquely yourself is so much easier to buy into and match to a specific piece of work.
This doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to only one or two areas, or never develop new areas of interest, but I encourage you to be specific about who you are, what you bring, for whom and in what circumstances, in order to deliver truly extraordinary results.
Meeting a coach who is assured and confident of themselves and the value they bring, while keeping a handle on their ego, is a joy. It makes them so much easier to work with.

Camilla Arnold is global head of coaching for TXG, a global executive coaching anddevelopment consultancy

Volume 7, issue 4