If you like to Mediate, but hate to market, try these 10 easy tips.
1. Define your services
Determine if you call your services “Mediation”, “Dispute Resolution” or “Conflict Management”. The concept of Mediation is not always clear to the public.
People think Mediation is coercive or that Mediators are 3rd party decision makers. One client asked, “you’re not going to make me split the baby, are you? He was referring to ancient King Solomon who told 2 feuding mothers that he would cut the baby in half to settle their dispute. The public fears this “coercive-one loser” concept.
2. Build trust
Be sure to mention Confidentiality, Voluntary Participation, Controlled Procedures (fair and balanced), the Mediator is a 3rd Party Neutral, and Mutually Acceptable Agreements. Routinely talk about these principles of Mediation practice. Free talks on Mediation will educate the public and give you exposure as a peacemaker.
3. Offer value
The public thinks you must be expertise-based in Mediation. You have to sell your services, so if you have an area of expertise such as; sales, marketing, healthcare, real estate, social work, counseling or accounting, capitalize on it. You can sell your experience as a value to clients.
If you write a one page Marketing Plan, you will have a clear idea of who to target, your rationale, your budget, expenses, the cost of marketing and projected income. Contact potential clients in your area of focus. Attend their associations and participate in their events. Provide free Mediation information flyers and free coupons for ½ hour of consulting on disputes.
4. Use quality materials
Print professional looking brochures, cards, postcards and flyers. Design a theme and logo that portrays your expertise and purpose. Make your materials acceptable to target clients, not to necessarily to your tastes.
A friendly printer can print your materials reasonably in return for a preferred provider agreement. You can design and print quality documents using newer, inexpensive software on your computer. Use professional language and paper. The client will decide from your materials if you are the professional they want for their business concerns.
5. Make Lists
Purchase a book of lists to provide you with up-to-date names and addresses of the owners and managers of area businesses in your focus group. The business papers sell these lists on CD and even include software to produce customized form letters and labels for your marketing.
Make a list of customers and companies you are trying to contact. Share these lists with network friends. Ask them to help you fill in the contact names.
Mail informative brochures, flyers, and postcards listing your services that are pertinent to the target client’s needs. Follow up and persist. Call everyone on your contact list to ask if they got your information or have questions.
List yourself on a Mediation Panel in the local court system. You may donate a few hours a month, but then you get paid for additional hours. This is a good way to meet the people who choose Mediators for public and private clients.
6. Your Niche versus the Competitors
Talk to the local Mediators. Ask how they market and their target audience. You can position yourself if you know what other professionals are doing. Set up a referral system for certain types of cases. Look for collaborative ideas. Think about your experience compared to theirs to strategize your approach to clients. The community will benefit if you fit in with other services.
7. Ask for Referrals
To get referrals, give referrals! Ask for referrals from neighbors, friends, and club members. Don’t forget to tell your dentist, doctor, insurance agency, plumber, electrician, and painter what you do and what would be a good business lead. Never ask for referrals without asking what you can do for their business efforts and personal success. Recommend their services.
Offer educational information on how to use Mediation in printed and presentation formats. You may focus on schools, hospitals, real estate professionals, human resources, and other community groups. Ask them to recommend you to friends and clients.
8. Maximize Your Time at Network Events
Build trust in yourself. Smile and greet everyone within reach. You are there to sell yourself and your services, not to eat. Have your business cards in your right jacket pocket. Put the cards you collect into your left jacket pocket. This provides a nice filing system to avoid confusion.
LISTEN! Do not look over each person’s shoulder, looking for the next person you want to impress. Look at each card carefully and repeat the information while memorizing it. Look the person in the face and ask how they picked their logo or about their services. Ask how they got started and what you can do to help them with their business. They will want to return the favor.
Do not network at a funeral. No kidding! One man bragged that he did this. He was proud that he was so clever to see important people and get their cards. I wonder what they think of him??
Dress the part. Business-like appearance conveys that you intend to be business-like. Mediator’s who complain they don’t get business should be aware of dress, talk and walk.
Have a 30-second introduction statement. Say your name, your business name, your tag line and 2 sentences about why someone should choose you to help settle their dispute. Speak clearly and show that you really like the people.
Take brochures to the event. Pass them out at the table with your card. Email or send a postcard to each person after the event to say “nice to meet you” and some information of interest to them.
Make lunch or coffee appointments with several of those you would like to talk to. Get to know people through brief meetings to share common interests.
9. Write a Press Release
Write 3 short paragraphs on something unique about your business or something new. Give the newspaper a reason to print it to inform the readers. Email it to the editor of the business section. You may want to write an educational business article to go with the press release. Send this information to local papers. Call to follow up with the recipients.
10. What to do with Community Organizations
Offer free talks to explain how Mediation works. Join Chambers of Commerce and community service organizations. Lists of members will be yours! Work on projects for seniors, schools, children, or abused women. You can expand your contacts and build trust in you and your ability to carry out programs. Provide value to get business!
Attend charity events and contribute to the community. Do you know who is philanthropic in your community? You may sit next to the top leaders of major companies and organizations at an event. They can be good contacts or direct you to their staff members who choose Mediators for disputes. Join and get listed in political organizations. Be politically active. Meet the local candidates. Make yourself known as a vital community participant in our democratic process. Know the city officials. Find out if your community has a dispute resolution department. Talk to the fire department or the police department. They have internal disputes, too.
Final Hint -Use email, mail and phone with repeated contacts so people remember your name and your company services. It takes 4-7 reminders before you are a known commodity. Persistence pays off!