That’s the very first thing my coaching client said when we started talking about finding a niche for her mediation practice. She’s been volunteering with the court system, doing mailings and generally networking for a year with little success. She’s expended a lot of effort and is ‘tired of waiting’.
Another new coaching client recently said, ‘he needs to grab some low-hanging fruit to pay the bills’. If you feel like you’re in a similar situation, keep reading. We’re gonna talk about why mediators get stuck at the end of the rope and how to tie a knot to hold on a bit more.
Hang in there, baby!
It’s a very icky feeling when you’re the breadwinner and there isn’t a scrap of business on your calendar. I know. I’ve been there early in my practice. Here are a few ideas that can help you hold on and even succeed in generating cash.
Embrace Your Fear
Fear can be a useful tool to help you to focus on a goal and be disciplined in the pursuit of it, but not if you waste your energies on ‘what ifs’ and ‘I never should’ves.’ Instead, let your desire to succeed (which, for me, is the flip side of fear of failure) to move you into action.
Imagine how good it will feel when you get that check in your hand. My favorite is to see myself depositing the check at the bank. Then, figure out what you need to do to get a check in the next 30-90 days. The goal is the check, not necessarily the number on the check, because once you intend to get one check the laws of attraction will send you more checks. Start small. Make it your intention to attract a check from your mediation work
Start with Those You Know
Most mediators are keen to attract new business. Getting new business feels exciting and affirming, like being asked to dance at a party. Honestly, who doesn’t want to be chosen?
Yet, there’s a whole group of people who have already chosen you that often gets overlooked when trying to fill up a calendar–your past clients and contacts. Studies show it costs more to attract new clients than to court existing clients.
The world moves so fast and everyone is so busy it’s easy to forget that past clients already asked you to dance and they might be more than willing to ask you again. That is, if you remind them you’re around. Go back and call, yes call, everyone you’ve had contact with for the past 90 days to say hi.
Make yourself curious about what’s happening with them. It’s not about you or the waiting bills. Clients can smell fear just like dogs and kids can–and it isn’t helpful. It’s about renewing that connection so you can be of service. Ask what’s keeping them up at night and how you can help. You might not get something immediately, but you’ve put yourself top-of-mind. And, if you make these calls a regular strategy people will start to anticipate and welcome them.
Do Something Different
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, according to Einstein. He also wisely said that the level of thinking that created the problem can’t be the same level that solves it. You gotta step your game up. What does that mean?
Offer something else! Instead of offering to mediate, why not put a valuable information product to your niche.
Ebooks, Tele-seminars, Workshops, oh my!
During our call this morning my coaching client – let’s call her Sally – realized that after years in the field of family and marital communication, she could easily write down 12 issues that families/couples face and provide tips for each one in a few hours. It will end with a reminder that she has helped many couples/families find solutions to their issues. Once she completes the ebook she’ll offer it for sale at a small price point ($10-16).
The same ebook could become the basis for both a tele-seminar, which could reach people outside her geographic region; and a workshop she could present locally to different groups. She might charge a small registration fee, say $15. The goal of both programs is to increase her visibility, showcase her knowledge and make direct contact with folks who either can hire her or refer clients to her. Not to mention, sell the ebook after the talk. The real cash-generating value is to capture attendee contact information and permission to stay in touch with them.
Let’s look at the numbers
I’ll admit right off the bat the numbers aren’t large. Yet, if you’re accustomed to making $25 per mediation as some court-based mediators do, or nothing at all, then even $100 looks pretty good.
So if Sally sells a very conservative 4 ebooks a week from her website – that’s $172 a month and $2064 for the year. If she gives two workshops or tele-seminars a month that attract, again conservatively, 8 people, 3 of which buy the ebook she makes $150 per 60 minute session, which is $300 a month and $3600 a year. And, that doesn’t anticipate the one or two people who will want to work with Sally as a result of seeing her in action.
Just imagine what will happen when Sally adds two more ebooks and starts advertising her ebooks as a series for a bundled price of $25 on the web! Or how her business will grow when Sally joint-ventures with an organization to offer her tele-seminar to its members. As the Wayans brothers (Keenan and Damon) used to say, ‘Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money!
But that’s not mediating
True, it’s not sitting at the table. But it is income. The most successful mediators I know, including those mentioned in Jeff Krivis’ book, How to Make Money as a Mediator, understand that it takes a multi-pronged approach to marketing to be profitable in a mediation business. How can we authentically ask our clients to try new things and be flexible if we ourselves aren’t?
Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!