To quote Bill Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? Would not a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?” That’s quite a question, and one that mediators wrestle with when deciding what to name their practices.
I remember how much thought I put into naming my very first practice way back in the 90’s. I choose Odyssey Seminars for personal reasons. Newly divorced with two small kids, my life felt like I was on a journey through the unknown. What a name. It didn’t ‘t contain the word mediation. It wasn’t descriptive; yet, I loved it. And, it worked. Companies and non-profits hired me to do conflict workshops for them. I often wonder if not having mediation or conflict in the title actually was a benefit. Companies, and people, don’t like to think of themselves in conflict.
Later, the name became Strategic Conflict Management Associates because it sounded official. Also, because my services had expanded beyond training to include consulting and design work, which didn’t fit cleanly under the Odyssey banner. SCMA is a catchy name, so catchy there are at least two other groups with those initials. And, I couldn’t get the domain name (alas Southern California Mediation Association beat me to it) So I formed a corporation as a holding company and named it Kisima Enterprises, Inc.
Again, a personal choice. Kisima means a drinking well in Swahili. I liked the image of having my brands represent a place for people to gather around and be nourished. Both Mediation Mensch and ADRPracticebuilder.com, my mentoring program, are under the Kisima banner. It’s a mouthful but I won’t change it. What’s all that mean to you? You can do what you want in naming your practice. I certainly did and it hasn’t stopped me from marketing or attracting clients.
The Name Game
Although it seems fairly simple, many people struggle with what to name their mediation practice. In fact, ‘what name do I choose to market under’ isone of the top five questions from my mentoring program. There are three paths: your name or a company name or some combination of both. Let’s look at examples, then I’ll share some surprising advice I got from David Meerman Scott, a thought leadership guru and very cool guy.
A quick perusal of the Adult/Family mediator listing on Mediate.com reveals a pretty interesting trend in terms of naming. People are using a variety of naming techniques: Full name only, full name plus mediation services, company name plus mediation, or company name with no mention of mediation. Check out these examples :
What do you notice about these names? Names like New Prospects and Transformative Solutions stand out for me. They pique my curiosity and hint at what I might get as the consumer. But then I get stuck because I’m not sure how they would help me.
Taglines are very useful. A tagline helps the consumer quickly learn more about a business. Dana Greyson, a Washington, OR based mediator, named her website: ‘Xandparent.com ‘. That name certainly is intriguing but it’s her tagline that seals the deal: Helping exes get along for their kid’s sake. People who want help dealing with co-parenting know she can help them.
Up until now, I’ve not been a fan of using a personal name like Karen and Mike do. My objection is mainly a business reason. It would be difficult to sell either practice because they are so associated with that personal brand. Oh, I hear you exclaim: “Sell a mediation practice- unheard of!”. It shouldn’t be. All kinds of professionals- doctors, lawyers, accountants, vets- sell their practices. We should build ours so that remains an option. You may not want to, but isn’t it nice to know that you could realize those assets if you needed to someday?
Here’s the twist. David Meerman Scott takes a different view in the audio interview we did. For those of you who haven’t have a chance to listen yet, David thinks that mediation is such a personal business that using the name of the practitioner is necessary to build trust and a bond. That company names like Confidential Mediation Services imply a big, faceless company and are off-putting. He makes a good point.
Looking back I see I’ve tried to bridge between those two perspectives. I’ve use my personal name: Dina Beach Lynch professionally for years. (Recently I started giving my husband his respect by using my married name, Eisenberg) So, you’ll see both Dina Lynch Eisenberg and ADRPracticebuilder.com in the marketplace. I tie them together as best I can. That way, there’s still something to sell and people can connect with me on an individual level. My tagline is: helping mediators build profitable businesses. So far, so good.
If you have a name (and hopefully tagline) you’l like us to critique, feel free to leave it in the comments. I’m happy to help out. We’re all in this together.
PS I got an email from a reader this morning I want to share. Monica says,
Looking forward to the Community. I’m SOOooooo glad it’s at $19. Crazy thing, price point isn’t it? I was shying away if it was $27 a month. (I figured you’d appreciate the consumer’s mentality there.) You know how excited I get about talking with everyone. I admire your research/ decisions and I’m very happy I’m going to join!
I do appreciate her consumer honesty and all of you. That’s why the fee is so low, and if you join the early bird list, you’ll save the $27 joining fee, too. But hurry- early bird ends of 8/15. Sign up in the upper right hand box.
Howard Bellman describes mediation work using the analogy of a drummer in a rhythm section: both have structure, influence, judgement, and a stabilizing effect.By Howard Bellman