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Market Your Mediation Business

When you choose a niche for your mediation business, you choose a market, and that market becomes the community in which you practice. Your market/community may be special education, healthcare, human resources, assisted living, community mediation, or something else entirely. Your market also extends to your personal and professional contacts, especially attorneys who may secure your services and community organizations where you live and do business.

Whatever your market is, you must become involved in it as an active member of the community.

To know where to invest your promotional efforts, make a list of all the organizations and groups of people you can think of that comprise your market. Start with the following:

  • Attorneys

  • Bar associations

  • Colleagues

  • Community and religious organizations

  • Corporate counsel

  • Educational networks, especially those related to mediation

  • Friends and family members

  • Law firms

  • Trade organizations related to your area of expertise

Assuming that you focus on a specific niche market or industry, immerse yourself in that market by reading what your market reads and going where your market goes. In other words, read trade publications and attend relevant trade shows, conferences, and events. Immersing yourself in your market

  • Sensitizes you to common concerns and areas of dispute.

  • Brings you up to speed on essential terminology and concepts so that you can talk the talk.

  • Gives you an inside perspective on how people in the community think, what they feel, and how they interact with one another.

  • Provides valuable networking opportunities to connect with the movers and shakers in your market.

Tune in to the way community members talk, act, and dress, and do your best to fit in. Eventually, you want to stand out from the crowd, but do so by being better, not by breaking with tradition. Respect your market and its ways.

All the people you meet are potential clients, so keep track of them. Ask for business cards, and when you get back to your office, transfer the information on the cards to your database — typically a contact-management program such as Microsoft Outlook. But don’t stop there. Keep detailed notes about each contact, including the following:

  • Where and when you met

  • What you discussed

  • Where the person works and what she does

  • Personal information, including marital status and children

  • Whether the person has used your services

  • Which marketing materials you’ve sent to the person and by what means

  • Whether the person has referred business to you

  • How the person found out about you, if she’s seeking your services

Always ask new and returning clients who referred them to you or what brought you to mind when they needed a mediator. Write their responses in a notebook you carry with you for that purpose and then transfer them to your contact-management program when you return to your office.

Nobody likes to be sold, so avoid any hard-sell tactics or obvious business solicitations. Instead of selling yourself or your services, a better approach is to sell the mediation process. Talk it up as an attractive alternative to litigation and other less productive forms of “resolution,” including breaking off relationships, resorting to online complaint boards, or keying someone’s car.

Discuss what you do and how you do it. Assuming you’re a skilled and experienced mediator, as you discuss mediation, you accomplish two very important marketing goals:

  • You sell the mediation process.

  • You establish yourself as a credible authority, so if the person needs your services now or in the future, your name and face will take center stage.

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