If you don’t have much experience with MediatorSelect, we help mediators get selected by hiring parties through our one of a kind platform. You can learn more about what we do here!
Through working with mediators, we’ve realized that even those with the best conflict resolution skills are not always comfortable marketing their businesses. Because we’re dedicated to helping mediators succeed, we’ve created a series of articles to help you through each step of marketing and building your mediation practice.
This blog is a free supplement to the selection platform offered by MediatorSelect. We welcome you to add comments and to take part in a more detailed discussion below. We will do our best to answer all of your questions!
Now, let’s talk a little about the importance/foundation of marketing – what it is and what it isn’t.
First off, it’s the driver of your business. It’s how clients find you, decide if they trust you, and decide if you’re worth their time and money. And to make the most of it, you have to have a clear plan.
Unfortunately, marketing has gotten a bad reputation.
As soon as you see the word ‘marketing’, your mind is likely to wander to places of sleazy tactics and lies. This is NOT what marketing is about. In fact, good marketing is about being as honest as you can and highlighting the best aspects of your business in a convincing way. And the success of your marketing plan isn’t only measured in dollars, it can be measured by the value you have created for your clients (as they see it).
Having a bunch of frills isn’t necessary. Especially since you’re more likely to annoy clients with gimmicks than intrigue them. After all, people love (or in your case need) to buy, but they HATE to be sold.
At its very core, marketing is about eliciting some kind of action from your clients. Signing the contract may be your ultimate goal, but you may have smaller goals along the way. For instance, if you buy a pay per click ad (more on this in future articles) your first goal may be to get them to click through to your website.
So where do you start creating your plan? When starting a business, people often make the mistake of thinking they need to start with a gorgeous website, ads, social media posts, or some other content they put into the world.
It actually starts a few steps back with extensive research into your intended customer. Knowing what they want or need will help you speak directly to them when you get to the point of creating content. Even if you’ve owned your business for a while, it’s never too late to go back and make sure you’re doing this step well. Extra research can never hurt!
Your marketing efforts should always be client focused. It isn’t really about what you offer, it’s about what the client receives. This may seem like a distinction without a difference, but trust us, how you frame things makes a huge impact on how your content is perceived.
This research also helps you find out where your clients are so that you can create content for that location. Because unfortunately, having a website isn’t a ‘if you build it, they will come’ type of situation. To some extent, you will always have to reach beyond your website to find clients.
Another common mistake people make is assuming that marketing is something you do once and get it out of the way. In reality, it’s a never ending process. The circumstances of your business are bound to change, and it’s important that you’re ready to change with them.
Perhaps there will be a new market of clients that opens up to you and you’ll need to be prepared to change the way you operate to take advantage of it.
In the end, mastering the art of marketing – like mastering anything – takes a lot of hard work and commitment. But we’re confident that this blog can help you find your way.
There are plenty of blogs out there giving mediators advice about how to resolve different kind of disputes and develop their mediation skills – so, we’re taking a different approach. We want to help fill the gap between hiring parties and mediators by giving mediators the skills to find clients and communicate their value to them.
We have developed a rich content strategy, with articles focused on the business and marketing aspects of a mediation practice, rather than the techniques and skills required for mediation itself. Of course, we will touch on mediation skills where they apply to your overall business strategy.
At the end of the day, our articles:
Help mediators find great marketing tools and give advice on how to use them properly.
Reveal each step to building a profitable business, specifically tailored to the needs of mediators.
Show hiring parties the criteria that will help them find the best mediator.
The following image gives you a high-level scheme of the articles’ structure:
Articles will fall under the following four categories:
1. Mediator selection articles: these articles will explore the process of mediator selection and what clients are looking for. Although this set of articles was written primarily for hiring parties, it is also invaluable for mediators to gain a better understanding of what potential clients need from them, so they can develop a strategy to communicate their value.
2. Mediation training: proper training is the first step to being an effective mediator and standing apart from the competition. This series will give you ideas about how to make the most of your training and convey its importance to potential clients.
3. Professional Mediator: after your training, gaining experience is an important next step. In this set of articles, we explain how to find opportunities to gain experience and communicate that experience.
4. Mediation Business: this set of articles will show you how to start, grow and sustain a mediation business, and how to use social media tools to help develop your client list.
In addition to the articles above, we have also developed:
Your Roadmap to a Successful Mediation Business: it answers common questions about how to become visible and how to build a successful mediation business, with a set of clear steps.
9 Steps to Build Your Mediation Business Marketing Plan: a practical guide: this guide takes you from zero to a fully functional marketing plan for a mediation practice.
Can Mediators Create a Habit Loop in Society?: if you aren’t sure what a habit loop is, don’t worry, we explain it in detail in the article. Essentially, we propose a way for mediators to come together and change the perception of mediation in society.
In all articles, our goal is to be helpful, friendly, and direct. We didn’t want to write in a formal style that would make you want to fall asleep halfway into the first sentence.
We also don’t want you to feel overwhelmed with new information or feel like we’re speaking down to you. So, we present our advice in a simple and straightforward format.
Hopefully you we’ve created a series you enjoy reading that can also help you grow your business!
How did we develop these articles?
In our articles, we talk a about the importance of proving that your clients can trust you. In the spirit of putting our money where our mouth is, we’re about to get really candid and give you a peek behind the curtain for the next couple of sections.
So, how did we prepare these articles?
It started with thorough research to find all of the best marketing and mediation business advice on the internet. We compiled everything that looked promising and started figuring out how each piece could be applied to mediators.
Feel free to check out our Evernote file with more than 560 links to articles we read in our research. You can use tags to see the different categories. It’s a small sample of all the data we collected, but it gives you an idea of the research we put in.
Once we had an idea of where we wanted to go with the information, we got in touch with a few successful mediators on LinkedIn to verify everything we’d written.
Then, we did another review with experienced mediators, yet another review by a business consultant, and finally, we had the articles proofread in English by a trained copywriter to make sure everything was crystal clear.
We’ve also included citations, linking you to posts from thought leaders in the mediation industry, so you can gather even more helpful information to grow your business.
This is a bit of a spoiler for what you’re going to learn about marketing, but we are confident in what we’ve created, because for all our articles we have:
1. Identified our audience and tailored everything to their needs: we prepared articles for experienced mediators (coming from a variety of fields), for new comers, for experienced professionals switching into full time mediation, etc.
2. Inserted calls to action (what we would like you, as the reader, to do ) so your next steps are always clear.
3. Included internal links to other articles on the blog to help you find all of the other relevant content we’ve posted.
4. Included external links to valuable content on other websites, so you don’t have to go looking for it (we’ve done the work for you!)
5. Created a compelling snippet for our social media pages to promote each post when it goes live
When it came to developing the visual brand for our blog (the selection of colours and images that make us immediately recognizable to our readers), we didn’t want to use stock images (free or paid) available online. There aren’t that many images related to mediation available, so the same ones tend to be used again and again.
That’s not how you stand out.
Instead, we decided to design our own illustrations to be presented with our content.
Our biggest challenge was to create a character to represent our blog that wouldn’t alienate potential readers. People would automatically (consciously or unconsciously) judge our choice of character: the name, clothing, gender…we needed to think hard about how it would be viewed and whether our target audience would be able to relate.
MediatorSelect is for all mediators, so in an effort to represent everyone, we thought about creating a non-human character with the personality of the ideal mediator. We thought that the right illustrator might be able to bring a character to life that speaks to what our users have in common.
Our other idea was to create a human character. In a male dominated field, we didn’t want women to feel like we’d forgotten about them, so we knew that if we went this direction, we wanted our character to be female.
What follows is the process involved in coming up with our final illustration.
We started by trying to think of an inanimate or made up object to be the basis for our character. We left the creativity to the illustrators that we approached for the job, but we provided a list of a few ideas to get them started:
1. A check mark based on the MediatorSelect.com logo
2. A magnifying glass based on the MediatorSelect.com logo
3. A yin-yang-inspired symbol of equity and partnership
4. A feather, evoking peace (dove) and agreement/contract (quill)
5. An omega, symbolizing the end of the conflict (note that this may have religious significance you may want to avoid)
Having a cool image would be great, but we also wanted to give the character a bit of dimension. Since everything is online, and we don’t always get to interact with our readers, we wanted to give our character a personality they could relate to…even if those characteristics aren’t readily obvious when reading.
We gave our illustrators another list. This time with the kinds of traits we wanted the character to embody:
Personality: Approachable, friendly, but still professional.
Background: Character should have a definitive background, so that the things it says are consistent. Perhaps, the character is an established and experienced mediator.
We also gave our illustrator ideas about what colors would work best:
Colors : the color palette should be complimentary to the MediatorSelect brand, not exact. This should allow the illustrations to “fit” with the overall look and feel, neither glaring out by being too different nor getting lost by being too similar.
We approached several illustrators to help us find the best design. The first person we spoke to, took our ideas and sketched up a few options:
While this illustrator took our ideas into consideration, nothing felt quite right.
Another illustrator started by sending us Alex the bear. He was a great character, but not quite representative of what we are going for.
After a bit more discussion, the illustrator sent us a dove character, representing peace. This was a much more promising option!
We also thought about having a superhero-type character, with the strength to settle disputes in a single bound! Which, was perhaps a bit too childish and cheesy for our target audience.
Next, the illustrator sent us a magnifying glass character who was a little closer to being right.
In the end, we decided we wanted to go with a human character. We ended up with professionally dressed woman who is a top mediator.
Admittedly, you feel a bit like Goldilocks at the end of this kind of process. But you have to try a lot more porridge before you find something that is just right!
You may be a bit confused about why we’re telling you all of this. The purpose of this section is two-fold. First, of course we want to emphasize the amount of thought we put into each and every detail of this blog. Nothing was too small or too unimportant for us to consider.
Second, we want to show you that marketing isn’t easy. Your clients often see the polished end result, but there is plenty of blood, sweat, and tears, going on behind the scenes. It helps to know not only how you want the result to look, but what little details you need to think about along the way.
Our articles can help you understand how and why these decisions are made, making it that much easier to expand your business!
Let us know in the comments below what aspects of marketing you’re excited to improve for your business. Also feel free to ask questions in the comment section, and we’ll do our best to answer them!
If you’d rather send a question or a comment to us directly, this link will take you to our contact page.