In Part 2 of Making Mediation Your Day Job™ you completed two exercises in which you answered the questions, What kind of help do people want? and What if you couldn’t mediate? Now it’s time to take that draft thinking and make it real.
Exercise 7.1.1: What services do people want to buy?
- Name the service. Is there a jargon-free alternative name you can use that will resonate more effectively with your particular target market?
- Describe the service. Without using mediator jargon, describe the service using language your target market will understand easily and clearly.
- Describe how the service addresses your target market’s interests. Instead of addressing what you do, describe the benefits to them and their particular problems. Use your responses to Exercise 4.2.2 to spark your thinking.
- Share your descriptions and get feedback. Send your short descriptions to 10 people in your target market. Ask them: From what I’ve written, do you know what you’d be buying if you were to choose this service? Under what circumstances would you seek out such a service? Use their responses to re-work your descriptions.
You’ll use the written results of this exercise for your website, blog, podcast, ezine, letters to prospective clients and anywhere else you need to describe your compelling offer of services.
In Part 1 of the book I made the case that mediators need to think beyond the bounds of mediation and neutrality in the design and delivery of their services to clients. I believe passionately that your business success will depend on the degree to which you can expand your thinking about what you do and how you do it. Looking back at the results of Exercise 7.1.1, have you accomplished that? If so, then here’s the next step: It’s time to stop saying you’re a mediator (unless, perhaps, you’re talking to other ADR professionals).
People ask all the time what you do. Your new neighbor, your hair stylist, the person sitting next to you on the plane. When you respond with, “I’m a mediator,” there are typically two results:
- The other person is either confused about the term or thinks they already know what it means. They nod their head and say, “Interesting…” Then the gradually change the subject.
- The other person is interested in learning more and asks you questions about your work and why you do it. You have a lovely discussion, perhaps trade business cards, and go on your way.
In almost all such instances, that’s the end of it. If you were lucky to get a #2 type of person, you have educated them a bit, perhaps, but they are probably not any closer than any other educated member of the public to using mediation and related dispute resolution services.
It’s time for a new answer.
Exercise 7.1.2: What do you do?
Your new answer has three very short sections.
Section 1: Your 10-word description. Instead of “I’m a mediator,” learn how to concisely state what you do without using jargon. Take a look at the list of examples I provided in Section 2, just before Exercise 2.2.4. Then, using your work in Exercise 7.1.1, draft your own sentence. Try to limit it to 10 words. This will not be a quick exercise if you do it well and you may re-work your response 10-15 times before you name it successfully.
Section 2: Your short list of services. After your Section 1 response, list the ways you do what you described. Using your work in Exercise 7.1.1, write a very concise phrase or sentence that describes how each service accomplishes your Section 1 response.
Section 3: Your “for instance” question. The last part of your response should be a question that invites your listener into a quick dialogue. It ties what you said in your Section 1 and Section 2 responses to them in some way, so that you have the opportunity to bring your services to life for them.
Jen, whose list of results I shared in Part 2 of the blook, developed this response: “I help families use conflict to strengthen their relationships instead of creating divides. I do this as a mediator, where I sit in on the difficult conversations and help family members find ways to resolve whatever’s getting between them, and as a trainer, where I teach parents how to successfully build strong connections with their pre-teen children with dialogue. For instance, have you ever run into a difficult situation with a family member?”
Another elegant and effective type of segue question is, “Do you know of anyone who would find the kind of work I do helpful?” If the person doesn’t yet understand what you do, this will prompt them to ask for more information. And if they do understand, then your invitation to brainstorm can lead to some fascinating discussion…you’ll learn something for sure, and so will they.