Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cool FREE Tech Tools

If you're a gadgethead like me, you're gonna be very happy. Camtasia, the recognized leaders in video recording software, is offering Camtasia for FREE!

You can download a free copy of Camtasia
3 for your own use.
What's the catch?None, really. It's an older version of the software. Once you download it and it's key it's fully functional. (I downloaded mine yesterday but haven't had a moment to play with it yet) The makers hope you'll use this version and then want to pay (at a discount) to upgrade to the latest version. Brilliant marketing.

Why do Mediators Want Video?

Simple- it's another way to build connection and visibility. Think about how compelling it would be to potential clients if they could hear and see you talking about your view of mediation or explaining how you help your clients? Can't get a better 'taste' unless you give away consultations (which I don't recommend).

What if I'm not a Video Star Material?

Yeah, I thought about that too. I heard about this software years ago but hesitated because I was kinda anxious about being 'on camera'. I'm over it and you should be too.

Want proof? Spend a few moments on YouTube looking at ordinary folks who now have Vblogs and such. You'll see that most aren't especially good looking or uniquely talented. They're just folks who want to share something to help others- sounds like mediators to me.

Since the software is free there's really no excuse not to try it. Also, download Snagit which is also being offered gratis. You'll be able to capture screen images to use on your website or blog. (you DO have a website, right??)

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Take this Idea, Pls: Wrap up the 'Sandwich Generation'

34 million people in this country are getting squeezed- and we can help.

Called the 'sandwich generation', these folks wrestle with the huge task of caring for both their children and their aging parents while working full-time, according to a recent MSNBC article.

This is a growing trend, folks, that bears watching. The US Census predicts that the elderly population will double to 70 million by 2030. I can imagine a plethora of opportunities to assist families to make decisions, explore options and meaningfully resolve disputes about care, contribution and assets. According to Andy Cohen, founder of, a new website that caters to sandwich caregivers, the market potentially represents up to 100 million dollars annually.

To learn more about the interests and needs of this emerging niche, I recommend ...say it with me now: research.

Visit portal blog sites like or to find blogs in this arena. A good google search for websites on aging and 'baby boomers' couldn't hurt. And, don't forget to find a forum or three to join so you can get an insiders view.

Then start reading! I'm sure you'll find unique ways that you can serve this client base and distinguish mediation from the other resources available.

As always if anyone takes up this idea I'd love to get a note!



PS We're launching a Family Mediation Learning Circle on Dec. 10th for our members. Learning Circles bring like-minded practitioners from across the country together to brainstorm ideas, offer resources and network on marketing to families. You can learn more at


Friday, November 16, 2007

Forum Marketing for Mediators

Generally, mediators are known for creating a forum for exchanging interests and ideas. But, what if we just got known in forums instead. (ok, bad pun- just trying to be funny)

What is a Forum?

Let's start with the basics. A forum is an online discussion space where members exchange ideas publicly. There is a forum for very conceivable idea, cause, problem, or thing. It's almost frightening how many there are and how much communication happens across these internet gabfests.

Drip Irrigation Style Marketing

Forums are an ideal marketing vehicle for shy mediators. Why? There are several compelling reasons why forum marketing works for dispute resolution professionals. Mediators can:

  1. study a forum to learn it's 'pain points' and key resources

  2. educate the forum by offering relevant links and articles

  3. answer questions to increase credibility and expert status

  4. enable potential clients or referral sources to become acquainted with you and build trust

  5. capture ideas for desired products and create passive income

You can do all this mediation marketing without ever leaving your house, giving a sales pitch or breaking a sweat! Nifty, huh. I know of some coaches who fill their practices simply by being an active, valued participant in a small number of forums. It's a great way to reach people. (Quick story: when my husband, Peter, and I were doing research for our romance book we got over 400 replies to our survey by partnering with various forums. )

It takes time and consistent effort to build rapport that leads to new business, which is why I call it drip irrigation marketing, but those efforts will be well rewarded. There's nothing better than having a 'champion' singing your praises to attract potential clients.

5 Tips for Successful Forum Marketers

    Lurk first
    Read archived posts and the most recent posts before posting yourself. Get a sense of the group's style and level of communication so you can more easily fit in.

    Introduce Yourself
    You wouldn't burst into someone's house and interrupt the conversation, would you? Make a point of introducing yourself to the moderator (if the forum has someone who monitors posts) and to the group before dropping any pearls of wisdom.

    Give and Give More
    Share your knowledge and resources generously with the forum. Be selective; contribute when you can offer something truly useful or unique to the discussion. Readers who appreciate your contributions just might decide to help you grow your business by referring others to you or your products.

    Put your Sig Line to Work
    The best place for marketing is in your signature line. Include your name, business name, and website in your signature block. Don't forget to link to a special giveaway on your site to build your mailing list!

    Be Involved Yourself
    Give someone else in the forum a chance to give back to you. Ask the forum to review a new web page or give you feedback on a new product. You'll get great advice and they will feel more invested in you and your mediation practice.

Want More?

Forum marketing is a terrific tool that allows you to 'get out there' without the expense or stress of doing public speaking engagements. It's my favorite tactic right after article marketing. I'm considering teaching a class on this topic. If you want to know when, just drop me a note and I'll add you to the announcement list.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


PS. We're adding specific Learning Circles for those interested in workplace, family and other emerging fields at If you want to meet others in these niches and work on marketing together, attend our monthly Learning Circles.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Meet Avatar Dina

Yahoo! Avatars

An Ava-what?
I couldn't resist sharing this bit of silliness from the folks at Yahoo! This is an avatar, a digital creation, that I developed over at Yahoo Answers. (Kinda scary how good the likeness is, although my hubby says I'm cuter).

An avatar is a great solution for someone who wants to add his or her picture on a blog or website but doesn't want or like their true image. (Of course, it's not fair to make yourself into a glamazon if you're not.) In fact, the avatar might help build your online persona.

Yahoo Answers and Askville

As some of you may recall, I got interested in social media marketing a while back. Social media is another name for all the online communities and groups available now. Think of it as 'drip' marketing because your actions take a while take root but once they do everything grows. You can learn more about it from Scott Allen, co-author of The Virtual

Anyway, I'm exploring social networking sites like Yahoo Answers and as forums for developing information products. Here's what I've discovered so far...

Each site allows registered users to post questions for the internet world to answer. You get reward points for either answering or asking questions, although most of the sites haven't fully developed their reward systems yet. Not that it matters. Folks are flocking to ask and answer all manner of questions from the ridiculous to the everyday to the deeply spiritual. Think of it as an interesting variation on how to achieve that '15 minutes of fame' we all crave.

Social Media Marketing

How could a mediator use an account at one of these sites for marketing? I've discovered at least three and I'm just getting started.

Learn about Your Niche

Most mediators with niche practices fall into the family, divorce or business niches. These groups are very well represented in just about all parts of the social networking scene. You can use these groups to do some informal market research. Ask well-crafted questions that inquire about what custody problems keep them up at night or how the latest healthcare laws are impacting them as caretakers or whatever you choose.

Display Your Usefulness

Do the obvious and answer questions posted by other users in your niche. Other users rate your answers and a few 'greats' might make you a recognized expert and lead to all manner of good stuff. Just be sure to read a bunch of answers first so you understand the tone and exchange of that forum prefers. Some of my coaching colleagues swear by this.

Test Products

Test first, then create! Most entrepreneurs, including mediators, fall in love with their products. The world will not beat a path to your door because you wrote a better divorce mediation guide unless the world asked for it first. You can use social networking sites to gauge demand or get topics for a new product; thereby saving you time and expense. Watch the trends then simply ask, what would make dealing with this easier for you?

Heck, just have fun. That's what I'm doing. And, if you make an avatar, please share him or her in the comments below. I'd love to SEE you.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Educational Marketing Teaches Mediators a New Lesson

Didn't I say that educating your marketing about mediation was the way to go? Looks like I'm not the only one who thinks so....

Check out this recent article in Business Week that confirms educating potential clients on how to solve their problems is a very powerful marketing tool. This is especially relevant to us in our marketing efforts.

How Can You Use Educational Marketing?

Create an education experience for your niche market based on the types of experiences or processes they might face.

Suppose for a moment, you're a mediator who works with condo associations as your niche. You could compose a number of different articles, quizzes, checklists, reading lists, and how to articles that educated board members on working collaboratively, resolving conflict or any other related topic. Surely, you'd become the recognized (and highly appreciated) expert in that niche who clients turned to for support.

What to Write About

No matter where you are in your practice- newly trained or mature practitioner- you have information of value to offer to someone who is less informed in your niche. As someone once said, 'In the land of the blind men, the one-eyed man is king.'


Write about what you know. Your experiences as a new practitioner are unique and bring a new perspective that can be enlightening. Or, write about what attracted you to working with your niche group. Or, what legacy you hope to leave your market.

Established Folks

Your approach is similar to that of the newbie, except your challenge is composing items from the vast amount of conflict resolution wisdom you already have to share! You have forgotten more about resolving conflict than some people ever knew. Time to give back.

Recall the questions, challenges or concerns that your first clients brought to you and turn them into learning products that teach clients how to begin to use and benefit from mediator or facilitation or whatever process you use. Then consider the challenges of your current clients and create tools that help them prevent disputes. Your clients will be grateful and turn to you when they realize they do need your expertise.

Definitely take a moment to check out the article I linked to above. The results were dramatic. If you could achieve a small portion of their success, you'd be at the head of the class!

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!

PS I'm happy to brainstorm with anyone who may feel a little stuck. Let me know and we'll arrange a short chat


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Take This Idea, Pls-DR for Daycare Providers

Do you know what true conflict is? Getting a 2 year old in a snowsuit quickly when he or she doesn't want to do it.

Help Them, Help Us

Over the years, I've learned that child care is a pressure-filled industry. You can imagine all the different issues that arise. Payment is late. Parents are late. Care-givers struggle to work together and be appreciated.

Most often these business owners, who are typically women, combine the patience of Job and the diplomacy of Colin Powell to give each family a good experience. But there are situations, staff issues or families they just aren't equipped to handle. The door is open to someone ( eh, you) to take advantage of this opportunity.

Daycare Dispute Resolution

How about making the nanny your niche? Teaching child care professionals how to identify, manager or prevent conflict is an overlooked market. The product ideas are limitless: training for staff; training for directors, mediation services to a multi-location provider; conflict coaching for directors, conferences... the list goes on, and we didn't even mention any of the passive income, audio or virtual products you could easily create to generate more revenue and support these deserving folks.

Growing Up

By the way, this is a growing niche. That means you'll have a self-renewing batch of clients to court as customers. According to the US Census, there are over 20 million single parent families. That's a whole lot of child care and loads of new and different causes for disagreement that needs mediating. Of course it goes without saying that you should do the niche evaluation for yourself. (Grab the audio of Three Keys to Making Money as a Mediator from my homepage for a discussion on picking the right niche)

Let Me Know

Take pity on a very curious woman. I send these ideas out into the world and just want to know if some of them found good homes. Drop me a note if you are inspired to put this, or any other 'Take This Idea' idea into action. Maybe we'll even share your journey here at Mediation Mensch!

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!