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Mediation Business: Are multiple streams of income possible?

From the blog Mediation Marketing Tips

Thanks to fellow mediation bloggers Geoff Sharp (Mediator Blah Blah) and Dina Beach Lynch (Mediation Mensch), I’ve been thinking about multiple streams of income for mediators.

Dina has mentioned she’s passionate about this topic and I have a lot of respect for Dina and I love her great energy.

I am normally an optimist by nature and entrepreneurial…
I do like the idea of multiple streams of income for mediators; and yet, I am a bit skeptical that it’s a worthwhile endeavor for mediators and ADR professionals at this current stage of our market development. In years to come, this may all change.

The notion of multiple streams of income is that a service professional wants to have different revenue streams flowing into the business.

I do agree that many mediators, conflict managers, ADR professionals will want to broaden the base of services they provide. The number of mediators who support themselves and earn a solid six figure income from solely mediating are in the minority. But having multiple streams of service income is different from having multiple streams of passive revenue.

Dina discussed the marketing funnel which I learned about from the coaching industry. Most coaches are taught about the marketing funnel. Imagine a large funnel with the widest part at the top slowly tapering down to a narrow bottom.

At the top of the funnel you have free or no cost information products (e.g. a blog, a free report, a newsletter, articles, CD, and other promotional education products) that are used to generate leads for your business.

Then on the next level you may have some intermediate offerings, e.g. a book for $40; a conflict resolution workshop, conflict coaching etc.

At the bottom of the funnel you would have your mediation services, ADR services, an arbitration, mediation and other confict resolution services, sensitivity training etc.

It is a useful model for the coaching industry, I’m just not so sure how relevant its applicability is to the mediation and ADR field.

Most mediation/ADR marketing at the top of the funnel should be free.

Certainly if you put together an ebook or other information product that you want to sell for $19.99 or $29.99 it might provide you with a little bit of passive income, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Many mediators have been criticized for having “full practices” which consist of training other lawyers and professionals how to be mediators.

Perhaps the same could be said of mediation marketers, except the reality is that any revenue generated from marketing products or services is miniscule compared to mediation revenue.

So, back to the topic of whether mediators can or should create information products to generate multiple streams of income…

If you are entrepreneurial minded and enjoy creating and spending time and energy on the work of creating… then by all means go ahead.

Many mediators write books about mediation or conflict resolution. The actual revenue generated is not huge… think about 15% of a $40 book and selling 10,000 units. $60,000 spread out over a few years. I am sure it’s nice to have this additional revenue and be sure to factor in the additional costs.

For example, you also have to calculate into the equation the hours spent writing the book. Then you have to find a publisher to publish the book. Then to get sales, you need the publisher to do a lot of marketing (or you need to market it). You should ask Jossey Bass or some other publishers how many units of mediation or conflict resolution books they typically sell. You can, of course, self-publish or just sell your ebook directly.

The question of viability also relates to your market.
I have bought ebooks about conflict resolution techniques. I am sure others have too. I am not inclined to go to the author for a mediation.
Some passive revenue is undoubtedly generated.

If you write a book and it becomes a hit, then this could help you in your marketing efforts. It helps to position you as a leader in the field and position you as an expert that parties/lawyers may turn to.

Information products do have value for marketing and potentially for small streams of additional revenue.

So, if inclined get to work. Just realize the costs involved and the potential return on investment. Many mediators may determine that their time is better spent filling their table with other endeavors. Or using their educational products solely for the purpose of marketing a practice. Certainly mediators of litigated cases are not likely to get a lot of clients from books they write and may get more mileage out of a negotiation or settlement in mediation workshop they provide — free of charge.

For ADR professionals in other niches, look at your market. Is your market likely to consume a low end information product? Would this lead them to hire you? Depending upon your market, the answer may be yes and it may be no.

Some food for thought.

Build your dream mediation/ADR practice today.

p.s. for those of you looking for greater returns, my favorite investment vehicle is real estate. Much more bang for your buck and long term potential for passive income.


Kristina Haymes

Kristina R. Haymes is a mediator of litigated and non-litigated cases.  She has successfully assisted parties in resolving employment, real estate, commercial and family business & estate disputes. MORE >

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