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The Essential Guide To Marketing Your ADR Practice (Book Review)

Author: Natalie Armstrong President, Golden Media Publishing

Ms. Armstrong’s book is clear, clean, professional marketing advice for the ADR practitioner. Written in a style that she would call “Kitchen English” she carefully eschews the jargon of the marketing industry. Her sentences are incisive and decisive. She states with clarity and purpose what she has to say, and each line is there for a reason. Her book is easy to read and filled with wise and insightful advice for the ADR professional. To augment her advice, Ms. Armstrong combines her advice with easily understood anecdotes from everyday life marketing with which all American’s are familiar.

Starting with the most basic elements of marketing, the “4 P’s”, therefore, “Price, Product, Place and Promotion”, the author leads the reader through what may seem an endless maze of marketing opportunities on first glance. Yet, the author shows the ADR practitioner just how to be selective not only in the type of marketing one does, but also in defining what type of ADR practitioner one is. It is essential to understand what one does in order to properly communicate it to prospective clients. This fact Ms. Armstrong is strong in pointing out. What is it that sets you as a practitioner apart from every other ADR practitioner in your area? What is your area, geographically, industry, type of practice (i.e. arbitration, mediation, both) and what makes you the provider that your customers will want to use? These are the questions that one must answer before even being able to create marketing material that will work.

The author teaches the practitioner about “Marketing Myths & Truths”, “Target Marketing”, “Planning”, “Positioning” and “Databases.” And in what could perhaps be the most valuable piece of advice in the entire book, her “Magic Bullet” theory of marketing is truly ingenuous. Over and over the tenets of marketing are debated and the same conclusion is drawn. You can never he sure what will work and what will not work. But the author takes issue with that perspective. She contends that there is one thing that absolutely works. Concisely, she presents it this way: “Serve before you sell.” All of us are familiar with doing pro-bono work in mediation, but have we really thought about the targeted use of pro-bono work to ultimately turn it into paying work? In almost all cases, doing pro-bono service work leads to paying engagements. Either through meeting people in cases that are mediated or in meeting people associated with the mediation process, be it attorneys, judges, civil servants or just private citizens in need of mediation services. If you volunteer services that have high potential to bring you future business then you have combined civic service and marketing in an almost sure fire marketing strategy.

In addition, Ms. Armstrong explains the best ways for ADR practitioners to utilize tried and true marketing techniques. The use of “Direct Mail” and “The Internet” get special attention by Ms. Armstrong. How these tools should be used to most effectively get results is explained. Unique approaches and salient statistical information is provided to justify the methods that are suggested. Again the reader is reminded that things like “Networking”, “Speaking” and “Writing” are extremely effective ways of getting exposure and potential business. Despite the fact that mediation is exploding as a method of dispute resolution, the fact is that unless one is in a business that is regular exposed to the practice, i.e. legal, insurance or ADR practice, most people have never thought of using mediation to settle disputes, if they even really know what it is. While most people have some vague understanding of Divorce Mediation, the vast majority of people have no concept of the use of mediation in civil matters.

In addition, for the vast majority of mediators who have training in something other than either marketing or business, Ms. Armstrong provides significant assistance. In the book, the basic shells of a “Business Plan” and a “Marketing Plan” are clearly set out. By following the methods provided by the author, one can start with no exposure at all to marketing, and end up with a mission statement, a business definition, a business plan and a marketing plan. Most practitioners have not sat down and done this ever. And if they have, it usually is not a well-planned, budgeted, structured plan. This perhaps is the primary reason why so many ADR practitioners fail to be able to get enough paying work. Just because you call yourself a mediator or arbitrator does not mean that business will just come to you. People have to know about you and have a reason to give you business. That is what you want to convey with your marketing efforts, and you want to do so as efficiently and effectively as possible. Ms. Armstrong concentrates on teaching you precisely how to do just that. Even for the most successful ADR practitioners, Ms. Armstrong gives one pause to think about how one has defined themselves in the marketplace and is it the most productive way in which to be approaching one’s practice. The book should be read by any ADR practitioner, especially those with sole practices. Even if one only uses one or two of Ms. Armstrong’s ideas, those ideas will almost assuredly enhance one’s marketing efforts.


Jon Linden

Jon Linden is a Mediator, Trainer and Business Consultant. He holds an BS in biology and an MBA, both from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Jon spent 20 years in the Food Service Distribution business, where he was the COO and Sr. V-P of a Distribution Center of a major… MORE >

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