How do certain ideas, services/ products or messages advance from a position of unfamiliarity in the market to a position of extreme popularity and recognition?
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Tipping Point, he provides insight into how messages, ideas, and behaviors can infect a population and spread rapidly just like a virus. This occurs in three ways,to a
- The law of the few- a few influential people make a big difference
- A sticky message- having a message that makes an impact
- The power of context- people are strongly influenced by their environment
- This concept of contagiousness has stuck with me as I work with collaborative law councils and institutes across the country. Is it possible to infect our population with the message of a more solution- focused approach to resolve disputes? Could we create a Collaborative Law tipping point?
Absolutely! But first we will need a focused effort with the right people, the right message and the right context.
One distinction of a tipping is big changes follow small events and these changes happen quickly. Malcolm Gladwell states, “ The tipping point is the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point.”
To achieve critical mass, it will be important to consider how collaborative professionals across the country are spreading the message about collaborative law and individually contributing to the tipping point for collaborative law. We must create the small events that will result in a big change.
The small events include defining and communicating an effective message; executing specific practice growth strategies; and tracking and monitoring your progress.
Define Your Message
It is estimated that half of the prospective clients who truly understand the collaborative process will choose this alternative and benefit from their decision. Yet, despite all the remarkable things that have gone on during the past 12 years, less than 2% of the public is even aware this option exists. This tells us that we need to be more effective in communicating the message about collaborative law.
One of the most important strategies to growing your collaborative practice is mastering how you communicate the benefits, value and process of collaborative law. You must convey ultimate confidence to prospective clients and referral sources. Your message must be clear, concise, easily repeated and make an impact. This will require upfront planning and practice. Give considerable thought to the following questions:
- What is collaborative law? (Define with an easy to understand short definition)
- What are the key benefits of a collaborative divorce? (Spoken in relationship to the clients key needs)
- How does the collaborative law process work? (Define in terms of benefits to client or referral source- use stories if possible
- What distinguishes collaborative law from other methods for divorce? (Define in terms of problems solved)
Develop Specific Strategies
Once you have developed your key message, you will need to develop a strategy that will help you reach your goals. An effective marketing process includes a complement of multiple strategies and repetition. Research shows that people need to hear, see or touch a message nine times before they finally listen.
Consider a combination of speaking, networking and mailings to referral sources and prospective clients. The following are recommended marketing strategies to help you grow your collaborative law practice.
- Maintain ongoing communication with referral sources– referral sources must be nurtured or they will go away. Rule of thumb in building and strengthening referral sources is to maintain a minimum of 3 purposeful marketing contacts per week.
- Action: Make a list of your best referral sources. Schedule time to take them to lunch and tell them about collaborative law.
- Identify speaking opportunities- Attend conferences and speak at meetings where your referral sources and target market attend.
- Action: Organize your experiences and seek out people who could benefit from learning about collaborative law.
- Networking- Go out and talk to people involved in collaborative law and individuals who might be interested, One attorney I talked to said she turns the table on people who are marketing to her- she takes them up on their offer for lunch and then talks about the benefit of collaborative law.
- Action: Make a list of key networking opportunities, schedule them in your calendar and make it a priority to attend.
- Implement public relations / advertising strategies
- Publish articles in local publications. Write about your experiences in collaborative law.
- Send press releases to your local media about the outcome of successful cases. Tie release to current events, i.e Madonna’s divorce.
- Advertise in local publications
- Develop a quality brochure and send to all referral sources and prospective clients
- Action: Educate the media in your community about client success stories. Compare and contrast a collaborative divorce to a traditional litigated divorce.
- Have a presence on the internet- Collaborative professionals with web sites receive referrals. At a minimum have a home page with information about your philosophy and work, include easy linking to relevant sites and information, if possible provide an article of the month on some value added information.
- Action: Update your web site to include new information on collaborative law. Make sure you are linked to the most resourceful sites. Consider starting a blog and participate in Collaborative Law LinkedIn groups.
Track and Monitor your progress
It is critical to measure your success. Determine what strategies and activities are working and not working. Assess what strategies you should do more of and which strategies you should eliminate. Continually revise your strategy to assure you are meeting targeted goals.
I believe Collaborative Law is nearing a tipping point in which it may start to rapidly transform the way disputes are resolved in the U.S, Canada, and beyond.
Your challenge is to replicate what the hipster kids in downtown Manhattan did for Hush Puppies. As a group we need to rapidly infect the U.S., Canada, and beyond with the message of collaborative law. We need to create a collaborative law tipping point.
You have an opportunity to create the small events that will result in big change for the way disputes are resolved across the country.
Elizabeth Ferris, founder of Ferris Consulting, specializes in assisting attorneys, mental health professionals and financial specialists to grow their practice through result-oriented marketing and practice development strategies. She has worked with attorneys, collaborative professionals and mediators across North America to implement effective strategies for increasing awareness and demand for their services. Elizabeth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.