How Harry Potter Impacted My Marketing Techniques and Enabled Me to Sign Three Collaborative Clients in the First Two Days This Week
If you loved Harry Potter, you remember Professor Moody, the one-eyed, one-legged professor with a gravelly voice and a scarred face. He preached to his students, and, indeed, to anyone who would listen, that protection from Lord Voldemort required “Constant Vigilance,” frequently bellowing this mantra unexpectedly to keep those around him on guard.
Marketing the collaborative divorce process requires something like that; I call it “Constant Focus.” Compare the high numbers of collaborative cases taking place in Tampa Bay with the reportedly lesser figures in more populous South Florida. These relatively similar locations boast similar clientele and professionals who graduated from the same schools and now attend the same conferences. Yet collaborative divorce is fast becoming common in Tampa, but not in South Florida. Why not?
Is the problem that there just aren’t enough collaboratively trained attorneys in South Florida? It is true that the more professionals who are trained and experienced in the collaborative process, the more there are to spread the word. And it is also true that those professionals who are not trained may shun the process, simply because they don’t understand it and are not secure in recommending it as an option.
Some surmise that South Florida attorneys and clients are more litigious than those of us in Central Florida. In a more cutthroat environment, is there a place for collaboration? I think there is. There are plenty of reasonable people in South Florida without the deep pockets required to litigate the end of their marriages. These people deserve to be informed about the collaborative divorce option.
Perhaps it is more that those who are collaboratively trained aren’t as focused on prioritizing discussing it with their clients. After all, it doesn’t matter if we’re trained if we don’t market its positive attributes to our clients. When meeting with a prospect during our very first consultation, we should describe the collaborative approach before even mentioning litigation. While all process choices should be explained, reasonable people will naturally gravitate towards the less costly, more beneficial choice.
Trust me on this. I signed three collaborative participation agreements in the first two days this week; one was for a consult introduced to the idea by my brand-new associate, someone not yet even trained in the process.
There are multiple reasons why collaborative divorce has become so popular in Tampa Bay; they all demonstrate the Constant Focus of the professionals here.
There are two collaborative practice groups in Tampa, and two in Sarasota, and they each operate very differently. The resultant healthy competitive spirit exhibited by these groups produces more collaborative cases as more professionals focus hard on gaining as much training and experience as possible so as to become leaders in their collaborative communities.
Further, many Tampa collaborative professionals emphasize thinking outside the box when it comes to offering their clients options, even inside the collaborative process. They experiment with possibilities like teams customized to the specific needs of the family, fee packages, and limited scope of services. They encourage their clients to meet with collaborative neutrals (facilitators and financial professionals) on their own, without the lawyers, thereby saving their clients unnecessary fees. By offering clients choices that save money, those clients are more comfortable choosing collaborative divorce.
Probably most importantly, Tampa Bay collaborative professionals believe that marketing the process requires Constant Focus. At least one training a year here is about marketing. Several one-hour programs each year by the various practice groups focus on marketing. While we don’t all market to the same degree or in the same way, the collaborative culture here, as a whole, reflects that Constant Focus.
To bring collaborative divorce mainstream, we must make the public aware of it. It isn’t enough to market it only to our clients. We must market it to other professionals. We must market it to everyone we meet. We must market it all the time. Write articles, give presentations, explore it in our social media; this is how we ensure that the world can’t ignore this kinder, gentler divorce process.