It's always amazing to me that when I speak at an association meeting, conference or breakout session at a convention, people always come up to me afterwards to inquire about hiring me. It doesn't matter what the audience size is--it always happens.
Which got me thinking: When I make a sales call on a prospect or customer, I'm really making a similar presentation--with one exception: The audience size is one. So speaking in front of any larger audience is basically a mass sales call. And the best part of that is, you're able to make your pitch at one time to an audience made up of dozens or even hundreds of potential customers.
Here's something to remember: Speaking in front of audiences gives you instant credibility. Why else would you be up in front of a group unless you were some type of expert? Remember, people love to buy from experts. They trust experts. They have confidence in experts, and they know experts are credible. Speaking solidifies all of that. The number-one reason salespeople get the sale is because of trust and confidence. If your speaking is a mass sales call, the same rules apply.
Let me tell you how you can start marketing your business through speaking engagements.
Track Down Your Market
One of the cardinal rules of marketing is to put your marketing message where your target market is. If your target market consists of business owners and organizations, a local chamber of commerce would be an ideal audience. You can contact your local chamber and ask them if they have any educational sessions during their programming year or slots open for speaking at their breakfasts or luncheons. If they don't have such programming, offer to help them develop it. I don't know of any chamber of commerce that would turn down a moneymaking opportunity if it involved delivering quality information and benefits to their membership.
There are also many industry associations that may want to hear your message. Target state and local associations at first, then move on to national associations. Contact the executive director or educational committee chair to gage their interest. Offer to speak for free in return for contact information of those who attend your session. If you can't make that arrangement, give away a book or a prize at the end of your presentation. And be sure to collect business cards from your audience to use in a drawing, then keep the business cards to follow up with and market to these people over and over and over. Remember the rules of frequency in marketing: 5 x 1,000 is better than 1 x 5,000.
You can also offer handouts when you speak that contain content from your presentation. This gives your audience something of value to walk away with that won't cost them a dime. If you're smart, you'll also provide product purchase information and ways for prospective customers or their friends and associates to get in touch with you for speaking engagements or further contact. This is when the speaking component of your marketing becomes viral: having others market for you.
Another way to use speaking arrangements to market your business is to participate on panel discussions. Those organizations or companies that put on panels need experts, and you're an expert in something. So find organizations and conferences that need your expertise and offer yourself as a panelist.
No one can communicate the passion you have for your product, service or company better than you. If that's what you're speaking about, your passion will be obvious, and audiences notice things like that. If you're not passionate about what you're selling or what your company is all about, then don't get in front of an audience. An audience can detect a lack of passion as easily as they can detect over-the-top passion.
Speaking in front of a group puts you at the center of attention. So before you step into that spotlight, make sure you're prepared:
Don't be boring.
Have solid content.
Have a message.
Audiences like to walk away with ideas to implement immediately. Developing "sales oriented" speaking content is similar to developing content for a sales presentation. Here are some topic suggestions that make interesting speaking content:
- A solution to a problem or a challenge
- Top 10 steps to a goal
- Seven mistakes people make when they don't use your service
- Real live examples
- A review of frequently asked questions about you, your business, your product or your service
- Secrets and inside information on your product, service or industry
- Tips, techniques and tactics
- Strategic considerations
The good thing about this guerrilla marketing method is that it's free. It's just you using your time, energy and imagination to get your message to your target market.
Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant and direct-mail promotion specialist. He's also the principle of Market For Profits, a Chicago-based marketing consulting firm. His two latest books, Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days and The Ultimate Guide to Direct Marketing are available at www.entrepreneurpress.com.