Speak to Grow Your Business

Speak to Grow Your Business

Public speaking is a highly effective way to generate new business for almost any type of small business. However, it’s not a time for a sales pitch. Instead, if you’re able to share your knowledge about your expertise in an organized fashion, with a confident and vibrant tone, you’ll indirectly sell yourself as well as your products and services. As an aside, “Speak to grow your business” is one of my all-time favorite mantras, because of the immediate positive impact public speaking has on revenue growth!

When to Pitch
Summer and early fall are a great time to pitch your speaking services to professional organizations that begin their new membership calendar year in September. Keep in mind most professional organizations hold fewer meetings in the summer, since many members are off gallivanting in the sunshine. However, organizations also survey their members during the summer and early fall about educational topics they’d like to learn about during the coming months.

I’ve been a professional marketing speaker for some time and have acquired numerous marketing clients after presenting. My speaking success was compounded during the years I owned two businesses – my marketing consulting business and a computer repair business. During my presentations, I would describe marketing client campaign successes as well as my computer company’s marketing success stories. After every presentation, I consistently received new marketing consulting and computer repair business.

Amazingly, I was able to drive interest to both businesses, simply by talking in front of people about what I know. Public speaking works particularly well for any deep relationship-based business or consultant-type business, such as:

  • Financial – wealth managers, accountants & tax experts
  • Legal – estate and divorce attorneys
  • Health – long-term care providers, personal trainers, chiropractors, massage therapists
  • Technology – Internet security experts, mobile webmasters
  • Therapists/Healers – psychologists, psychics, spiritual ministers
  • Beauty/Fashion – estheticians, hairstylists, wardrobe experts, fashion stylists
  • Marketing & PR – executive suite ghostwriters, publicists, professional bloggers

All of the above specializations involve customers sharing very personal information with the consultant, increasing the need for people to trust the expert they’re seeking to hire. (Personal information also includes sharing business strategies and password information.) Public speaking is a great way to build trust. Prospects feel like they know you because they’ve “seen” and “heard” you.

After each presentation, you now have a warm relationship with almost all of the attendees. I say “almost all” because some people simply won’t make a connection with you. It could be as simple as – they don’t like your point-of-view or how you dress. This is okay. Because public speaking is also an opportunity to qualify prospects, a.k.a. if an audience member isn’t listening to your professional advice, then they are not a good fit for your business.

How to Pitch
I like to pitch using email. I first research organizations whose members match my target audience demographics and then I send a brief email introduction (4 or 5 sentences) about myself and my area of expertise. You can often find the contact responsible for scheduling speakers at the association’s website, LinkedIn or use the generic contact email and ask for the appropriate person’s information.

Either way, expect a delayed response, since the member responsible for checking the association’s email often is a volunteer, and therefore, only checks email once, maybe twice a week. On average, I’ve found most organizations respond within two or three business days. As an aside, the contact-fact-finding activity can easily and affordably be outsourced to a virtual assistant or an after school intern.

Initial Pitch Contents
In my initial email pitch, I include: who I am, my area of expertise, one or two targeted topics that may help the coordinator’s members and a link to my bio. When I suggest topics, I actually give each topic a presentation title in order to make it more appealing. By naming your presentation, this can and should help the coordinator envision the benefits of your presentation.

On average, you’ll have four to five opportunities to contact the speaker coordinator, including:

  • Initial Introduction Email Pitch
  • Pitch Number Two if No Response to the Initial Pitch (I will pitch a second time if I didn’t receive a reply). However, I use a completely different subject line and I also alter my body copy. Keep in mind that someone could have actually read your first pitch and stored your email “for later” … so don’t repeat yourself in your second follow-up. Instead, highlight another benefit for the coordinator’s members.)
  • Follow-up Email Once a Dialogue Has Begun
  • Follow-up Email Continuing the Dialogue
  • Follow-up Email Continuing the Dialogue

I have experienced up to five rounds of email exchanges; whereby, I hadn’t yet formerly booked my engagement because the organizer was still building out her yearlong event calendar.

Remember, every step of the way speaker coordinators are evaluating your professionalism. Stretch out your touch points, so to deepen the relationship. What’s more, if your initial pitch is too long, it’ll get deleted. To minimize this happening, break your communication points into small sound bites, e.g., one key sound bite per email.

Most Importantly When Pitching
Think about your contact’s audience/members. What do you know that could be helpful to your contact’s audience? Capture the essence of my comment in your communications and you’ll increase your chances of booking a speaking engagement. Equally important, is to ask yourself, “What actions (improvements, changes of behavior, e.g., increase revenue, minimize liabilities, etc.) does the speaker coordinator want from the audience derived from your presentation?”

Try these 5 email subject lines the next time you pitch yourself as a guest speaker. Easily swap out my industry descriptions with your expertise:

  • Last-minute Guest Speaker Available
  • Financial Expert Available to Speak at Your Next {insert organization’s name} Meeting
  • [Luncheon Speaker] Legal Tips to Help Your Members
  • Workshop Presenter | Down-to-Earth Techie | brief topic overview enclosed
  • Fun & Informative Presenter for Your Next Group Function

Email Marketing Subject Lines That Sell[RELATED]: Check out my eBook, “Email Marketing – Subject Lines that Sell” for more information about writing effective email subject lines. It’s available at Amazon for only $2.99.

Prepare Speaker Resources Beforehand
It’s imperative you have a professional speaker bio before you pitch your speaking services. A standard bio is usually one, single-sided, 8.5 X 11 page or one screen with links to examples.

Your bio should include the following:

  • Professional headshot
  • Credentials – education, certifications, designations, awards
  • Experience – past speaking gigs
  • Testimonials
  • Sample presentation/workshop
  • Contact Information – phone, website, email and social links

Keep in mind that once you secure a speaking opportunity, you can almost always return each year and present to the same organization. You may need to change or broaden your topic, but the relationship is established.

Start gaining more business through public speaking. Remember, there are organizations in your own town that meet every month for luncheons and dinners. They’re always looking for speakers. Get in front of them and see your business take off!

~*~

HELPFUL RESOURCE: Experienced presentation trainer and author Brad Phillips does a wonderful  job describing how to hook your audience from the start with engaging and effective openings in his excellent book, 101 Ways to Open a Speech. Please note I’m an Amazon Associate. Nevertheless, I purchased and read this book cover-to-cover. I highly recommend it!

Want Help Planning Your Next Public Speaking Campaign?
Schedule a one-on-one marketing consultation. I’ll help you get in front of your ideal prospects and influencers while showing you how to lure them into your sales funnel. What information do you know that others would like to know?

Are You Responsible for Booking Speakers for Your Organization?
I’m happy to customize the content above or another topic into a hands-on workshop for your organization. Contact Sharron for more information.

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Sharron Senter

Sharron Senter works with small business owners who are committed to investing in their businesses, as well as with marketing and business development executives who need support from a marketing professional that is accountable, self-directed and sales-focused.

Comments

  1. Sharron, this is one of the most comprehensive articles I have ever read on growing your business.

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