Many of us dream of being a sought after, highly paid speaker. But, in this education based marketing environment, we find ourselves in today, speaking for leads may be the best approach ever.
Getting up in front of a highly targeted, interested group of prospects and demonstrating for 45 minutes or so that, you’re not only a very likable teacher, you know a heck of a lot about something they need, is today’s most effective form of lead generation and conversion all rolled into one.
So forget the paid speaking career for now and start speaking for leads. Let’s say you sell a pretty standard $4,000 web design package. Would you be better off charging a sponsor group $2,500 to share your brilliance or speaking for free and walking away with 20 hot prospects that eventually convert to 6 immediate design engagements? (I’ll do the math – that’s $24,000) Any business, regardless of industry, can benefit from this approach.
Here are 5 tips to keep in mind to make your free speaking career pay off big.
1) Get referred
You can create your own workshop events, but one of my favorite strategies is to approach two potential groups and offer to present great information to their clients and networks. The key here is that you have a topic that is very hot and seen as very valuable. This is not a sales presentation, it’s an education and value-add tool. Approach your two partners with the idea that you’ll present a great topic, they offer it to their customers, and they get to cross-promote to each others attendees as part of the deal. You simply get referred in as the expert. (Every time you do this you will get asked to speak at an event one of the attendees is involved with as well.)
2) Make a deal with the sponsor
You are a highly sought-after speaker willing to waive your fee only if they permit your to elegantly reveal that there is a way for attendees to acquire your products and services and that you will also be offering some free stuff in exchange for contact information of those interested in the free stuff. Make it known that you have no intention of selling, merely informing. This approach raises the value of your presentation and gets you what you need as a lead generation opportunity. This can be a deal breaker for you or the sponsor. If you over promote, don’t expect to get asked back, if they won’t allow you to acquire leads, don’t bother.
3) Educate like crazy
Don’t be afraid to give away all of your secrets. Some folks suggest you should just tell them what they need, but not how to get it done. I don’t agree. If you tell them how, some may think they can do it themselves, but those who really want what you have will realize through your specific details, how-tos, and examples that you do indeed possess the knowledge and tools to help them get what they want. Educate and you won’t have to sell!
4) Collect those addresses
In some cases people will rush up to you after a thought-provoking presentation and ask how they can buy, but, in case they don’t, make sure you give all attendees a valuable reason to share their contact information for the purpose of follow-up. You can offer them the slides to your presentation, a free resource guide related to your topic, or a more detailed report based on the topic, in exchange for business cards. If you don’t have this preplanned you’ll find you won’t get a second chance to wow these folks. Of course, I hope it goes without saying that you should also have a follow-up process. Write a hand-written note, add them into a pre-written drip email campaign on the topic, or call them up after the event to measure their engagement.
5) Simple call to action
When I first starting speaking in the manner I’ve described here, I would pour my heart out, mindful of not selling, and then come to the end and there would be this awkward moment when I knew people wanted to buy something, but I didn’t have an offer. Well, I quickly learned that didn’t serve either of us very well. If you provide great information and a clear roadmap to solve someone’s problems, you’ll often find them wanting you to reveal how they could take the next step. But here’s the key – in that environment, they want a deal for acting right now. Not every audience or speaking engagement will present this opportunity, but I’ve found that in a straight free speaking gig, where I’ve been given permission to introduce my products and services, this 3-step approach is well received.
a)tell your audience right up front you’re going to give them great information and tell them at the end about what you do
b) about half way through, after you’ve built some trust, take a quick minute to reveal, for instance, a paid workshop or program you have coming up, tell them the price and go on
c) at the end answer questions, make free offers, and, almost as an afterthought, agree to let them also bring a friend to the event you mentioned at the same price if they sign-up today. (You’ve just made the event half price in their mind, turned them into a recruiter, and given your potential attendee a valuable tool to offer to a friend or colleague) So, all of a sudden, anyone considering the offer is now highly motivated by this compelling change of events. Don’t hard sell this, simply put it out there and let people do the math. Don’t risk tainting your wonderful information with a sales pitch, but don’t leave those who want to buy without an option either.