Free Speech Pays

One of the best ways to expose decision-makers to your company is by developing a corporate speakers bureau program and putting your company’s most charismatic professionals in front of the industry.

Here are five of my favorite tips for maximizing this marketing opportunity:

Create a halo effect
When you speak at networking events, industry associations or conferences, you’re leveraging their reputations to launch you into expert status. This is called a halo effect. You’re able to position yourself as an expert, gain credibility by “association” and leverage their networks to promote your educational message.

Make a speech not a sales pitch
You run the risk of boring or, worst yet, offending, your audience with a blatant sales pitch. Be artful about positioning your products or services. This can be accomplished easily by giving the audience enough information to whet their appetites. The best speakers weave case studies, first-hand experiences and customer testimonials into presentations as they make sense of industry trends. Do this, and you’ll be remembered as a leader in your category.

Cut through the clutter
Pick up the major trade magazines that cover your industry and identify the three trends they’re reporting about most frequently. You’ll start to see a pattern. These media outlets write about what is newsworthy to fuel ad sales and subscriptions. Follow their lead: Choose a topic your audience wants to know more about and create an intriguing topic title and series of key take-away points that display your creativity and mastery of the subject.

Engage their senses
Refer to the KISS writing rule you learned in your high-school English class. (Depending on where you went to school, KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple, Sweetie or Keep It Simple, Stupid. I like the former but you can choose the one that motivates you!) Your audience will have an attention span of approximately 20 minutes – less if you are simply speaking with no other ways to engage their senses. Use PowerPoint to illustrate your three key concepts not as a crutch for you. Bring in other interesting visual aids. Ask your audience to participate by answering questions or performing a simple exercise with a partner in the audience.

Maintain the relationship
Long-term customer relationships are built on delivering value. After showing yourself as a trusted knowledge provider, don’t let attendees walk out of your presentation without asking to continue the relationship. At the end of your talk, offer them more knowledge for free — in exchange for their business cards. Follow up your presentations by e-mailing these prospects a white paper, sending them a copy of a book (preferably your own expert book) or inviting them to participate in a Webinar or download a podcast you produced.

Now it’s your turn: Tell me how you use speaking engagements to market your brand. I’ll share your tips in my next post.

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