Offbeat Marketing for Fearless Writers

Steve Roller here again with the next step in becoming an authority in 60 days.

As you read yesterday when I gave you tips for being proactive with your freelance career, you need a certain level of boldness to attempt this grab at "expert status" over the next two months.

It might force you out of your comfort zone. But that’s the only way you’ll achieve the writer’s life.

Ready for the next step in audacious activity? I'll warn you – this one isn't for the timid. But if an introvert like me can pull it off, so can you.

Give a speech.

Yes, give a speech!

"Why? About what? And to whom? And what if they find out I'm not really an expert yet!?"

All good questions.

Oh, and the most common objection to implementing this strategy: "I hate speaking in public!"

I had the same questions and concerns when a friend of mine asked me to speak to her group, Social Media Breakfast, a year ago. Each month, they invite a business professional to speak, and she knew that I was interested in networking. (Google "Social Media and the Art of Copywriting," the title of my speech, and you'll see what it was all about.)

First of all, here's what it did for me:

  • It put my name, biography, and contact information in front of 250 members of this group, 65 of whom were in attendance for my speech.
  • Within days of the speech, I had connected with about 15 of those people on LinkedIn and Facebook, which also exposed me to their networks.
  • It didn't lead to any immediate projects, but two attendees introduced me to potential clients. I just submitted a proposal to one last week, a year later.
  • I was able to reference this speech in proposals I wrote, which gave me credibility as an authority.
  • It gave me a huge boost of confidence, not to mention "speaker's high," which is even better than "runner's high."

Here's why I think you should try it, too. It will force you to articulate what you know about copywriting and marketing. You'll realize you know more than you think you do, and your audience will benefit from your expertise.

You could also repackage your speech into a free report that you use as a lead-generation piece or an article or blog post.

Finally, besides adding to your image as an authority, it might very well lead to new business.

First step: Write a speech.

I'm going to keep this short because I could write an entire book on this subject.

If you can write an article or write copy, you can write an effective speech. A lot of the same principles apply.

What should your speech be about? If it's a speech to a general audience of business people, try something like "How to Use Direct Response to Boost Business in a Down Economy." If you're talking to small business owners at a chamber of commerce meeting, it could be "Is Your Website Working Hard Enough?" A broad topic that could work for any audience is "How Copywriting Built America – And How It Can Do It Again." And, of course, when speaking to a niche group, you can always address a topic specific to them.

For more specific pointers, check out some books on speechwriting. This isn't a plug for any of these people, but three books I have on my shelf are "I Can See You Naked" by Ron Hoff, "Persuasive Presentations for Business" by Bob Bly, and one of AWAI's latest programs, "Speech Writing Success! The Craft and Business of Speech Writing," by Colin Moorhouse.

Second step: Book a speech.

We're not talking a paid speech here, so this is easier than you might think. The idea is to get yourself in front of people, speaking on a topic you know about.

Google "civic organizations" and your city name, and a bunch will pull up. Most have contact information, including email addresses. Groups like Kiwanis, Rotary, Optimists, Lions Club, and Knights of Columbus are always looking for speakers for their monthly meetings. And members are often business people who could be prospects for you.

Send an email or call and tell them you'd be interested in being a speaker at an upcoming meeting if they have openings. Tip: have your speech title and subject already decided, as well as the bulk of the speech itself. Remember to keep it focused on the needs of your audience, not on selling yourself directly. And add details that cater to each group.

The bigger the audience, the better. Remember, the key purpose of this is to establish yourself as an authority and put yourself in front of potential contacts.

"What if they find me out?"

First, you know your topic better than anyone else does. So you are qualified to be there.

Second, because you're bold enough to be in front of a group speaking, the audience assumes you know what you're talking about. Besides, you’ll know much more than they do about your niche or topic – you are an expert to them.

Third, even if you've never spoken in public, no one is going to ask for your formal "credentials." They'll want a biography and a brief about your topic, but that's it.

Finally …

Practice. Practice writing your speech – and practice delivering it – many times. Want some feedback? Check out a local chapter of Toastmasters International, where you'll have a chance to practice and get an honest evaluation without any pressure.

As I said in the beginning, this one takes some fearlessness. But that's what becoming an authority in your field is all about, right?

Do you have any unusual marketing techniques that have worked for you? Perhaps a good story of how you landed a client? Tell me about it in the comment section.

Speech Writing Success!

Speech Writing Success! The Craft and Business of Speech Writing

Learn from speech writing expert Colin Moorhouse how you can launch a lucrative career as a highly-paid, in-demand speechwriter. Learn More »

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Published: October 18, 2011

8 Responses to “Offbeat Marketing for Fearless Writers”

  1. I gave a talk at a local small business group. I landed a small client from it. Plus, by offering the audience a free gift in exchange for their feedback, I got a handful of testimonials which I then used as quotes in marketing materials.

    Sean McCool

  2. I'm making a speech next week to a state-wide convention. I am a teacher by profession and this is a VERY big deal for me. I'm using your advice and becoming confident that I'm an "expert." Great article!

    Shawn Maus

  3. Timely article! I'm taking a course on Advanced Presentation Skills, and one of the things we'll be working on is our "personal brand". I think giving speeches is a great way to get yourself out there and face a whole host of demons. Thanks!


  4. Thanks for the article. I'll try this. @sean- i didn't think of Good idea!


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