The Ultimate No (or Low!) Cost Way to Market Your Writing Business
Part 3

Public speaking, or group presentation marketing, can be a very effective way to find new clients. Just ask a swimming pool contractor I crossed paths with several years ago.

He decided to give a motivational speech to service clubs in his area. His first presentation resulted in a sale worth $30,000. Even though he gave a motivational speech, someone in his audience decided to use his business services.

My own experience is also instructive. One presentation resulted in the acquisition of a client who paid over $2,500 for four pages of copy for his website (I hope he isn’t reading this!). I’ve continued to have similar experiences in which I have acquired ongoing social media and blogging clients and, of course, speech writing and communication consulting projects, which is my target niche.

Thus far in this series, we’ve looked at how to find and approach the audiences that would want to hear what you have to say (see my article “The Ultimate No (or Low!) Cost Way to Market Your Writing Business Part 1”. Then we examined how to go about creating the blueprint for your talk (see “The Ultimate No (or Low!) Cost Way to Market Your Writing Business Part 2”) so you’ll have the audience eating out of the palm of your hand.

In this final installment, I’m going to show you how to convert these no-fee speeches into ongoing business. Unless you take this last and final step, you might as well hold a sign on a street corner that says, “Will speak for food.”

1. Give away your secrets during your talk.

Your initial reaction might be, “I want them to hire me and pay for my expert knowledge, so why would I give it away?” The truth is, even if they could do it half as well as you, they are too busy to do so.

Several years ago, I heard about a seminar conducted by a real estate broker: “How to Sell Your Home Quickly and Easily ON YOUR OWN!” During the seminar, he told the participants the exact steps necessary in order to sell their home on their own.

Many realized it was daunting and time-consuming task.

By the end of the seminar, more than 50 percent of the attendees asked the broker to list their home. Of course, he agreed! By giving away the “secrets,” attendees realized just how difficult the process was, so they turned it over to the “expert.”

So in your speech, feel free to share your best copywriting and marketing secrets — you probably won’t lose any potential clients — in fact, more will probably hire you.

2. During each presentation, provide several examples of how your clients had a problem and how you solved it for them.

In one of the speeches I give, I show how we turned a normal General Contractor into a “Chinese drywall” expert through some well-placed press releases and articles online. As a part of the program, we will often go live to Google or at least show a screen shot of it.

People always approach me at the conclusion to ask how I can do the same for their business. Telling success stories bolsters your credibility. But, take great pains to sound confident without appearing to be a “legend in your own mind.”

3. Be gracious and humble.

Don’t be a prima donna as so many speakers are! Oft times when speaking at service club or similar meetings, your time will get cut, sometimes in half, due to program additions. When that happens, don’t whine about it; just give your speech in the allotted time.

Whatever you do, don’t exceed your time limit! Think about it, when was the last time you heard someone say, “I heard a short boring speech last night!”? It is virtually impossible to be both brief and boring! What if they ask you to speak longer? Graciously give them a few minutes more and then open it up for audience questions.

4. Use a rating sheet to get valuable audience feedback and contact information.

Most of the organizations won’t have a problem with it. Assure your contact that you will forward a copy of the completed rating sheets for their review. If you get high marks, they will invite you back! For the past three years, I’ve been asked to speak to a group of Realtors. This year after my presentation, they booked me a year in advance.

Many speakers say, “I’ve tried to use rating sheets but I can never get them returned.” There is a simple way to get the majority of your rating sheets back.

Tell the audience how important their feedback is to you. Then let them know that you will have a drawing for a gift card (between $10 and $25) for those who turn in their sheets.

In this case, don’t offer an e-book or free consultation. Give something of value that is unrelated to your business. You’d be surprised how many people will complete the rating sheets just for a chance to win a simple gift card.

The rating sheet has three parts. The top third should be their contact information (with a note from you telling them you might contact them or add them to your mailing list). The middle third should have a few questions about your program that are essay answers followed by a little box that gives you permission to quote them. The bottom third should have a place for several checkmarks as to what kind of services they might be interested in.

This sheet is a money machine. Why?

First, people are raising their hands and telling you what they want from you! Many have a need right now, and they want you to contact them. And, you have their contact information already.

For those who don’t have need of your services right now, you can put them on your mailing list and keep yourself on their mind for possible future work.

Finally, if they agree for you to quote them, you can use their quotes and testimonials in future marketing pieces. If they are with a Fortune 500 company, all the better!

5. Produce a resource sheet.

I started creating resources sheets after so many people requested more information at the end of my talks.

One focuses on 10 questions to ask before you write your marketing plan. I print it on green paper, with all of my contact information included.

Hold it up during your presentation and tell the participants to come to the back and ask for the “Green Sheet” WHEN they give you their business card. Be sure to say thanks and impart how important this information is.

You can also repurpose the content into an article or blog post, or even make it the basis of an e-book! In addition to the rating sheet, this gives you a second means to obtain their contact information.

A friend of mine and I had the opportunity to use this method a short time ago. We arranged to speak for three minutes each week at our Rotary Club.

We carefully scripted what we were going to say and offered a resource sheet at the end of each talk. We did this for one month, speaking for a total of 12 minutes for the entire month. Those 12 minutes have resulted in thousands of dollars of ongoing business and new clients!

6. Make liberal use of online press releases.

Each time you speak is a PR opportunity. Post a press release online, including social media outlets that list where you will be speaking and what you are speaking about.

You might be wondering if your talk is newsworthy. It may not be, but it is certainly “Google worthy!” That means you can up your search results by posting to your blog, website, fan page, Twitter, and online press release distribution services such as PR Web and Business Wire.

For tips on creating effective press releases, there is no better resource than AWAI’s program, Secrets of Becoming a Publicist.

Whenever you give a speech, whether for three minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour, you are representing your business. Be prepared and make the most of every opportunity to expand your network and attract new clients.

Remember, it’s as simple as A, B, C — Approach, Blueprint, and Convert.

Follow this pattern and you will tap into the gold mine of using low (and no!) fee speaking to market your business.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »


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Published: January 18, 2012

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