How to Get Speaking Opportunities
Last week, I talked about how speaking can be an excellent way to prove your expertise to your target audience.
In fact, Bob Bly once told me it’s almost impossible not to get a new client when you’re speaking in front of a group of potential clients. So it’s a very powerful technique to use to attract new clients to your business.
How do you get these speaking gigs? Whom do you approach when you’re looking for speaking opportunities to promote your B2B copywriting business?
There are three opportunities to consider: trade and other associations, corporate in-house training, and podcasts. Let's take a look at each one in detail.
Now, when I talk about associations, I'm really talking about any organization that comes together and has members such as associations, groups, and clubs.
For example, in my area just outside of Toronto, we have a local chapter of the American Marketing Association. The American Marketing Association is an association in the United States and Canada mainly comprised of marketing directors — an ideal target market for copywriters.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chance to go to one of these chapter meetings and speak about your topic of expertise which is copywriting?
Another example is a local Chamber of Commerce. If you're targeting small business members, local Chambers of Commerce can be terrific groups to target for speaking opportunities. There are also very niche-specific groups, such as the Association of Consultants or the Software and Technology Marketing Association.
Do some research and find associations and groups in your area that you might be able to approach for speaking opportunities. But keep one thing in mind — you want to make sure they have members who can be potential clients for you.
Otherwise, you might end up speaking in front of a group where there are no potential clients. That may be good for speaking practice, but you probably won't get any new clients from the group.
Now, how do you target associations?
First of all, you want to research the association's website and find out what events they have. They may have a monthly chapter meeting, annual meetings, or Continuing Education (CE). See if they conduct tele-classes, live workshops, or webinars. By the way, those represent the best opportunities for you to invite yourself to be a speaker.
Next, find out who is in charge of events for the association. It may be an event planner, educational director, or workshop coordinator. More than likely, they're listed on the association's website.
Once you find a name, how do you approach them and what do you say? I recommend you email them first and then follow up with a phone call. When you talk with them, you want to cover three points.
- The topic of your talk
- How that topic is valuable to them
- What makes you the expert on that topic
Now, let me give you an example of how that works. Let's say, for example, there is a local chapter of the American Marketing Association in your town or city. You found out that they have a monthly meeting and they do regular educational sessions. And you learned the name of the director of the local chapter who's in charge of events and therefore is in charge of booking speakers.
So you would contact that person by email and tell them the topic of your talk is writing headlines for B2B marketing campaigns that get ads read, emails opened, and leads collected. A bit of a long topic, but it’s enough to capture their imagination.
Next, you would explain that learning how to write better B2B headlines will be very valuable to that group because that would make their campaigns more successful and, therefore, make them more successful.
And what makes you the expert that they need to hear from? Well, you're a professional B2B copywriter. You do this every day. You’ve studied B2B copywriting and know what makes a good B2B headline. Don’t be afraid to take a stand and say that.
Then you say you would like an opportunity to do a talk at an upcoming event. Be flexible. Let them think of ideas on how they can use you.
Don’t be surprised if you get an invitation right there on the spot and it's very soon. Make sure you're ready to say yes if that's the case.
More likely, they're going to look at giving you a speaking opportunity a few months later.
If you don’t get invited to speak, stay in touch with the association. An opportunity might come up unexpectedly. A speaker may cancel and they may in a panic give you a call and give you an opportunity. Stay in touch and build that relationship.
So, that’s how to approach associations. Now, let’s look at another speaking opportunity.
The second opportunity is in-house training. Companies are always looking for ways to train their staff to perform better. In fact, I've been invited to do full-day workshops for companies to teach their marketing teams about copywriting.
Now, I'm not suggesting that you have to do full-day workshops. But there's a way you can leverage this need for in-house training to get in front of your target audience. It’s what I call the “lunch and learn” technique.
Companies will often invite a speaker to come in at lunchtime and do what's called a “lunch and learn.” They'll go to the conference room with their lunch. The speaker will speak for 15 or 20 minutes on a particular topic and then have some question-and-answer time.
Usually, there's no fee involved so you won't be getting paid for this. But you'll be getting in front of your target audience.
So imagine this scenario. Let's say you want to write for large companies and you invite yourself to be a “lunch and learn” speaker at this company with a big marketing team. Your session will be on writing B2B headlines. All the marketing managers attend and you give them your tips on how to write a great B2B headline and answer any questions they have.
Well, when they need a copywriter, who do you think they’re going to think of first? You!
I've used this technique many, many times and it’s worked very well for me.
Another technique is to be a guest on a podcast. Podcasts have seen a huge growth in popularity over the past couple of years.
About 70 or 80 percent of podcasts are structured where the host will interview a special guest expert. So these podcasters are always looking for good special guest experts to interview on particular topics.
If you know of a podcast that is targeting the kind of clients you want to attract, you can contact that podcaster and offer to be a special guest.
Use the same technique as with the other groups. You tell them what your topic is. You tell them why the topic is valuable to their podcast audience. And you tell them why you're the best expert to interview on that topic.
And more often than not with podcasters, they'll give you an opportunity to be a special guest because they're constantly looking for interesting expert special guests to interview on their podcast.
So I hope that gives you some good ideas on how to get speaking opportunities.
Even if you’re an inexperienced speaker or maybe a little shy, don’t be afraid of using speaking as a way to attract great clients. It’s my number one method for getting new clients. I recommend that you give it a try too.
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