How to be Paid to Market

Would you like to add $100,000 or more to your annual income? Read on.

One day Henry was taking his two teenage sons from their home in San Diego to Disneyland. Along the way Henry stopped to give a speech to a group of Orange County business owners while the boys munched on a fast food breakfast in the car. While that speech generated five figures worth of revenue for Henry as he picked up various paid speeches and consulting work as a result of the talk, the speaking fee was a few hundred dollars. As Henry came back to the car he tucked his honorarium check (more honor than rarium) in the glove compartment. His older son Jack, 15 at the time, asked about the check and Henry told him these business owners actually paid me to market my services to them. “Sweet,” said his son, “that is the perfect crime.”

The Five Ways To Get Paid To Market

Here are some more examples of this perfect crime, committed by coaching clients we are especially proud of. A marketing research consultant I coached complained that he wasn’t getting any consulting business for the past six months from a Fortune 500 client. There are more ways to get paid than straight consulting, I told him. Often companies that don’t have money for consultants have money in their training budgets. So he organized a seminar, held the event near the company’s headquarters and sold 11 seats for $600 a piece to that same Fortune 500 client. After the event, several attendees found some budget and he landed about $75,000 in marketing research consulting projects. Later he charged another client $1,500 (he is worth much more) for a 90-minute talk at a company meeting that will net him consulting contracts in the five figures.

A public relations firm owner Henry coached was able to double her revenue in a year (we’re talking over $100,000 more) just by having different conversations about her pricing with potential clients. Actually, when she raised her rates, it was a signal to the business community that she was in demand and a hot commodity. But alas, how to make even more money. She soon realized there are only so many hours in a week (168, to be precise) and only so much you can charge clients per hour. To increase her revenue she needed to leverage her time. She created some self published guide books and started offering her expertise through workshops. This leverages her time and she is creating new streams of revenue.

This post is not for those who want to calm their nerves as they approach a podium. There will be no words of wisdom about how to conquer those common fears of public speaking (I hear Toastmasters is great for that). This is about professional speaking, not public speaking. This is for professionals and consultants who know that promoting their business with public speaking is the best way to build credibility and keep their pipeline filled with qualified prospects.

Truly, the best proactive lead generation strategy is to regularly demonstrate your expertise by giving informative and entertaining talks in front of targeted groups of potential new clients. The trick is knowing who to contact to get booked as a speaker and developing a topic that will draw the right audience.

Here are five potential perfect crimes, being paid to market your services. These are venues that write checks to consultants to speak:

  1. Keynotes and breakouts at association and trade group meetings. A keynote is typically 30 to 90 minutes and usually focuses on a broad topic of interest to all attendees. A breakout session is one of the side sessions at a meeting and last from 45 to 90 minutes. This is the glamour field of professional speaking. Competition is fierce and the big fees go to celebrities (the group is trading on their star status to attract attendees). I put speaking at Vistage groups (formerly TEC) of about a dozen company presidents for half a day at $500 per speech in this category.
  2. Corporate training. These are typically half-day or full-day seminars and workshops conducted for a private client, usually a corporation, for a group of its employees. This might be the most lucrative field for speaking because there are many consultants that have training budgets. Several clients who make hundreds speaking for Vistage make thousands when they deliver the same presentations to consultants. This one-two punch has made several clients an extra $100,000 per year.
  3. Sponsoring your own public seminars. This is typically a full-day seminar or workshop where registration is open to the public. You market the event and earn a profit (or loss). This business is about getting people into seats. Many times it is a break even proposition getting the attendees there, and then you make your real money selling information products and consulting services at the back of the room after the event is over. Fees can range from $800 to $1,000 per day per attendee all the way down to my three-hour Lunch and Learn seminars for $25.
  4. Teaching at colleges and for public seminar consultants. An alternative to running the seminar yourself is to find a sponsor. This might be for a company like Career Tracks or The Learning Annex. Or you might approach the adult education marketplace through a college or university extended studies program. Typically you might earn 25 percent of what the students pay all the way up to $1,000 for a day.
  5. Speaking at fundraising workshops where you split the gate. Another alternative to running the seminar yourself is to approach a trade group or association and offer to stage a fundraising seminar. They promote the event to their constituents and you agree to split the profits (typically 50/50 and you may or may not offer them 10 percent of any informational products like books and CDs that you sell in the back of the room after the event).

The Best Book We’ve Read On The Subject

If you want to read one book on the subject we recommend Money Talks: How To Make A Million As A Speaker by Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting. The paperback book is published by McGraw-Hill and sells for $16.95. If you are really interested in the subject, we personally recommend the Odd Couple CD set Weiss sells on his Web site for $150. If you want to join the ranks of the top paid consultants, those who make $1 million a year, this is a great investment.

Bestselling author Weiss used to give speeches for free. Now his income from professional speaking and consulting totals more than $1 million a year.

Weiss is a contrarian. Many books on professional speaking say you start by coming up with a few great topics. Weiss couldn’t disagree more.

“Listen carefully because few in speaking heed the following, and I’m as sure of this advice as any I’ve offered in seven books:  Always define yourself in terms of lasting value to the client,” writes Weiss. “When someone asks you, ‘What do you speak about?” it’s an amateurish question. But when you dignify it and satisfy it with ‘I speak about x, y and z,’ that’s a career-limiting response.”

Before studying what Weiss had to say we would say things like “I speak on marketing, I convey networking skills, I provide publicity advice,” and so on. That’s putting it in speaker’s terms. Now we speak in buyer’s terms. We say we improve lead generation, maximize revenues, reduce wasted marketing that erodes profitability, increase lead conversion rates and challenge attendees to exceed to higher goals. That’s what speech buyers, the people who actually write the checks, want to have happen.

What is the value that you bring to the buyers of speeches? Not the participants, but the people who write the checks. This is the star that should guide you as you navigate your paid speaking journey. Speaking clients want their situation improved because of your speech.

“If you don’t leave the client in a better position than the client was in before you got there,” writes Weiss, “then there is no point in having you there at all.”

 

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