Imagine having a room full of your ideal clients who are all there for the sole purpose of listening to you. This is the power of public speaking.
Speaking is one of the best marketing strategies to grow your small business for several reasons:
1. Public speaking is one of the only strategies where you can get paid to market your business. Depending on where you are speaking and who you are speaking for, you can earn anywhere from $50 - $5,000+ for your presentation. This of course is in addition to any products or services you sell to the audience which is your ultimate goal.
2. Public speaking is also one of the only strategies where you have a completely captive audience. Unlike with other forms of advertising such as on social media, when you are standing in front of an audience all eyes are on you and all ears are listening to your message. Speaking can also provide you with good market research. If your audience looks disinterested or confused during your talk, it may be a sign that your content is not resonating with them and you need to make some adjustments. Plus, you can give out surveys at the end of your talk to get direct feedback.
3. Public speaking allows you to showcase your knowledge, skills, and expertise. If you craft your talk strategically you will accomplish a few goals including: building trust, sharing value, providing insight into the benefits of hiring you, overcoming objections, and highlighting current and previous client successes.
4. Public speaking is less crowded. It is estimated that as many as 74% of people suffer from Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking. Often times by just being willing to stand in front of the room you are perceived positively by your audience.
5. The heavy lifting is done for you. The hardest part about any marketing strategy is getting people to actually hear or see your message. With speaking unless you are self-hosting, the meeting planners are doing all of the marketing to attract people to the event. You just need to prepare a really great presentation and show up.
6. Speaking is the gift that keeps on giving. A very basic example from my own business is when I was hired to give a 60-minute keynote presentation at a small business expo. I was paid for the presentation, a few audience members became paying clients and the meeting planner referred me to a colleague for another paid speaking engagement. Depending on how much you want to speak ,you can put this strategy in place over and over again throughout the year.
There are a few important things to keep in mind when implementing speaking as a marketing strategy:
1. Think value first, sales last. If you stand on stage for 60-90 minutes with a nonstop sales pitch you will lose your audience and ultimately lose your opportunity to convert your audience members into clients. You probably won't be invited to speak again either.
2. This is not a pep talk. Speaking for motivation or entertainment is very different than using speaking to grow your business. Although a standing ovation is always nice, your ultimate goal is not a round of applause. Your talk is meant to show your audience that your company solves a specific problem and that they can trust you to solve that problem for them efficiently.
3. Choose wisely. It is important that you speak in front of audiences who are most likely to fit the description of your ideal target customers.
4. Practice makes perfect. Most of us are not born outstanding orators and we need to work on this skill before it starts to feel natural. When I first started speaking seven years ago, the first thing I did was sign up for Toastmasters which gave me a safe space to practice my presentation skills on a weekly basis.
If the idea of speaking in front of a room full of people sends you into a cold-sweat panic, there are other ways to implement this strategy without having to leave your home.
• You can host a webinar where you use presentation slides to share your message online.
• You can host a teleseminar where you share your message via conference call.
• You can start a podcast where you share information, interviews, industry insights, etc.
• You can start a YouTube channel where you create videos on a monthly basis for your target audience.
When it comes to your presentation:
1. Incorporate stories. People rarely remember the steps, systems, frameworks, and processes you share but they do remember your journey. Now that’s not to say you should share your entire life story – just the parts that are relevant to the topic at hand. If your personal story is not directly related to your business or the services you provide, share (with permission) stories of the clients you have helped in the past.
2. Transformation is key. You want your audience to know you understand where they are, what if feels like where they are, what they need to do to get to where they want to be, and what it feels like once they are there.
3. Don’t overwhelm your audience. If you have developed a unique 7-step process for transformation you don’t have to share all of the steps in one 30-minute talk. Give the first three steps and invite them to learn more at your website, blog, by joining your Facebook group, by signing up for your email newsletter, by viewing your YouTube channel or by scheduling a free consultation.
4. Remember the end goal. Before you set foot on that stage you need to know what one action you want your audience to take after hearing your talk. Every part of your presentation should be naturally moving the audience into taking that action. I can remember giving a presentation that was going exceptionally well. The audience was hanging on my every word and laughing at every joke I told. I received a thunderous round of applause at the end of my talk and members of the event committee who hired me to talk literally gave me high fives as I walked off the stage. There was just one issue – I was so wrapped up in the hype that I didn’t realize until I was in the car on my way home that I never once mentioned the book I wanted the audience to purchase!
5. Start local. If you are just getting started with speaking I recommend reaching out to local chambers of commerce, business associations, colleges, expos and tradeshows to request to speak. It’s easier to get booked on bigger stages once you have established a good reputation in your local market.
6. Incorporate humor. Participants in your workshops want to hear information from you that is going to help them solve a problem, accomplish a goal, avoid a tragedy, or fulfill a desire. However, they also want to be entertained in the process. Laughter is a natural stress-reducer and can go a long way to make your audience feel good which translates into them associating you with making them feel good. This helps you create a likability factor that makes it easier for people to decided to hire you.
Public speaking is not an end all, be all. It works best in conjunction with other strategies include word-of-mouth/referral, online (website, email), and social media marketing and advertising. However, public speaking can be powerful and profitable if you take them time to create a presentation that showcases your expertise while also providing great value for your target audience.
If you would like to learn more about implementing speaking as a marketing strategy I've created a free training - Speak Up! Overcome the 5 Obstacles of Growing Your Business with Speaking
I've also created a series on my YouTube channel sharing steps to use speaking to grow your business.