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Martin Wales

[May 8, 2002]

Customer Catcher

By Martin Wales

To Get Your Profits Up, Speak Up!

You've most likely have attended events and trade shows where they provided numerous sessions and keynote presentations with speakers. You may have even thought to yourself, "Hey, I could do that."

Well …why haven't you? Because you should do that! Speaking is a very affordable and effective marketing tactic for numerous reasons. It is a means to introduce your company, to position yourself in the technology sector, and most importantly, to acquire new clients.

Increased Exposure
When you speak, especially at trade shows, the event's organizers and sponsors promote it. Agendas and the speaker schedule are published in direct mail pieces, print publications and on Web sites by the parties involved. This gives you and your company increased exposure and recognition.

Put A Face To Your Name
When you are the speaker, you are asked to submit a headshot to be placed beside the abstract of your talk. This introduces you to your prospective clients and adds a 'human' factor to your company's name. People do business with people not with your technology solutions.

Media Coverage
It is not uncommon for media people to attend events looking for their next story or for industry experts. These people include publishers, editors, freelance writers, regular columnists, and industry analysts. Another possibility may be people responsible for writing the newsletters or online magazines for larger corporations that use them to market to their internal channels. Make sure you identify media and see how you might assist them. The result just may be an article with you or your customers as the subject.

Enhanced Credibility
When you hear and see a speaker at an event, you imagine that they have been selected because they have unique, interesting, or practical information to share. They have been screened, filtered, and selected from among many others. This is a subtle form of 3rd party referral as we assume, as attendees, that the host has sourced the best for us to hear.

Low Cost Marketing Event
You don't pay to put people in the seats. Sure, you might pay for an airline ticket and even a comfy night at a hotel. But as the speaker, you don't have to pay for the event marketing, the venue or hotel, the catering at breaks, or the audio-visual equipment. You may not even have to duplicate a handout yourself, as it is included in the event's binder. More often these days, your presentation is likely just to be posted to an event Web site where participants can download it later.

Leveraging OPM
Outside of your travel costs, there is little expense in being a speaker. This is a perfect example of leverage with other people's money and resources. Much energy and capital is invested by the event's host and sponsors to bring in the attendees. By participating in the event, you are gaining access to all these prospects that you have not to spend money on to get them there. Often at conferences, you are also given a "full-access" pass that others have paid for. This added value let's you attend all sessions to learn and to network. This is the trade-off and usually why session speakers are not paid at many industry-specific events.

Sales Opportunities
When speaking you have the opportunity to influence others to deal with your organization. Your objectives should include gathering their names, introducing them to your product line, and initiating their desire to take a sales presentation.

That said, if you are invited to speak, or if you arrange the engagement, it is important that you deliver an 'educational' experience not a sales presentation. There is nothing worse than a speaker who continually focuses on product features and benefits. They are perceived as just trying to sell something and lose credibility. It is wise as a speaker that you educate the audience how to address existing challenges, identify problems, and then suggest alternative solutions.

Creates Demand For More
When you give great information that is educational and professionally and enthusiastically presented, those listening are confident of your abilities to assist them. You can also benefit by creating curiosity on the part of the audience. You usually only have time to present an overview, or reveal one or two key points. This means you can often increase the desire of the attendees to inquire for more information. Bingo! You now have their contact information and put them into your marketing cycle.

Quality Leads
You will be amazed at the quality of leads you can generate as a speaker. As long as you know the demographics of the event where you wish to present, you can almost be guaranteed an audience of pre-screened, qualified prospects. Not only that, based on the topic, it further qualifies your prospects right down to the problems they face and the solution you know you deliver.

Don't Like The Spotlight?
So, now you're thinking, "Right. I prefer death to speaking." This attitude is not uncommon. However, if you are not one to "hop up on a soap box" or fear public speaking, then you can recruit any number of people from other sources and have your company 'sponsor' them. For example, they are introduced as, "Presented by ABC Voice Company..."

Think about anyone you know with specific knowledge of your company, your technology, or the challenges faced by the verticals that you serve. It could be someone in your company, such as an employee who aspires to be a speaker, a supplier who might sponsor an expert (or better yet, provide one of their own) or a consultant or analyst with whom you have a working relationship.

Can We Talk?
The professional speaking industry itself is worth billions because organizations are always looking for great speakers to make their event a success. In the technology industry, event planners seek the same outcome but their challenge is to find knowledgeable experts rather than motivational speakers. You or people in your company are just what they want.

You need to make this tactic a big part of your public relations strategy if it is not already. There are numerous ways to leverage speaking opportunities into millions of dollars and hopefully this introduction will set you on your way. So remember, "Your profits go up, when you speak up!"

Martin Wales, The Customer Catcher™, is a business development specialist helping companies win and keep more business through better customer relationships. He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator. Using your company's existing resources, Wales is able to create maximum results with minimum risk. Contact him at martin@customercatcher.com.

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