A consultant spoke at an investor relations conference. She met the CFO of a Middle Eastern technology company. They exchanged cards, but there was no time to talk. A year later, when the company was looking for consulting services, the CFO recommended the consultant. That led to a $50,000 contract -- all from one speech!
In today's economy, small businesses are hard-pressed to grow. Advertising is expensive and business owners can't compete with corporate budgets. A brand gets buried in the cacophony of 24/7 marketing messages.
There's an easy, cost-effective way to rise above the noise. It's called speakmarketing.
Speaking levels the playing field because there's little to no cost to giving a presentation. It increases visibility of your brand, establishes your expertise and creates trust because you're up front and personal with potential customers.
Speaking is the new competitive advantage. According to Charlotte Beers, former CEO of Ogilvy & Mathers Worldwide, "Business is one presentation after another." Whether it's an elevator speech to your network, a pitch for funding or a sales presentation, your success depends on how well you present yourself, your message and your value to the market.
With everyone jumping on the social media bandwagon, it's easy to forget the power of high-touch, face-to-face communication. We're connected technologically, but people feel more disconnected than ever. Speaking is a powerful marketing tool because it gives people an experience. To reap the rewards, there are three things you need:
• A defined target market
• Compelling content
• Good platform skills
Defined Target Market
Just like in a tradeshow, your buyer must be there. It's fine to speak at a rotary club if your market is small business. But if your target is senior executives, you're better served speaking at think tanks, round tables and industry conventions.
How do you draw an audience and keep them there once they've arrived? A well-written announcement can create buzz and increase attendance. People often choose to hear a speaker based on a clever write-up. The secret to attracting a large turnout is the title of your talk. Titles sell. Don't confuse a topic with a title. For example: "All Stressed Out and No One to Choke" is a title that really resonates with the audience and elicits a feeling of being out of control. It's certainly more interesting than "Stress Management 101."
The biggest mistake in speakmarketing is to give a commercial. You must have value to offer today's busy, distracted audiences. The most effective networking presentations are those that offer practical tips and new information that makes people think.
Good platform skills
Even the best content needs to be delivered in a dynamic and compelling way. Remember Ben Stein's teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off? If you speak in a monotone and drone on without getting to the point, your audience will take the day off.
Make sure you deliver what you promise. Avoid the bait and switch technique of luring an audience with enticing promotions, only to talk about something that leaves them cold. If you write about saving for your child's college fund, don't suddenly talk about investing in life insurance.
And when you're talking about your product, don't hard sell from the platform -- use the law of attraction. Your call to action should be a free offer that entices people to approach you. For those who don't take advantage of your offer, you can still capture leads by raffling off a promotional item -- a book, a CD, or a sample product. And by the way, people will kill for t-shirts!
Finally, it's not over 'til it's over. Even the best speakers often fail to grow their business because they don't follow up within 24 - 48 hours of the presentation. You spent all that time creating the bait, don't let them off the hook. There's another competing message just around the corner.
Diane DiResta is the President of DiResta Communications, Inc. and will host "Speak Powerfully, Sell More: Grow Your Business With Public Speaking" on June 21, 2012 during S.H.E. Summit Week. S.H.E. Summit Week, taking place June 18-24, is New York City's first "women's week," with 35+ events designed for, by and about women to inspire each other in work, life & everything in between. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit shesummitweek.com.
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