They say that the only thing we fear more than public speaking is death. That’s some pretty deep seeded fear! On top of the fear, many agencies want to leverage speaking as part of their biz dev strategy but there are so many questions. How do you get in front of the right audience? How do you capture email addresses from the stage? How do you convince event organizers that you have something of value to offer? The good news is – it’s not as scary or as hard as it might appear.
We are itching to get in front of our sweet spot clients so we can demonstrate value, step into a position of authority, and walk away with opportunities to make a sale. But results driven public speaking does not happen without a plan. You can get in front of an audience but are they the right ones?
When it comes to public speaking as a biz dev tool, Grant is an expert. He is the founder and CEO of TheSpeakerLab.com, a training company for public speakers. He is also the best-selling author of “The Successful Speaker.”
Grant coaches professionals of all skill levels with the biz dev techniques he uses in his own speaking engagements. He also teaches how to market yourself as a speaker and find the right event and audience for your goals.
Listen to the episode, and learn how to get on the right stage, in front of the right people, so you can demonstrate your expertise and walk away with opportunities to land some business.
A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.
What You Will Learn in This Episode:
- Grant’s background in public speaking and how he developed his expertise
- How to use public speaking as a biz dev tool
- Why public speaking is a great way to step into a position of authority
- How a business development mindset can change your approach to public speaking
- How to identify natural speaking opportunities in your niche
- How to differentiate yourself and stand out from the other speakers in your vertical
- The common mistakes speakers make with booking and how to avoid them
- How to engage promoters and event planners
The Golden Nuggets:“Before you start public speaking, you have to be really clear on what the biz dev win looks like for you. How does speaking fit into what you’re doing?” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “If you want to be taken seriously as a speaker, you have to take yourself seriously as a speaker.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “In biz dev, part of what you’re being hired to do as a speaker is deliver the talk about products or services you’re offering as an agency. The other part you’re being hired to convey is the experience of working with you.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “People won’t think of you as a speaker if you don’t tell them that you’re a speaker.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet “Just because you’re passionate about speaking does not mean there is an audience around that particular topic.” @grantbaldwin Click To Tweet
Ways to contact Grant Baldwin:
- Book: The Successful Speaker
- Website: https://thespeakerlab.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grantbaldwinfans
- Twitter: @grantbaldwin
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast. Presented by White Label IQ. Tun in every week for insights on how small to mid-size agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want, down the road, sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host Drew McLellan.
Hey everybody, Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. Thanks as always for joining us. It’s always nice to know that you are out there, that you’re listening and that the content that we’re producing here on the podcast is helpful to you. Thanks for being here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. Want to give you a couple quick housekeeping updates before I tell you a little bit about our guest. Very quickly, just want to remind all of you that we are as always giving away a free seat to either one of our live workshops, and yes we will have live workshops again someday, someday soon hopefully. Or one of our on demand course. And the way you are in the drawing for that giveaway is to leave us a rating or review. Take a screenshot of that rating or review and shot it to me at [email protected] and we will put you in the drawing. Happy to do that. Happy to give one of those away on every solo cast.
So every five weeks we give away one of our seats which retails for anywhere depending on the course from $1500 to about $2000 so it is worth your time, I hope, for you to leave the rating and review. And I promise, I do read every single one of them. I’m grateful for them. I appreciate your feedback. And so that would be awesome if you would do that. And hopefully we’ll get to reward you with a free workshop. All right?
Let me tell you a little bit about our guest. One of the things that I know from many of you is part of your business development strategy is many of you have said to me, “Man, if I can get on a stage, if I can get in front of an audience of people who are our sweet spot clients, I can rock the room. I can really demonstrate value. I can step into my position of authority. And I can walk away with an opportunity to make a sale.” This is something that Stephen and I covered pretty extensively in our book Sell With Authority as well. That speaking at conferences and other events can certainly be cornerstone content that you can then leverage, you can slice and dice it into lots of little pieces. But it is a great biz step tool.
But for many of you, this is not your full-time job. You don’t want to be a public speaker. You don’t want to be a paid speaker all day every day. You don’t want to be on a plane three or four times a week. That’s not your desired outcome from this. Your desired outcome is to be on the right stages in front of the right people so that you can demonstrate your expertise and earn the opportunity to land some business. And so I was actually chatting with a friend of mine, Pam Slim who many of you are familiar with. She was telling me about a guy that she knew named Grant Baldwin. And Grant is a public speaker, this is what he does for a living is he gets on stage and speaks. But he’s done it for so long and he’s done it so well that he also now works with other people who want to be public speakers, that’s what they want to do for their job. He’s written this amazing book called The Successful Speaker, five steps for booking gigs, getting paid and building your platform. It’s available on Amazon and all kinds of other places.
I ordered the book and I read it. What I love about the book is that it has a lot of practical tips for those who only want to speak once a year or twice a year or four times a year. It’s not just about being a road warrior and speaking every week in a different city, in a different state. But lots of his books tips are for people like us who don’t want to do that but we certainly want to leverage speaking as part of our biz step strategy. And so I invited him on the show and I’m happy to say that he said yes. I’m anxious to pick his brain on your behalf so let’s get to it.
Grant, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.
Drew, thanks for letting me be here man. I appreciate it.
Give everybody a little bit of background on you. How did you come to have this expertise on how folks can get on the right stages and maximize that experience?
Yeah, so if we go back in time, in high school, I was really involved in my local church. And my youth pastor had a big impact on my life. It really resonated with me and I was like, “I want to do that. That seems like a cool gig.” And so that’s kind of the path and track I was on. So I worked at church for a little while as a youth pastor. It gave me a lot of opportunities to speak. And speaking was one of the things that I really, really enjoyed. I felt like I was decent at it, wanted to do more of it. But found myself going, all right, well now what? How do you find gigs and who hire speakers and how much do you charge? How does this mysterious black box work?
And so started stalking a couple other speakers and just trying to ask questions and just trying to figure out anything I could about the speaking industry. Eventually I started booking some gigs here and there and got to the point where over the next couple years was doing it full-time. I was doing 60, 70 speaking gigs a year. I loved it. It was great. But also had a lot of people asking me, “Hey, I want to be a speaker. How do I do that? I want to do what you’ve done.” I have found that there are people who want to speak full time, they want to do 50, 60, 70 gigs.
Then there’s a lot of people, probably like your listeners who are like, “Yeah, I don’t want to do that. But I see the value the speaking and I enjoy speaking and I see how it moved the needle in my business. I wouldn’t mind doing, I don’t know, five gigs or 10 gigs here or there. The right type of gigs, some biz dev stuff. But again, I’m running into the same challenges of how do you find those gigs and how much do you charge? And what do you speak about and how do you turn those gigs into lead gen for other parts of the business? What does that look like?” And so that’s the core of what we teach now is teach people how to find and book gigs through our company, The Speaker Lab.
I think for the listeners, I think you’re right. I think very few of them aspire to be on the road four or five times a month speaking. For them, it’s a biz dev. It’s to position themselves as a thought leader. I think for an agency owner, it’s really some of them will do it for free, some of them are willing to do it for expenses. Some of them want to get paid to do it. But ultimately, for all of them, the pay date comes when somebody in the audience hires them, right?
If you have that mindset, how does that mindset change kind of how you approach public speaking and all of that?
Yeah. Well, what’s great here is that you’re clear on what they why is for you at the beginning, right? Because again, one of the great things about speaking is there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Whether you want to speak 100 times a year to big audiences and just do big keynotes or you want to speak 10 times a year for free and do it as lead gen for small groups of 20 or less locally. Both work. Both are effective. It’s not that one is better or worse than the other. But to begin with, you have to be really, really clear on what’s the win for you in speaking. And how does speaking fit into what you’re doing?
For a long time for me, speaking was basically 100% of my business, 100% of my revenue, right? And so knowing that, that was a goal, it was like, “I don’t care about doing a book. I don’t care about consulting or coaching or a course or anything, I just want to speak.” Well that informs then what I’m looking for and how to go about finding it and finding the right gigs. Versus if you said, “All right, I run an ad agency and my ideal customers are small retail shops in the Midwest. I kind of like speaking and I wouldn’t mind doing a little bit of speaking here or there just do some lead gen.” Well good. You know why you’re speaking and you know how speaking fits into it.
But then you also, what makes it simpler, is one of the things we teach is you have to be really clear on a couple of key questions. One, you got to be clear on why you’re speaking. But two is who are speaking too? Who’s the ideal audience there? And then three is what’s the problem that you’re solving for that audience? And then kind of another part of the question would be where do those people gather? Just because you’re passionate about speaking, just because you’re interested in speaking, doesn’t mean that there’s any natural gathers or groups around that topic or for that audience. So there has to be that overlap between here’s what I’m passionate about, here’s what I’m interested, here’s what I care about. And here’s what people actually hire speakers to talk about. And here’s what some of the natural opportunities are for speakers around that topic or for that audience.
And so for someone whose running an agency, whose clear on, all right, I just want to speak a few times a year. And I want to do it as lead generation. Then one of the key questions is, where do my ideal customers gather? What are the events? What are the trade shows, what are the associations? What are the things they are a part of that I would be naturally a good fit for? And then you can kind of reverse the genre and start to think through where are those people gathered and how do I fit into that equation?
Yeah. I think for a lot of agencies, if they have a natural niche, if they serve a certain vertical, a certain audience, things like that, then the shows are probably easier to find. The venues are easier to find because you’re going to look for trade associations and things like that. I think on the other side, if they’re more of a generalist, then they’re probably looking for gathering of business leaders and owners. But a lot of agency owners are trying to do this. So how does somebody stand out from all… Let’s say I own an agency that specializes in ag. And I want to be in front of business owners and leaders that serve the agricultural market. So I’m going to go to places like NAMA and things like that like every other agency who wants to do the same thing. How do I look different to the people setting up the speaker schedule than all the other agencies out there?
Those are good questions. So a couple things I think you can do. One is, I think it really comes down to how speaking fits into the mix of what you’re doing, right? I’ll give you an example of this. A few years ago, my wife and I were interested in doing some real estate investing. I’d always been interested and intrigued by, I hadn’t really had a lot of experience with it. And so there’s a buddy of mine who had done a ton of real estate investing. I remember sitting down with him one time and saying, “Okay, you’ve got all this experience man. There’s so many different options and opportunities.” You have single family homes, you have multi family, you have apartments, you have short term rentals, you have commercial properties, you have parking lots and storage units. And on and on and on the list goes, right?
And so I remember asking him, I was like, “All right, you have all these options. Which one is best?” And I remember him saying, “Yes.” I was like, “What does that mean?”
Right. That is not helping me.
His point was they all work, right? But if you’re just like, “I’m just going to kind of dabble in this and I’m just going to kind of dabble in that. I’m just kind of dabble on this.” The point being for a lot of agency owners, speaking is something that they dabble in. It’s kind of cool. I enjoy doing it. I put up a website. I sit and wait for the phone to ring. And then I’m shocked when I don’t get good results. Facebook ads work. Pinterest stuff works. Email marketing works. It all works. But I can’t be disappointed as a business owner if I’m not getting the results that I want out of it if I’m not putting in the equivalent effort.
First part of it would be, if you want to be taken seriously as speaker, you have to take yourself seriously as a speaker and say this is a key part of my business. In fact, just at the time of this recording yesterday, I talked with a lady who runs kind of a jewelry lifestyle brand online that’s been very successful and she does a lot of speaking. And speaking is one of the biggest lead gen sources, kind of brand building sources that she uses. But it’s because they as a company and her as the CEO has been very, very intentional to say, “I’m all in on this speaking thing. This is not just kind of secondary thing, if I get a gig, I get a gig. No, no. I’m going to treat this as such.” And her results speak for themselves. They really show because of that.
Again, for an agency owner whose just like, “Speakings kind of cool. If I get a gig, I get a gig.” Cool, that’s fine. But you can’t expect, why am I not getting the results of that person whose-
Let’s say I’m saying, “You know what? I don’t to be a dabbler. I want to speak at the six biggest shows a year.” What do I need to do to be taken seriously at that level?
Yeah, a couple things. One is to make sure that you’re taking the craft seriously. This isn’t exclusive to just speaking but any type of product or service. What are the things that you love and you recommend? A lot of times the marketing may get you in the door but it’s the product, it’s the thing. We live here in Nashville and my wife and I, our family, one of our favorite places to go is a place called Mojo’s Tacos that’s really, really good tacos. I couldn’t tell you anything about what their menu looks like or the decor’s fine and the location’s whatever. But the food, the tacos are really, really, really good. And so making sure as a speaker that you are really, really good at what it is that you do. And some of this is also just kind of being self-aware enough to recognize that.
When you’re going to some of these conferences and events, do you feel like I’ve done enough speaking where I feel like, I’m not the world… I felt like for me early on, I knew I wasn’t the worlds greatest speaker but knew, all right, there’s something here. And there’s something I can work on and something I get better on. And I have the desire to get better on that. Versus just kind of like, I don’t know, I’ll just speak a couple times and hopefully it all magically works out. No, no. If you’re going to whatever the deliverable is that you currently are offering in your agency, the time and effort that you would spend in that, then treat it the same as your speaking. That I’m really going to view this is as I’m going to get better. I’m really going to work on my stories. Maybe I’m going to work with a coach. I’m really going to work on crafting the talk and making sure that the deliverable, that the product is really, really, really good so that’d be one thing.
The other thing that I would say is part of what, and this isn’t true for just speakers, this is true for agency owners in general. Part of what you ar being hired to do is to deliver the talk or to deliver whatever the service is that you’re offering as an agency. The other part of what you’re being hired to do is the experience of working with you, right? Here’s what I mean by that. For example, we just hired an agency a couple months ago to help us redo a website, right? It was a several thousand dollar project. It was a several month project. It was an intensive project. The finished product was really, really, really good which we anticipated based on all the conversations we had with them. But working with them was a really, really good experience. They just had their act together. It’s kind of like if we go back to the taco place, if the tacos are amazing but the service sucks, the environment dirt. It’s just like, man, I will only put up with that so long no matter how good the tacos are, right?
And so the same thing is true for a speaker. It has to be a not a secondary thing for you on stage but it also has to not be a secondary thing for you off stage. That you’re really, really good to work with and that you have your process, that you have your systems. The part of which you’re being hired to do is deliver a great talk. But you’re also being hired to make the event planners life easy. You think about some of these big conferences, these big events. As a speaker, you are one of hundreds if not thousands of moving pieces. And so the easier you can make their job, the easier you can make their life, the more likely they’re going to be to want to work with you. The more likely they’re going to want to refer you. Even if your talk is good enough but it’s not the worlds greatest, but you’re amazing to work with, people want to work with those, and again, that’s not exclusive to just speakers. That’s what any type of industry, being really, really good to work with in addition to whatever the product or service is that you’re offering.
So from a meeting planners point of view, what does that look like? If they say, “Oh my gosh, Drew McLellan was awesome to work with.” What do they mean by that? How does that show up for them?
Yup. I think a few different things. One is, it’s so simple but you have to do what you say you’re going to do, right? I’ll give an example, okay? This has been driving me nuts lately. We have a pool in our backyard. There’s a company that comes in and takes care of the pool. They come twice a month. They go in the backyard, they do their thing and then they leave. We don’t have to be here. It’s not effecting our workflow of life when they come or when they don’t come. What annoys me though is when, as this recording, this week they say, “Hey, we’re going to be there on Tuesday.” And then I text message from their automated system saying, “Hey, we’re going to be there on Wednesday.” And then the guy actually shows up on Thursday. Again, it affects me zero but I’m just like-
It’s just an irritant, right?
Yeah. If you tell me you’re going to show up on Tuesday, then show up on Tuesday, right? So for a speaker, if you say you’re going to get back with them on a certain day, or you’re going to followup with them, then followup with them. And so for example, one of the things, one of the mistakes that a lot of speakers make in the book process is let’s say you’re reaching out, you’re talking to an event planner and they are, hey, we’re just kind of gathering some information, we’ll put out a call for speakers, the committees meeting eventually. And a lot of speakers area like, “All right, whenever you decide I hope you think of me,” type thing. We just kind of leave the ball in their court verus saying, “When is your committee meeting?” “Oh, it’s in two months?” “Do you mind if I followup?” “Sure.” Because the event planner thinks you’re not actually going to do it. When you do that, when you say, “Hey, can I touch base with you in a couple months,” and then you do, you’re giving them a precursor of this is what it’s like to work with me. I have my act together. I’m going to be really, really good.
Whenever they send you an email with a question, that they’re not having to wait several days for following up with you. That you’re getting back to them, ideally the day of or within the hour. That you’re giving the representation that I’m going to make your life simple. Whenever they send you a contract, that you’re giving that back to them immediately. That whenever they say, “Hey, we need to be here at this certain time for a sound check.” That you’re there on time for the sound check. When they say, “Hey, can you send us your slides ahead of time. We want to take a look or something. If you need any worksheets made or any copies made, can you send that to us.” That they’re not having to babysit you and followup with you.
Again, this is basic human stuff that so many entrepreneurs, so many business owners, so many speakers don’t do this. And so if you do the minimum, the bare minimum, it absolutely will set you apart from other people who are just dropping the ball.
Yeah, that’s sad.
It is but it’s so true.
Yeah, right, right. If I’m an agency owner and I want to do this speaking. And again, I want to speak let’s say six times a year. Do I need a separate speaker website? Do I need a section on the agency website? What do I have to do to look like I take this seriously?
Yeah. So there’s two ways to position yourself. One is am I a personal brand that is going out to speak? Or am I a representative of the company and I’m speaking on behalf of the company, right? And so one of those is first of all just kind of position yourself. I tend to lean toward more recording the personal brand. I’ll give you an example. For me and my own business, if someone comes to me and says, “Hey, I want to hire Grant to speak. I want to hire you to speak.” Then I’m going to sent them to grantbaldwin.com. That is my personal brand site. Because of the nature of what we do, a lot of people come to us saying, “Hey, I want to learn how to find and book gigs.” I’m going to send them to our company site thespeakerlab.com.
Depending on what they’re looking for, I’m going to send them to two different places. Are you coming to our agency because you’re looking to hire our agency to do work with us, then go here. If you’re coming to say, “Hey, I want to hire you to come speak.” Then go there. And they’re two different things right? They’re two different audiences. They serve two vastly different purposes. But I absolutely would recommend that you do have a website, that you do have a video because those give kind of an introduction of again what it’s like to work with you. You want to have a demo video that highlights what you talk about and how you interact with an audience. You want to have a speaking menu of a couple different topics that you could potentially talk about, some recommendations, some testimonials. Some pictures of social proof. Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It could be a single page website. And maybe you have your own single page standalone personal brand site and it links to the agency side and vice versa. That’s totally fine. But you absolutely need to have a speaking website.
But lets say I don’t have, I have not videotaped myself. Maybe I’ve only spoken a few times. I have not shot at video. Can I stage that?
Yeah. It is kind of this chicken egg situation of I need footage in order to gigs and gigs in order to get footage. What do I do now? And so for a lot of speakers, I’ve done some gigs, I just don’t have footage or the footage I have isn’t great. So couple things I would remind you of. One is a demo video is important because it’s kind of like the point of a movie trailer, right? Before anybody’s going to go see, invest 90 minutes in sitting in a theater watching a movie, just give me two or three minutes. Within two or three minutes, I have a really good sense of the plot, the theme, the actors, this is something do I want to see more? So the goal of a movie preview, a goal of a movie trailer and a goal of a demo video is to make you want to see more. You’re just trying to give people a taste, right?
Because you also have to remember that as an event planner, they are in the risk mitigation business. As soon as I put you up on stage, anything you do and say can represent me, right? And so I want to make sure you’re just going to do a good job. Because if an event planner hires someone, puts them on stage, whether it’s a big keynote or whether it’s a small breakout or a workshop, and they do or say something inappropriate or they’re just a bad speaker or they’re just not prepared or they’re just stumbling their way through. Then the attendees are going to be like, “Why did you hire that speaker?” It just makes them look bad, right?
Same thing if you come to town and I say, “You need to go to Mojo’s Taco.” And you go and you’re like, “It was really good.” You’re going to trust anything I tell you I recommend you. Verus if we didn’t like it, it was way overrated. Then immediately my credibility drops, right? So event planners, it’s a big risk to put someone in front of an audience and give them a microphone. So I need to see something that gives me some assurances that they’re going to do a good job. So that’s where the demo video comes in.
Now again, back to your question, what do I do in this situation? What I would recommend, if you don’t have footage, I think it’s totally fine to film something in an empty room. Now if you do that, make sure you do it in the type of setting or context where someone would actually hire you. So you want to go to a theater, an auditorium, a ballroom, a banquet hall. Some type of setting like that.
Yeah, yeah. You’re not doing it in your living room, your kitchen or bedroom. Nobody’s hiring you to speak in your kitchen, right? So don’t show that. Film something there. And the other thing I would remind anybody is you’re creating version 1.0, right? My first demo video, I borrowed a handy cam from a friend, set up in the back of the room. The audio is bad, it’s dark. It wasn’t great but it worked. I used that for six months. I booked gigs off of it and eventually got better footage and then better footage and then better footage.
And so at this point, fast-forward to now, I’ve gone through six or seven different demo videos. As I get better as a speaker, as I get better footage, as I get bigger gigs, as I get more refined in who I speak to, yada, yada, ya, then the footage gets better. And the same thing, if you’re a graphic artists, the first thing that you make for a client, it’s going to be embarrassing if you look back on it now but that’s what you had. You did version 1.0. You did it with excellence and it worked. And then you kind of parlayed that into future projects and bigger and bigger and more marketable assets. And so same thing is true with a demo video. We tell speakers all the time, work with what you got. Do it with excellence and improve as you go.
I want to take a break. But when we come back what I want to talk about is in most cases agency owners are probably, and let’s say you’ve been speaking a lot, they’re probably not being sought out by events. So they’re going to have to be the ones that proactively reach out to try and be considered as a speaker. When we come back from the break, I want to talk about some best practices of how to do that, all right? We’ll be right back guys.
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All right, welcome back. I’m here with Grand Baldwin and we’re talking about how agency owners can secure speaking gigs with the intention of using it as part of your biz dev program. So before we took a break I had said to Grant, most agency owners, unless they are already speaking a lot or unless it’s really a local gig and they’re just well-known in their local chamber or rotary or things like that, odds are you’re not having a lot of the big events in your industries reaching to you and inviting you to speak. So how do we get in the consideration zone?
Yeah. So great question because again, is not exclusive to just speakers. This is true for any agency. Okay, I want to be a graphic designer and so I got my website and now I just back and I wait for the phone to ring. It doesn’t work like that. When you’re running an agency and when you’re running a speaking business, it’s very much a momentum business that getting it going can take a second. But over time, you can start to build up a bit of a flywheel. And so from a speaking perspective, your right. Early on it may be I’m just sitting and I’m not waiting for anyone to reach out to me. That doesn’t mean that you want to keep sitting and waiting for someone to reach out to you, right? You want to be proactive in starting to build some of that momentum.
So couple things you can do. One is having the website, having the demo video. Again, taking yourself seriously as a speaker. Having those assets in place. The other thing is to make sure everyone in your sphere of influence knows that you’re a speaker. Again, this is simple but people won’t think of you as a speaker if you don’t tell them that you’re a speaker. Imagine for a second if i was a real estate agent and I’m just kind of like I’m dabbling in this and this is just something on the side. It’s not something I really talk about. I list a few houses or sell a few houses here or there or whatever. And then my best friend, I find out he’s listing his house, I’m like, “Dude, you didn’t hire me.” And he’s like, “I didn’t even know this was a thing that you did.” That’s not his fault, that’s my fault. I have to make sure I let everyone in my sphere of influence knows that this is something that I do.
And so for you, if you are someone whose interested in speaking, you got to make sure everyone in your sphere of influence, your family, your friends, your co-workers, your colleagues, your industry connections. Make sure that they know. Now you may be thinking, “But my mom isn’t hiring speakers.” Yeah, my mom isn’t either but she know of someone who is. And part of the challenge of being a speaker is you’re just trying to stay top of mind for people, right? So it’s like being realtor. Most people are only buying and selling a house a couple times in their lifetime. And so when someone is having the conversation like, “Yeah, I think we ought to list our house or I think we ought to go look for a house.” That you want to be top of mind when they’re having that conversation.
When an event planner who is working on maybe an annual conference and they’re thinking about speakers, maybe over the course of the year more or less, but they’re really sitting down to make decisions on it for a week or two out of the year. You want to be top of mind at that point. And if people don’t know you’re a speaker, they won’t know to think of you and they won’t know to ask about you. So that would be one.
The other would be if you’re already in an industry and you’re already, I’ve been doing my agency thing for a couple years or whatever, I’ve got some connections there. Then you probably already attended some trade shows. You probably attended some conferences. You’re probably apart of some associations. You probably already have some connections there which by all means be reaching out to those people, be talking to those people letting them know that this is something that you do and starting to have some of those conversations. Now again, I think it’s so much more than just saying, “Hey, if you ever need a speaker, I hope you think of me. Hey, if you need a graphic designer, I hope you think of me.” But starting those conversations and then having a really good system to followup.
I think this is where so many speakers, and again, I think service providers in general just drop the ball. They’re services that we’re all probably interested in, that we’ve expressed interest in to those service providers. And we would probably sign a contract. We’d probably do a deal if they would just followup with us because it’s important but it’s not urgent. I see it as something that I’ve been meaning to get to but I just haven’t. But if they just asked me or if they just followup with me, that’s why for speakers so often you’re going to have conversations with event planners and they’re going to say, “Awesome, we’re going to start reviewing speakers in a couple months.” And then you want to have a system or a process to be able to followup with them.
Again, this is the case with most service providers or agency owners is it’s rare that you talk to a potential client and they’re like, “Yeah, this all sounds great. Where do I sign? When do we get started?” Usually I got to do some due diligence, I got to talk to some other people. We have a committee meeting. I got to get a couple other quotes. There’re other steps in the process. But if you just say, “Yeah, I’ll send you a proposal,” and then don’t followup or don’t do anything else, you’re just dropping the ball. So making sure that as you’re having some of these conversations, that you have some type of CRM or you have some type of process to stay top of mind and to continually followup.
What kind of followup is actually valuable to the event planner as opposed to being annoying?
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. You absolutely have to be sensitive to it. One of the things I always try to do is when I… My goal is always to try to get them on the phone. Because you generally start with some emails and you’re exchanging some emails but when I can actually talk to someone, you have to remember that speakers, and again, just agency owners in general, we’re in the human business. We’re in the relationship business. And it’s really hard to build relationships over email. If I reach out to someone that I kind of loosely have a connection with or maybe even a cold introduction type of thing, and they express any interest at all, a lot of times what I’ll try to do is just pick up the phone and call them right then. And I’m just wanting to have a conversation with them. Every conversation I have them via email or via phone call, is I want to figure out what their next step is.
Okay, we’ve had this good conversation, what’s your next step in the process? When will you be finalizing your speakers? Again, our committee meets in the next month. Awesome, do you mind if I followup with you next month? Sure. Nobody’s going to say yes, please don’t followup with me, right? And if they do, then fine, be respectful of that. But most people are like, “Sure.” Because again, like I said, they don’t think you’re going to actually do it.
But am I doing a drip campaign in between them? Am I sending them hey, here are some of the recommendations I’ve gotten or hey, this. Am I in essence marketing to them between those sort of decision points?
Yes and no. It’s not necessarily always like, okay, I had this initial conversation and so now I’m going to throw them into the sequence and I’m going opt them into something and I’m going to send them a bunch of things and I hope it works out. A lot of times it’s much more customized and specific. You may talk to someone, an event planner, and they’re saying, “We have an event on this date and we’re reviewing speakers at this point. And here’s when we’re making decisions.” And they have a very clear timeline, they’ve done this before. This is not their first rodeo. And so you don’t necessarily need to have this long drip sequence with them. You just need to figure out what’s their next step and what do they need point A and point B to m ake a decision.
If they say, “Yes, and this…” A lot of times over the phone, I’ll kind of talk with them, here’s a couple things that I could talk about and here’s some things I think would be a fit. I will send them a followup email kind of outlining those things. And if they said that they’re committee is meeting in three weeks, then I’m going to schedule a followup in three weeks to followup with them and to touch base, I know your committee meeting is tomorrow, just touching base, is that still happening? Is there anything else that you needed from me prior to that to help make a decision? I’m going to followup with them the committee meeting. All these are things that, again we touched on before. I’ve asked for permission, do you mind if I followup with you? Sure, go ahead. When I do followup in three weeks or three months, what ever it is, I’m doing what I said I was going to do.
Now, the other variable would be lets say you talk to someone and they’re like, “We’ve never done a conference before. We’re just trying to figure this out. We don’t know what we don’t know and we’re just trying to gather some intel.” Right? They don’t have a date on the calendar. They don’t know what they’re doing, which is fine, everybody starts from zero. And so there you might have a little more nurturing. Do you mind if I touch base with you in a couple weeks? I’ll send you some stuff on how to put together an event. We’ve worked with a bunch of event planners, here’s a resource we’ve found that is pretty helpful.
It’s kind of like, again, as an agency owner, there’s a difference between talking with a potential client and says, “We have a budget, we have a deadline, we have this.” Okay, these people are serious versus, I don’t know, we were thinking about getting a new website. What do you guys do? All right, this could be a warm lead eventually but it may take a second to get there. Each lead that you talk to for an event is going to be slightly different there.
Is it appropriate to have someone else in the agency doing all of this? Agency Management Institute is holding our first national conference, it’s a great year to do it in a pandemic. But I’m astonished at how few speakers, our speaker lineup’s been lined up for years, we’re all set. But I get inquires every day and it’s very rarely from the actual speaker, it’s always from a minion of the speakers. Is that appropriate, inappropriate?
I got mixed feelings on it. I generally am not a fan of it. Here’s what I have done in my own personal business, okay, and kind of how I’ve thought about it. I’ve had an assistant that’s worked for me for many, many years whose helped with all the travel and logistics and details and that sort of thing. Sometimes we’ll have inquires and she may do an initial kind of fielding it and kind of just figuring out if it’s legit or not. In your case, you’re describing some speakers are reaching out to you. What I typically do is she made do some research to figure out, hey, I came across this conference and I think this could be a fit. Then typically I’m the one that I want to actually reach out for a couple reasons. One, as we talked about, we’re in the relationship business. And so part of what you’re hiring is you would be hiring Grant to come in and speak. But you’re hiring Grant because do I know, like and trust this guy, right, versus this third party that I’m talking to on behalf of the speaker.
I know that as a speaker, I’m going to be the one that’s going to have to show up on your stage and deliver. And I know that no one can sell me better than me. And so the other thing that I’m trying to do is I’m trying to make a personal connection with you. Before we started recording, you told me you lived in Des Moines. And I mentioned, “Oh cool, I’ve been to Des Moines. I’ve spoken at Iowa State a couple times. There’s a place there I ate,” is it Zombie Burger?
Yeah. We have them in Des Moines too, yeah.
I’ve ate at Zombie Burger there in Des Moines with a buddy. All the sudden, that little thing, now we have some type of personal connection. Well, a third party who works with me, who is phenomenal, doesn’t know squat about Zombie Burger. Doesn’t know anything about the Des Moines airports or anything like those just kind of just human connections, right? Now let’s imagine them, we go back and forth, we have a conversation over a couple months and you’re like, “Okay, you’re hired. Let’s do this.” At that point, then I’m going to pass the baton to her and she’s going to take care of all the details, the contracts, the travel, the logistics. We’re good here, you and I. We’re on the same page of what we need. I’m going to followup with you as we get closer to the event. You got enough other details, I’m going to stay out of your hair. But if you need anything, she’s going to take good care of you.
That’s the approach that I take. No ones’ going to sell me better than me. I want to be the one that’s going to talk to you versus again, kind of pawning it off to someone else and just go find me some leads or find me some gigs. It’s rare that I see that actually work.
I think a lot of agency owners are thinking this would be great, I have an admin or I have a junior account person or whatever. I’m going to task them with that. But what they don’t think about is the perception from the receivers point of view which is, this isn’t even important enough for you to reach out to me personally. And I am imagining that your assistant has a list of 20 events and he or she is just fishing for all of those events. So there’s nothing special about me, my event, my audience that you really want to connect with. So I as a result, have a more lukewarm response to that than I would if an agency owner whose is someone I know is super busy actually picks up the phone or send me an email that says, “Look, we just did some amazing research. I would love to talk to you about it and how it would be really interesting for your audience.” And then again, as you say, make that personal connection.
Well, and the other thing to that point is, everyone listening to this, we all get a bunch of emails on a daily basis, right? We can tell the difference, we’re all pretty good at telling the difference between an email that was written to you versus an email that was written to you and a thousand other people, right? This email was just copy and pasted, sprayed and prayed verus this person actually took some time, couple sentences here that got my attention. They did some homework on me, right? Those are emails that get your attention that cause you to reply and cause to at least, I’m not going to immediately delete that.
It makes a big, big difference. So just, again, take a couple minutes, do some research versus, again… It’s absolutely easier to copy and paste and to blast a bunch of emails and I don’t know, maybe I’ll get half of a percent interest or response rate. But if really take a few extra minutes, I’d rather send 10 really targeted well thought out emails than 100 copy and paste ones.
Yeah, absolutely. So I mentioned in my example before, hey, we got some research that we’ve done that might be interesting to your audience. What are some of the things like a new piece of research, what are some of the things that will catch a event planners attention and make a speaker more appealing?
Yeah. One of the things is getting, like we kind of touched on there, is making sure it is really customized versus, I created this thing and I’m just kind of throw it out there and hopefully it lands on someone, right? Versus really taking the time to think through, hey, we created this new piece of research or we did this new project and I immediately thought of you. And I legit did and I thought through how this could benefit. I’ve really thought through the how this would benefit for your audience or this would benefit for your event and it’s reflective in the email that I sent to them or something like that.
It could also be going a step further where a lot of people are used to, we’re all used to emails. Emails at times can certainty feel impersonal. So what are some things that you could do to make it a little bit more personalized? A lot of time what I try to do when I send emails to warm leads or decent prospects, is instead of just sending an email after a call or something, a lot of times I’ll do a quick Loom video. And so they know, well that’s not copy and paste. That’s Grant, he’s said my name, he’s talking to me. That is a real thing. Another thing is simple thing, a lot of times after I have a conversation with a potential lead, I’ll send them a handwritten thank you card of just hey, I really enjoyed our conversation. I know you’re working on a lot right now. I mentioned to you I’ll followup in a couple weeks. I can’t wait for our conversation. Just something simple because nobody does that, right?
Handwritten thank you notes are magic.
They really are, right? The old school stuff still works.
So thinking though in that lens instead of just here’s a PDF if you need it, I hope it helps. Just no, no, how’s this actually going to benefit? Just put yourself in their shoes. We all get a lot of emails on a daily basis. People send articles or links or YouTube videos or whatever. Here, I thought of you. Maybe they actually did. But they’re just like, here’s a link. Now you just gave me one more thing to do on my to-do list. I’ll give you an example. There’s a mastermind group that I’m in with four other guys. When we find resources, we like to share with them with one another.
But we also know, okay, anytime one of shares a resource with another one, we’re also kind of creating some work there. We’ve all gotten in a really good habit of here’s the resource and here’s the summary. Here’s the too long, didn’t read, whether it’s a video, whether it’s a podcast episode, whether it’s an article. Here’s the bullet point summary of the thing. That’s been super helpful for all of us because maybe they’re not going to read it. Most of the things we all kind skim and pass along.
Even though the person that’s sending it to me, I trust this person. I know this person. This person has my best interest. But I still have stuff going on like everybody else. And so I may be interested in getting that, I may not be able to get to it right away. So just kind of a bullet point of here’s why I thought of you and here’s why I thought this would be helpful. Doing some of those little things I think go a long way.
Are there things, again, like I’ve got a new piece of research or I have 20 years of experience in the industry or if we stick with the agriculture theme, I not only own an agency but I’m a gentleman farmer. Are there things that make me more appealing that then five other agencies who also have ag experience who are tying to get on the same stage?
Yeah. A few things. Some things that we kind of touched on would be your marketing assets, your website, your demo videos. Something that I can see. You and I had a conversation, you’re the event planner, I’m the speaker. I’m trying to get your attention. Maybe we had a good conversation but you’re also trying to pitch me to a committee to five other people who are also bringing in their own prospects to the table. So I need something else that you could use to help offer me to the rest of the committee. So having a good website, having a good demo video makes a big difference.
Any type of the, you mentioned the in the trenches experience makes a big difference. I would say also just the relationships. It’s one thing to say here’s a speaker that I came across that I found via Google or sent a cold email and they seem solid. It’s something else to say hey, here’s another conference, another event or another event planner, another friend who worked with this speaker and they had nothing but great things to say. That’s going to carry a lot more weight. And so I’m always trying to figure out, any event planner I’m talking to, who else do I know that has worked with them? What other connections do I have to them? Again, people do business with people they know, like and trust. And so how do I get that edge just through relationships and looking at who else that they have worked with.
Again, none of this is exclusive to speakers, right? It’s a lot of the same type of things if you’re trying to do as an agency or as a service provider of I’m in competition against these other service providers. And all thing being equal, what else can I do to stand apart from the crowd? It’s the little things, those little human touch points that really can go a long way.
All right, last question. Very controversial. Should an agency owner speak for free? Do they have to get paid? Is it somehow disrespectful of their value if they’re asked to speak for free or just for expenses? And again, these are people who are not doing this to feed their families. They’re doing it because it’s a biz dev opportunity. What should they think about compensation?
All right, I got feelings for you.
Here’s the thing. I think there’s a big misconception that speaking for free is a bad thing, okay? I think it’s okay to speak for free, here’s the big caveat, as long as you know why you’re doing it. Don’t just speak for free out of the goodness of your heart. You have to be really, really clear. Now, as a speaker and as an agency, you are providing something of value in the form of a speech. And so you need to receive something of value in exchange for that.
Now ideally, that comes in the form of a check. But a lot of times it can look a lot of different ways. So maybe the value that you receive is if you have some type of product or service or there is some type of lead gen that you can do. You kind of touched on the value for most agencies or agency owners and speaking doesn’t come from whatever an events going to pay you. It comes from I generate a client. Yeah, I got a client out of it that was work way more than the event was going to pay me anyway, right? So that’s incredibly valuable.
It could be that. It could be just the authority and recognition and credibility within the industry. It could be just getting better as a speaker. One of the best ways to get better as a speaker is you speak. And so speaking at something locally, it’s a at bat, it’s a rep. Maybe the client that you’re working with, you’re speaking at their thing for free but you know if I do a good job it’s going to lead to other future business with them whether that’s in the agency or other speaking opportunities. Just having a whole list to picture and not this zero one view of oh either I got paid, either I got a check or I didn’t get a check. And if I didn’t get a check, it’s not worth my time. If I did get a check, okay I’ll go do it. I don’t like that approach.
A good way to think about this is in Micheal Gerber’s book E-Myth he talks about the difference between being a baker and running a bakery. Those are two different skillsets, right? And so for a lot of people, we like speaking and we want to do speaking. And so I just want to speak. It’s like the baker says I just want to bake. I just want to bake bread, I want to bake cupcakes. I just want to share. I just like speaking. Speakings fun. I just want to do it for free. But if you just do it for free, if you just do these things out of the goodness of your heart, then you’re forgetting the running the bakery side and no longer are you able to create the art. No longer are you able to bake the bread. No longer are you able to make the cupcakes. You have to have both sides of it.
I like speaking. Speaking is a lead gen thing. But one of the hardest things to do is to say no. And again, this isn’t exclusive to just speakers. This is true as an agency. There are times early on where it may make sense, and even today, it may make sense for you to do something pro bono or do something at a reduced rate because you can see further down the tracks to know, okay, if I do this, there’s a good chance it’s going to lead this. And not because someone told you, if you do this, you’re going to get a lot of exposure. Listen, I can’t pay my bills with exposure. But I also recognize that there are times where it does make sense and exposure is worth something to me and advertising is worth something to me. Or what they can provide to me is valuable.
The point being, don’t just do something for free because they don’t have a budget so I guess I can’t do it. They can still provide value to you in other ways. You just have to decide what that value is and if that’s worth it for you. Or if you’re like, seems great but it’s still… As a speaker right now today, one of the hardest things to do is to say no because I just like speaking. But I also have to recognize I’m running a business here too.
Yeah. This has been awesome. Grant, thank you so much for sharing your expertise. If folks want to learn more about the work you do with speakers and helping them hone their craft, what’s the best place for them to go to do all of that?
Yeah. This has been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Everything we do is over at thespeakerlab.com, thespeakerlab.com. We have a podcast by the same name, The Speaker Lab podcast. Our new book is called the Successful Speaker, five steps for booking gigs, getting paid and building your platform. Like we touched on, whether you want to speak full-time or you want to speak a few times here and there for lead gen, both work. Both are effective. If you’re giving a presentation coming up for something, if you’re giving a pitch, there’s a whole section there on creating and delivering a great talk. How to use stories, how to use slides. Absolutely stuff that you can apply there. Definitely check out the book, The Successful Speaker out everywhere.
Absolutely, the book is fantastic because it’s not theory. It’s basically a huge to-do list of things you can do to get better. I thought it was brilliantly written.
Thanks man, I appreciate that.
Everybody should check it out. Thank you again for being with us.
Thanks Drew, this was fun.
Hey guys, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Thanks for being with us. As I mentioned to Grant, don’t forget, the Build a Better Agency summit, we still have about 100 tickets left so we would love to have you join us. Amazing speakers, all kinds of networking opportunities, lots of round table discussions where you get to both teach and learn. Don’t miss it. Join us for that. A big shutout to our friends at White Label IQ for being the presenting sponsor of the podcast. Check out their offerings at whitelabeliq.com/ami. They are your white label source for PPC design and dev. All right? I’ll be back next week with another guest like Grant to get you thinking a little differently about your business. In the meantime, you can always find me at agencymanagementinstitutue.com. Talk to you guys soon. Thanks for listening.
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