How Get More Business from Your Speaking Engagements

If you have a speaking engagement coming up, congrats. Now is the time to start thinking about making the most of it.  It’s one thing to give a great presentation.  It’s something else entirely to turn it into marketing and sales opportunities.  Whether you’re on a panel or giving a solo talk, here are some tips on getting more exposure and more business from speaking engagements. Note to marketing leaders:  even if you’re not speaking, you have a vested interest in maximizing the impact when your colleagues speak on behalf of your company.  Speaking engagements are another form of content marketing.  The thought leadership conveyed reflects on a company overall and the brand(s) represented.

  • Choose your topic carefully. Your topic should relate to the organization’s overall value proposition OR at least tie-in to the brand or product communication strategy. No attendee wants to hear a commercial.  It’s about conveying expertise that connects to the way your organization wants to be perceived.
  • Pick an intriguing title. A well chosen title increases attendance. Be creative and bold.  I once gave a webinar called “Leveraging Data in Your Marketing Process.”  Not a great title.  The next time around I changed the name to “How to Build a Data-Driven Marketing Machine” and 2X more people signed up. Conference organizers often pick the title in advance and then book speakers.  But many times there is leeway. And since you’re the subject matter expert…you can choose what you call it publicly.  Even if the official name varies, when you promote your talk you can call it anything you want.  Use titles that are easy to understand and ones that convey practical learning. If you’re on a panel, consider lobbying other panelists to change the title to one that best suits everyone’s collective interests.
  • Promote it in advance. Coordinate with your marketing department and ensure that your talk is well promoted before the event.  Consider inviting customers, prospects or even the general public through social media (and other channels), with links to the event page.  Use the event hashtag on Twitter to tap into conversations about the event. After all, interested parties are self selecting audience.  Even if people don’t attend your talk, promotion will score you points for being seen as a thought leader.
  • Essentials during the event:
    • Be provocative. Try the “Hmmm” test.  If attendees are likely to think “Hmmm” after your talk then you’ve got them thinking.  The goal is not to be controversial for the sake if it, but to have a strong informed opinion and a real perspective that attendees will get attendees talking (and sharing).
    • Ensure your colleagues attend. Make sure they sit in different parts of the room, which creates more opportunities to strike up more conversations with fellow attendees before or after your talk.  They should be armed with business cards.
    • Amplify it. While the event is happening, your colleagues can tweet your key points using the event hashtag and/or with messaging in the event app.  This will reinforce your brand and topic among attendees who may not have attended your particular session (if it’s a large event).
  • Use the right tools for business development. A speaking engagement can be a great way for others in your company to connect with prospects and customers, with the right planning.  The right tools can help.
    • For example, Jifflenow is a platform for scheduling meetings at events.  Sales teams use it to arrange meetings at trade shows and conferences, which shortens sales cycles.  More info at http://jifflenow.com
    • For presenters, Lively not only engages people but also builds connections (with no apps and a 20 second set up).  Speakers and marketers use it to create branded polls and quizzes, and/or field questions from attendees. Participants automatically receive a text message with links to your content, so you can generate leads.  Lively then provides reporting with the names, interests and social profiles of participants so you can keep in touch after the event.
  •  Repurpose your content after the event. Presentations are the gift that keep on giving in terms of marketing.  Your content can get more mileage if it is promoted online after your talk.  For example, sharing “The key takeaways from my talk on ‘How to Build a Killer Tech Stack” conveys thought leadership and is share worthy.   It is not nearly as compelling to simply say “I just got back from Orlando where I spoke at the XYZ Tech Conference.”  Post event marketing should be coordinated with your marketing colleagues in advance.  Think: emails, infographics, follow-up webinars etc

Bottom line:  Over 80% of companies find it challenging to show the ROI of events, according to Forrester Research. And CMOs are facing more pressure to do so.  Speaking engagements are the face of a company’s brand. Making the most of the opportunities takes planning and coordination, but is well worth it.

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