Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with David Newman @dnewman who is a thought leader in the world of marketing and speaking. He is the founder of Do It! Marketing, a marketing, mentoring, and done-for-you services firm. He has worked with over 800 entrepreneurs and executives to help them boost their reach, reputation, and revenue. For more information www.doitmarketing.com
SmallBizLady: What makes speaking a great marketing strategy?
David Newman: We’re living in a world where personal brands are more important than company brands. Business owners who are the face and voice of their business need to borrow key strategies from the playbook of the professional speaker to help them establish authority, authenticity, and connection with the types of customers and clients they most want to do business with. Speaking is not only the ultimate marketing strategy, it’s also the ultimate personal brand builder and one-to-many sales tool.
SmallBizLady: Should you hire a coach to build a speaking platform?
David Newman: Hiring any coach or my team of mentors is not magic – it still takes time, energy, focus, and some good old fashioned hard work to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and earn the right to speak on stages in front of your ideal target market. You’ll have to make some hard decisions about who you and your company really want to work with and then take massive action on those decisions so that you can start producing results as soon as possible. An experienced coach can help you get there faster.
SmallBizLady: What do people stumble on while executing their speaking strategy?
David Newman: The folks who struggle as speakers are reluctant to declare their expertise, not realizing that the alternative is to commoditize themselves as “just another vendor” or what I call a “same-o, lame-o speaker” who sounds the same, looks the same, and acts the same as all their competitors. You want to stand out every time you speak up. Successful speakers embrace speaking as their #1 marketing tool.
SmallBizLady: Have you found research that shows that speaking is an effective marketing and sales tool?
David Newman: Independent research from RainToday with over 700 professional services firms proves that the #1 source of new business is “Making warm calls to existing clients” – and #2 and #3 are “Speaking at conferences and trade shows” and “Running our own seminars and events.” More research shows that at any given time, 52%-72% of B2B professional services buyers are WILLING to switch to new service providers across a spectrum of specialties. What that means is that at any given moment, you are ONE good speech away from landing new business.
SmallBizLady: What are the top three strategies that business owners can use to position themselves as experts?
David Newman: First, target profit-rich speaking engagements in front of audiences composed of high-probability prospects. Then develop a “marketing magnet” presentation that will engage, attract, and convert prospects to take the next step in your new client acquisition process. Second is publishing – blogs, articles, tip sheets – anything that your prospects will find valuable and relevant. You and your firm need to become known for creating and sharing a consistent stream of high-quality information that solves your prospect’s problems. Third – Social media: Platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook now generate up to 40 percent of your website traffic. Speaking builds your visibility. Publishing builds your credibility. Social media builds your share-ability. Master those three, and you win!
SmallBizLady: What’s the ultimate goal of speaking for most business owners?
David Newman: The goal is to get more leads, and be able to win more clients at consistently higher fees. You’ll be seen as a true expert whom prospects will trust, recommend, and refer. And most importantly–you’ll develop the skill to generate new business easily any time you want with this one simple strategy.
SmallBizLady: Isn’t this just another way to talk about building your personal brand?
David Newman: Yes and no. It’s more than that. Think about what great brands like Coca Cola, Nike, and Apple actually do. There are 7 characteristics of a great brand. They are: Recognized; Respected; Requested by name; They cost more than no-name or generic alternatives; People “get it” and happily pay it; There’s doubt/risk in the buyer’s mind about buying anything else; and this creates a Halo effect where well-branded products are automatically assumed to have better quality, higher value, more prestige, and greater status. As a speaker you can build a personal brand with some of the same characteristics.
SmallBizLady: What impact does a personal brand have on your actual business?
David Newman: An article in The Economist put it best: “Personal brand is commonly mistaken as the equivalent of what your digital presence is. But it goes far beyond that. It’s identifying who you are as a leader, how you treat people, how you want to be known – in and out of the office.” THAT is what makes a speaking strategy so powerful is that it positions you as a person of value to a world of prospects, customers, clients, and the media.
SmallBizLady: Why do you call speaking a “test drive”?
David Newman: You’d never buy a car without a test drive, right? Speaking is the #1 way to “test drive” a trusted advisor, service provider, or company. It builds instant trust, credibility, and rapport at scale. Audience members who see you as a trusted authority are much more willing to invest in your products and services. Price resistance melts away because they now WANT to work with THE “Go-To” expert. In fact, when you speak once, the carryover can last for years – people recognize you, stop you in the grocery store, you’re “that” speaker, and you become a “minor” celebrity in your niche.
SmallBizLady: Why is teaching such a powerful lead generator?
David Newman: Today’s buyers are savvier and more skeptical to pitches, promises, and old school sales nonsense. Teaching is offering value before any money changes hands. After hearing you speak at an event, the new value prop question in their mind is now, “What would it be like to do business with this individual?” They’ve already had a high-value experience with you and the operative question becomes, “Do I want to CONTINUE?” That’s a very different feeling from what you’d get with a cold call, pay-per-click ad, or direct mail piece.
SmallBizLady: Is video important for entrepreneurs who want to launch a speaker marketing strategy?
David Newman: On day one, you can certainly get by without video. Long term, if you want to be taken seriously, video is extremely important for speakers and thought leaders who want to win stages at state and national level conferences, conventions, and association meetings. Lack of quality speaker video is one of the main reasons good speakers get overlooked. Real experts need a professional-grade video among their marketing assets.
SmallBizLady: What’s your best advice for business owners who want to start down the path of “expertizing” their business with speaking?
David Newman: Like with anything else, first you have to walk before you run before you fly. Look at the marketing, sales, and revenue growth goals for your business. Figure out who are your highest probability prospects and very best clients and customers. Start to ask them what conferences, events, and associations they attend. Ask if they know anyone on the Board or in leadership or staff positions there. Use your network to get introductions to them. Then work on your positioning, packaging, and how to articulate the value you’d deliver in a “client-magnet” speech. The structure of this client-magnet speech is “Teach – Show – Prove – Convert.” And my biggest advice is don’t try to figure all this out on your own. Hire a good mentor or coach who knows both the worlds of marketing and speaking so that you don’t make expensive mistakes and can quickly hit the ground running as an expert who speaks professionally.
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