When you to take to the stage, you have two duties—one to your audience, and one to yourself. You have the responsibility to deliver value to the audience in the form of a stellar speech. You also have a responsibility to yourself, your brand, and your team to turn select audience members into future clients. Generating leads from speaking and converting audience members maximizes the value of getting on stage.
Speaking pays, in more ways than one. Speaking fees may be appealing and immediate, but when you turn audience members into loyal clients of your company, that is the gift that keeps on giving. In order to secure leads from your speaking engagements, you have to outline and execute a concrete strategy. Below you’ll find best practices on how to win clients from your speaking engagement audience.
1. Be magnetic and likable.
That may be a sweeping generalization, but people won’t do business with someone they don’t like. Check arrogance at the door when you step on stage. Cultivate a magnetic stage personality that entices audience members to come speak with you after you exit the spotlight. This is how you open the door to a wide breadth of opportunities.
2. Deliver a speech aligned with the goals of your business.
This almost goes without saying, but some very well-intentioned speakers will draft speeches that don’t directly tie into what they do/offer, in which case, it’ll be hard to leverage your speaking career as a way to grow your business and convert audience members into prospects.Your speeches must be germane to your business offering.
3. Discuss “case studies” of past clients you have successfully served.
This is a powerful way to demonstrate to the audience that you’re the real deal. If just one audience member thinks to themselves, “Wow, they solved that problem for them. Maybe they will solve it for me,” then you already have your foot in the door of a future deal.
4. Research your audience prior to stepping on stage.
The more informed you are about your audience demographics and their pain points, the more you can tweak your speech to cater to their unique concerns and properly explain why you are the go-to professional to solve their problems and provide them with value.
5. Don’t wait to be approached.
Walk up to people and cultivate connections immediately. Aloof behavior has no place in your post-speech temperament. The moment you’re free, arm yourself with a stack of business cards and go out of your way to start conversations with conference-goers. Dig deeper than small talk and strive to make meaningful connections with those you speak to. Field any questions you’re confronted with. Better yet, end your speech with an open-ended question so the audience has time to ruminate on it, then leisurely bring it up when you approach them, as it will serve as a fast-and-easy icebreaker. The face-to-face connection will always carry more weight than comparatively impersonal email marketing. So make as many connections with audience members as you are capable of making. You’re building a bank of leads and prospective future clients—don’t forget that!
6. Hoard email addresses to stay in touch.
Before you leave the conference hall, you need to collect a mountain of email addresses. This will be your primary point of contact with your audience members long after they exit the auditorium. If you let them leave without having tried to gather up their email addresses, you’re doing something wrong. Offer up something of value in exchange for their email. If you’re so bold, collect their mailing addresses too, to run direct mail campaigns. But email lists will truly be the bread and butter of your marketing efforts, as they allow you to create strategic email nurture campaigns.
If you bring assistants or Team Members along with you for speaking engagements, let them work in your stead while you’re busy or on-stage, setting up an enticing booth explicitly to collect email addresses and other contact information from attendees. If you’re not sure how to go about email campaign strategy, don’t worry about it just yet. Collect the emails then get with your on-staff digital marketing guru later.
Aggressively promote your social media handles to gather likes and follows. Create value for the audience member by running contests and offering prizes that drive people to your page. Make liking your page, hashtagging your brand, or sharing your post a condition of entry. Emails are critical, but they are not the only way to stay in touch with your audience post-speech. Maximizing your lines of communication—by showing up in their newsfeed at a steady frequency—will help tremendously in your effort to make clients out of audience members.
7. Set up an email nurture campaign that relates directly to your speech topic/business offering.
If the terms “sales funnel” and “nurture drip” are foreign to you, that’s okay. Here are a few of the basics: It’s called a “funnel” because you start off with a larger pool of leads, and slowly narrow it down to the most qualified group of prospects. Your marketing efforts, like speaking engagements and advertisements, cast a wide net, and in that net you “catch” emails addresses, followers, and contacts, some of whom will be more qualified than others to become clients. Over time, these prospective clients will journey through the sales funnel, with less qualified leads being weeded out. Unqualified leads are people who have no use for your product or service. At the end, you should be left with a smaller but far more qualified group of leads who could foreseeably become clients. Your nurture email campaign nudges this process along.
It will broadcast your message, explain your services, and entice the reader to contact you. Every email should be equipped with a “Call-to-action,” which could be anything from a “Contact Us” button, to an email address they can reach out to you to learn more, to a phone number they can dial, or the link to a form they can fill out. Once they’ve converted, (which means you got them on the phone or gathered their information on a form), your team can probe deeper into whether or not they’re qualified for clienthood. If not, you can remove them from the funnel. If they are, they advance closer to becoming a closed deal. Email campaigns, done right, are an excellent tool for slowly and steadily nurturing clients and converting audience members into leads.
Principles of winning nurture campaigns:
- Don’t fear repetition of your message. You have to get your point across to this would-be client, loud and clear, and it will take time. Courting prospective clients is what they call “the long game.” Some steady repetition is necessary for your message to wade through the white noise of their inbox and everything else that demands their attention. Don’t be afraid to persistently say a variant of the same message, you never know when you’ve said it at just the right time for it to click in their mind. Don’t think of it as repetition. Think of it as reinforcement.
- Personalize content in whatever way you can. If you electronically obtained a lead’s information, use “Dear %first_name%,” at the beginning of the email to grab their attention. Use a casual tone so they don’t suspect that they’re being sold to through some kind of impersonal sales email.
8. Provide a leave-behind.
Something the audience can take with them after they leave. A published book with your name on it is, of course, the ultimate leave-behind. A business card is hapless and flimsy when compared to a hardcover tome on the topic you were just discussing. It concretely demonstrates to the audience that you, quite literally, “wrote the book on” the topic you spoke about. If you are reluctant to hand out free copies of your book, assuming you’ve written one, offer them a link to a free chapter download (in exchange for their email, of course!)
9. Demonstrate credibility.
Aligning yourself with a well-known brand is one of the most practical ways to immediately establish unflinching credibility before your audience. Members of ForbesSpeakers, for example, are aligned with the Forbes brand, able to showcase the Forbes logo and ForbesSpeakers insignia in their marketing collateral. This serves to differentiate them from their competitors, elevating them in the eyes of meeting planners and audience members alike.
You can make a client of any audience member if you’re versed in the art of the follow-up. Be sure to talk through these 9 tips with your team to draft a unique strategy to land leads from speaking engagements. Sound off in the comments with your own tips and tricks for when you take the stage. Learn more about becoming a Member of ForbesSpeakers or contact us.