By Lisa Calhoun
As you’re planning marketing for next year, think about putting a premium on speaking opportunities.
Turn your thought leadership into thoughtful lead generation.
For an average of $900—that’s a $500 average plane ticket, a $200 hotel, and $200 of incidentals—you can reach around 50 qualified decision-makers in a speaking session at around an $18 cost per lead. If you’re a keynote or on a main stage panel, you might reach hundreds, if not thousands. For most business speaking opportunities, not only is the cost-per-lead of speaking attractive, so are the solid perks of face-time with clients in other cities, the networking opportunities of the event itself, and the synergies of visiting with potential partners.
How are you going to track leads from speaking?
The focus of asking yourself how you’re going to track leads helps you design a session that is not just interesting, it’s also effective for sales. We help clients at my public relations agency create landing pages and make interesting offers during the session in order to track interest. Consider offering survey results, an info graphic, the presentation itself, or data you created. Ultimately, seeing speaking as a lead-generating activity for your business instead of as a “one-off” special case helps you migrate thought leadership into lead gen.
How many times can you deliver that message?
Once you have developed the outline of a powerful session and a call to action you can use in the session, leverage databases of speaking opportunities like those my agency, and others, have developed. Place your content in multiple events in your industry—think local, regional and national. If you can deliver the content once, my rule of thumb is there are between 5 and 10 other opportunities the same year for that presentation.
Do any of your speakers need tune ups or training?
Genevieve Bos, founder of Thought Capital, a sustainable growth strategy consulting firm, is an inspiring keynote. Having seen her speak, I know she’s got a ton of talent. I asked her about how she became a world-class presenter. She shared it’s not just a gift—she has made sure she has the training she needs to bring her talent to the fore.
“You may think you’re good speaker, but you’d be amazed at the difference between doing something on the fly and having an outstanding trainer help you deliver your message in a powerful way,” she says. “Small things can make a big difference. Being thoughtful can make the difference between being completely forgotten and asked to speak again.” (See 6 Ways Awesome Speakers Own the Room, a previous column.)
What’s the minimum size audience worth your investment in travel?
If you are paying $25 a click on Google Adwords for some of your lead generation, it may be easy to justify a speaking session with even 30 attendees in your target audience. Think about what your average cost per qualified lead is. Use that to frame the minimum speaking engagement size that makes sense for you or your team. Be realistic about how many people in any given audience are qualified influencers or decision makers for you.
Who can help amplify your message?
Most business speakers tend to focus on what they can share themselves, but you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, some of the most powerful sessions are panels where the audience gets a nuanced understanding of a big issue. You don’t have to wait for a conference director to pull that together—you can do it yourself.
Invite a respected analyst or journalist to share the stage with you. Perhaps one or two of your customers would be interested in the same audience you care about, too. Amplifying your message by bringing more points of view to the table is an easy way to take a good session and make it great.
This article first appeared in Inc.com