Author’s Journey #32: Speaking for Profit

by Roger Parker on July 30, 2010

Last week, I described some of the decisions involved in managing and marketing information products.

Authors depend on information products, workbooks, audios, and videos, they publish and distribute themselves because there’s more money in back-end products than they’re likely to ever earn from their books. The selling prices are typically higher, production and distribution costs are lower, and –with the exception of commissions paid to marketing affiliates–authors keep all of the profits to themselves.

However, the Internet is a crowded marketplace; there’s competition in even niche categories. And, expertly-crafted landing pages and sales letters aside, its often difficult to close sales online, especially as purchases prices increase.

Thus, the typical author’s need is to balance profits from information products with speaking profits.

Getting paid more than once

Authors who are speakers get paid over and over again. There are two reasons for this.

First, successful speakers don’t reinvent the wheel each time. They often have a limited repertoire that they customize for different speaking engagements. (I remember my excitement when Bill Cosby spoke at my son’s graduation, followed by disappointment when I saw he had repeated the same speech at several other colleges.)

Second, when you’re hired to deliver a keynote speech or presentation, you’re—basically–being paid to promote yourself.

No matter how good your online videos, when you meet your prospects face-to-face, or “press the flesh” after a speech or presentation, you’ve established a lasting bond that no online video or DVD can create.

Here are some of the other ways authors can profit over and over again from paid speaking engagements:

  • Speaking and workshop fees. A properly positioned author can earn 5-figure, and up, fees, plus travel and lodging, for one-hour keynote speeches. The better your track record and online promotion, and the more experienced your speaker bureau or sales staff, the more you can earn. One of the most successful techniques is to look for ways to up-sell prospects. If there is no price resistance, after securing agreement for a keynote speech, look for opportunities to add-on a follow-up workshop or seminar event. Better yet, in today’s tight-fisted environment, rather than negotiate your fee by reducing your prices, offer to provide some extra services, like a workshop or optional evening session, without charge. Half a loaf is always better than no loaf!
  • Back of the room sales. Traditionally, speakers have followed their speeches and presentations by selling information products from the back of the room, while the audience’s enthusiasm is at its highest. The key to these sales is your ability to subtly promote your products in the middle of your speech or presentation. Obviously, the more you’re paid for your speech, the less appropriate it is to aggressively promote your products. (But, that obviously doesn’t always keep authors on the straight and narrow.)
  • Coaching and consulting. As Harry Beckwith, author of such modern business classics as Selling the Invisible and What Clients Want told me in an interview, consulting assignments typically follow invitations to speak. Often, he’s brought into a corporation by a mid-level executive who has read his book and liked it. The original reader shares his copy with his superiors, and they are often intrigued enough to hire him. During the speech, Harry establishes eye contact and rapport with senior management, who often invite him to return to help them implement his suggestions.
  • Event premiums. During another recent interview, Bud Bilanich, the Common Sense Guy, told me that self-publishing offers numerous opportunities for speakers. “After I’m confirmed for an event, I ask my host if they have a budget for materials, or premiums, delivered during the event.” Bud then described how he prints a print-on-demand copy of his latest book for attendees, customizing the cover for the client and the event. Profits from these premium books can go right to the bottom line, as there is nothing to do except schedule the printing and book delivery to the conference center or ballroom where he will be speaking.

Annual encores. Corporate events like conferences, meetings, and corporate retreats, are often repeated each year. Once you’re invited and deliver a stellar performance, you’re likely to be invited back. Each return visit solidifies the author’s image as “one of us,” leading to more opportunities for selling information products and services.

Selling your speaking services

The starting point for premium speaking profits, of course, is write a good book; one that breaks new ground, tells an engaging story, and- -most important- -positions you as a thought leader with both information and inspiration.

This involves many of the topics previously covered in this series, such as:

  • Choosing a title that not only sells your book but creates a brand. A book is a one-time sale; a brand tells your story in a memorable way and differentiates you from the competition. A book can go out of date, but a brand can be updated for decades. So, choose your titles wisely! An earlier post in this series shared how to test your book’s proposed title and subtitle.
  • Book content must do more than just share information. Information is great, but information rarely inspires. Your tactical information has to resonate with broader concerns and goals. You want to inspire belief that positive change is possible, and- -through your writing and speaking style- -arouse enthusiasm for taking action.
  • Leveraging your book in the media. No matter how many books you sell, you’ll never sell a copy to everyone who can benefit from it. Accordingly, you need to target the markets and specific reader demographics you want to read your book, then attract the attention of the appropriate media. Best possible scenarios?  The month your book appears, an article appears in a leading business or technology magazine, reviews appear in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and you’re interviewed on MSNBC or National Public Radio’s or Marketplace. Obviously, the likelihood of this happening depends on the caliber of the marketing and public resources you hire to promote your book.
  • Speakers bureaus. In addition to public relations and press resources, you will probably want to familiarize yourself with speaker’s bureaus and the protocols associated with them. Their websites often explain the criteria they look for in potential clients. More important, with a little research, you can find out the fees speaker’s bureaus are charging for authors who have written books similar to yours

One sheets and website ideas

Although you may not be ready for a speaker’s bureau, it’s never too early to prepare a one sheet describing your speaking background and the topics you speak on. An earlier post in this series, described the essentials of a successful author one sheet and included links to several of the best one sheets I’ve discovered. Here’s another blog post about author one sheets and online promotion.

Whenever possible, try to have your speeches recorded, and always ask for a copy of the recording. Even if you can’t distribute the recording, a recording of your speech will help you evaluate your performance.

Even better, when negotiating a paid speaking engagement, try to obtain rights to post excerpts from the recording on your website and blog. Even a single moment can be enough to create a compelling visual that communicates your ability to mesmerize and animate your audience.

Invitation

Share your questions about marketing your speaking services as comments, below.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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  • Johnroumdol

    I am Roumdol from from Aisa social. I have personal life story from that pas up to now with marriage life between Eroupean and Asia women a long story depaen on therefoere I would like to find a partner to halp me write a real story book that I have been got experiean from life social network. I bope this book will get very sucess for the hument being happening with thier owne persannal life.

    Thanks and hope will get in chounch with you soo.

    Roumdol from Aisa country

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