Posts Tagged ‘book signings’

Last week, I discussed some of the ways authors can attract profitable speaking invitations.

This week, I’d like to take the idea of “speaking for profit” to the next level, which involves creating, marketing, and producing special events like conferences, seminars, and workshops. These differ from speaking in two important ways:

  • Multiple presenters. Conferences and workshops, often called “bootcamps,” typically involve multiple speakers. Often, there’s a well-known keynote speaker, followed by sessions conducted by subject area experts- -often other authors- -who may be paid, but often participate because of the visibility and opportunity to demonstrate their competence to attendees who may be coaching or consulting prospects.
  • Affiliate marketers. Authors presenting conferences and workshops often depend on marketing affiliates to help promote and sell tickets to their events in exchange for either a flat fee, or a percentage of each attendee’s fees.

Major profit potential

Profits for authors presenting in-person events can be significant. Profits quickly mount up when you have 100 or 500 people paying several hundred dollars to attend a live event. Successful events also create a buying frenzy of back-of-the-room profits from books,
CD’s, DVD’s, and workbooks.

Soon after Looking Good in Print appeared, I became a lead speaker for desktop publishing conferences produced several times a year around the country by Thunderlizard Productions, a partnership of three authors. I remember staring out at hotel ballrooms filled with participants who often faithfully attended each year’s conference, as well as pre-conference and post-conference workshops.

Other sources of event profits include:

  • Booth rentals. This involves renting booth in an adjacent “open-to-the-public” exhibition space to firms interested in marketing to conference attendees.
  • Sponsorships. Often, corporations sponsor pre-conference breakfasts, sponsored lunches, and happy hour afternoon networking events.
  • DVD’s and CDs. When events are recorded, post-conference sales of audios, transcripts, and videos create excellent content for direct-marketing and back of the room sales at upcoming events.
  • Pre-registrations. Before one year’s event ends, savvy producers are usually offering significant discounts for attendees who pre-register for next year’s conference. These pre-registrations, of course, help pay for marketing next year’s event!

All is not entirely rosy, of course; promotion and space rental costs can be huge, and the potential of major losses is possible because of events far beyond your control. I also remember numerous event cancellations immediately following 9/11, and the current economic environment doesn’t encourage attendance at anything other than the most important events.

As a result of this, authors are frequently turning to “virtual events” based on computer and telephone-based teleseminars or webinars. These typically take place over several days. Whether in-person or virtual, however, the principles remain the same.

7 keys to success and profits

Even more than books, conferences and workshops are planning-intensive. Success involves careful planning and co-ordination. Planning often begins a year, or more, in advance.

Above is a copy of a mind map I’ve created to help clients plan their event’s success. The map’s purpose is to help you co-ordinate the 7 key activities that will determine your event’s success and profits:

  1. Planning. Planning involves answering 2 key questions. The first question is, Where and when do you want to hold your event? This involves identifying and contacting conference and banquet facilities in the areas where you want to host your event. Realities like availability and pricing have to be balanced with desired requirements. The second question is, Who do you want to attend your event? As a successful author and marketer, you’re probably familiar with the concept of personas, described in Author’s Journey #2: How to Target the Right Readers for Your Book.
  2. Promotion. As soon as you have locked-down space availability, it’s important to start preparing your online and offline marketing. Once you have identified your location and target market, you can start preparing landing pages and a web site for your event, even if the pages won’t go live until later. Details can always be added, but it’ essential to give copywriters and designers enough time to prepare the foundation for a multi-faceted and multimedia promotion program.
  3. Sales. In addition to creating sales copy and attractive landing pages, you have to set up a sales system which will not only facilitate online registration and sales, but also will allow marketing affiliates to sell for you. First, you have to sell your event to marketing affiliates, getting them behind your event. Second, you have to provide your affiliates with the sales tools- -e-mail copy, pre-written blog posts, graphics- – they need to sell their markets. And, finally, you need to sell- -or convert- -visitors when they are sent to your website.
  4. Content. Next, you need to create a “table of contents” for your events by identifying and contacting other experts in your field and convince them to speak at your event. Scheduling can be time-consuming because of the necessary co-ordination. Mind maps help you visually display the status of various time slots each morning and afternoon of your event. With a map, you can easily keep track of multiple speakers and multiple conference rooms throughout your event. After deciding who speaks when, you have to work with them and make sure their presentation addresses the topics you’ve agreed upon.
  5. Visuals. Most events include a video component as well as a spoken message. Among the decisions you’ll have to make is whether or not to require all presenters use a presentation template that’s branded to your event. By encouraging presenters to use the same template pays off in terms of projecting a consistent and professional image. Again, your Workshop Planning Map can help you track the status of the various presenter’s visuals.
  6. Handouts. Attendee handouts will play an important role in the perceived value of your event. This is no place for last-minute cost cutting. To your attendees, your handouts are their primary “souvenir.” Attendees, and their attendee’s friends, co-workers, and employers, will judge the value of your event by the quality of your handouts. In addition, evaluations are an important part of your event. Handouts must include clearly-marked evaluation forms that must be collected after each presentation.
  7. Follow-up. Your event isn’t over on the last day. The success of next year’s event is paved by what you do after the event. Ideally, if your event ends on a Saturday, attendees will receive a “Thank You” gift in the mail on Monday, their next day back at work. By sending a tangible expression of your appreciation to attendees- -ideally, a “bonus” item that relates to your event- -you’ll be cementing a relationship that will last for years.

Although broken apart for clarity, above, many of the above tasks have to be simultaneously addressed. By analyzing all of the tasks involved in a successful event, and displaying them on a single mind map- -especially one that can be shared online by everyone involved in your event’s success- -you can monitor what’s been done, and what still needs to be done.

Planning & profits

Planning is a constant theme throughout a successful Author Journey, as you can see from my previous 32 posts.

But, no amount of planning can protect against every eventuality; Who could have foreseen the empty planes and empty pre-paid seminar seats following 9/11? Yet, by focusing on the above issues, and giving yourself and your team enough time to do the job right, you can leverage your book into a series of profitable events that may catapult you into an entirely different tax bracket!