Category Archives: Professionally Speaking

Deep Evaluation Guarantees Results

One of your most powerful guerrilla marketing weapons

As an expert entrepreneur, you’re offering keynotes, lectures, seminars, workshops, webinars, coaching or online training as part of your practice. (If not, you should.)

And if you’re like me (and I know I am) you probably have delegates fill out some sort of evaluation form (and if not, you should). You might even compile them into a spreadsheet and run the averages, and maybe even graph how they trend over time.

You’re still missing one of the most powerful guerrilla marketing weapons available.

What is Deep Evaluation?

Guerrillas evaluate their work on 5 levels, and follow through to verify that their clients are receiving real value. It’s the secret of repeat and referral business, and the key to effective marketing.

Level 1 – Did they LIKE it?

These are the “smile sheets” you see at the end of most seminars. Typically delegates rate the trainer, the content, the venue, even the food, on a 1 to 5 scale, something like,

I thought the trainer (pick one)

  1. Really pissed me off
  2. Is a complete idiot
  3. Was OK I guess
  4. Was RILLY terrific
  5. I hope he marries my sister

News flash! This data is meaningless.

I know a professional speaker who’s been using the same feedback form, printed on 3×5 cards, for more than 20 years. He’s compiled statistics from more than 1,000 presentations, and rightfully claims a “4.8 out of 5” average rating.   Of course, naive meeting planners might find this number compelling. But if you dress nice and tell a few funny stories, you can make any audience LIKE you, at least for 45 minutes.

Besides, it doesn’t matter if they LIKE you. If you’re challenging their assumptions, pushing their buttons and making them deal with their shit, they may just hate your guts. That’s why the client brought in an outsider.

During a customer service audit for a Las Vegas casino, the VP of Sales walked out in a rage and resigned. The CEO (my client) had been trying to get rid of this guy for months, but couldn’t push it through HR.  HE was thrilled.

Level 2 – Did they REMEMBER it?

My dear friend Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE, says, “Dharling, there’s no use going anywhere they didn’t remember you were there.”

Savvy trainers TEST their audience for comprehension and recall, with multiple quizzes right after, or even during the program. Online Learning Management software typically administers a quiz after every 15-minute module, and you can’t advance ’til you pass. In most live events, the speaker seldom bothers. A forced show-of-hands, asking, “As a child, how many of you had parents?” doesn’t count. (BTW, this question will typically produce a 75% response. Yes, I have tested it. )

People tend to remember the first point you make, the last thing they hear, and the most unusual story or example. Typically an audience will forget 40% of your content within 20 minutes, 55% after one hour, 62% after 9 hours, 70% after two days, and 73% after six days. After 30 days you’re lucky if they retain 15%. So make your content memorable with stories, examples, images, iconographics, mnemonics, and emotional stories.

Testing for retention has another advantage; it can be an effective review.   Email a quiz, or better still, use an online tool like Survey Monkey to insure that they REMEMBER the main points.

Level 3 – Did they USE it?

It’s wonderful when they LIKE you; even better when they REMEMBER your content. But it’s of no real value until they USE it. Your impact is measured by your ability to change behavior, and if nobody bothers to apply the “3 Traits of Top Leaders” then your keynote was just expensive entertainment. For the same fee they could have gotten Garth Brooks.

Contact your client within a week, or 30 days at the latest, and ask, “How did you apply the “6 Strategies of Effective Customer Service.” Did they actually change the outbound recording on their voice mail, as you recommended? Have they re-written the brochure to highlight benefits instead of features? Did they stop answering the phone, “Hello, what the hell do you want?” Build your program around specific, actionable items that they must complete, tied to a deadline.

Bundling a few weeks of Accountability Coaching into the package is a sure-fire way to guarantee that they will make the changes. A weekly phone call, or even a guilt-trip email, is usually enough to nudge them along. Otherwise, like nuns, they slip back into the same old habits.

Level 4 – Did it WORK?

OK, they really LIKED your engaging and entertaining program. You’ve helped them REMEMBER the content with quizzes and tests. And you’ve kept in touch to make sure they USE the new skills. But did it WORK? Just because you’ve given them what you believe is sound advice, it might not work at all. It might have been inappropriate for their industry. Structural obstacles, corporate culture, or even a rogue CEO can sabotage your solutions.

No matter who’s at fault, if it didn’t WORK, you need to know, and you need to know why. You may be peddling obsolete or ineffective advice.  Clients revere you as an expert, so you have a fiduciary obligation to make absolutely certain your council is sound.

Level 5 – What was it WORTH?

If they LIKE it and REMEMBER it and USE it and it WORKS, that’s just swell. You’ve lived up to your reputation as a guru. You can cash the check with a clear conscience. But you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. How much value did your training, coaching or consultation produce? Did they save a bundle by re-negotiating the supply chain? Did they see an increase in sales, or a big bump up in customer satisfaction? How much was that WORTH? Find out. If you’ve been following up, keeping them accountable and tracking results, this should be an easy calculation.

My friend Heather Lutze is an international speaker and expert on “Findability,” how to get your website found by customers who are ready to buy. She recently attended a 5-day seminar taught by Callan Rush on “Magnetize your Audience.” When she told me the registration fee was $10,000, I thought she was throwing her money away.

At the beginning of Callan’s seminar, she gave everyone $25 in singles. Then they had two minutes to pitch an offering to their group that they could buy using only these bills. Over the course of the five days, every participant was required to develop an offering, analyze the benefits, and write a script. They were organized into teams with a coach to refine it, then presented it to the rest of the attendees. Whoever sold the most was declared the winner. They repeated variations of this exercise several times. The finalists were given a half-hour to pitch a real offer using real order forms. Not only did Heather win the competition, but by the end of the workshop she had enrolled six people in her new Findability Profits Lab at $1,997 each, earning $11,982. She had earned a 120% return on her investment before she left for the airport. Callan Rush can sleep well knowing that her techniques are effective, and she’s genuinely helping other professionals grow their business.

$3.6 Million

Recently I got a call from Bob Purvis, CEO of Purvis Industries, a bearing services company based in Houston. They had invited me to conduct a half-day seminar on “How to Sell More at Higher Prices” for 200 Service Center Managers. We brought in a video crew and sent the edited DVD to all 600 employees.

Bob called to say, “We’ve just had our first $10 million dollar month since 2007, and we’ve increased our gross margin by 3%.” That may not sound like much, but 3% of $10 million over 12 months equals $3.6 million in new NET PROFIT. It was the difference that kept them out of bankruptcy, and saved more than 1,000 jobs.

Once you find out what it was WORTH, now you have a real-life success story to share. And when you can deliver value like that, they’ll never flinch at your fee.

Better to be Different than Better

Based in Edinburgh, Flow Languages provides translation and interpretation services all over Europe. While working together over SKYPE on his Guerrilla Marketing Calendar for 2014, the owner, James Canter, shared his plan to send Valentines Day Cards to all of their clients.

James had designed an elegant color postcard, featuring the company logo, toll-free number, and listing all the various languages and services they offer. He was planning to have them professionally printed, on glossy stock, and mailed in bulk to his whole list. Good thing I stopped him.

“No, no, no, no, NO!” I said. “That’s exactly what every other business does. They send out a glossy marketing piece that looks like a glossy marketing piece, and it goes straight in the bin.”

“So what do you recommend?” James asked.valentine

“Go to Sainsbury’s and buy several boxes of those cheap little valentines that kids pass around grammar school. Sign each card with the message, ‘We LOVE having you as a client!’ sign your name, and enclose a business card. Then hand address each envelope and apply a Royal Mail First Class stamp.”

“But what about quality? The message is that we offer high-quality accurate translation. Shouldn’t the mailing reflect that?”

“I understand your intention,” I said, “but quality is a given. Every translator does accurate translation or they’d be driving a truck. What matters is the relationship.

“When you try saying something to everyone, you risk saying nothing to anyone. Instead, say something specific to someone.” I told him, “Target the top 10 or 20% of your past clients, ranked by revenue, then add inactive clients who are likely to engage you again, and get busy.”

Like all good clients, James acted on the advice. He and his employees spent the next week preparing 500 little valentine cards, and addressing 500 tiny red envelopes.

Within a week, he received more than a dozen calls from people saying, “Oh, that was SO thoughtful!” and “I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid!” By the end of March, he had booked 14 new translation projects directly from this mailing, worth more than £14,000, on an investment of about £200. More importantly, he re-activated 10 past clients who, for a combination of reasons, had been using a competitor.

Since starting his “Guerrilla Marketing Makeover” in January, James has grown Flow Languages from approximately £14,000 in monthly revenues, to more than £40,000. That’s 186% growth in less than three months. And he’s still growing. You can email him at to learn more.

His secret, “It’s better to be different, than to be better.”

First of all, it’s expensive to be better. Seven dollars for a fancy valentine for your sweetheart is one thing. Printing something original that’s greeting-card quality, plus the envelope, and postage to 2,000 clients, that’s exorbitant.

And it might actually be impossible to be better. Even if you care enough to send the very best, Hallmark has that market cornered.

Besides, EVERYONE claims to be better, so even if you ARE better, no one believes you. Advertising is considered the second least reliable source of information, after politicians.

So guerrilla marketers focus on doing something different. Postcards can be effective, but look at what everyone else in your category is doing, then don’t do that. A tiny red envelope, hand addressed, with a stamp? Yeah, that’s going to get opened.

While you’re at it, don’t waste valuable time talking about commonalities. Every speaker “works intimately with our clients to produce dramatic results.” Yawn! What unique skills or attributes do you bring to the relationship?

It helps if you can use the magic word “only.”

For example, while every ad agency in the world claims to offer “guerrilla marketing,” I’m the only speaker/trainer/coach/consultant/guru (pick one) who has written six books about it. The only guerrilla marketing speaker who has addressed audiences in 47 countries on six continents. The only guerrilla marketing expert voted one of the “Top 5 Sales/Marketing Speakers” in the world for the past 5 years straight. (Sorry if this is starting to sound self-serving, but if you don’t blow your own horn, there’s no music.)

So make a list of all the attributes that uniquely qualify you as an expert. What unusual training and experience do you have? What’s your specialty? What books, articles or blogs have you written? What out-of-the-way audiences have you spoken to? Claim your “only.”

Your WOW! Factor

Another way to approach this is to figure out your “WOW! Factor.” My friend Tom Peters wrote a marvelous book, The Pursuit of WOW!, and wow, get it, read it. Your WOW! Factor is something that you probably take for granted, that when you tell other people about it, their likely response will be, “WOW!”

For example, I am a “Certified Speaking Professional,” which means I can add the letters CSP after my name. This is not a big deal. But if you explain, “The CSP is the highest level of certification recognized worldwide by meeting planners,” your client might just think, “wow!” Or if you point out that there are fewer than 700 CSPs in the whole world, your client might think, “Wow!” Or if you told them that you are required to document more than 250 paid presentations, over a span of five years, and pass stringent client and peer reviews, they might just say, “WOW!” Now you have a competitive advantage.

The Test of Relevance

I might even add that on weekends, I lead a 20-piece Swing-Era jazz orchestra (I play drumset.) What does that have to do with Guerrilla Marketing? Nothing.

Your WOW! Factor is only effective if it’s relevant. Leave out everything that takes attention away from your primary expertise. Nobody cares if you’ve climbed Everest 11 times, unless you’re marketing yourself as a motivational speaker who shares what you’ve learned by climbing Everest.

If, like my friend Robin Hoffman, you’re a “Get Published Coach,” who “has helped multiple clients write award-winning and best-selling books,” that’s all you need to say. Now that’s a WOW! Factor.

The Test of Specificity

Specificity sells, so spell out the details. It’s one thing to say that you’re “An award-winning speaker.” It’s quite another to say you “received the Speaker of the Year Award from Meeting Professionals International in 2000.” Or that, “Guerrilla Marketing was ranked as ‘One of the 10 Most Influential Business Books of All Time’ in the February 4, 2013 edition of Inc. magazine.” The more specific you can be, the better. Which brings me to one more weapon in the speaker’s marketing arsenal:

The Capabilities Statement

This is a short story, starting with the words, “For example. . .,” that you tell to answer the question, “That sounds interesting, tell me more?” A Capabilities Statement is made up of three parts:

  1. a story about a recent project that shows us what it’s like to work with you,
  2. a tangible benefit or outcome for your client, and
  3. a reference.

If you go back to the top of this article, you’ll see that the opening has all three of these elements: an example, an outcome, and a reference. I could have claimed, “We help entrepreneurs double their business in three months or less.” And while it’s true in this case, the claim, by itself, isn’t credible. Telling a story is much more effective because it doesn’t sound self-serving. Let the example speak for itself, and let your prospect decide if there is a fit. Script your Capabilities Statement carefully, and then practice telling it as a story, the shorter the better. Weave these stories into your program and you’ll be mobbed by people wanting to book you.

Of course you should have more than one Capabilities Statement, one for each of the major activities in your practice. For example, “I was recently in London, teaching a four-day Business Mastery seminar with Tony Robbins,…” but that’s another story.

If you’d like to arrange a free 30-minute marketing consultation over SKYPE, send an e-mail to

Use Your Own Stuff (with appologies to Patricia Fripp)

Mona LisaAt the international convention of the Malaysian Association of Professional Speakers, I was surprised to hear one of my fellows quote the famous “Mehrabian Experiment.” This long-ago-debunked theory proposes that only 7% of your message is communicated by the words you choose.

Not only is it not original. It’s hogwash.  The lesson here is get your facts straight.  Better still, do your own research.  Your credibility suffers when you borrow content or stories from other speakers. Even if you give them credit, you cheat the original author, you cheat the client, and you cheat yourself.

Clients pay you for two things: your expertise and your point-of-view. So take a stand. State the facts.  Check out opposing arguments, then offer your own, original analysis, in your own words.

Besides, people will always pay more for an original

The Musée du Louvre, in Paris, no doubt the most famous art museum in the world, is home to perhaps the most famous work of art in the world, Leonardo Da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, more commonly known as the Mona Lisa.

The next time you’re in Paris, brave the long queues and have a look. She hangs alone in a large hall in dim light.  And she’s small; only 77 by 53 centimeters.  Time has not been kind to Mrs. Giocondo.  The colors are yellowed by layers of crazed varnish,  And she’s cloistered behind thick plates of bullet-proof Lexan, the consequence of a vandal having thrown acid in her face in 1954.  For all the hype, it was really quite disappointing.

However, in the gift shop, you can buy a poster-sized reproduction.  Scientists have analyzed the pigments that Da Vinci used and digitally recreated this masterpiece, just as it would have looked standing wet on Da Vinci’s easel in 1504.  It is ascetically superior to the original in every respect.

And it’s only fifteen Euros, while the original, of course, remains priceless.

Most speakers start out doing other people’s material.  And even if you think it’s great material, you’d be surprised how long some of these ideas have been kicked around the circuit. As soon as the audience hears you repeat something they’ve heard before, you’re labeled as derivative.  Aristotle was teaching DiSC in 340 BC, (he referred to them as air, fire, earth, water).  So read ALL of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and then NEVER tell any of those stories. People will pay more for an original.  Use your own stuff.