In order to thrive as a speaker, consultant, or coach, you have to be visible. Potential clients need to see you. And they need to see you as a thought leader. When they experience your skill and expertise, they step forward. Here are four no-cost ways to magnetically attract clients.
1. Relationship Marketing
This channel requires careful tending. Your Rolodex is your Power Base. (For younger readers, “Rolodex,” was a pre-Facebook way of keeping track of “friends.” Google it.)
Who do you know you could reach out to? Who’s out there who could provide an introduction or a recommendation? Make a list. The Director. The CEO. The HR Department. The President. The Meeting Planner. Reach out to them.
The best list is clients you’ve served recently, who’ve had an excellent experience of you. Reach out to all who’ve seen you work. Their needs may have cycled and they need you again, or they can refer you to someone who needs you now. They experience you as someone who’s invested in a relationship, so they feel comfortable introducing you to others.
Just last week, a client was complaining that she had nothing on her calendar for 2016.
“So why do you think you’ve got nothing booked? What’s your business development process?”
If you can’t articulate that in three or four steps, then you don’t have one.
“Well, I make 25 contacts a week,” she said.
“Good. Tell me about that. What qualifies as a ‘contact’?”
“I call. I leave voice mail. I follow up with email.”
“Then what happens?”
“And how’s that workin’ for you?”
If what you’re doing is not working, then do something, anything else. If you expect your situation to change, then change your process.
I suggested she keep score a different way. As my friend Mark LeBlanc, CSP, says, “Have one meaningful conversation a day. One. Every day. Like your vitamins.”
Keep dialing until you get through to someone. This is the best, most intimate way to strengthen relationships and find new business. They won’t engage until they see your work and experience who you are.
“Can you do that?” I asked.
Twenty-four hours later we were working out the pricing for a new client for three keynotes totaling $24,000.
2. Educational Marketing
Give lectures and speeches. Lead workshops, discussion groups or training. Teach a class through the local college, continuing ed, or free university. Offer your services in a low-cost, low risk environment so people can experience you. Speak at associations where your colleagues hang out. Share your knowledge freely. Large seminars can reach hundreds of prospects. Small events are more controlled and connected.
The people you can help the most will see you and self-select. They’ll step forward and engage you. They experience you as a teacher, with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. And the ones who don’t are not ready or not committed.
Every month I offer a full day, “Advanced Acting and Storytelling Skills for Professional Speakers Lab” at our studio in the mountains west of Boulder. This full-day experience teaches speakers how to bring excitement, drama and imagery to the stage using the same techniques as Hollywood’s brightest stars. You learn fifteen simple rules that add impact to every story, every presentation, no matter what your topic.
By invitation only, it’s limited to six participants, so everyone receives lots of individual direction, personal coaching and group feedback. And I only invite those who have been vouched for by a client. This small-group format gives these guests a unique opportunity to hone and polish signature stories using easy and simple techniques.
Over the course of the day, we get to know each other better. Everyone gets an experience of what it would be like to work with me.
At the end of the day, I explain directly, “This is how I grow my practice. If you would like to continue this conversation, I’d be happy to schedule a 2 hour private session to explore the possibilities.” Then we adjourn to adult beverages.
I have the privilege of choosing the clients I work with, and so do you. About half the group will set an appointment, and of those, I choose one. And I only choose clients who are deeply committed to up-leveling their success. During the intake interview, we explore their goals and ambitions, and the investment. Then I decide if they’re ready or not.
Most engage for a year. Some want help with short-term projects, like editing a speech script or book. At the rate of twelve new clients a year, I easily keep the practice full.
3. Leadership Marketing
People equate leadership in your professional circles with leadership in your field. For the time and effort it takes, this is one of the most valuable investments of time, energy and imagination you can make.
Attend the meetings of the local organizations that serve your industry: professional associations, network groups, Meet-Ups, chambers of commerce, or service clubs. Get involved. Volunteer. Serve on committees. Meet good people. Do good work. Learn to lead. Step up and run for office. Whatever your most valuable skill, offer that.
Starting in early 2015, I started attending the monthly meetings of the International Coach Federation, Colorado Chapter, as a guest. There I met Dr. Lisa Hale, who invited me to speak. I volunteered to direct traffic at the Fall Conference. And the next thing I know, they’re nominating me to be Education Director.
Apparently they found out that I had lots of non-profit board experience, having just served as VP of Professional Development for the National Speakers Association, Colorado. So now I have to come up with a year’s worth of keynote speakers, plus added workshops, webinars and salon events.
Now you’re smack in the middle of the most influential network in your field. But what better place to develop a reputation? Coach, consultant, speaker, blogger, or author, you gain credibility by who you count as colleagues. They experience you as a leader, who bolsters everyone’s confidence.
4. Authorship Marketing
That book inside you is going to have to come out. They can’t see you as a thought leader if they don’t know what you think. Authorship = Authority. So put your thoughts in writing. It can be a speech, a lecture, a blog, a newsletter, an eBook, or even a New-York-Times-Best-Seller-published-by-a-Major-house Dead-Tree-Book.
My friend Cristal had been struggling to write her book for a decade. She teaches teachers lots of new and creative ways to engage students in the classroom. She shows them how to manage conflict and create an environment conducive to learning. She’s been doing multi-day trainings all over the country for two decades.
Her breakthrough came when she realized that she had the book written already. It was in her head. And she’s been testing and polishing that material on stages for ages.
A simple voice-recognition app on her Mac converted her lectures into text. This method has the advantage of capturing your thoughts in your most natural voice, your speaking voice. Then she merged the text with her already-elaborate handouts. The result was a 60,000 word manuscript in two months. And the graphics have already done; they were already in the workbook.
People see you speak or teach, then take your book home. Your voice continues to ring in their ears from the page. They take you to bed. It’s very intimate.
My friend Robin Colucci, “The Get-Published Coach,” just released a new book, How to Write a Book That Sells You. She says, the best best-selling book is the one that draws clients into your practice. She says, “90 percent of your content should be based on your original stories and experience.”
From the book, you can offer the material in different formats: a keynote, a workshop, a webinar, a junket seminar, or even the $10,000-per-person-three-days-on-the-beach-in-Maui.
They will pay fifty percent more, or even double, if you’ve written a book. Clients experience you as an author, and therefore, an authority. Someone they can trust.
And I don’t mean a skinny piece of junk. The formula is six-by-nine trade paperback, 160 pages, perfect bound, glossy, non-curl cover, printed in color. Three Sections. Twelve chapters, plus back-mater, with your photo featured prominently. Cover price, $29.95. Sell them all day for $20. Everyone’s got a $20 bill.
And you can get them printed on Amazon Create Space for $3 each. Do the math.
There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
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