Zero to Six Figures: What’s Your Plan?
IT’S YOUR BUSINESS
advice for enterprising speakers
The best quote I’ve ever heard about the journey to become a professional speaker was from Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE: “I’ve never met anyone
who climbed Mt. Everest by mistake.”
Becoming a professional speaker is
not easy; you really have to want it.
Want it, and then work hard, have
some luck, deliver value, and do the
dozens of things it takes to build a
speaking business—all with no
guarantee of success.
In January 2011, I traded my job
as a vice president of marketing for the
life of a professional speaker. Without
a regular paycheck, I was highly motivated to succeed. Here are six steps
that accelerated my journey.
Clarify your value. What would
someone pay you for? Get clear on
how you will deliver your message to
your audience in a way that’s unique
to you. You’re selling your expertise,
your insights and your life experience.
Craft a succinct, powerful description
that includes your topic, your hook and
your credibility. Mine is: “Billion-dollar
brand strategies any company can use
regardless of their budget.”
Work key contacts. Once you’ve
crafted your unique program description, get it in front of everyone. You
don’t know where, when or who your
key leads will come from. I can track
over 75 percent of my business to
three key people who made introductions for me.
Create a video. In my third year of
speaking, my new demo video was my
single most important investment. It
increased everything: bookings, fees,
interest from bureaus, and clients’ perception of my value. There are many
ways to get professional video footage
for a small investment, such as hiring
wedding photographers, students and
local filmmakers. Even footage you
shoot from a tripod can be great, but
you must have high-quality sound.
Always get a video testimonial from
your client. Shoot it right after you get
off stage while they’re still excited.
Then, work with an editor who can tell
the story of your content wrapped in a
story about you.
Develop product revenue. Nope, I
haven’t written a book yet, but I have
written a workbook package. It sells for
over 10 times what a book sells for, and
is a critical part of my business model.
My early free presentations were
never truly unpaid; I always made
money by selling my business planning
system. Systematize your knowledge so
that your audience can implement what
you teach after you’re off the stage.
Gerry O’Brion is the creator
of The Speaker’s Formula—
Building a Powerful and
Profitable Speaking Brand.
It’s not a book; it’s a work-
book that helps you build a customized plan
to grow your speaking business from zero to
six figures. Go to www.WhatBigBrand-
Speak well. The best way to get
speaking is by speaking. Everyone will
tell you that, but it’s remarkable how
true it is. Free gigs lead to paid gigs,
and paid gigs lead to more paid gigs. In
my first three years, nearly 50 percent
of my free presentations resulted in
paid engagements. The key is rocking it
from the stage. Deliver the value you
promised in an engaging, entertaining
package and opportunities will arise.
Follow up. Be purposeful about generating leads from every speaking engagement, and follow up incessantly. I’ve
had multiple situations where potential
clients haven’t called or emailed me for
several months, and then they called to
book multi-gig deals. They want you to
follow up, even if they don’t respond.