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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I'm a professional speaker and writer. In addition to the keynote speeches that I already do, I want to deliver seminars and workshops. Please visit my web site to see what I do now. www.laughingstockbroker.com.

The speaking agents that we use take 35%! I want a proactive way of marketing myself for seminars etc... any ideas? (direct mail, cold call)

THANKS

Answer from our Guest Expert Jim Chesky of Jim Chesky & Associates, Marketing Communications

Okay, David, let's take a look at what's on the menu for self-promotion for seminars, workshops, event speaking and keynote addresses.

Every recipe requires you get the ingredients right. And after going to your website, I want to be frank and admit I have trouble with you calling yourself, "The Laughing Stockbroker." Yes, I know you've invested time, money, a website into promoting this name, but I feel that it divides your efforts.

Who's This Stock Broker and Why Is He Laughing?

I've asked several friends who book events for their company or organization, how they'd feel about booking a workshop on investments put on by a person who calls himself "The Laughing Stockbroker." Every answer was the same. They'd have a hard time listening to serious financial advice from a guy who's called "The Laughing Stockbroker." Even suggesting your workshops on humor in the workplace seemed to bring out the skepticism. Apparently, when it came to their money, they seemed to want a more serious flavor in their workshop and seminar bookings.

Conversely, when I asked, would they have that same problem booking you as a keynote speaker, say at a convention or dinner, they answered the name, "The Laughing Stockbroker," seemed to suggest entertainment, and they thought they'd have no problem considering you for such an event. While I know this was my own informal survey, I believe the people I asked are reasonably mainstream enough to reflect what would happen most elsewhere.

I'm Not Asking You to Change Your Name

So with this said, consider promoting yourself in slightly different ways for different events. For serious events, you're David Goldman, world-leading successful financial advisor, columnist for ABCNews.com, and "The Laughing Stockbroker." For less serious bookings, go with "The Laughing Stockbroker," David Goldman. This will take a little marketing schmoozing on your part, but it may be worth your while.

Getting Personal With Prospects

David, you have hearty credits -- ABCNews.com, the Oprah Winfrey Show, and working with name headliners. However, all the people I talked with who booked people for seminars, workshops and speaking engagements said that in all cases they either knew the person they were booking, had heard or seen them personally, had a strong recommendation from a respected peer, or worked with a respected agency. Since you want to cook up your own marketing opportunities, without the help of an agency, here are some marketing tips to consider:

Get Your Target Audience To Know You Better

Getting them to know you, David, isn't as easy as pie, but it's as good. I know you have long-term investments. Well, this is another one. A slow cooked meal, if you will.

Start by researching different industries. Your goal is to find an industry that can support you with a lot of speaking engagements, seminars and workshop opportunities.

Find an industry that:

Is growing -- you'll want an industry that you can stay with for a while.

Has many young companies that are filled with hard-working people -- you want plenty of people who need what you offer.

Schedules a lot of conventions, meetings, and product launchings -- this adds up to many opportunities for you.

Has plenty of well-paid people, and as an industry, has money to spend -- pretty self-explanatory!

Have Them Hear You Personally

Next, arrange meetings with regional and local association executives. Pick their brains, buy them lunch, discover their problems, goals, and those of the industry. Gather up some industry names. Create some programs, seminars and workshops that fit their needs. Then, write a personal letter (no boiler plate text here). This is from you, probably to the CEO. Your research here's important. Propose a meeting to discuss some ideas. Don't mail it yet. First, call the CEO and tell him the letter is on the way. If you can't get past the gatekeeper, that's okay. Just leave the message, David Goldman, columnist for ABCNews.com, was sending Mr. CEO a letter. Your goal's to get an appointment.

At the appointment, do a little sales discovery on needs, and make a proposal either then or if you wish, after you've put one together specifically for them. Your goal is to sell yourself for an event for them and get a referral right then and there for another company they'd recommend.

If you make the sale, ask up front if the company would have any objection to your inviting someone to the event, i.e. an association executive who can recommend you to others. If the sale you make is to an association, then you want to make sure your next targets attend your events. Yes, I said it was long term. But you can become known within an industry to the point where you are "their man."

Publicity Builds You Up Too

If there's a rule to building on this, it's publicity. Make sure to state up front that you send press releases out, so your client doesn't feel you're airing the company's private business. Next, make sure every time you do something you share it with a press release to all the appropriate magazines, publications, periodicals, and individuals.

By this I mean, if you do a series of seminars for an association or company, send a press release to local business press (take the time to find out who they are), local association press, regional or national association press, the local, regional and national press devoted to seminar, events, and convention industry. Then also send a copy of the release to other associations that you've targeted.

Last, but not least, get recommendations from peers of your target audience. You want your target industries to feel familiar, comfortable, and confident about "The Laughing Stock Broker." And hopefully, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank yourself!

Good luck,

Jim Chesky

Jim Chesky & Associates, Marketing Communications

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