How to Run A Successful Speaking Business

Run a successful speaking business

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Many experienced speakers are profitable, but not many run their speaking careers like a traditional business. Recently Stacey Hanke and I discussed how she’s created a successful speaking business, even in the pandemic, by utilizing traditional business methods and innovative marketing practices. Stacey is author of the book; Influence Redefined…Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be, Monday to Monday®.   She is also co-author of the book; Yes You Can! Everything You Need From A To Z To Influence Others To Take Action.

Before focusing on what you do on stage, you have to GET on stage, whether it be at a live event or an online event. You can’t get on stage without working the business – and that means constant business development and networking.

To create a successful speaking business, you need to ask yourself some questions. What is the message and what is your why? Why are you speaking on a certain topic? Why would anyone be interested? Why should they care? To answer those questions, you need to take a step back and look at what your topic is and what’s working and what’s not.

You also must run a business to get on stage. That means watching your numbers. Stacey watches hers weekly, sometimes daily. She suggests watching them at least monthly. “Numbers” means looking at what are you billing and what’s going out. What’s the overhead that you need to cover? Stacey has goals every month to clarify how much they need to make every month to run a successful speaking business. The more that you understand your numbers the more calm and confident you can be. If the numbers aren’t where you want them to be that’s a signal that you have to decide what you’re going to do next. That could be another social media pitch, pitch new clients even more, call existing clients for repeat business and other business development strategies that you think will work for you. The numbers will help drive your strategy and how you run your business every day, every week, every month. Stacey and her team have a check in point every month, so they know what they need to do during the next 30 days.

Without the numbers how do you know what direction you should take today to run a successful speaking business? Working without the numbers is like taking a trip without knowing what your destination is. The numbers are a powerful starting point for a successful business development strategy.

Your Business Development Plan

Stacey breaks her marketing plan down quarterly which tells her what she needs to do monthly. Your marketing plan drives who you talk to and why. That could be your advocates that sing your praises but have never booked you, people that you’ve recently worked with or people that you’ve never worked with and you’re trying to get them on the books. Once you determine who you need to reach out to you can create a monthly plan. Keep it simple and answer the question “What is the ONE message we want to get out there this month?”

Your marketing plan drives who you talk to and why.

You always want to stay in front of your clients and potential clients. To successfully do that Stacey suggests sending what she calls “value adds”. Without pitching the person that you’re reaching out to send them resources and helpful information. To determine what your value adds are, answer “What’s the message to our clients this month?” Of course, you need to have some kind of call to action, but it shouldn’t always be “Do you want to hire me? Do you want to hire me?” It could be sending someone a resource in October and ending the message with “It would be great to reconnect, can we talk on January 4th or 5th?”

The other side of the successful speaking business is the clients that you currently have. It’s the touch points that you have before you meet with them and then there’s the touch points after. There’s always excitement before the gig, but do you put the same level of excitement and passion into the relationship after the gig? For any type of training or mentoring that Stacey does her and her team have 30-day check-ins, 60 day check-ins and then a six month check-in. To reiterate, the check-ins are genuinely to find out how her clients are doing, they’re not a sales pitch to get hired again. It’s always some type of value add because those check-ins are to make sure they’ve got everything they need to keep the training going. That way when the need for more services comes up with a client Stacey is the first in mind because she maintained that relationship over time.

That might not mean they hire you two years in a row but that does mean that you have the opportunity for a value add. If they’re not going to hire YOU, you can reach out and let them know that you have a network of speakers that might fit their needs and you would be happy to make an introduction. In short, you should always be to trying to find ways to keep talking to them. One unique way that Stacey does this is by sending anniversary cards on the day that she first worked with a client. The results might not be immediate, but there will be results.

Your Social Media and Other Outreach Strategies

You need to stay present with a consistent outreach because very often new clients won’t come to you if you’ve never interacted with them before. Just because you put up a new website and a new video that doesn’t mean that new clients will beat a path to your doorstep. The same is true about writing a book. It’s not that you’ve written a book and the work is done, when you’re done writing your book then the work starts. Now you have to promote the book.

Now is the time, with  all of us working from home with extra time on our hands to really take a look at your brand. With social media to be effective with outreach you have to be sure that your brand is consistent. During the pandemic many people are pivoting to new topics that are related to the pandemic. That can be a dangerous game to play. If you spoke about leadership before and suddenly now you’re speaking about virtual meetings, there’s no consistency. That can confuse your audiences, now they’re asking themselves “What do you do?” Stacey avoids this by staying in one lane and that one lane is communicating with influence. That’s the brand that she markets to her social media audiences.

During the pandemic many people are pivoting to new topics that are related to the pandemic. That can be a dangerous game to play.

Grow Your Business or Jeopardize It

You have to be consistently active with your outreach. It is hard to run a successful speaking business if you sit and wait for clients to come to you. You can’t believe things such as “I just gave a great speech so someone from that audience has to reach out to me.” No matter how good your business is doing never ever, ever stop marketing. The good news about marketing your business in a virtual world? It’s opened up the opportunity to go deeper with your relationships quicker than just a phone conversation.

Successful speaking businesses are built on successful business relationships.

For more information about building a successful speaking business during tough times, check out this article.

About The Guest

Stacey is founder of Stacey Hanke Inc. She has trained and presented to thousands to rid business leaders of bad body language habits and to choose words wisely in the financial industry to the healthcare industry to government and everyone in between. Her client list is vast from Coca-Cola, FedEx, Kohl’s, United States Army, Navy and Air Force, McDonald’s, Publicis Media, Nationwide, US Cellular, Discover, GE, General Mills and Abbvie. 

Her team works with Directors up to the C-Suite.  In addition to her client list, she has been the Emcee for Tedx.  She has inspired thousands as a featured guest on media outlets including; The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Thrive, SmartMoney magazine, The Economist and Business Week.  She is a Certified Speaking Professional—a valuable accreditation earned by less than 10% of speakers worldwide.

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