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From free webinars to promotional products at speaking events

Why you should get out there and meet your customers

For entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to grow their business, speaking to a large audience through webinars (online seminars) and other speaking engagements is a great way to generate new leads while also showcasing their industry expertise.

One of the keys to effectively market your products or services is to employ various marketing mechanisms to form a marketing mix. These mechanisms are comprised of various online and offline marketing strategies, that when combined, form an integrated marketing strategy that boosts sales and increases brand awareness. Public speaking is one of such mechanisms and it could be done either online (webinars) or offline (industry-specific trade shows, conferences etc).

And while public speaking might terrify many business owners, it still remains a great way to build a more personal connection with your audience while also increasing brand awareness and authority for both company and owner.

Listed below are some advantages you can expect when you integrate public speaking into your overall marketing strategy.

Advantages of Public Speaking Engagements to Small Businesses

Whether your small business offers a product or service, you stand to benefit a lot from speaking engagements. Speaking engagements are generally categorised into two; offline and online. Though, some of their benefits overlaps, it is best to discuss them separately in order to highlight their differences.

Benefits of Webinars

  • Webinars provide a higher level of engagement with your audience compared to other forms of content marketing. Blog articles and eBooks can provide valuable information to your audience, and yes, you can get feedback in the form of emails and comments, but it simply can’t be compared to the immediate feedback you can get from a webinar plus the fact that they can see you.
  • Webinars provide you with a wider audience reach and without restrictions. Your company could be in the United Kingdom and your webinar attendees could be living in the United States or China, or both. This makes it easier for you communicate with a larger market.
  • With a variety of online tools at your disposal, webinars are much easier to create and set up than most people think. And with just a click of a button, it is even easier for interested people to join your webinar too.
  • It’s a great content marketing tool for the bottom of the funnel (BoFu) campaigns. This is because webinars can help you nudge leads that are in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey towards the purchase stage. The high level of interaction plus the display of expertise usually helps prospects make up their mind faster.
  • You can co-host webinars with other small businesses offering complementary products or services. This cross-marketing strategy can help you reach a new target segment thus, expanding your market share.
  • Webinars are a much more inexpensive alternative to seminars and the reasons are quite obvious – it’s entirely online.
  • Webinars are also good for generating leads who are highly interested in the subject matter.

Benefits of Offline Speaking Engagements

  • Every time you speak in a conference, seminar, trade shows, etc, you’re increasing your company’s visibility. Each time is an opportunity for more people to learn more about you, your company, your brand story and your products or services.
  • Offline public speaking increases your company’s credibility. Whenever you are chosen to speak to an audience, you’re instantly viewed as an expert and this helps them trust you instantly (which in turn, make them more likely to do business with you).
  • Whenever you share your knowledge and expertise with an audience on a particular topic, you instantly position yourself and your company as an expert on that topic and within that industry. And the more opportunities you get to speak the more chances you have to build up your reputation and that of your business.
  • Nothing beats a face to face communication, where prospects can see you live and direct. Offline speaking engagements give you the opportunity to build rapport with your audience in a far more intimate way.
  • Just like webinars, offline public speaking also gives you an opportunity to generate highly targeted leads which you can put into your marketing funnel.
  • Public speaking engagements also help you to educate current and potential customers. This is because people often attend seminars and conferences to learn more about a topic. If your talk provides much more information than they came with, you will instantly stand out from the crowd and they’d be more likely to convert into leads as a result.

Like with most marketing strategies, integrating both online and offline strategies into a coherent whole is the key to a successful campaign. And while most business owners are not marketers by profession, they still need to start thinking like one, and the first step is to plan out every strategy they want to use in bringing their product or service to market.

Whichever type of speaking engagement you eventually decide to use, there is a general 3-step framework you can apply in order to make it successful.

Step 1 – Understand Your Goals and Audience

Before anything else, you first need to have a clear understanding of who your target audience is. Without a clear understanding of who you’re targeting, reaching them with the right message will be difficult. Understanding your audience is as simple as asking the following questions:

  • What problems or challenges is my product or service solving, and in what industry?
  • What segment of that market would benefit the most from my product or service, and why?

Once you’re able to answer these questions, you would have a clear understanding of who it is you are targeting. This information will help you in choosing what industry conferences to target, which online channels to participate in and what trade shows to consider getting into.

After you have a clear understanding of your audience, the next thing would be for you to have a clear understanding of your goals and objectives. Whether you’re hosting a webinar or seminar, speaking in a conference or trade show, or simply just attending, you need to have a focus on what you want to achieve. It could be:

  • Generating leads (which should the most important, yet not obvious, goal)
  • Establishing brand authority and industry expertise (by educating your audience)
  • Generating sales – Hard sell (not recommended)

Once you’ve got your audience information and your goals and objectives mapped out; the step would be deciding what to talk about and how to go about saying it.

Step 2 – Choose a Topic and Create Your Presentation Materials

Before even considering hosting a seminar or webinar or sending out requests to speak at conferences etc, you need to know what a good presentation looks like. You can do this by attending conferences within your industry, joining webinars and going to trade shows.

Critically evaluate videos of past webinars and seminars and figure out ways you can make yours better. Platforms like Lanyrd, Conferensum, and Plancast makes it easy for you to search for a wide variety of past, current and upcoming conferences, webinars and presentations from across every industry imaginable.

After attending, watching and analysing a few dozen videos, you can now consider creating yours. Keep the following in mind when creating a topic to work on:

  • The topic must be one in which you’re confident in. Public speaking requires confidence in order to carry your audience along while building rapport at the same time.
  • Your topic must offer value that cannot be found elsewhere – or at least not as in-depth as yours. It must be unique and you must put in enough effort to make it as educative as possible.
  • Whether you’re preparing to deliver your talk via a webinar or at an offline speaking engagement, make sure the content can be used again and again and still offer the same level of value.

Being a small business that is just trying to build its brand, getting offline speaking engagements might prove quite difficult. The following tips will help you get started:

  • Make a list of companies, small businesses, and not-for-profits in your industry who have upcoming seminars or conferences that you’d like to talk at.
  • Make sure you’re pitching to cover an angle that will be beneficial to the audience but that you think they haven’t covered yet. Reassure them that all you want is to educate your prospects to build brand awareness.
  • Depending on the organisers of the speaking engagement and whether you’re selling products or services, but you could offer them a certain percentage of sales you make at the conference i.e. if they allow direct sales pitches.

Whether it’s a webinar or a conference or a trade show, you need to make use of visuals in order to make your talk memorable. This is done through simple, yet beautifully designed PowerPoint presentations. Remember to include images and charts and bullet points. Make each slide simple and easy to read. Slides are meant to help readers understand your point, not to make it for you. A good branding agency can help you design your PowerPoint presentations.

Step 3 – Generate and Follow-up with Leads

Now that you’ve gone through all that trouble to get in front of your target audience, your next course of action would be to find a way to drive them into your marketing funnel. And this requires you to get their contact information. You need to have a plan to generate and connect with leads after your speaking engagement.

Generating leads through webinars is much simpler because prospects would need to register their contact details in order to reserve a spot. But unless you’re the one hosting the seminar or conference, you will need to figure out a way to get the contact information of offline attendees who might be interested in your product or service.

Some strategies you can use to successfully generate leads from offline speaking engagements are:

  • Make your decks, slides or presentations available for download. Consider creating a landing page specifically for generating leads from that particular event.
  • Consider offering free consultations or quick chats after the talk in exchange for their business cards. Don’t forget to give them yours too.
  • Offer special discounts for attendees by giving them a special promo code to use when checking out on your website. The code can help you track your ROI.
  • Provide a valuable and educative talk and presentation. If you can awe attendees with your expertise, they’ll likely be the one looking for a way to connect with you after the show.

Following up with your leads is the final and most essential piece of the whole puzzle. You need an email nurturing campaign to nurture your newly generate leads until they finally buy from you. The following checklists will make this simple for you:

  • Create a Thank You page
  • Give them exactly what you promised (e.g. recording of your webinar, slides, and presentations from your talk etc.)
  • Send them a personal email each. And make sure to segment and personalise each email.

Pro Tip: Consider calling your leads a few days after the speaking engagement to find out if the resource they downloaded was useful. Be as helpful as possible and remind them that they can easily reach out to you if they need anything.

Speaking engagements are a great way to increase your brand awareness, generate leads and establish yourself as an authority in your industry. The more speaking engagements you can secure, the more opportunities will come.