Showcasing: Why Consider This Marketing Method?

Recent important article from: Sharing Ideas, Vol 26

By Dr. Thomas Lisk, LHD,CSE, President, Professional Speakers Bureau Int'l

After 27 years in the business of professional speaking, I still find the BIGGEST objection to marketing and booking speakers, and that includes booking myself to speak, goes something like this: "I have never heard speaker xyz before—can you prove to me he (she) is the perfect speaker for this situation?"

How do you prove to others you are the best choice, yes, and the perfect speaker? In 1977 when I was marketing and booking only one speaker initially, Carl Stevens, CPAE, videotapes were not yet the rage. But even then, people wanted a preview audiotape unless we had a very strong referral from someone the prospect respected and trusted.

When I previewed myself as a speaker in 1980 at a Speakers' Showcase for a large bureau (owned by Dr. Jordan Dupree) in 1980 in Atlanta, I realized that this was a great venue for the meeting planner who was searching for a speaker. Meeting planners have too much at risk by hiring the wrong or a bad speaker.

Later on, as I expanded our own bureau and we looked for ways to proactively market speakers for bookings, I went back to the showcasing idea with a BIG improvement. I had seen some of the NSA chapters offer video showcases for their speaker members, so I thought why not combine both a video shoot with a showcase for meeting planners, and thus was born our unique Speakers Success Showcase.

Success because the speakers who participate are marketed collectively to up to 5-10,000 meeting planners at our Showcases—many meeting planners attend and purchase speakers. At our Showcases since 1976 we have combined the events with the videotaping option. So, in a worst-case scenario speakers can still go away with a great demo video tape (or footage, or DVD, or CD, etc.) that they can use to promote themselves and we can use to promote them ongoing.

Ideally we have meeting planners in the audience who want to book you—the individual speaker; however, we cannot guarantee that. Since we as a full-service national speakers' bureau work on commission when we book speakers, we want to book participating speakers just as much as they want to be booked.

Showcases, when combined with a video shoot sponsored by a large bureau, are a different animal than when an NSA or MPI chapter sponsors such an event. The bureau has a vested interest in the success of the showcase—we invest the small participation fee the speaker pays to market and host the event. We do all possible to generate attendance and to market each speaker after the event—some of the speakers we are previewing "live"' for the first time, too.

At our showcases we invite other bureaus to attend, and many have attended. Talk to any legitimate speakers' bureau and you will find they all will ask you, even in 2004, for a preview tape. We help speakers solve that problem—and much more. Speakers with quality tapes can often find more booking on their own, and justify higher fees. We have had over 600 different speakers speak at our showcases since 1996—three to five events a year—and many of these speakers have written us letters of rave review, not just about the event itself, but about how they have secured more bookings with their tape or directly due to the showcase.

Think about it! Even on a speakers' web site you are encouraged to showcase yourself with some footage of yourself in action. Meeting planners realize you will only show the best of yourself on your web site. At a showcase they not only can hear you "live," they can meet you and talk with you over breaks or at lunch. We suggest that serious speakers, and this includes veterans, budget for at least one showcase per year. I have noticed that many speakers get better the more showcases they give. Keep showcasing.

And, if you showcase with a bureau and they don't instantly book you, don't get mad at the bureau. The bureau wants to book you. Look objectively at yourself and determine how you can improve, so the next time you showcase you will be sellable. And, continue to upgrade your tape and provide copies to all your bureau partners. Too many speakers get a tape and don't send out enough to do a fair market test. Turn to the experts at showcasing and creating tapes to market and book more programs. We are one source.

Author, Thom A. Lisk, President, Professional Speakers Bureau

 

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