In this episode I’m talking with Gene Hammett of Leaders in the Trenches, a consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and team leaders achieve their goals. During our discussion he shared with me how agency owners can use speaking gigs to reliably generate new business.
Gene was referred to me by our mutual friend, Matt Inglot, and I’m so glad Matt made the introduction because Gene has a great story.
Most people think of speaking engagements in very loose terms. They know that it will “raise their profile” or give them more exposure. It’s something that everybody knows is good to do. But it isn’t clear how it will directly lead to more clients, so it usually gets pushed aside.
Gene has personally seen that, with the right approach, speaking can directly lead to new business, and today he works with agency owners to help them do exactly that.
In this interview, Gene shares the exact framework and process he uses to help his clients land their first speaking gig and dramatically grow their business. One client of his has earned over $800k from a single speech.
It all starts with positioning (5:00 – 15:00)
Organizers aren’t looking for generalists to speak at their event, especially a generalist who has never spoken at an event before. To increase your chances of breaking through and getting that first speaking gig, you need to zone in on your positioning. Make it known that you serve a specific type of client.
Once you’ve narrowed down your positioning, you need to find events catered to that audience and reach out with your pitch. For one of Gene’s clients, Ron Dod, this meant repositioning from being a general Internet marketing agency to an ecommerce SEO shop specializing in Magento.
If you were hosting a conference for ecommerce businesses built on Magento, who would you rather have speak? Somebody who does SEO for anybody and everybody, or somebody who specializes in Magento ecommerce businesses?
Gene and Ron bet that the latter would be a much more appealing pitch, and they were right. Ron landed an opportunity to speak at the Magento conference.
Adopting narrow positioning can be a scary proposition for many agency owners. If you’re on the fence and want to learn about other benefits that come with it, check out an earlier episode of the podcast on commanding premium rates with focused positioning.
Get prospects chasing you (15:00 – 20:30)
Landing a speaking gig is just the start. Once you have the opportunity, you need to make sure you capitalize on it. As with any form of content marketing, in order to get results, you need to give your audience your best stuff.
Don’t hold anything back.
After you give a valuable presentation, don’t make the mistake most speakers do and end with a slide asking people to email you their questions. Instead, do a live Q&A to hold their attention and cement your reputation as a helpful authority.
At the end of your presentation, Gene says to make a polite but direct invitation to the audience:
If you’d like to come up and meet me when I get off the stage here, hand me your business card. I’d like to schedule some time to talk with you just to get to know you. Only do this if you’re serious about your business. If you’re serious about taking these strategies and actually making them work for you, then I’d love to have that conversation with you.
When Ron did this, he ending up booking discovery calls for the next six weeks that immediately netted him $50,000. And since giving that speech, Ron estimates it has generated over $800,000 for his agency.
You don’t need to become a professional speaker (20:30 – 24:00)
When I think of speakers, I think of people like Jay Baer and Marcus Sheridan who are on the road doing dozens of speeches every year. That seems pretty far out of reach to me, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear Gene describe a way to use speaking to reliably grow your agency without having to spend your life on the road.
If you follow Gene’s plan to establish yourself as an authority, it’s just a matter of choosing the events with the highest concentrations of your target clients rather than taking every opportunity in front of you.
Ron is speaking four or five times a year and focusing only on the biggest shows. He has a business to run, so he can’t be scattered around the world. By focusing only on those big shows, he’s able to get 80% of the results compared to speaking at a few dozen events while only spending 20% of the time. That’s a good trade.
Learn more about Gene
If you think you might want to speak some day, go here to download Gene’s 40-word template to get you in touch with the decision maker of the event you want to speak at. And If you want to hear more from Gene, subscribe to his podcast Leaders In The Trenches and follow him on Twitter.