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How to Market Yourself for Speaking Engagements

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Aug 16th 2018
President Perceptive Business Solutions Inc.
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We all know marketing, especially for yourself, is not an accountants’ strong point. But what if you stand in front of a group of people, telling them something they would otherwise have to pay to learn?

Said speaking engagement could easily net you client interest, but there are drawbacks. Say you get invited to speak by an organization, they often choose the date, time and length of presentation. They might be fussy about topics, but you can work through that. You are investing your time, but you won’t necessarily get paid for appearing. Still there is an upside as well, if you go about it the right way.

10 Easy Steps to Getting the Right Speaking Engagement

Why 10 steps? You are an accountant. You want to be thorough. So here's what you should try in order to get speaking:

Step One: Determine if this a good fit for you? If your greatest fear in life is speaking in front of groups, find another strategy. If you secretly wanted to be an actor on stage, keep reading.

Step Two: Think about local community groups that hold regular meetings and feature guest speakers. Build a list.  Your church or religious organization might fit. Service clubs too. What about homeowners associations? The local chapter of your alumni association? Don’t forget local libraries, get creative.

Step Three: Align the type of person you want as a client with the organizations most likely to attract them. Review your list, culling out the groups that don’t fit your profile. If you want small business owners as clients, the chamber of commerce might be an obvious choice. You want to be a member before asking. A medical society is a good fit for CPAs focusing on medical practices. The clubhouse in a retirement community probably doesn’t attract the prospects you want.

Step Four: Create your marketing material. For starters, you need a profile. What makes you an expert? What professional designations do you hold? How long have you been practicing? Where did you go to school? Have you been published?

Step Five: You need topics. The obvious one is how the new tax law affects you. Understanding Social Security is another. How to prepare for retirement is good for 40+ year old executives. Think about aligned areas like protecting yourself against identify theft and cybercrime.

Step Six: Develop your talk (and slides) in 15, 30, 45 and 60 minute formats for each topic. This is pretty easy. You build the long one and cut it down into smaller versions covering segments. Give your topics compelling titles. Which would you rather attend: “Understanding Changes to the Tax Law” or “How Much Will the New Tax Act Be Costing Me?”

Step Seven: Run your scripts and slides through your Compliance person. If you don’t have one, find a legal expert who can let you know if you risk getting into any trouble with the advice you are sharing.

Step Eight: You need a call to action. What should they be asking their accountant? What if they don’t have an accountant? What if they have questions? You want them reaching out to you. How do they do that? Contact information should be something they carry away with them. Be careful not to give away your slides or script. If later you discovered you made a mistake, you don’t want copies floating around.

Step Nine: Now it’s time to market yourself. Mail your newly assembled marketing material to the Executive Directors of the organizations on your list. Call them afterwards to confirm receipt. Let them know there is no charge. They will question your motives. You want to get your name and credentials out there. Informative talks are also a way of giving back to the community. You are doing both.

Do you have clients in any of these organizations? Let them know what you are doing. They may offer to hand deliver the material or speak up on your behalf.

Step Ten: Follow-up might be off the table. It can create ill will if you gather contact information and call them up for business. Not to worry. That’s not you. You wouldn’t have done that anyway.

After the event, call up the organizer and sound them out. They will have gotten word of mouth feedback. Assuming it’s good, let them know you would be open to a return visit to address another topic. You would also be glad to present at other chapters of the organization in nearby communities.

What About Results?

The best case scenario is you speak in front of a group and qualified prospects get in touch. Also, the organizer refers you for other engagements. The worst case scenario is you get no interested phone calls and no business. Maybe the next venue will be better.

Ultimately, speaking engagements are a good strategy for accountants who enjoy talking in front of groups. Moreover, assuming even a 5 percent success rate, if 60 people hear you speak, three are likely going to get in touch. That’s three new, qualified clients you may not have garnered otherwise.

But now we turn it to you. Have you done any speaking? How has it worked out for you?

Replies (2)

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By whatever
Aug 22nd 2018 12:46 EDT

I am often asked to speak before business groups. I do it but I am dismayed at the deer-in-the-headlights look I get. No one wants to "talk" about taxes, they only want to hear it - and only good news, thank you very much. I have been trying some new tactics to get involvement and a positive outcome. I almost always obtain a new client, or two, or three.

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Replying to whatever:
Bryce Sanders
By Bryce Sanders
Aug 22nd 2018 16:06 EDT

Thanks for commenting on my article. I'm glad you add one or more clients each time you speak. You bring up an interesting problem, lack of engagement. Its likely people think of taxes as a necessary evil. It sounds like you have a strategy. Have you tried approaching it from "what activity does the government want to drive" and how they make changes in the tax code to encourage that type of behavior? That also helps the companies supplying that products or service. Although I'm not an expert, an energy tax credit for solar panels gets more panels installed on residences, decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and increasing power generated from solar (at least marginally). But it also creates a market for companies to sell and install solar panels. That would be an example of how changes in tax policy drive business activity.

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