A popular brand building tactic for businesses of all sizes is thought leadership. By sharing your company's knowledge and point of view with the market, you can organically attract a qualified audience (sounds like Inbound Marketing don't you think?)
One of the more prominent thought leadership tactics is public speaking, which is also a great lead generation tool if set up with inbound marketing in mind. Here are the steps you will need to implement public speaking thought leadership into your company's lead generation strategy.
One reason thought leadership and public speaking have become a viable lead generation option for businesses is that they change the 1-to-1 sales model, while also sharing your expertise. Even in the current environment of virtual events, this tactic is a great tool, and potentially an even better digital marketing tool with virtual events than in person events.
Martz Witty, a Chartered Accountant spoke to Acuity magazine about taking his business development to the stage. “My main motivation for doing it is I can take some advice, or an opinion, or a perspective and, while with a client you’re doing it one on one, in this environment I can be one to fifty or one to two hundred, or 2,500,” Says Witty about using speaking engagements to build his CA firm. Each talk he gives is specific to the audience as well.
Marketing Masters Ken Burgin and Elizabeth Walker agree, “One of the best business-building tactics is to demonstrate your knowledge to a receptive audience. Public speaking is particularly effective if your business has a service or consulting component.”
Because we live in a digital age and we know people do their buying research online, this concept also extends to speaking. Booking a speaker is often an online transaction as well, especially if there is a frictionless option for that transaction to happen. We will dive into those details more below.
When you are building speaker assets, keep in mind that most people do not began as keynote speaker. You'll need to build up speaking credibility through assets and proven experience. However, if your company is cutting edge or your leadership is performing successful out-of-the-box research, products, or services they will probably be asked to share in a topical as well as keynote scenario. Keep all of these aspects in mind when you build. But remember that your goal is always inbound marketing that leads to qualified lead generation. Keeping your thought leadership points in mind, as well as company values and point of view, is critical in properly setting up assets.
Is Public Speaking Inbound or Outbound Marketing?
Although the act of public speaking is in itself an outbound activity, everything that leads up to that speaking engagement should be built and running as an inbound tactic. Yes, what I'm really saying is keywords and personas still matter here. Just like in content marketing and Inbound PR. They matter in all of your inbound and outbound marketing efforts because they are:
- synonymous with your brand
- are tied to your personas
- link back to your overall goals
Because your inbound strategy also lives outside of the pages of your website. Every aspect of your marketing should support and link together for cohesion and consistency, regardless of whether they are inbound or outbound.
Determine Talk Topics
Remember when I said that your personas and keywords matter? Pull them out before you determine your top three to five talks that you'll share as a sampling of your work. Don't feel like this will limit you, as you'll still be able to customize your pitches in response to speaker calls.
Now that you have your top personas and keywords clear in your mind, begin brainstorming a list of things that you could talk about at a moments notice for at least 15 minutes. Here are some questions to help you during this process:
- What questions do you get over and over again in business?
- What are your areas of expertise in the business?
- What hot industry trend do you have a unique view on?
- What service or product does every client need?
- What service or product is not really understood or in as much demand as you think it deserves?
After your brainstorming session, review the list with your personas and keywords in front of you. Which topics fit well for both? Which can you create an engaging title and description? The goal is to have three to five topics for your speaker sheet that you can share with prospective bookers.
Build a Digital Speaker One Sheet
A speaker one sheet is in essence the sales sheet of a speaker. This is also the critical component of creating the inbound magnet in your thought leadership tool.
Elements of a digital speaker one sheet (we provide more detail on these elements in a recent blog post):
- Speaking action images
- Speaker bio
- Booking link
- Talk topics (3-5 titles each with a one paragraph description that includes a benefit or takeaway for attendees).
- Video speaker reel
- Past speaking engagements
By having your speaker one sheet online it aids people in finding and seeing you/your leadership as a viable speaker with the aid of SEO or an outbound campaign that sends them to the speaker page. It will also make their decision to book easier as all the deciding factors are in one location.
When our own CEO and Founder, Dustin Brackett, wanted to include speaking as a business lead generation tool he knew that his assets all needed to live online. He did not have all of the assets from list above even though he had been speaking for years at local networking groups and regional conferences. Starting with the asset you have is all you can do until further assets are built up. In Dustin's case, he was being asked to speak through referrals from clients and fellow networking members before he even considered speaking as a lead generation avenue for the business, and therefore he didn't have video examples of past events or testimonials on-hand. Even in this virtual event environment and without every asset available from the list, he booked an event with Longmont Startup Week.
Research Relevant Speaking Opportunities
If you come from a PR background or you have done media pitching, this final section will make a lot of sense to you. This is all about researching events and opportunities. Although much of this information now lives online (events use inbound to find new speakers as well as attendees), relationships always help you find other opportunities. Leveraging existing relationships can also help your thought leader rise to the top of the consideration list.
Researching speaking opportunities is much like content research. Use keywords, association names, any industry events that you are already aware of online. When you find those results, make sure to review additional search results from that topic that might lead you to another, unknown opportunity. Keep track of all opportunities (I use a Google spreadsheet) that includes hyperlinks to submission pages, deadlines, and any requirements needed for a speaker submission.
Securing a speaking engagement relies on the pieces that you've previously built -- a speaker one sheet and relevant, engaging talk topics. By ensuring that your one sheet includes talk topics in line with your company's buyer personas and keywords, you'll be creating better qualified leads in this one-to-many, on-stage environment.
By now you should know that using a keyword focus in your content marketing efforts makes all the difference. However, it is not the only factor in the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of your business. Schedule a meeting to discuss the other white hat SEO tactics we provide.