As the end of the year approaches, it is time to reflect on your successes and opportunities for growth in the New Year. The question I have for you is…”How will you Spice Up Your Speaking Business in the New Year?
Here is the copy of a recent article I wrote for Speaker Magazine, The Official Magazine of the National Speakers Associaiton.
Spice is an ingredient used to add flavor to food. It brings out the best in the meal being prepared. Your speaking business is a meal you will constantly be working and reworking to cook-up the best results possible. Results that people will rave about and others will look to replicate.
I’ve learned during my speaking career that the end of year is the time successful speakers step into their figurative “test kitchen” to experiment with new ingredients. They put in the unseen work needed to provide the flavorful meals their clients hunger for.
Great Speakers are like Great Chefs. They are always looking for opportunities to improve their creations. They’re not happy with their current success because they understand tastes change and they must be willing to innovate to keep the meals they prepare desirable and in demand.
The Covid19 Pandemic was proof that Speakers, like Chefs, must be willing to constantly improve so they can continue to keep their products and services tasty. Are you committing to a time on your calendar every year to “re-taste” the meals you cook-up?
The way people consume content around the world is constantly evolving. To have a thriving Speaking Business, you must be willing to adapt to the changing times we live in. Every 6 to 12 months you should be willing and able to evaluate your business. You should be searching for ways to simplify your business so you can stimulate your productivity and profits. This commitment will require an investment of time and resources, but the ROI of your work will be on full display for the world to experience when you cook up your next masterpiece.
Are you ready to get started? Here are a few Spices you should consider adding to your “Speaking Pantry” as you prepare to Spice Up Your Business in the New Year.
Products and Services
It’s time to start thinking about products and services you are currently offering. Are there any that need to be retired because people have lost the taste for it? Are there opportunities to cook up something new? Have you recently learned about new revenue generating activities from fellow NSA members? It’s time to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need to offer a New Program?
A great keynote or training program can keep your calendar full for years, but people's tastes including yours change. When multiple clients start requesting new program offerings or asking you to provide more content in your area of expertise, then it times to add a new program to your menu.
- What new income streams should I consider?
Your speech is your main dish, but a meal isn’t complete without side dishes. What else can you provide to your clients to make a more complete meal? Do you have a book? Have you considered selling branded merchandise related to your program topics? I’ve spoken to several speakers who have over 10 streams of income to keep their businesses profitable.
“You’re paid to cook (speak on your expertise) or paid to teach people how to cook (how to replicate your expertise.)”
- How will you deliver your programs?
In-Person delivery isn’t the only way you can be compensated to share your intellectual property with the world. You must decide the best way to deliver your content. Today you can be an Live in-person speaker, a Live Virtual speaker, or a Live Hybrid Speaker. You can also offer your programs pre-recorded. The more ways you can deliver your programs with quality, the more opportunities for you to secure work.
- Should you consider providing Workshops, Retreats, Seminars, and Masterminds?
Are you ready to host your own events? Are you receiving requests to personally teach your content? It may be time to consider hosting your own events by offering the products and services your target market wants.
You’re running a business and you can’t do everything yourself. What can you do in the upcoming year to improve your revenue generating activities? As your business grows, there will come a time when you will need to hire staff or outsource work. These choices can only be made by asking yourself these questions:
- Do I need to hire staff?
You’re wearing numerous hats and you can’t physically do it all. Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed or don’t have enough time to complete all of your work. Find someone you trust and can train to assist you with your business. This doesn’t have to be a full-time person. You can hire someone part-time or on a project basis. Remember the Chef may know how to wash dishes, but they hire a dishwasher so they have dishes to focus on what they do best..cook great food.
- Are there any parts of my business I can outsource?
What’s driving you crazy or causing you the most stress? When their calendars begin to fill, profitable speakers have learned to outsource their work. Hiring a CPA to educate me about my taxes, payroll and finances was one of the best investments I’ve made in my career. Remember, you’re not spending money, you're investing in your overall productivity. Reach out to your speaker friends and ask them who they contract with to limit a specific business stress from their life.
Areas of your business that can be outsourced- Virtual Assistant, Social Media Posts, Video Production, Slide Design, Copywriter, Travel, Contract Preparation and so much more.
- Is it time to make a financial investment in software, technology or equipment?
Maybe you’re not ready to hire or outsource. Is there software or technology that will allow you to make better use of your time? The marketplace is full of no cost and low cost productivity tools to improve your performance. Free software like Calendly will allow you to take control of your calendar by scheduling your meetings.
- Are there any speakers or organizations I can collaborate with?
Repeat after me, “Speakers aren’t my competition!” Speaking is a relationship business. I have received numerous referrals from other speakers and organizations I have relationships with. Our relationships have led to collaborations on and off the stage that have led to contracts or the knowledge needed to improve my business operations.
Be sure to listen to the September 27, 2022 espisode of Speakernomics with Thom Singer as Joe Fingerhut and myself share how we used Intentional Collaboration to grow our speaking businesses.
You can’t get booked when your target audience doesn't know who you are or your area of expertise. This can only happen through effective marketing. Your marketing needs to be up to date and relevant. Do people know you’re offering new programs? Does your ideal client understand your area of expertise? When you step into your test kitchen this year, be sure to ask these questions about your marketing:
“If people say, “I didn’t know you speak on that. You’re not what we expected or you look different in person,” then you need to update your marketing.”
- Is it time to update my website?
Professional Speaking is very much a perception business. The first impression you create with potential clients is your website. You can’t request high fees when your website is just a landing page. Your website should be easy to navigate and mobile friendly. Do you have your contact information (phone number. email address, or book me link) on every page? If you haven’t updated your website in 2 years, it’s time.
- Do my marketing photos and videos show who I really am?
Dated Photos and Videos can prevent you from getting booked. Do you look different post Pandemic? Have you changed your look or your style? Are you using a headshot from 20 years ago? Keep your photos and videos up to date. Your photos and videos should show speaking to your target audience and display how you can deliver your content. If you’re a virtual speaker, you should have marketing photos and videos of you speaking virtually.
Pegine Echevarria recommends updating your marketing photos yearly to stay relevant and credible, especially as we get older.
- Is my brand reflected in all of my marketing?
Your brand isn’t your logo or the colors you use in marketing. Your brand is what you are known for. It’s your personality and builds awareness, trust and loyalty in you and your services. Your branding should express: Who you are, who you work with, the problem you solve, and the unique results you produce. Want to know what your brand is? Contact several of your past clients and ask them to describe your work in one sentence. This is your brand and needs to be reflected in all of your marketing materials.
- Does my social media presence match up with my area of expertise?
As soon as people hear about you, they will stalk you on social media. What will people see? Will they see posts about your favorite sports team? Is it difficult to find you? Don’t confuse your potential clients. Social is an extension of what you have to offer. It’s a place to consume content you can’t provide on stage. You don’t have to be on every social media platform. Post content on the platforms your target markets use. Post content that is relevant to them and shows who you are. Use social media to build relationships and a better understanding of you and your work.
Are you challenging the people from the stage to improve professionally? People listen to our actions before they listen to our words. How can we ask someone to improve professionally if we aren’t doing the same? It’s time to ask yourself what PD you will pursue next year.
According to a study by the International Coaching Federation, 68% of individuals who paid for coaching services made at least their initial investment back, with the median ROI at 3.4 from the initial investment.
- Do I need to invest in coaching ?
We have strengths and opportunities. What are the opportunities for you to grow in the New Year? Have you researched coaches who can work with you to transform your opportunity into a strength?
- What conferences and training events should you attend?
Everyday, there are conferences, conventions, retreats, bootcamps, and training events on every subject. Want to grow your business? Attending a training event focused on one of your business goals could lead to the breakthrough you desire. Be sure to contact your speaker friends to ask them for recommendations.
- What books or learning resources should I invest in?
I’m sure you have a long list of books and learning resources (online courses) you’ve considered investing in. Your down time at the end of the year is a great time to add them to your “cupboard.” Don’t forget to add podcasts, audio books, and NSA virtual training resources too. More importantly, actually read them, watch them, complete them and apply what you learn.
The NSA Digital Vault is the most comprehensive collection of resources and assets, curated and vetted by respected experts, and presented to professional speakers.
- Is it time to join a Trade Association?
A membership in a trade association doesn't just provide valuable knowledge in a particular field, your membership allows you to build relationships with other like minded experts. Those relationships when cultivated properly will stimulate your professional growth.
What are you doing for self-care? Are you blocking out time on your schedule weekly to connect with family, friends or your accountability partners? Are you scheduling “me time” to pursue activities your passionate about? Speakers focus so much on their business, they often forget about their most valuable asset…their body. You can’t have a speaking business without your personal health. Here are questions you really need to ask yourself to be mentally and physically ready for a successful New Year.
- How am I investing in my Mental and Physical Health?
Just like investing in a business coach, there are speakers who understand the value of investing in their mental and physical well being. When they invest in a counselor, personal trainer, dietitian, professional organizers or productivity coach they are investing in providing the best experience possible for their clients by being at their best.
- Am I scheduling personal time or vacations?
You can’t achieve professional success without personal success. You need time away from your business to recharge and refocus. Do you have a family? Have you ever thought about the sacrifices they make when you’re traveling or out of the home. Quality time with your loved ones is needed. As you plan for the upcoming year, commit to blocking out 4 to 6 times a year where you will spend an extended period of time to do what makes you happy.
- Where’s my passport?
Whether you’re traveling for work or pleasure, you can’t do either without a passport or visa. The end of the year is a great time to check the expiration date on your passport or renew it because you never know when a client or a friend will invite you to an international adventure.