Ah yes, the joy of marketing. (I mean that in a nice way. Honest.)
The first marketing concept anyone in the speaking and meeting world (know as “S & M” in some quarters) must understand is the difference between marketing and sales.
Sales is a process that involves negotiating strategies (begging), asking for the sale (begging and groveling) and closing the deal (begging, groveling and, in extreme cases, whining).
Marketing, on the other hand, is all about spending a great deal of time and money promoting awareness of your business in the hopes that you can soon begin the process of begging and groveling for the sale—which you will need in order to pay for all your marketing.
There are so many options for marketing, so I want to focus on simple strategies than anyone on a limited budget, with limited time and limited attention span, can accomplish.
Now where was I? Ah, yes, how to market. First (because it would be silly to start second), you must focus on your product’s benefits, not features.
For example, consider an ad for a Hummer. An effective Hummer ad wouldn’t dwell on the features (such as the ability to accelerate global warming and take up three parking spaces at once) but rather the benefits to you, the buyer (if you drive a Hummer, people will think you have low self-esteem so they might be nicer to you).
Now you’re probably thinking, “But my product/service has no known benefits!” Relax. Most products have no known benefits. This is why effective marketers focus on that nebulous benefit known as image.
Real marketers understand that when you purchase a running shoe, you’re not really purchasing a running shoe. Or when you order a beer at your local pub, you’re not really ordering a beer. Dropping in for coffee at your local coffee shop? No you’re not. And if you say, “Am too,” I’ll simply retort with a calm, but firm, “No you’re not.”
You see, the sneakers you buy and the latte you sip speak volumes about the image you are trying to project, which in turn determines what the rest of the planet thinks about you, how successful you will be in life, the type of underwear you wear, whether or not you are a dog, cat or Chia pet owner and, ultimately, whether or not you get a date this Saturday night.
So effective marketers exploit (which sounds like a nasty word, but really only means, “to make more money by taking advantage of less intelligent people”) this wealth of information in order to convince clients that by hiring you, the buyer will take on certain qualities usually only associated with Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein or Batman.
Now that you’ve defined the image you are trying to convey, you must start spreading the good word. There are many ways to do this, from tattooing your logo onto your forehead to tattooing your logo onto family members’ foreheads. Then, once you’ve branded your identity, by far the most effective marketing approach is word of mouth.
Word of mouth began many thousands of years ago, when it truly was word of mouth—as in just one word. It all started when Grog said, “Fire,” to his pal Grunk, who nodded sagely and repeated the word “fire” to everyone he met, even if he didn’t know what it meant.
Word of mouth marketing is deceptively simple (and the easiest form of marketing for speakers to embrace, since most of them have few abilities beyond being able to talk non-stop for copious amounts of time).
The process starts by telling your brother-in-law what it is you speak on, or who it is you plan meetings for. Before long he’s told his buddy Alvin at the bar, who then tells his wife, who tells her best friend Janet, who tells her husband Bob—who just happens to be a police officer—who then shows up at your door to arrest you for manufacturing nuclear devices in your basement. During the drive to the police station, you’ll have time to explain that your brother-in-law is hard of hearing, thus making him a poor choice to begin the whole word of mouth marketing approach.
Not to worry. As a speaker or meeting planner, you’ll need to round up clients wherever you can find them, even if that means pitching your services to the officer driving you to the station. Which is really why word of mouth marketing is so effective, because very few people actually pass along correct information, thus ensuring a steady, if somewhat confused stream of clients—if for no other reason, to make sure that your are not making nuclear devices in their neighborhood.
By now, you can see that the entire process of marketing truly is a joy. So start spreading the word, sit back, and wait for the clients and/or police to arrive.
Michael Kerr is an international business speaker, very funny motivational speaker, business trainer and the author of six books including, The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank. www.mikekerr.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Michael Kerr, 2006
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