Speak to Sell – Becoming THE Authority in Your Niche

There are many ways that speaking can be used to supplement or initiate a perceived area of authority that can benefit your business.

Many interior designers are familiar with Bunny Williams and after seeing her listed as a speaker on just about every design event I’ve come across for years, I finally did some Googling. Bunny, whom I’m sure is a fine designer and who has written numerous books, also has a speaking agency working full time to book her at those events. Her fee range is listed as between $5,000 and $10,000. (https://www.allamericanspeakers.com/speakers/396992/Bunny-Williams)

Let’s call that the professional level of speaking, meaning someone who has spent decades creating a personal brand that has become a source of income independent of her design services. She seems to have accomplished what some might call building “multiple streams of income.”

As I work with members of The Edge who are in my “Transitions Discussion Group,” it is clear that many of them could have benefited from a similar strategy had they started it many years ago. Those in the latter stages of their careers often want to work less and have less responsibility, but do not want to give up either their income or their reputation as a design expert. Becoming a speaker is a way to preserve both of these to some degree.

National v. Local Speaking

While someone like Bunny Williams has built a national speaking reputation, there is a strong case to be made for becoming a local speaker as well. In fact, while Bunny more often speaks to audiences who are not likely to become clients of hers (interior designers, for example) a local speaker can hand-pick audiences made up of prospective clients.

In fact, it’s easier to think of who your prospective clients are, and where and how you might find or get them together, and then figure out the topics that would be of interest to them. Topics can be almost infinite in number, while the demographic that you seek as an interior design client will be fairly consistent.

Let’s use the usual residential stereotype of a couple in their 50s or 60s who are buying or renovating a home worth $1 million or more. (You can adjust these for your target client.) Where do they gather?

  • Clubs
  • Schools (both where their children attend and where they serve on boards or are alumni)
  • Charities
  • Civic groups
  • Political groups
  • Church groups
  • Sports groups (running clubs, car clubs, etc.)
  • Sports teams (professional or college)
  • Investments (speaker series, angel capital groups, etc.)

Who Else is Seeking Same?

Next, I would ask myself who else in my community finds their ideal prospects from among this same demographic? This might include real estate agents, stock brokers, high-end car salesmen, insurance salesmen, wealth managers, computer companies and on and on.

The point is to determine a “sweet spot” for you between the groups you can reach, and potential partners who can help you to reach them. Let’s suppose you’ve selected a charity and you’ve connected with a wealth manager who is on the board of that charity.

Now, Time for a Topic…and a Few Introductions

With this in mind, you can begin to flesh out the concept of a targeted speech. Of course it’s going to include interior design, but it can vary greatly subject to your targeted market. For a church group, you might talk about “aging in place.” For an investment group you might talk about getting the best return on an investment. And for a civic group, you might talk about “doing it yourself.” (Knowing that some might not.)

When you’ve put this together—targeted group, key partner, and topic—it’s time to contact the group with your idea for a “talk.” You’ll have the introduction of your partner and he or she will know that you are going to introduce them to some of your prospects as well. Perhaps you’ll even help them set up their own speech to a different group.

The Payoff

The payoff is that after some careful planning, you WILL get booked as a speaker. After your speech, everyone in the room will be a potential client, referral, or the possible source of your next speech. Speaking is one of the ultimate forms of authority, along with being the author of one or more books.

Why not commit to giving a speech somewhere, to some group within the next 90 days? Who knows, a few years from now you may be charging more than Bunny Williams and will have built your own multiple streams of income.

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