You probably ask yourself … Why are the bureaus not booking me? What do I have to do to get them to call me?
A bureau's first responsibility is to satisfify its clients – organizations who hire speakers. Put yourself in the bureau's position. They want to place speakers who are:
"The easiest way to book.
"Exclusive with them. This means that all interested organizations have to go through the bureau to book the speaker.
"High profile personalities that have favorable reputations and instant name recognition.
"High fee speakers. All other things being equal, why not place the higher fee speaker?
"Dependable. They respond quickly to inquiries, are courteous, punctual, focused on stage, stay on point and keep agreements.
"Predictable. They have high ratings consistently, get standing ovations and stay on topic.
"Referred and endorsed by past clients.
Here are 9 action steps that will increase your bookings and get the attention of bureaus
1. Get published.
The three most important words following a speaker's name are, "the author of …"
Write a book that tells your story or teachers others what you know. Every chapter can become an article. Become a regular columnist in a newspaper or a guest columnist in your industry publication or trade journal. You may choose to write manuals, textbooks, home study courses or sales scripts, for example, for others to follow.
To learn how to write in a compelling manner, there are two and three day boot camps for prospective and active writers. There are many speakers offering their own boot camps, but I think one of the best is Mark Victor Hansen's Mega Book Marketing. Why not learn from someone who built a billion dollar enterprise from one book series (Chicken Soup for the Soul)? His faculty typically includes successful writers, agents, publicists, ghost writers, publishing companies, self publishing experts and famous speakers who are published. Visit Mark's website info about the next Mega Book.
Articles about you or by you are marketing fulcrums that have stood the test of time. Writing and submitting articles to major article directories will increase your online visibility instantly! (Learn more under # 3.) It will drive traffic to your site, establish you as an expert in your target market and give you valuable content to repurpose into information products.
Articles can be submitted directly to industry online publications, your association's online newsletters, local tabloids and magazines.
Writer's Digest is an excellent reference for prospective and active writers. It produces eight (8) magazines a year for under $ 20 with solid techniques for a wide variety of genres; insider info on what editors and agents really want; professionals' secrets for winning queries and cover letters; tips and tricks for kindling your creative fire and savvy business advice for writers.
Another resource is Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2009: Who They Are! What They Want! How to Win Them Over!
Begin to commit to paper what you know so that you can reach readers when you can not reach an audience in person!
Stop procrastinating. Start writing.
2. Utilize Internet technology to reach your customer base faster, more frequently and more effectively.
In other words, make sure that you've either learned the strategies and tools of Internet marketing to increase and convert traffic to your website or that you've retained those services from Internet marketing experts. Since technology changes daily, it's best to stick with your own expertise and leave this skill to those who do it as a primary source of income.
Simple opt-in strategies offering free reports, CDs, articles and tips that demonstrate your ability to help people solve problems and build their dreams are the quickest way to reach those in your industry. The objective is to make contact with decision makers within organizations who are seeking speakers with your expertise.
I use a combination of one-on-one marketing (picking up the telephone) and electronic marketing to introduce a speaker.
Stay in touch with your customer base after you speak. You may be able to share helpful industry trends that can be used in management and leadership capacities. The relationship that began with your appearance should not end your relationship but begin a customer for life relationship. Given your insider's perspective, you may offer assistance in suggesting their next speaker. You may offer your new products specifically designed to help them and others in the same industry. Or you may offer the second and third presentation in your series of programs.
Read Janet Switzer's book entitled, Instant Income. You'll find 319 pages chocked full of ideas to prospect and build your brand in a profitable manner. The more recognizable your name or brand is as an expert in your field, the more bureaus start to notice.
3. Increase your media exposure.
Be the go-to person in your field of expertise. Generate articles, media attention, television interviews and press releases telling your story, demonstrating your competency, expertise and value in the marketplace. Either write articles or be the subject of others' articles.
Again, great article marketing directory websites that want your articles are Ezine Articles and Article Marketer.
Learn to write press releases. A press release is simply a written statement distributed to the media. It can announce a range of news items: scheduled events, awards, new products and services, new book releases, sales achievements, etc. Check out wikihow.com/Write-a-Press-Release and prweb.com. If you'd like to hire a publicist to set up media appearances, talk with an expert such as Imal Wagner. Her website is the same as her name.
You may inadvertently get exposure through adversity, an error in judgment or an accident (such as committing a courageous act like cutting off your arm to survive, becoming a war hero, championing a cause following a crime as the founder of MADD did, etc. ). Let those in your field know you have some temporary philosophy from your personal experience or creative solutions that can help others.
All forms of social media further establish your brand. Consider joining at least LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter. Contact the experts on the proper strategies to use for each application. They're free services but can prove useless if not properly set up and managed.
4. Increase your visibility in your industry.
Become a spokesperson for an organization. Write industry specific articles to appear in online and offline publications. Volunteer your time and talents to your favorite charity. There were many people who surfaced after the Katrina Hurricane that became public figures for positive change simply because they became leaders during and after the crisis.
Serve your professional association in some capacity, such as being an officer, speak and find other speakers, be a spokesperson for their cause, board member, fundraiser, adviser or sponsor.
Host teleclasses / teleseminars and webinars marketed through Internet technology. It is an instructional format with you as the expert or with you interviewing an expert in a field of importance to others.
Conduct a research project that those in your field will find valuable for leaders, salespeople and administrators. You can offer the results to your customers in the form of an article, teleclass, white paper report or CD.
If you are seeking a representative and do not have the time or desire to train her / him on the daily activities necessary to secure paid speaking engagements, visit my website at for products to help you find, interview, hire, pay, train and keep your booking agent.
If you are not yet ready to hire someone to represent you, I have products that you can use to know what to say and do on a daily basis to systematize the booking process. You'll learn what to do before, during and after your appearance to uniquely position yourself, optimize your appearance, generate referrals and enable more revenue potential through product sales.
Google Alex Mandossian's Ask Campaign technology and learn how to know in advance, what your audience most wants to learn.
Offer continuing education credit if required in your industry.
Write a free ezine for those in your target market. Teach others how to do what you do and become successful so that they can actualize their dreams. Be the subject of a documentary, made for TV movie or the wide screen.
5. Outperform your competition.
Do what you do so well that you rise to the top. Become a leader in your field.
Begin with your company or your local association and branch out to your district and regional events and then on to your state and national levels. When you're a top producer or when you lead an organization to greatness or when you originate a new idea that solves problems and creates a new paradigm, others want to know how you did what you did. You'll make the news. You'll be asked to appear on television shows, be interviewed for radio shows and magazine articles. Your invitations to speak will increase.
Who are the champions in your field? Has your performance or production exceeded that of others? If so, these are facts that bureaus want to know. This will put you ahead of others in your field and bureaus will start to notice.
6. Study others in your field of expertise.
What are the trends that currently have the greatest impact on your industry? One of the world's leading trend firms, trendwatching.com and its 8,000+ trend spotters scan the globe for emerging consumer trends. They report on findings in free monthly trend briefings. Visit Trend Watching's website.
What's happening in your industry? Are your current industry leaders increasing profits, initiating cutbacks, decreasing profits, creating dissension, inspiring courage or are they encouraging greed and corruption? Are there company-wide layoffs? What types of programs and presentations will be needed for those that survive the layoffs and downsizing?
Learn how you differ from other speakers in your field and be able to articulate it in a clear and concise manner. Get a mentor in your field and study his / her behavior and performance. Gain the advantage with clients and bureaus through your service, product or your style of delivery.
Visit the website of the National Speakers Association – nsaspeaker.org and click on "find a speaker." Now, click on "speaker area of expertise." How many names come up under your area of expertise? Study their websites. How are they positioning themselves? How are you different? How can you capitalize on the difference? What presentation topics do you offer that they do not? Look over their list of past clients and make note of the organizations that have hired them to speak. Generally speaking, the more bookings you've had, the more bureaus will be interested in working with you.
Identify bureaus who serve your industry. In some cases, you can identify their target market by the title of the bureau, such as Financial Forum, Inc. The best way to familiarize yourself with their customer base is to visit the site of each member bureau of the International Association of Speakers Bureaus.
7. Always maintain a professional attitude.
Keep your composition under stress. Bureaus aim to please meeting planners because they seek repeat business. Why not? Those same meeting planners who have a positive experience with one speaker will return many times over to the same bureau for another speaker or speakers.
If you react negatively under pressure while at an event, or if you act or speak unkindly or inconsiderately or disrespectfully in any situation, the news will spread like a virus.
Even if you excel in expertise, eloquence and enterprise, if you are perceived as unethical, disrespectful, unkind or inappropriate, your speaking career and your relationship with bureaus will end.
The IASB member bureaus stay in touch with each other and share experiences about various speakers and events. Maintain an attitude and presence that makes them want to work with you again!
8. Create an extended line of information products.
As a leader in your field, you're demonstrating your ability to create solutions for others who have challenges. This increases your outreach, your name recognition and your popular appeal. If you have popular appeal, bureaus will want to know about you.
If you have a Nightingale Conant product, you have instant credibility. If you do not, you can create your own library of information products helpful for those in your industry.
Get the best advice and service on products from the experts who do this for a living. Compare services and prices of two great companies: Speaker Fulfillment Services in Indiana and Flow Motion Inc. in California.
I use Speaker Fulfillment Services to manufacture, duplicate and distribute my products because I like the "produce on-demand" service they offer. They are immediately notified of an online purchase from my website by my website shopping cart.
If you're a generalist, you can create products designed to help anyone move to a higher performance or productivity, move from living in the past to living in the present, harness the power of their expertise, increase profits, reduce health risks, eliminate negative thinking and overcome all sorts of challenges along life's path.
With the help of Internet technology, you can keep track of customer buying patterns, convert one-time customers to continuity customers and serve your buyers with each new product you make available. Brian Tracy is the consummate professional speaker producing a continuous stream of information products every year. Those products reach out around the world in different languages and make contact for him. Those buyers have their companies bring him in to speak at a high rate of bookings and rebookings. Bureaus follow suit.
As long as you do not abuse the privilege of speaking when promoting your products and services with or without permission, it's an added benefit to your appearance. If you get a reputation of pitching your product rather than delivering your designated speech, it's the kiss of death.
You may wish to give away a set of your products to the organization that hires you to speak. It may be used in the company library for everyone's benefit and it will promote good will with meeting planners and bureaus.
9. Introduce yourself to speakers bureaus.
The most prominent and busiest bureaus have lots of speakers but they are always seeking more buyers, that is, organizations that hire speakers. Remember – bureaus represent the interests of their buyers, not the interests of speakers. The exception is when bureaus have exclusives with speakers, meaning they handle all of the speaking engagements for a speaker regardless of the origin of the inquiry. In industry terms, they have an exclusive with the speaker.
So, while bureaus may have lots of speakers, they are open to reviewing new speakers and speakers who represent new ideas.
The primary reasons that influence speaker selection are facts and third party endorsements about the speaker. Facts may be industry distinctions such as sales awards, top producer rankings, honors you've received, your educational background, books you've written, courses you've taught, your charitable affiliations, your military service, years you've been a professional speaker, articles about you or articles or special reports written by you.
Third party endorsements are clients that have benefited from your expertise. These may be a series of letters you've received, one or two sentences from various individuals who have hired you in the past, quotes about books you've written, quotes from top producers who have used your sales strategies to increase their personal production , etc.
The International Association of Speakers Bureaus offers an online directory of member bureaus that you can view without being a member. Once you get to the website, click on "bureau locator" and then click on "submit." (You do not need to complete the form.) You will have a list of approximately 165 member bureaus with their contact info right there in plain sight! Thank you, IASB.
You can contact any bureau any time, but I offer a word of caution. Look at each bureau site and see if they have established a protocol for new speakers who wish to be represented. If they do, it's a straight forward form that you can complete. Otherwise, ask the receptionist for the name and email address of the person at the bureau who receives new speaker submissions.
Most speakers bureaus do not charge an upfront fee to represent you.
If you would like some help when introducing yourself to bureaus, join eSpeakers. It's the single most helpful tool in booking speakers that I have used in 27 years. If you're a member of eSpeakers, you may enjoy one of their services immediately by having them do an eBlast about you and your expertise to all of the speakers bureaus.
The eBlast invites a bureau to take a look at your biographical material on eSpeakers. Any bureau that desires to add you to their website can have it done in a matter of minutes when you are listed on eSpeakers. You can easily have your speaking calendar, bio, presentation topics, fees, your promo DVD, photos and appearance documents uploaded to eSpeakers, and that makes it possible for speakers bureaus to access your information, place holds and book you.
In addition to making it easy for bureaus to review your expertise, you also make it easy on yourself. Once you're listed on eSpeakers you can have all of your materials, including your video, added to your own website. You can easily update your speaker profile yourself! Meeting planners will be able to learn all about what you have to offer and view your video right on your website.
One of the best features is that you will be able to access your calendar any time and from any place to check changes that have been made by bureaus and to make changes, as they occur, in your schedule.
In closing, my best advice to you is to continue to promote yourself and your service without relying on bureaus. Use the nine (9) action steps you've just read, work on serving others and pretty soon, you'll get a call from a bureau. It's predictable.