5 Top Tips on how you can quickly become the “go-to” speaker for your marketplace – Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend, co-author of The Go-To Expert, gives her 5 top tips on how you can quickly become the  ‘go-to’ speaker for your marketplace. 

Differentiating yourself from your peers is the challenge that every speaker faces. With today’s clients more inclined to see if they can get a speaker for free or cut back on their use of external speakers, the pressure is on for every speaker to justify their fee levels and increase the value they bring to clients.

One way of curing these commercial headaches is to grow a reputation as the ‘go to speaker’ within your marketplace.

Identify your niche and commit to it

It’s common sense really, but it’s much easier to be ‘the expert speaker’ on a small subject or niche than a large specialism. Your aim is not to piggy-back on someone else’s expertise, but to develop a niche that helps differentiate you amongst the speaking community and your marketplace. After all, you are competing with the speaker, particularly the employed professionals who are prepared to turn up and deliver for free.

What will become hot topics for your preferred audience in the short and medium term? What’s happening within your market which will cause a requirement for new skills or expertise? For example, ten years ago (outside of the film and music industry) no one had heard of crowd-funding. What expertise will your marketplace take in-house? After all, companies will only pay for a speaker’s expertise if they can’t get this from inside their organisation.

Your niche does not need to remain static over time – it will grow and develop as you become more successful. For example, you could decide to focus on becoming the wellness speaker for the banking industry and then diversify into finance.

Many speakers decide to have a niche, but fail to truly commit to it.

I’ve seen far too many not-yet-established speakers damage their reputation by putting their hand up for speaking opportunities, within groups of speakers, which they are not credible for.

Remember that as well as a market need for your services, you will need to be passionate about what you do. If you are not passionate, then wave goodbye to achieving ‘Go-To Speaker’ status.

Identify your sound bite

If I asked you, what do you do? Or, why do clients choose to work with you? Could you articulate this in one short sentence? For example:

‘I help property developers get the best possible price for their business on exit’

This is your ‘sound bite’, and, ideally, it will become your suffix – what people attach to your name when they talk about you. Some other excellent sound bites used by speakers include:

  • I help the construction industry put social media to work (Su Butcher)
  • I help construction companies write simpler contracts & understand complex ones (Sarah Fox)
  • I help the working mum gain confidence (Sherry Bevan)

A good sound bite should include who you work with and the value you bring to these clients.

Write or record yourself talking about your subject

It’s often said that a book is the best business card you can ever have. However, before you sharpen your pencils, you don’t need to go the whole hog and become a published author. You can write blog posts, white papers, articles for online and printed magazines or even your own e-book. Or you can record podcasts or video clips of you talking about your subject. Publicly communicating your expertise in this way will help get you noticed by the right people.

Many speakers worry that they will give away their crown jewels if they write/talk about their topic too extensively. After all, what is the point of someone booking you if they can see all of your expertise on youtube? Let me assure you that most information is already freely available. The value that you bring is your ability to demonstrate your understanding of the topic and apply it to the issues/needs of your audience – this is what clients are hiring you for. The more you write/talk about your specialism and share this knowledge, the more interested parties will come across you and therefore associate your name with this area.

Use social media to build up your presence

It’s actually your clients, introducers and prospects who award you the crown of ‘go to speaker’. To get that crown, you need to build up an online footprint that oozes credibility and compels others to want to engage with you. Using LinkedIn, Twitter and your blog, is an excellent way of building up your online footprint, sharing your content, connecting with influential people and building your target audience’s awareness of what you do. For example, use Twitter to share articles/video clips/podcasts your niche would benefit from reading and join a LinkedIn group frequented by your clients and peers.

Build strategic alliances

One of the best ways to create word-of-mouth recognition is to build strategic alliances. Actively look for people who either have a complementary skill to you, or work in the same niche. Getting referred to clients by a small, close-knit circle of introducers can help you extend your own reach significantly. To increase your commitment to building strategic alliances, give yourself a target for the amount of new business you want to win via this process.

In summary

Becoming the ‘go to speaker’ will take hard work – you won’t get there overnight. However, stick at it – the rewards are well and truly worth waiting for.

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