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Defining Value

What happens when you just can’t afford the speaker?

By Lois Creamer

Relationships drive the speaking business. Meeting planners, their clients, keynote speakers and, ultimately, their audiences expect a strong program and value for their investment.

I recently returned from presenting to a National Speakers Association chapter. One of the most interesting questions posed was about the definition of value in our industry. How does a meeting planner define value when working with speakers?

If a planner has a low budget but a desire to bring in a big speaker, how can that planner create value with a small budget? The planner could offer several valuable options to speakers. The speaker will be interested if they feel something is offered that would be equal to, or commensurate with their fee.

Value, to each of us, can be different. You have to define it for yourself. It has much to do with what the speaker may need in their business at that time. Here is a list of what I think may be of “value” to a speaker.

Referrals. Perhaps you can offer to be very proactive in bringing relationships and interest to your speaker. Offer to make calls on their behalf to contacts who might be interested in the speaker’s expertise and is likely to be able to afford their fee.

A fully paid speech… later. Can you commit to booking a full paying engagement within a year of the date of the speech you are asking the speaker to do now?

Recording. Either a video or audio, or both. Great video is a plus for promotional purposes for every speaker. Also, they are always seeking to create product. It is the same with audio. Live audio makes a terrific product – preferable to “in studio” recorded programs and many speakers agree. There is an energy associated with events recorded live that is very appealing.

Barter. Maybe your client’s company produces something the speaker could use. Think of it as a trade. I’m not an accountant, so I feel compelled to say consult your tax advisor on this one.

Product, product, product. Can your client purchase some of the speaker’s products? Speakers love moving books, tapes, whatever. Audiences love receiving value added surprises.

What if a meeting planner has no money at all. There are situations where asking a speaker to waive their fee makes sense. Here are some of those situations.

Define the long term. This group matches your speaker’s target market perfectly. Perhaps they would love to be able to list them as a client.

Promise the speaker a great testimonial after the event. One of the things I say over and over is this: “Testimonials are the economic capital of a speaking business!”

Scan for optimal possibilities. The audience is filled with prospects who may be able to hire the speaker for a future opportunity.

Highlight or showcase. An optional purpose for this event may be using the program as a showcase for other planners or agents who can hire the speaker. Maybe you can even invite a speaker bureau to attend and check out the speaker for a future relationship.

I’m sure you can think of some other creative ideas as well. The key is to have a plan when asking a speaker to waive, or lower, their fee. Keep the relationship in mind.

Speakers are looking for continuity in the way you approach fees. If not getting their full fee, you want to be able to compel interest by having value added.

There is nothing better than a “meeting of the minds” between planners, clients, speakers and their audiences!

Lois works with speakers who want to book more business and make more money! She is a member of NSA and a frequent presenter at CAPS.

Appeared in Speaking of IMPACT, Summer 2015 Edition

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