Expand Your Brand: How to Create Your Ideal Business Model


Ahhhh, the good old days. When a speaker could build a keynote business and speak 80 times per year for a $10,000 fee.

The new economy has forced many speakers to look at their business models and re-tool. Many don’t want to put all of their eggs in the speaking basket anymore because they’ve been burned.

Shake-ups like SARS and the Wall Street bailouts rocked the speaking profession. Each time something happens with the economy, the effects ripple across to speaking calendars. And it hurts!

So, how can speakers insulate themselves? Diversification! Speaker and Olympian Cary Mullen was a very successful keynoter when he sat down and crunched the numbers.

“Delivering 50 to 100 speeches a year means 100 to 200 days on the road. With a wife and three small children at home, I realized my business model was flawed. I was only making money when I was away from my family.”

Mullen decided to go back into real estate development, his field before launching a speaking career. Now he spends six months of the year on a beach in Mexico with his family and he speaks in the spring, summer and fall.

Sounds sweet, doesn’t it? What’s your version of the perfect business model?

As a newlywed, my business model isn’t about being on the road at all. Because I speak mostly to NSA audiences,

I choose to speak only a few times each year and it’s typically very strategic.

I think of it like a waterfall. Those speeches feed product sales and those feed my individual and group coaching businesses. Although the speeches are not well paid, the results are terrific. My goal has always been not to trade time for money. So, having recurring income or product sales as a large percentage of the revenue stream is perfect for me.

What’s perfect for you? Let’s explore.

EXPAND: Move away from trading time for money.

Although we are the National Speakers Association, speaking is just one way to share your expertise. Randy Pennington, CSP, CPAE, once referred to it as the difference between the Coke® and the Coke machine. The pop machine is just one distribution channel for Coke, just like speaking is one way to distribute your knowledge and expertise.

Here are some ways you can develop other distribution channels.

REPACKAGE: Repackage your keynotes and training.

All speakers have gold within their training and keynote services that can be mined and turned into other products.

Perhaps your content could be turned into an assessment tool or audit? How about an iPhone app? If you videotape your training or your keynote, you can add some in-studio video (you talking to the camera one-on-one) and turn it into an online training series.

DEPTH: Go deeper within a client’s organization.

When you are prepping for an event, ask your clients, “How long would you like my message to last?”

Of course, they are going to say as long as possible, which tees up your conversation on how you can effect long-term change. And having the tools in place to offer your client is essential.

  • Consider a series of short video vignettes that the client may purchase to drive the message deeper within the organization.
  • Provide group coaching via a webinar or teleseminar after the program.
  • Follow up with one-on-one consulting with the executives to ensure that the message stays focused.
  • Drive your message deeper with a series of promotional products; for example, coffee mugs, posters, screen savers, and door hangers.

BUNDLING: Sell a package or system rather than one book at a time. Think about how you can develop a book and a few pieces that complement the book. I’ve never had a desire to sell just one book at a time. So, I developed a book, a workbook and an audio, which increased the price point from $20 to $77.

Perhaps you design a “playbook” to go with your book. And put some video with it? Your strategy behind this may alter based on how you plan to distribute your book. If bookstores are a main part of your strategy, it’s often hard to get them on board with anything but a book. But, keep in mind; audiences are the best consumers of our products, so focus on back-of-the- room sales rather than selling one book at a time.

UPSELL: Offer your time to enhance a product.

Volunteering your time to a system (if coaching is your thing) can increase the price point substantially. Consider adding a one-hour coaching or consulting session via phone to add several hundred dollars to a product or package price in perceived value.

If you do a significant amount of coaching in your business, then this “trial hour” can also feed business into your other larger coaching packages. You offer the “add on” coaching at a special price and everybody wins.

Scott Ginsberg offers a “Rent Scott’s Brain” service, which gives his clients access his brain for a finite period of time. Everything Ginsberg does has some interesting spin on it. What’s your interesting spin?

MEMBERSHIPS: Group people together for learning.

Membership clubs are a brilliant way for people to continue learning from you in an affordable manner. Imagine this….

You deliver a keynote for ABC Company. The client loves you and wants to know how they can do more with you. You invite those most interested to your “Inner Circle” club which meets regularly by phone and offers short videos, emails, a Facebook group and other perks that reinforces your messages with members each month.

The company agrees to add 50 people to your Inner Circle at a fee of $50/person each month (or whatever price point you choose).

Now, imagine that you duplicate this offering with other companies and associations and your club grows to 5,000. You’ll need to ensure that you have the systems in place to manage the group, but just do the math:

5,000 x $50/month = $250,000.

If you’re like me and you know your groups are going to want a lot of individual attention, then you might set a higher price point and limit the size of the group.

What’s perfect for your audience?

THE NON-SPEECH: Deliver your message in mediums other than speeches.

Find other creative ways to parlay your knowledge. Kris Young, of Martin Bastion Productions Speakers Bureau (of Martin Bastian Productions/Martin Bastian Speakers) has been providing speakers, entertainers and content (speakers, thought leaders, entertainers and content design) for meetings for more than 20 years. She says, “Corporate clients need to focus on multiple modes of communication. (Audiences learn best when they are given multiple modes of communication). A parade of talking heads no longer cuts it.”

Take Joe Calloway, CSP, CPAE, for example. Rather than give the same old speech time after time, Calloway started offering a new “interview from the platform.” He’d go on stage with the company’s CEO or key members of the sales team and interview them. His clients love this idea because no one is better at making people look like heroes than Calloway.

So, what does that look like for you? How can you provide your content in a different way before, during or after a conference? Perhaps it comes in an executive brainstorming session or roundtable. Think about what goes on at traditional conferences and then flip it upside down. How can you attract people who don’t attend conferences into this using technology?

Technology speaker Scott Klososky uses a new technology from the platform called “Join Speaker” that enables the audience to ask him questions live. Perhaps there is spin on that for creating some buzz around your program.

Meeting executives love new ideas. Show them how you can make their events different and more effective, or how your training can go deeper into their culture and you are gold to them.

Whether you deliver your speech more uniquely, add on services before or after the speech, develop your content into video training modules, rent your brain, or develop a membership club, you will find at least one idea to expand your brand.

The whole purpose of being an entrepreneur is to control your destiny. If you are living on planes, or working your tail off on the ground, these ideas can help you move into a business model that is more ideal for you.

Jane Atkinson

Jane Atkinson

CEO & President at Speaker Launcher
Jane Atkinson is the author of "The Wealthy Speaker 2.0." Her coaching and consulting practice has helped build the businesses of some of NSA’s busiest speakers.
Jane Atkinson
Jane Atkinson
Jane Atkinson
Jane Atkinson

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