And—so far—my answer has never been to reduce your price.
Au contraire. Chances are a quick look at your pricing and your website would tell me that you not only set your price too low, but you have failed—sometimes miserably—to communicate your value to their audience.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
In a wide-ranging interview on consultant marketing, I told Michael Zipursky, head of Consulting Buzz, my favorite client story about boosting speaking fees: moving from $500 a pop to $15,000. In 18 months.
Could you do the same?
Ask yourself three burning questions.
How good is my content?
Content is king, queen and the whole damned royal court. If you don’t have solid one-of-a-kind content that is uniquely insightful and/or entertaining, do not read any further. Instead, invest your time developing and honing your ideas until you can truly say you have something special.
What value do I deliver to my audience?
There is no substitute for being exquisitely clear on the value you deliver. Can you say it in a sentence? Then be sure to capture it on your website! This is also where your delivery comes in. The most compelling content will not rescue you if you present like a robot. Or just write it all out on a PowerPoint. You don’t have to be Mr./Ms. Personality (yes, introverts can deliver unforgettable speeches), but you do need to develop a comfort level with sharing your ideas with an audience. Use images, gestures, visual language. Doesn’t come naturally? Hire yourself a speaking coach.
Have I captured the experience of being in a room with me?
Video is non-negotiable for this purpose. A “sizzle reel” is one approach, although I will usually argue that the traditional version is dead. You want your audience to feel—viscerally—what it’s like to go through the speaking experience with you. Deep-six the baritone voiceover and tacky music. Instead, use video that makes your audience feel something. Sure, use clips from engagements, but intersperse them with from the heart moments—where it’s just you and the camera.
Once you’ve mastered content, delivery and experience, you can talk price. Yes, take a look at the competition (that will help you position yourself in your niche), but price based on value. How will your speaking clients be different after they’ve heard your message? What specific changes can they expect in behavior, ideas, inspiration? Make it as concrete as you can—and use it to inform your videos as well as your website and marketing collateral copy.
And don’t forget—your speaking fees (and your speaking frequency) should reflect their proper role in your business model.
I have one client who won’t get on a plane for less than $18,000, no matter who does the asking. You won’t see him giving away platform speeches—even in his industry—because he’s clear on how it feeds his revenue model.
Remember, every speech you do means you’re not available for something else. Make it count.
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