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I recently conducted a workshop on generating revenue through speaking engagements. Converting audience members into clients is what every speaker strives to accomplish. Unfortunately, sometimes the conversion process feels manipulative to the audience or painful to the speaker. When speakers start hawking their products and services like a late night infomercial everyone starts to squirm and look at their mobile device as if life-altering communication was being transmitted at that very moment and they couldn’t possibly look up from their smart phone.

What Costco Taught Me About Conversion

Here’s the problem: speakers don’t understand how to behave like Costco. Speakers hold back on great information as if that will entice or induce their audience to become clients. It’s the “you don’t know what you’re missing model.” The problem is we really don’t know what in the hell we’re missing because we haven’t experienced it! Costco does something different, the complete opposite in fact. Costco allows us to experience their product so we know exactly what we’re missing. Costco invites you to sample their potstickers so that you leave with a 45-pound bag when prior to that sample you didn’t even know you wanted potstickers; now you want them so much, you’ll be eating them into the next fiscal year.

Speaking engagements are about delivering great content that is so juicy and delicious that the audience is craving the next taste. If your audience isn’t fully experiencing what you offer then they aren’t inspired to engage further. If you want to turn speaking engagements into revenue you can’t hold back your best content or simply deliver a watered down version of what you do and expect everyone to hope that the real thing is way better.

So why do speakers to this? Most speakers are under the misguided belief that they shouldn’t give anything away. Look at Costco. If they want you to invest in a massive bag of potstickers, they need you to taste one. They don’t stand there and talk about how good the potsticker is and point to it in the freezer, because you wouldn’t buy it and it would be awkward and weird! But that is exactly what a speaker does when he or she fails to deliver a high quality experience with actionable, transformational content. Don’t hide your best stuff. DELIVER IT!

If you have a powerpoint presentation that talks about what you do and sounds like a brochure – start over! Create some transformation in the room. Educate me, change me, enlighten me, and inspire me. If you don’t, I’m not coming back to find out if you can do better. Don’t worry about giving away too much. Most speaking engagements are an hour long – how much can you possibly give away? Besides, remember that Costco only gives you a taste. Half a potsticker at most! But that taste is directly tied to buying.

Speaking engagements are a large source of new client acquisition for my business. My conversion rate is a reflection of how closely I can deliver what it’s like to work with me. The better I’m able to approximate the real life experience, the more relevant the engagement and the more likely a listener will turn into a client.

If you aren’t turning speaking engagements into revenue, you need to carefully examine how you’re delivering your content. If you’re hiding your real value and delivering a deluded version of yourself, you’re probably not fully realizing your revenue potential and you’re leaving a whole lot of money on podiums at speaking engagements.

My conversion rates are not accidental. My clients are extremely intelligent consumers. They don’t fall for tricks, coupons or deals of the day. My clients are a demanding savvy bunch who want to know the quality of what they’re purchasing; and as a business owner myself, I feel exactly the same.


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