The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Your Firm Through Speaking Engagements

Author: Kathleen Inocentes | May 9, 2017

Speaking at a conference, CLE event or workshop is a great marketing opportunity—as long as you know how to take advantage of it. According to Hire an Esquire, speaking engagements are the second most useful lead generation tool, right behind referrals. If you have a captive audience, don’t waste your chance to convert them into regular clients. Here’s how.

Do start planning early.
Many of the more well-known conferences start planning next year’s agenda as soon as the last guest at this year’s event is out the door, so plan accordingly. Keep a running list of every relevant venue, note application deadlines and make it a habit to periodically scan your list and see if anything is upcoming. And in the meantime, it never hurts to brush up on your public speaking skills in your spare time by taking a class or joining a club like Toastmasters.

Don’t be afraid to make an investment.
Plenty of conferences are free to participate in, but if those are the only ones you’re considering you could be missing a huge opportunity. If you have room in your marketing budget, it’s worth every penny you have to get in front of the right audience. Securing just one new, high-paying client can pay for the cost of participating and then some. Don’t let sticker shock prevent you from leveraging a major marketing opportunity.

Do think like a storyteller.
You can name every statistic, show every bar graph and cite every study you want, but at the end of the day people only care about one thing: stories. When you’re writing your talking points, make sure they read like a story, with characters, a central conflict and a happy resolution. Find a way to humanize the knowledge that you’re sharing, and always bring it back to people—what problems they’ve had, how they’ve responded and how you’ve helped them.

Don’t prioritize audience size over audience engagement.
It’s always better to be in a room of 20 people with 10 or 15 ideal clients than it is to be in a room of 200 people with only one or two ideal clients. Big, splashy conferences have their place and they’ll certainly get you some name recognition, but if your main goal is to generate leads, you may have more success at niche events. They allow you to target a very specific audience, and give you more opportunity to engage with potential clients in the audience one-on-one.

Don’t act like a salesperson.
Yes, one of the main benefits of participating in a speaking engagement is the potential to find new clients. But audiences don’t usually decide to go to conferences or workshops because they’re in the market for a new lawyer—they go because they want to gain useful knowledge that will make their lives easier. That’s what you must be responsive to. Provide your audience with the information they want and you’ll build credibility, which will keep you top of mind when they really are in the market for a lawyer.

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