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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  April 29, 2014

The Good Ol’ Days Are Gone

A speaker bureau friend asked me this question: What do you say to experts who think high-fee speaking engagements are just a natural outcome from speaking for free? ¬†How do you explain that while they have put so much effort into those programs, the market just doesn’t work like that anymore?

She (and I) have that conversation a lot. Too many folks expect paid speaking engagements to fall out of trees after doing the “exposure” market for a while. So here are the three top reasons why kudos from the freebie circuit doesn’t make you a shoo-in for paid speaking:

  • The economic meltdown has made many buyers rethink the big-fee speaking model. Even high-end buyers are aware of the budget, either for prudent reasons or for political, i.e., the AIG debacle. While the recovery has eased budgets, the mindset is still there. Cost is now a bigger factor.
  • Yes, stories abound about the speaker who gave a great speech for free and has spoken for a gazillion dollars ever since. At one time dinosaurs roamed the planet, too. Why it doesn’t happen much anymore: the quality line has blurred between free and paid speakers at the low end of the market. Presentation skills and topics of free speakers are a lot better. Audiences can’t tell the difference anymore. So many buyers no longer believe they have to pay big speaking fees and settle for the “good enough” speakers. You will be hard pressed to convince them to pay for you when they’ve done without for years now.
  • A political reason why free speaking just gets you more of the same: buyers know who pays speakers and who doesn’t. They know your fee range from the list of clients you provide. They also talk to one another. No one wants to be the loser who pays the speaker everyone else got for free.

The bottom line: Getting paid speaking engagements has grown up. The market is hyper-competitive and filled with low (and no) cost options. It is a real business now and requires a lot more strategy than in the past. So before you go out and tread water for a while, check out your options. Find your best path forward. Need some help? My market assessment can help you determine what to expect and if the trip is worth it.

 

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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.