What does it take to break through the $5,000 per speech level, that $5K mark that forms a ceiling over many speakers’ heads? It’s standard. It’s normal. Is it you?
I’m glad you asked. Maybe you’ve been stuck there for awhile. Here’s my opinion.

First of all, $5,000 isn’t a shabby fee, especially when you supplement it with other endeavors. (And I hope you do because professional speaking alone without an extra income stream such as coaching, consulting, putting on events or doing training can be a little shaky). As for that ceiling, I’m not fond of ceilings of any sort and I bet you aren’t either, so here’s some quick advice.

1. Make yourself indispensible. Be so unique that you are absolutely one hundred percent irreplaceable. Is your topic needed and necessary? What are the takeaways for the audience? Indispensable? They should be. This is what meeting planners look for – a message that’s brilliantly delivered and actionable steps for audience members to take.

2. Deliver uncommon value. Research your clients’ needs thoroughly before the gig and deliver the kind of leave-behind value that a $10,000 speaker does. You know already that you need to customize each speech to fit in with theme of the conference and the particular issues that audience is facing. So over-deliver and be completely memorable. That’s the way to move up and get booked over and over again.

3. Have your clients raving about you, do such a great job that you get golden testimonials (on video if possible) and make sure you post those testimonials along with a photo of your raving fan on your marketing material and website.

4. Be as accommodating as possible. Don’t be a patsy but do go the extra mile to ensure that the event you’re speaking at is a huge success. Sometimes that means helping the meeting planner out. Other times, that means helping to publicize the events. Occasionally that means finding your own sponsor.

5. But don’t go too far! Value yourself and your clients will too. Always treat yourself with the same respect you treat your clients. In other words, DO NOT offer to throw in 50 copies of your manual free of charge even though it goes with your keynote. Charge extra for the great extra value you’re adding. Do not offer to absorb the airfare or give a discount if your client hires you for two speeches (unless that’s at the same conference). You’re getting the picture.

6. Go global. Increase your sphere of influence and gain international clients and a stellar international reputation. You’ll always be more revered away from home. If you’re not being sought after in your home town, don’t take it personally. That’s just the nature of the market. There are other countries in this world that are starving for your information. And sometimes those countries can make it worth your while to travel to speaker there.

7. Continue to innovate and offer new keynotes or new products. Give yourself a rebranding from time to time just to refresh what you have to offer. Keep yourself front of mind with your clients by keeping in touch regularly and continue to reach out to add more to your database. The truth is that lists get tired after awhile and also need replenishing and yours will too. Also those who hired you before might not ask you back for a repeat performance. Continue adding to your prospect list and finding innovative ways to keep in touch with them. Growth is a good thing.

8. Build a brilliant reputation by contributing to magazines, online publications, appear on television when possible or on online radio or blog talk radio. You know those people who pop up everywhere all of a sudden? They’ve implemented a very careful strategy. This doesn’t happen by accident. So create and implement your own ‘expert’ strategy. Which publications are right for you? Where should you make a guest appearance or contribute a guest blog?

9. Be very active on social media. Advertising doesn’t work. Social media does. Be on top of social media, especially linked in. Speakers get booked through linked in. Even when meeting planners book through a bureau, they’ll check you out first on linked in. Also be active on other sites such as Instagram, Slide share, flickr and so on. Do your homework and get yourself a consistent highly professional presence on a variety of social media.

10. Send a note of appreciation after the gig. Meeting planners, like everyone else, just love to be appreciated. Why not make yourself memorable by saying thanks and how much you enjoyed addressing their group? You’ll be first of mind next time around and will also benefit from their referrals.

We know the speaking marketing is changing rapidly these days. The speakers who continue doing the same old thing and don’t stop to consider that they need to change their approach just to stay in the same place are the speakers who will fall (or have fallen) off the cliff. They’re blindly following those who went before when those methods no longer work as well as they once did.

Even in a tough market, there are speakers who come out of nowhere and rise right to the top. They may not have any more or even as much talent as you do. What they do have is a fresh vision and a new strategy that suits today’s market.
When they see others zigging, they zag in their inimitable completely brilliant fashion.

Why not put yourself in this group? The people who will rise to the top are those who have the vision and the smarts to plan a careful strategy and who execute it really well, adapting to changes in the market before they become entrenched.

Why not put yourself in that group!

Author's Bio: 

Cathleen Fillmore, owner of Speakers Gold bureau, is also a marketing consultant to speakers, coaches, trainers and consultants who want to make more money doing what they love. She holds annual seminars. Call 416-532-9886 for more information.