Getting in front of new prospects and generating leads is essential to any business. Speaking as an expert is a great strategy to do this. Hosting your own local live event for lead generation may be even better.
Let me explain…
Position yourself as an expert, they say. Build your authority. Show your prospects you can help them by actually helping them, they say. I’ve done this as the “expert speaker” at many lunch events and workshops for various groups and organizations.
I usually have a few opt-ins for whatever free lead magnet I offer to complement my presentation — the checklist, special report, or worksheet that builds on whatever topic I’m speaking about. And I follow up with additional emails providing more value.
Then, I wait for the phone to ring.
And I wait. And wait.
Sound familiar? Have you done this, too?
It dawned on me the problem wasn’t with my speaking ability or my follow-up. The disconnect was the audience and their reason for being in the room. They weren’t there to hear me. Not really. They were there to have lunch, network, chat with friends, make connections.
So I changed my approach. I wanted to get people in a room whose sole purpose of being there was to discuss what they’re doing to market their business. If they showed up for the express purpose of learning how to improve their marketing so they could grow their businesses… would they be better prospects?
I was willing to put it to the test, so I wrote a presentation showing examples of common marketing “mistakes” and how to fix them.
I showed “before” screenshots of websites that had no call to action (just a phone number) and no compelling opt-in offer (just “Subscribe” or “Join my list”). Then I showed the same pages after we added the proper components and talked about the results of doing so.
I put together great examples of lead magnets, effective follow-up for more conversions, and creative upsells, downsells, and bundling ideas.
And since my purpose in holding this event was to generate leads for myself, my “offer” at the end was a chance to take a deeper dive and apply these ideas to their own business during a one-to-one consultation with me. After which I would offer (for a fee) my help in implementing the ideas that made the most sense for their specific situation.
I was confident in my content and my offer. Next I needed a location and a date. There’s an office furniture business in my town that hosts local events at their showroom. They also have a conference room they let people use for free. Perfect! I booked a Tuesday morning, 7:30-9:30 a.m.
Filling the room was my next step.
The conference room sat 20 people, and I wanted the event to be exclusive without competitors being in the room together. So I created a registration landing page where people could request an invitation to the event. And then I started getting the word out.
I sent private messages to my contacts on LinkedIn and Alignable. I emailed the local segment of my list. I added my event to online calendars of events on various business organizations’ websites. I asked my BNI referral partners to pass out postcards to business owners they knew. (I thought postcards would be perceived as more professional than simple flyers.)
As I took each step, the event took shape and became more real. It was actually happening!
Then I started to doubt. Could I really pull this off? By myself? Whenever I got nervous, I just refocused and kept taking the next steps.
Six people registered to attend: a custom jewelry designer, an insurance agent, a realtor, a general contractor, a travel agent, and a flight attendant launching a side business selling an international Tooth Fairy product geared toward the parents of young children.
It looked like I would have an interesting and diverse group.
The general contractor was a complete no-show. The travel agent emailed me to say she couldn’t make it due to an illness but to put her on the notification list for the next event. The realtor showed up, then got an emergency call and had to leave.
So I ended up giving the presentation to an audience of three. Which actually turned out to be a great number, because it allowed for a lot of fantastic participation and collaboration. It was more of a guided mastermind session or hands-on workshop than a traditional presentation or “lecture.”
All three completed my Feedback Form at the end of the event, which gives me testimonials to use in future marketing. One recorded a testimonial video for me before she left.
The jewelry designer and Tooth Fairy entrepreneur scheduled individual consulting appointments for a deeper dive into their specific needs. So, two out of three took the action the event was designed to inspire. That’s a 67% conversion rate from group event to one-to-one meeting.
Of the two who had individual meetings with me…
It’s too early in the Tooth Fairy’s business development to hire me. (She’s still validating the concept is one that can generate enough interest and buyers to make it worth doing.) But she says she will come back to me when she’s ready.
The jewelry designer, on the other hand, has retained me to help with a year-long campaign to celebrate her 25 years of business next year. That’s a 50% conversion rate from one-to-one meeting to new paying client.
Was a single new client worth my time, effort, and financial investment?
Since that single 15-month retainer client (we’re starting the campaign this fall before her actual anniversary year begins) will be worth several thousands of dollars… yes. Yes, she was.
And that’s not even counting any additional future projects she ends up hiring me to do for her.
What I Learned from Holding My Own Live Event
I initially marketed the event as being for 20 participants (and I purchased all the collateral material for that number as well). But smaller was definitely better. Next time, I’m going to market it as an event for no more than 10.
The referral partners I had hoped would use the postcards to help spread the word didn’t do so to the extent I estimated, so I printed way too many dated postcards that had to be tossed. An unneeded expense. Next time, I’ll simply print a smaller number of flyers on a nice glossy paper and save some money.
But the content I delivered was spot-on. It was clear, informative, and well-received. While it seemed basic to me, it was eye-opening to the business owners around the table. They found it super valuable, and it definitely showcased me as an expert.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that I can do it. Yes, it was a stretch. Yes, it took me out of my comfort zone. Yes, it was worth it.
And, yes, I’ll do it again. You should, too.