In this episode, we’ve invited on Lauren Pibworth, expert marketer for professional speakers.
Lauren has over 13 years of experience helping professional speakers gain visibility online, more deeply monetize their offering, and help them get crystal clear on their messaging.
We talk about marketing, productization, diversification, and everything you need to do to keep your speaking business WELL ahead of the curve. Even when pandemic strikes.
So let’s dive in and learn about what’s changed since COVID. Because it sure isn’t how you market yourself.
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✅ To learn more about Lauren and Pibworth Professional Services, go here: https://pibworthps.com/
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Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of technically speaking. We are really excited about today’s guest, speaker marketing expert Lauren Pibworth. Lauren, welcome to the show.
Lauren: Thank you. It’s awesome to be here.
Taylorr: Yes, definitely. It’s really good to have you. So, we are really pleased to introduce Lauren Pibworth, founder of Pibworth Professional Solutions, a marketing agency exclusive to professional speakers. Lauren and her team of online marketing professionals have been working with speakers for over 12 years, creating custom websites, passive income products and marketing campaigns that persuade decision makers to say yes more often. Described as genuine, positive and possessing an amazing energy Lauren leaps into her work and her life with a unique mixture of passion, abandon and professionalism. But you cannot see the tan, she has just returned from a scuba diving trip to St. Lucia. We actually met Lauren recently at the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers annual conference back in 2019 and we knew she’d be a perfect fit for our podcast listeners and in fact, we can even attest to Lauren’s awesome personality. So, Lauren, again, thank you so much for being here today.
Lauren: Thank you. It is always awesome to connect with you guys and, and yeah, I’m not so tanned anymore, but that’s all good.
Taylorr: Hey, you and me both. I think COVID has had its was on everybody.
Austin: That’s true. If I wasn’t representative of sour cream before, I definitely am now so…
Taylorr: Oh, my goodness. There you have it folks. That’s a wrap. So, Lauren, I’m curious, how did you end up in the crazy world of professional speakers? What problems did you notice that you were hoping to solve and why the professional speaking industry?
Lauren: Well, it’s interesting because when I first started, I’m a big list and fact person. So, I looked at the things that, and the tasks and the skills that I had and what I loved to do and what I did really, really well, then I looked at the kinds of people that I wanted to be surrounded by, and then I looked at who had income in order, and would fit both those things and speakers has been my target audience for 13 years now. It just made perfect sense. I wanted to be around people who changed the world, who had consistent squirrel syndrome and needed someone to help keep them on track and keep them moving forward with their goals, and I love to be that wizard behind the curtain. They’re out there spreading their message change in the world and I’m just sitting back here doing what I do, making sure that they get as many eyes and ears on them as possible.
Austin: I like that. I like that you have this balanced too behind the technical skill set required to market somebody, but you also mentioned like holding people accountable and that coaching aspect that goes along with it. And we know just about every single one of our clients just is like, I just want somebody to tell me what to do. And when you’re a business owner, it can be tough not to have that, but having a good coach that can help you make those decisions and hold you accountable to executing those decisions is super valuable.
Lauren: Absolutely. And honestly, my speakers just want to show up and speak and everything else happens magically in the background. So, we just do magic.
Austin: I like it.
Lauren: That’s simple.
Taylorr: I like that. So, 13 years in the speaking industry, you’ve seen it all, especially navigating the pandemic now. I know we’ve kind of highlighted this just based on your experience, but what did you find that are some of like the recurring issues with the marketing efforts of professional speakers prior to you coming in and helping them? How do you help them refine all of that?
Lauren: I would say there’s some really key elements. Number one, speakers in, and we’re making a really big general statement, not all speakers fit into this, obviously, but it’s really hard to remember, especially if you’re dealing with a B2B audience that you’re not marketing to the people in the audience. We tend to talk about us and how amazing we are and there’s the audience saying, oh, you changed my life, but the audience isn’t the one signing the paycheck. So, making sure that when we’re building marketing campaigns for speakers, that we’re actually talking to the decision makers. So, when a speaker gets in front of an audience, it’s kind of this formula. When I get up in front of an audience and I do this, then the audience takes this action and when that action is taken, the benefit to the corporation is, and that’s where we make sure that their marketing message lands, not in the you’re so awesome or I’m so awesome. This is the benefit and this is the outcome that you get when you work with me.
I’d say I think that and the messaging is really still the number one thing to think about because we’re still… if you don’t know what you do, you can’t possibly convince other people that you do what you do, and then they certainly aren’t going to be willing to pay for it. So, clarity of messaging, the positioning being found. You can be clear as all heck, but if nobody ever visits your website or nobody ever knows you exist, that’s going to be an issue too.
Austin: Yeah. We see that too. It’s an easy mistake to as well, especially when most of the feedback you receive usually is from your audience. And so, a lot of the way, okay, so let me rephrase this. A common way that a lot of speakers will approach defining their value proposition is by thinking back to the feedback that they’ve received, but it’s sort of a trap where you can get too far off on what the audience expects and not what the decision-maker expect. So, we see that.
Austin: It’s an increasingly solutions-oriented marketplace where you’re there to solve problems and if you’re not solving a problem, then you’re probably not getting booked. I’m curious though, from your seat, because we have sort of this ongoing rant, our listeners probably really sick of hearing us say this, but that speakers are not speakers as a business they’re experts in one way or another and speaking is a vehicle where they can share their expertise to a huge number of people pretty quickly. And whether that’s as a marketing mechanism, which can totally happen where they can upsell those people into other, services that they offer or whether the main service offering is just standing on stage and getting paid to do that, we are constantly encouraging creative ways for speakers to drive more revenue outside of the traditional get booked for a speaking gig thing. So, from your seat as a marketing expert, is there a mechanism you’ve seen that works well that allows speakers to brand themselves as the experts that can command those high fees as a speaker yet can also potentially monetize the audience that is there alongside the decision-maker for the speaking event? Does that make sense?
Lauren: Ultimately, yes. You have to be an expert in something, no one is going to pay you to just talk. I don’t care how good your voice is, no matter how motivating you are, if you can’t identify and solve my problem, it’s just not in the budget. But as far as trying to monetize beyond the keynote kind of thing, one of the things that we’re really looking for in our speakers in order for them to make money is yes, having those additional programs and I would say the pandemic has really brought that forward even more. Because we’re not necessarily on stages and you can get up and you can present an idea and get an audience to whipped up but if you can’t help them actually implement the solution that you’re putting forth, then it’s real… number one. I don’t think, personally, I don’t think you’re providing the value that your audience deserves but number two, you’re not going to get rehired because it’s that same old thing. I can try and go off sugar until I’m green in the face, but if I keep eating bonbons, I’m not helping myself. I can take the courses, but if I don’t implement the action, ultimately the courses are useless to me.
Austin: So, like a scenario that I have envisioned that we’ve worked with some of our clients on is, you sell the keynote to an association for their annual conference or something like that. But you can also take a course that you’ve built or a prerecorded program or 12 weeks of daily tips from Austin, the speaker, and sell those to the audience in order to bring in some additional revenue aside from what you did on stage. And obviously there are technicalities as to whether or not you’re allowed to sell from the stage and how you’re able to follow up and so on so not even going to get into that component, but I’m just thinking especially with the transition to a more digital selling market and environment, then there’s all these different ways that we can capture revenue from the people that we’re working with outside of just the traditional ways of doing it. I guess that was my point.
Lauren: And we’re doing it in some really interesting, innovative ways in this new speaking format. We’re actually working with a lot of clients right now, creating what we’re calling academies. So, it’s either a live or live delivered virtually keynote and then with that we sell them into what is basically a membership site, the client, and then the individuals in the audience those who just part partook of the session they get little webinars, they get daily emails, they get little challenges. There’re all kinds of ways to continue to serve them and keep the excitement up for the corporation but there’s also the opportunity to offer training to the management side to then implement. And one of the things that’s really working well for our speakers right now is that it gives you an opportunity to be front of mind all the time. It’s a no brainer to here’s $5,000, $10,000 for your keynote and oh, for an extra $1,500 a year, you can have me and all of these resources that continue to feed your idea, continue to solve your problem on a consistent basis. And we can upsell here and we can upsell there and oh, I’ll make sure that all of your employees get my book and you are front of mind for every member in that organization for very long time.
Taylorr: Definitely. We see a lot of the time, well, I wouldn’t say a lot of the time, but definitely some of the time, especially with the transition of the pandemic, I think this has become more apparent since where we as speakers may have been, I don’t know, I don’t want to say spoiled, but conditioned to believe that we can just show up, speak, get off stage and call it good. And I believe that we’re of the mindset that that’s not necessarily the most viable business solution, especially if you want to continue to grow and to continue to scale. What is your advice for speakers who only say that they want to speak, get on stage, get off stage and call it good?
Lauren: Get a part-time job.
Taylorr: I was hoping you would say that. You heard it listeners, Lauren just delivered the truth.
Lauren: It is not a viable solution for most speakers anymore. Those who are already really established and they’ve been doing that and people have been paying them for that for a decade, they’re going to keep doing it and that’s fine. But ultimately trying to break into the business that’s just not going to work anymore.
Taylorr: Definitely. I’m curious too, we get this question posed a lot, especially since we talk about sales and marketing and operations, kind of the holistic approach to running a speaking business. And one of the things we get asked about a lot especially since the pandemic hit, so this question has been prompted because of COVID, is how to market yourself as a speaker right now through the pandemic. And one of the things that we talk about all the time is marketing hasn’t changed at all for the last 300 years really. The medium in which your messaging is delivered has changed. I’m curious if you’re on the same page there. Has marketing changed at all since the pandemic, or is it just that the clarity and messaging are more important than ever? What’s your take on that?
Lauren: I would agree with you 99%. We said at the beginning, I don’t have 50 new ways to market because there aren’t 50 new ways to market. The value of your list, I think has increased more and more ad it has gotten very noisy. Very, very noisy in people’s email inboxes on the web, social media, all of that so the need for a unique differentiator, the need to do something different is more pronounced than ever. But I think it’s been more pronounced than ever every year, moving forward. It’s not like this is a new idea, and there are speakers who have been successful without being online and I don’t think that that is possible anymore. You’re delivering your content online; you’ve got to be leveraging online. LinkedIn is the number one social media tool for speakers. They’ll try and tell you well, I’ve got my Facebook group and stuff like that, but ultimately LinkedIn is still where it’s at and you’ve got to be able to deliver consistent, innovative ideas in as many ways as possible.
Austin: I’m curious, this is a thought that you just provoked by what you were just saying and we’ve sort of analyzed the history of the speaking industry before with bureaus and obviously our clients and so on, but we found that as the internet came along the way in which speakers became successful, changed pretty dramatically. For a long time, it was like you had to have a Bureau or an agent or a really, really solid reputation to get booked consistently. Then the internet came along and empowered people that may not have that kind of representation to get their message out there. And so, it almost seems like as time has progressed with COVID being sort of a milestone, a bad milestone I might add, but a milestone nonetheless in the progression of this, it seems like more than ever speakers have to be taking responsibility for their efforts more so than the different strategies that need to be employed. The speaker seems to be more and more responsible for driving their business forward outside of mediums like bureaus and agents and so on. Would you agree with that?
Lauren: 1000%. in fact, most bureaus and agents won’t take you until you’re already getting booked consistently. The days of I’ve got a great message, a Bureau’s going to pick me up and feed me I think they’re gone; I don’t know of anyone who is having success with that particular model. I think the idea of having a clear marketing plan, implementing it and focusing on one or two things, doing them really, really well and really, really consistently, and then if you decide to add a third thing, that’s fine. But the spray technique that I see a lot of speakers doing, oh, I’m going to be in this and this and this and this and this, it’s really not working because all it’s doing is diluting. Figure out where your target audience is and focus in on there and video is really, really key right now.
You’re going to be delivering on video for the next couple years, probably, maybe longer than that so they need to really understand that you can be engaging on video your voice and your tech and everything else works. They need to see what it is that they’re buying and you have an opportunity to them that because you’re not on the big stages anymore. And that’s another thing just while I’m thinking about it the speakers who still have their hero image of them with the thousand-person audience, it’s not relevant anymore. It’s time to just twist and pivot, I’m sorry, I said the word.
Taylorr: That’s so accurate.
Austin: Kind of flinch when you say pivot almost expecting backlash these days. Am I going to get hit? Where are they coming from?
Lauren: I’m a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers on their marketing team and we actually have a drinking game. Whenever someone says the word pivot you have to have a drink coffee, or whatever happens to be on your desk. It’s a bad word.
Austin: That’s so funny. Okay, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to throw you off there, but that was hilarious. Credit where credit’s due.
Lauren: No, I was just saying you absolutely need to change how you are being showcased because what you were doing doesn’t matter anymore. I hate to say it, but the fact that you were able to command 20,000 people in an audience in a big auditorium, that’s not coming back anytime soon, so what people are buying is different so what you are selling has to be different now, too.
Taylorr: That’s right. I’m curious earlier we’ve been talking about differentiating I think as a common theme here throughout the conversation, and we’ve kind of highlighted a few different ways that we can differentiate ourselves along the way. I’m curious, what are some of the differentiators that you were seeing really work out well right now for speakers who are still selling and providing solutions for their clients during the pandemic? Are there any magic wands or silver bullets to differentiating yourself these days?
Lauren: I think the delivery method is probably one of the biggest differentiators now. You’re not just going to sit there on zoom and talk. I think that there’s the speakers who were really killing it out there right now, and we talked about this earlier as well, is those who are doing a tag team, where they have a really strong producer on their side, whether it’s all the lights in the studio and everything else, or if they’re just sitting there delivering their content and their assistant or whatever is online answering questions in real time using their language, knowing their products like the back of their hand, launching the poll, just so all the technology kind of happens and you can really be engaged and focused with your audience, I think that’s one of the big differentiators. And also, the ability to provide consistent ongoing support after your talk or presentation, the fact that their opportunity to learn from you doesn’t end after 45 minutes. It’s like, alright, thanks, goodbye. We talked about that being on stage.
It is much more relationship driven now than it ever has been. Here’s your initial problem? How can I help? And it’s also using the concept of problem solution problem. So, here’s your problem, I understand. Now, now that we’ve solved this, what are you going to do about that? And working them through and planning out that funnel so that when you’re talking to someone, when you’re putting together an online course, when you’re putting together your website, what is it that is going to continue to lead people down to find their solution but also to continue to support your revenue? Because this is a business, you’ve got to think about revenue as well.
Austin: Definitely. I find that sometimes where with some of the clients that we work with, we can sometimes be revenue averse because of the natural kind of giving tendencies that a lot of speakers have. They’re visionaries and they’re creatives and they’re problem solvers. But sometimes that can work to the detriment because we need to be a business and we can’t operate out of our garage band and chase gigs necessarily; we want to be able to find those different revenue streams. And I’ve largely been hearing a lot of conversation around increasing the recurring revenue that comes through the business. Are there ways, especially now, since you were talking about membership sites and ongoing training and implementation, that speakers can leverage to create recurring revenue and their business? Is now a good time to start thinking about those options?
Lauren: Now’s the best time and so was last year and so was the year before. Recurring revenue is the simplest way to continue to grow and support your business and your family. And for those who are revenue adverse, I’m sure you guys say this all the time as well, but if you’re speaking to serve your greatest good, then you’ve got to understand that there’s more than one way to serve. And, again, it’s that problem solution thing, you know that when you solve this one problem for someone, they’re not going to be problem-free for the rest of their lives, how else can you help? But as far as creating recurring revenue goes, I think the membership sites is probably, well I’m finding from my clients is the number one thing that they’re leveraging, and we’re creating really unique and innovative ways to do this. And every site that we create, every Academy is completely different because it’s based on what their particular clients want and we’re serving their clients. What are your issues? How can we help? So, the clients are actually co-creating the stuff with the speaker. So that certainly is always a win-win. Having someone tell you what they want and then giving it to you is a pretty sure path to revenue.
Austin: That’s true, Funny how that works.
Lauren: Yeah, [inaudible 24:21].
Austin: Give the people what they want. That’s a really simple business tip for you.
Lauren: And then if you’re doing live, being able to offer online products, online courses and understanding that it may not be online. Maybe it’s you do a keynote and then included in that keynote is a quarterly 45-minute webinar with your managers. Maybe it’s not online, maybe you don’t want to pre-record this. Maybe you want to tackle it live, but live recorded. It doesn’t have to be something that you’re building, that you’re investing a bunch of money in the front end. You can actually build it and have a relatively low investment, and then just continue to build your clients need.
Taylorr: I think is a common issue that we experience is sometimes we, because we’re talking about all these wonderful ideas, taking a keynote and turning that into ways the audience can purchase from you and more ways your client can purchase from you and treating speaking as a marketing vehicle for all this new revenue that can come through and membership sites and courses. Sometimes all of that concept can be hard to implement or even know where to start. And I know a lot of people and, I suffer from this sometimes, but I kind of just want it to be perfect before I launch it. I want to have it all figured out, all mapped out and I want to be able to then monetize that thing that I have ideated in my head once I build it to perfection. It seems like you take a more of an iterative approach to this though, where we just start somewhere based on what the clients are telling us, and then continue to develop it from there. Is that accurate?
Lauren: Absolutely. I don’t believe I am not a baseball diamond; I do not believe in build it and they will come. I believe in have an idea, test the idea, make sure you’ve got a solid plan for the idea, sell the idea, then build the idea. You’ve got to pre-sell your stuff and to prove that it’s going to work and that you’re not going to be out of pocket before you start into the [inaudible 26:37]. Because it’s not cheap, it is an investment your business to build these passive income things. But if you do it correctly, if you survey your client, if you do the research, if you make sure that they want what it is you’re going to buy and it’s not just that they’ve signed up, but they’ve put some kind of financial investment into it, you pre-sold it at a reduced price, something like that so you’ve got some working capital now to use, to actually build this thing. Whereas if you build it and no one wants it, it’s just a bad place for everyone. It’s a bad place for us as the people who helped you create it, but as bad for you in your pocketbook as well.
Taylorr: Definitely Well you’ve heard it right from the source folks. Iteration is key. Iterate and they will come more likely.
Austin: Yeah. I think that whole philosophy can be applied to lots of different areas of your business too. In the software world, they call it minimum viable product. You put together the thing that will sell and then get feedback from the people that are participating in using it and improve upon it. It’s better than any other scenario too because even if you think it’s perfect, it will rarely be what the person that you’re selling to thinks is perfect. And so, it’s almost like narcissistic to think that you even can get it right the first time, because you need to share it with people and get their feedback and they’ll help you see things that you didn’t even see it in the first place.
Lauren: Absolutely. A hundred percent agree
Taylorr: Takes all of the guesswork out of it too, which is nice. You don’t have to sit here and ideate the entire time about what might work and what might not, and will they like it and so on, because if you just go into the mindset of like, hey, I’m testing this thing and we’re going to make it better then you can collect the feedback that actually take action on it. And it kind of takes all of that heavy lifting that mental energy, that creative effort to try and build it perfectly the first time and passes it off to the people who are actually using the product or service that you have.
Lauren: You just got to also realize that I haven’t done anything perfectly the first time.
Austin: No, who has?
Lauren: It’s like a website, you’re going to build it to the best of your ability and then a year from now, some new technology is going to come by and you’re going to have to reinvent the wheel. When I started my business 13 years ago, I didn’t think I was going to do then what I’m doing now, my business has completely evolved and changed based on what my clients wanted. I would hope most of us are in that space Otherwise, are you delivering what your client wants? And are you asking? You’ve got to know what it is that they want from you in order to be successful in this world.
Austin: That’s true. Stagnancy and complacency are early signs of the death of a business. If you’re not constantly improving and growing and changing and adapting and evolving, then something’s wrong because the people inside it are. It’s funny that we talk about businesses as these entities that are sort of static, but they’re really not. A business is just an idea that’s built by the people that are inside it and if your people aren’t growing, then that’s a problem but if your people are growing, then of course the business is going to grow because that’s what the business is. It’s the people that are involved. You know?
Lauren: Absolutely. I do.
Taylorr: So, and I know we briefly touched on this just now, but tell us, from your seat, how, how has your business changed in the past few years specifically post COVID? You’ve been serving speakers, what are you doing these days to serve speakers?
Lauren: Well, this has been a huge year of change. It has definitely fast tracked us beyond anything that I would’ve necessarily thought we would be doing. We’re spending more and more time building products, building academies, reinventing websites, doing brands and messaging. There’s a lot less of the maintenance, we are in full innovation mode with almost everybody we work with which is fantastic. On a personal side, I’ve been able to hire new people, we’ve got great new specialists, some new technologies are being brought into the business so we’re expanding what we can offer. It’s been, honestly, it could have gone one of two ways.
But both of us, our clients were basically unemployed very quickly and there were two decisions they could have made. They could have said I’m going to turtle and wait for this to be over and pulled in all their resources and their revenues and just held on and waited. Or those were those who said, you know what? This is exactly the impetus that I needed to take my business and leapfrog it ahead four or five years, because it was always going this way and I have the time to work on the business and make it what it always should have been. And it’s those people who are just killing it out there. And we’re lucky enough that we’ve been able to take that approach too, and Pibworth has changed significantly and I love it.
Austin: That’s awesome to hear. The last part is what’s important to me.
Taylorr: That’s right.
Austin: If you’re happy doing it and the people are benefiting, that’s really the best that you can ask for.
Lauren: Yeah, absolutely.
Taylorr: That’s what we’re here to do after all is as business owners. Provide solutions to the problems that our clients are facing and when they’re overcoming that as a result that means good things are happening. So, congratulations to you and your team. I am curious, we’re always about creating value for our audience and we want to definitely share with our audience what you’re up to. What are some of the things that you’re working on right now that our listeners can benefit from? If they’re curious about learning more from you, how can they get in touch?
Lauren: Well, there’s a few things. We’re all about creating online products, online capability. So, if you want to find a way to monetize your speaking business online, if you want to find new and different ways to differentiate yourself and monetize your business, then they can just visit the website. And it’s pibworthps.com. P like Peter, I B like Bob, worth ps.com. And there’s a bunch of free stuff on there. Visit the blog if you’re looking for do it yourself ways, there’s tons of information on there. Go ahead and read whatever, and use whatever you need. Or you can just go ahead and book a consult and see if we can help.
Taylorr: Well, you heard it folks. All of that information will be in the show notes. And if you’re looking for more awesome resources like this, don’t forget to subscribe to the show and go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcasts simple; it makes recording podcasts simple; it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses. Simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking, wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speaker flow, or click the link below in our show notes.