Consultant marketing: How to to be a paid public speaker


Would you like to add $100,000 or more to your annual income?  Read on to hear the advice of an expert on consultant marketing.

 One day I was taking my two teenage sons from our home in San Diego to Disneyland. Along the way I stopped to give a speech to a group of Orange County business owners while the boys munched on a fast food breakfast in the car. While that speech generated five figures worth of revenue for me as I picked up various paid speeches and consulting work as a result of my talk, the speaking fee was a few hundred dollars. As I came back to the car I tucked my honorarium check (more honor than rarium) in the glove compartment. My older son asked about the check and I told him these business owners actually paid me to market my services to them. “Sweet,” said my son, “that is the perfect crime.”

The Five Consultant Marketing Strategies To Get Paid To Market

Here are some more examples of this perfect crime, committed by coaching clients I am especially proud of.  A consultant I coach complained that he wasn’t getting any consulting business for the past six months from a Fortune 500 client. There are more ways to get paid than straight consulting, I told him. Often companies that don’t have money for consultants have money in their training budgets. So he organized a seminar, held the event near the company’s headquarters and sold 11 seats for $600 a piece to that same Fortune 500 client.  After the event several attendees found some budget and he landed about $75,000 in consulting projects. Later he charged another client $1,500 (he is worth much more) for a 90-minute talk at a company meeting that will net him consulting contracts in the five figures.

Another consultant I coach was able to double her revenue in a year (we’re talking over $100,000 more) just by having different conversations about her pricing with potential clients. Actually, when she raised her rates, it was a signal to the business community that she was in demand and a hot commodity. But alas, how to make even more money. She soon realized there are only so many hours in a week (168, to be precise) and only so much you can charge clients per hour. To increase her revenue she needed to leverage her time. She created some self published guide books and started offering her expertise through workshops. This leverages her time and she is creating new streams of revenue.

Truly, the best proactive consultant marketing strategy is to regularly demonstrate your expertise by giving informative and entertaining talks in front of targeted groups of potential new clients. The trick is knowing who to contact to get booked as a speaker and developing a topic that will draw the right audience.

Here are five potential perfect crimes, being paid to market your services. These are venues that write checks to consultants to speak:


  1. Keynotes and breakouts at association and trade group meetings. A keynote is typically 30 to 90 minutes and usually focuses on a broad topic of interest to all attendees. A breakout session is one of the side sessions at a meeting and last from 45 to 90 minutes.  This is the glamour field of professional speaking. Competition is fierce and the big fees go to celebrities (the group is trading on their star status to attract attendees). I put speaking at Vistage groups (formerly TEC) of about a dozen company presidents for half a day at $500 per speech in this category.
  2. Corporate training. These are typically half-day or full-day seminars and workshops conducted for a private client, usually a corporation, for a group of its employees. This might be the most lucrative field for speaking because there are many companies that have training budgets. Several clients who make hundreds speaking for Vistage make thousands when they deliver the same presentations to companies. This one-two punch has made several clients an extra $100,000 per year.
  3. Sponsoring your own public seminars. This is typically a full-day seminar or workshop where registration is open to the public. You market the event and earn a profit (or loss). This business is about putting fannies in seats. Many times it is a break even proposition getting the attendees there, and then you make your real money selling information products and consulting services at the back of the room after the event is over. Fees can range from $800 to $1,000 per day per attendee all the way down to my three-hour Lunch and Learn seminars for $25.
  4. Teaching at colleges and for public seminar companies. An alternative to running the seminar yourself is to find a sponsor. This might be for a company like Career Tracks or The Learning Annex. Or you might approach the adult education marketplace through a college or university extended studies program.  Typically you might earn 25 percent of what the students pay all the way up to $1,000 for a day.
  5. Speaking at fundraising workshops where you split the gate. Another alternative to running the seminar yourself is to approach a trade group or association and offer to stage a fundraising seminar. They promote the event to their constituents and you agree to split the profits (typically 50/50 and you may or may not offer them 10 percent of any informational products like books and CDs that you sell in the back of the room after the event). 

About Henry DeVries

Best-selling author and “marketing with a book” expert Henry DeVries is an authority on typing and talking: how to maximize revenues by writing books and making speeches. He speaks to thousands of business leaders, professionals, and consultants each year, teaching them successful tactics that shine a spotlight on their company, cause, or career. Along with his best-selling books — Self-Marketing Secrets, Client Seduction, Pain Killer Marketing, and How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett — the buzz-building tools of Henry DeVries have been used to dramatically increase revenues and leverage marketing budgets for two decades. He speaks to thousands of professionals and consultants each year, teaching them scientifically proven tactics that bring them new clients.

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