free call for speakers

Any speaker worth their salt should never speak for free.

What many people (including many meeting organizers) don’t understand is that even though a speaker is “only speaking for an hour”, in reality, there are several days of prep, travel, and other efforts expended to produce a good presentation. You wouldn’t ask another professional to work 3 days for free, but people ask speakers to do it all the time.

Speakers should also never say never. I actually will speak for free at things like barcamps or local non-profit and professional meetings because there’s low travel investment and immense value in it for me. That value comes from the opportunity to practice new material in front of a real audience or to help out a group that needs it.

Even when I don’t speak for free, I offer a ridiculously cheap speaking fee to groups like AdFed / AAF chapters, AMA, SMEI, or other similar groups because I want to be in front of those people as those people hire marketing speakers for seminars, conferences, trade shows, and other corporate events. But even with those, I still have a travel reimbursement in the contract.

And, of course, my offer still stands to speak at TED.

But a call for speakers came in my email this morning that I found incredibly amazing and somewhat funny…

Call for Speaker on Negotiating
{redacted} is looking for a speaker for the April 14th lunchtime event on negotiating. You must be willing to donate your time and travel. The RFP can be found here: {redacted}

A few points worth mentioning:

  • They want you to fill out an RFP to speak for free and not get travel reimbursement? (I looked at the RFP. It would take at least 30 minutes to fill out properly.)
  • They’re looking for a speaker who supposedly knows how to negotiate. The winner of the RFP should be the speaker who negotiates a fee and travel reimbursement from them!

In the end, all meeting planners should remember that you get what you pay for. And speakers should remember that you’re worth what you’re paid.

maybe you should cancel your meeting

Here’s something that sounds weird coming from me: Most conferences and meetings are a complete waste of time/money/resources for both organizers and attendees.

I do several events a year as a marketing speaker. Since, no matter what business you’re in, everyone needs information on marketing — I get to go to meetings for a diverse range of groups and industries and be a third party fly on the wall. As I have worked at these meetings and conferences over the past several years, I have noticed a few things:

  1. Most attendees are not there for knowledge. They’re there to play golf, go to the casino, work on a tan, wine/dine, etc.
  2. If God did a session where He dispensed Perfect Knowledge, there would be at least two guys after the session talking about why His ideas won’t work in their business.
  3. During that break after God’s session? The conference organizers paid the hotel $15/person for coffee. Seems like this is where to cut the budget, not in the programming.
  4. Panel discussions and cock fighting are similar activities. Put several huge egos on a stage and see who can win with a moderator who doesn’t understand what the panelists are talking about.
  5. The amount that people corporate expense accounts pay for alcohol/food/etc increases exponentially during a conference.
  6. Instead of paying for good speakers who know the content and can be entertaining while they present it, let’s just have some executives get up and read in a monotone voice the slides that someone else prepared for them.
  7. There are hundreds of people who have mutual interests together at the meeting. Very few of them make connections with each other except for maybe a greasy business card exchange.
  8. 99.99% of presenters have no idea how/when to use a PowerPoint deck.
  9. Interesting presenters/speakers with new actionable ideas are given 10 minutes to speak. Presenters/speakers reading old information verbatim off their slides are usually given 2 hours.

There are lots more — but the biggest problem that I see over and over is this:
The entire concept behind the meeting is to get a bunch of people who think the same together and have them listen to people who also think that same way.

Mark is getting calls to come to meetings during a tough time for people in his industry and wonders why some of these gatherings aren’t just cancelled. And I agree with him. If your conference / corporate meeting will consist of the “same tired old subjects from the same tired old white guys”, then yes, you should cancel the meeting. And remember that some of those same “old subjects” include new things. If your meeting is just giving lip service to viral-marketing-facebook-web2.0-social-networking new media buzzwords, then re-write your agenda. This is not just current recession/depression/end-of-times thinking. I would say it’s an even bigger problem in boom times as more meetings attended means more missed opportunities.

Having said all this, I have been to many great meetings and conferences that were beneficial for the attendees — while they were at the conference. Even if you have a great experience at the meeting, the real danger time is the day you return to the office after the conference. The kitsch and tchotchkes that were picked up in the exhibit hall get a place on the desk, but what happens to the knowledge? Most often, it’s lost. People and companies that can implement ideas picked up at a conference or meeting are the ones that you see succeed.

I hope you don’t cancel your meeting. While everyone else is sitting on their hands waiting for the storm to pass over, I hope you use this time to put together a meeting that will cause inspiration and action — both at the meeting and when everyone gets home.

(that’s the end of the blog post — here’s the commercial)
If you’re looking for someone to present new ideas and shake up your organization’s thinking at a conference/meeting, you can find more info on how to bring me to speak to your group here.

speaking south

A few notes on upcoming speaking events:

  • (near) Birmingham, AL — On Fri Nov 14, I’ll be talking healthcare B2B marketing at the annual national meeting of the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association.
    (more info and registration)
  • Baton Rouge, LA — I will be doing my presentation, “Selling the Image: Developing a Winning Brand Strategy,” for the Advertising Federation of Baton Rouge on Fri Mar 6
    (more info)

As always, if you need a marketing speaker to deliver an entertaining and engaging presentation on branding, media, healthcare marketing, sales, or any of the other marketing topics I cover, then please contact me.

muscle shoals has got the swampers

Back in my radio career, in addition to managing operations for the stations in the group, I also held down several airshifts as a “radio personality”.

DJs get sick of songs way before you do. On the CHR formatted station, I played the same 9 current pop hits every 2 hours and 15 minutes until my ears bled. And while the burnout on songs on the classic rock, oldies, etc stations wasn’t as immediate, I got tired of them over the long term.

I played the same stuff so much that years later I can still remember that Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd was on GoldDisc 536 – cut 5. Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon was toward the bottom of the rack on the left on the “digital heart of rock” collection. I don’t remember the CD, but it was cut 17.

Needless to say, you can see I have played these songs numerous times. (and listened to them in other settings even more.) But until Kid Rock came out with All Summer Long this year, I had never noticed that Werewolves and Alabama had the same chord progression and sound the same in several spots.

I deal with a lot of people daily who have been doing the same thing for years. I speak to groups who are entrenched in the way things have always been. I consult with a lot of “experts” who know everything about something because they deal with it everyday.

When I get an inquiry for either a speaking engagement or a consulting gig, one of the first questions from the meeting planner or client usually is: Do you have any experience with our industry? Often, I answer that I don’t have experience with their industry, but I do know marketing and I can bring a fresh perspective. Sometimes that excites the person and sometimes the person is scared of going forward. Some of my best feedback has been from groups that I had never heard of before I spoke to them. I brought up things that they had never thought of.

Sometimes when you deal with the same thing everyday, you don’t notice the nuances and the opportunities. Things that should stand out clearly become wallpaper that blends in. I encourage you to start at square one with your marketing, your business, or anything. See if there’s a new way you can look at it. Or better yet, ask someone who has no clue about what you do if there’s something they can notice that you’ve missed for years.

wanna see me?

A brief blogging pit stop to announce some public events I’ll be speaking at in the next few months.

April 11 (Chicago) — Inland Press Interactive Media Seminars
A big day for newspapers with lots of discussion on multimedia in journalism and what newspapers need to be doing on the web. I will be doing a session at 1030am about newspaper blogs.
(More info) (Register)

May 7 (Chicago) — Inland Press Small Newspaper Workshops
Smaller circulation newspapers need to be online too. I’ll be doing a session at 1:15 that will focus on using video, audio, rich media, and social networking to grow a newspaper site.
(Info) (Register)

May 30 (Las Vegas) — World Tea Expo
I think one of the nicest compliments I get is being asked back to an event. And this one is a great one to go back to. If you missed my marketing spiel at the World Tea Expo in Atlanta last year, please try to make it to my session in Las Vegas this year. I will be talking about Winning Brand Strategies. While I will focus on the beverage industry, any industry can apply the branding principles I will be talking about.
(Get info) (Register)

June 7 (Atlanta) — American Advertising Federation National Conference
I’m actually doing a private daylong session for the Executive Directors prior to the conference, but I will be floating around the AAF meeting. I’d love to meet you if you’re there.
(Details)

I will be off the speaking market from mid-July to mid-August, but I have a few tentatitve bookings for this fall and next year. I will post the open public ones when they are confirmed.

As always, if you would like to bring me in for a conference or a private corporate event, I’d love to work with you. Click here for possible topics, video demo, testimonials, and more.

the great hoosier nonprofit tour

If you’re involved in the management of a non-profit organization, you’ll want to make plans to attend one of these events in January.

I will be presenting my keynote entitled — Selling Good Works : Fundamentals of Marketing a Non-Profit Organization on two consecutive days in Northern and East Central Indiana.

On Thursday, Jan 10, I will be presenting it to the Advertising Federation of Fort Wayne. And then the next day on Jan 11, I will be presenting the same program for the Muncie AdFed of East Central Indiana.

My non-profit marketing presentation addresses the unique marketing opportunities and challenges faced by charities, public service agencies, and other types of non-profit organizations. More information about the topic can be found on my speaking page.

Both organizations have opened the meetings up so that all non-profits in the area can attend. But you will need to RSVP. Instructions for doing so are in the links above.

new video digs

We just put the finishing touches on my new speaking demo tape. Thanks to Doug Marrs and the team at Studio Now for the great job. You can watch the video below.

If you need a speaker for a conference or a private business event, I would be happy to provide you a quote. For testimonials, the topics I present, and other info, you can visit my marketing speaker page.


You can also find the video on YouTube.

Tea time

Tea is hot. (rim shot)
Seriously, it’s a growing phenomenon with huge opportunities.

I’ve been invited to speak at the 2007 World Tea Expo which brings in the entire international crowd who market tea from the time it’s picked to when you drink it. This year the conference will run from June 9-11 in Atlanta, GA.

I’ll be talking about developing a marketing plan. It’s good content for anyone even if you’re not in the tea biz. Click here for more info about the World Tea Expo or click here to register.

And as always, I’m available for speaking engagements like this for your meeting, conference or private event. My keynotes, seminars, and talks are packed with ideas, relevant, fun, and full of common sense marketing. Visit my speaking page for more information about how you can bring me in to your group.

Look! It’s Chris.

Most of my marketing speaking engagements are private affairs. If I invited you, the organizers/company probably wouldn’t be happy.

So that’s why I like to send out the alert when I’m doing something open to the public. Actually, there are two in the next few months…

1) Corporate / Business Blogs (Marketing as Conversation) is a topic built for companies who currently don’t blog and are not taking an active part in the blog conversation. It’s part blog-primer and part blog-evangelism.
I’ll be presenting it to the Professional Marketing Association in Bowling Green, KY at their regular monthly meeting on Tuesday July 18. Please come. The program is free and you can have lunch for a nominal fee. Directions to the location and other info can be found on the PMA website.

2) I’ll be doing a webinar with HIPAA expert Kate Borten about HIPAA and Marketing on August 9th for HCpro. Lots of healthcare organizations are lost as to what they can and cannot do with marketing since the federal HIPAA regulations went into effect. Kate and I will try to show what marketing activities are allowed under HIPAA and give lots of useful ideas and info for healthcare marketing. HCpro does not have online registration for the webinar running yet, but I will post when they do.

These are the two upcoming spots on my calendar that are open to the public. There are also several private events ranging from the seminar, Advertising101…all the way to my main keynote, Big Picture Marketing. There are still open spots on the calendar. If you need an affordable and engaging marketing speaker who can speak to groups who know nothing about marketing equally well as a room full of marketing experts, please visit my website.

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Another Corporate Blog Disaster

I would think after the Captain Morgan blog and similar corporate/marketing blog disasters that businesses would have learned one of the 1st rules of corporate blogging…that fictional characters CANNOT blog.

But hey, why learn from others mistakes when you can make your own?

The Pink Panther launched a “blog” this month. Surprisingly, he talks alot about insulation. (New hot tag! – )

Which reminds me of my favorite (and only) Pink Panther joke….
Q. What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped on an ant?
A. Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadaaaaaant… Deadant… Deadant… Deadant…
(sing it and you’ll get it)

Afraid your organization / business will be making big corporate blog mistakes? I have a new keynote presentation thats geared to organizations/groups who don’t know much about blogging as a marketing function, but need to. It’s already tentatively booked with two groups in the coming months. Here’s the “official” description…

Corporate / Business Blogs (Marketing as Conversation)
You’ve heard of blogs and maybe you’ve even read one, but have you ever considered blogging as a part of your marketing strategy? You may not realize it, but corporate blogging is an easy way to do something that marketers have strived to do for years. Did you know that even if your company doesn’t have a blog, blogs can still influence the success or failure of your company? Are corporate blogs just the latest business trend that will soon be yesterday’s fad?
Chris Houchens will discuss how blogs can be used by an organization in either a marketing or corporate sense. His presentation will address the past, present and future trend of blogging as a marketing tool and will highlight several real world business blog successes and failures. Learn the challenges and opportunities of using a blog to promote a business and learn the dos and don’ts of the blogosphere
.

If you’d like to book this presentation or would like information about any of my speaking topics, please visit my website.

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