Verify the Facts – Exposure – Don’t Get Overexposed
Verify the facts is a foundation Think Like A Negotiator principle. You have to verify the facts on anything you are considering investing your time or money in to make sure it’s factual, valuable and reasonable. As a speaker and blogger, I get contacted all the time or come across “opportunities” for exposure. The definition of exposure in this sense is the condition of being presented to view or made known.
People sell exposure at alarming rates. Here are some examples for you to consider and the pros and cons of each. I’m not saying they are all bad. But you have to be careful about how much money and/or time you invest in “exposure”
Pros – if you are just starting out as a speaker, this may be a way for you to pay a small amount (if it’s around $1,000) and get yourself published. All you have to do is write a chapter. They do the rest and you will get some copies of the book to sell when you speak. You can say you are in a best selling book and in a book with certain well known people. You may be able to recoup your investment.
Cons – first if you are not a speaker, you won’t make your money back by selling it to your friends and family. You will most likely end up with a box of books in your garage that you give away or just sit there and collect dust. Do you really want to say you are an amazon best selling author where a handful of people bought the kindle version of the book for 99 cents? Typically, the only person that makes money on these kinds of deals is the person promoting the book. For the price you pay to be in a chapter, you can do your own book with your own name on the front cover and no one else in the book. I am in 8 compilation books and have never paid to be in any of them. I’m co author of 1 book and wrote 2 of my own books. I’ve never done the bestseller thing for my own books and I’m sure one or more of the books that I’m in is an amazon bestseller but I personally can’t have someone introduce me as that because it doesn’t feel right to me. I know it’s a game as much of marketing is and I don’t fault anyone for doing that. It’s simply the way I feel about it.
2. Pay to Play for speaking – these days there are many opportunities to speak if you pay for the speaking slot. I call it “Pay to Play.”
Pros – If you are new to speaking or looking for some ways to get on stage in front of a large audience and you have a product or service that audience is likely to buy AND you are good at speaking to sell (if it’s allowed as part of the speaking) then this might be a good opportunity. You have to consider some of the things you would receive. Do you get a video of you speaking on stage? Is the audience large enough so you can show that you speak to large groups? Will you have a booth at the event? Are you a good enough speaker to own the stage? This is important if you are going to use this video to market yourself for speaking. Sometimes they do it as a sponsorship for the event and you get a certain amount of time to speak. You have to be sure what you get is of value to move your business forward. Here’s an example of one I did where all the people who went before me in the line of booth sponsors who got time to speak were putting the audience to sleep:
If you can’t engage the audience, don’t invest in the exposure. I can now use this video to show that I speak to large groups (can’t see them but you can hear them) and can engage the audience to remember me and pay attention.
Cons – You have to look at the return on investment. Many of these opportunities are not speak to sell so they don’t allow you to sell anything (video example above was like that). You can only mention to people to come to your booth or give them something free and hope they sign up and eventually turn into clients. Some of the events have several of those kinds of speaking slots and unless you really stand out from the herd, you won’t be heard. Are you able to have a large impact on the audience to move them to get your free gift or come to your booth and buy your product or service? If it is speak to sell, are you a speak to sell speaker and do you get results? Again, unless you are powerful, prepared or it’s your market, the only person who ends up making money on that is the person you paid the sponsorship to. I have had significant losses in my business in the past from being sold into too many of these “opportunities.” Do your research before signing up. Ask yourself “is this a good investment of my time and money? What will the return on my investment be?”
3. Free Exposure for anything – there are plenty of people who want your time for “free exposure.” They promise being exposed to multitudes of people. Does this exposure turn into anything more than dollars for them? You have to use your judgement and verify the facts.
Pros – Doing this when you don’t have much exposure may be a viable way to get social proof that you are an expert. As a negotiation expert I have done a few publicity runs to get my name out there in the media as an expert. This enabled me to get published in Forbes, Huffington Post and Success Magazine as well as on Fox Business, CNN and MSNBC to name a few and on many podcasts and radio shows. I have the videos of me on TV and the recordings of all the Podcasts and the articles published online and copies of the articles published in magazines. If you go to the home page on my website and scroll down, you will see several of the media logo’s from things I’ve been in or on. This gives some credibility for me as a speaker and expert. You have to do this in moderation though. There are some press releases that can go out and are picked up by enough news agencies that you can list them all in your credits. Do your research and see what’s right for you so you don’t break the bank.
Cons – You have to research the audience. How many people do they have that listen to their podcast, read their blog or watch their channel? How much time and/or money will you have to spend to do it? People promise exposure like it’s going to turn into cash. Most of the time it does not turn into cash or even the hint of anything more. I had an article published about me and my Harley and military service in AARP magazine. They have almost 24 million subscribers. The only thing that produced for me was a fun day at a photo shoot (that I didn’t get paid for) and a few messages in Facebook from people who saw the article. Recently, I had another agency hounding me relentlessly to write for their blog. They kept avoiding answering my questions but wanted me to write new content and the bottom line was the “great exposure” I would get. Through relentless questioning I discovered where they found me which was on an article I’d written for an online source from the publicity run. So they found me from a very old article to pitch me to do exposure for free. If I had a dollar for all the great exposure I’ve gotten over the years, I’d be a billionaire. Exposure doesn’t mean income.
The bottom line here when you are looking to put your time into something for your business or to better your personal life, how much is it going to cost you in time or money? Think about attending that 3-day seminar. Is that going to be an income producing activity or an income sucking activity? How about that compilation book? Would you be able to do your own book yourself for the same cost that you can sell about your content? Does that exposure they are proposing to you have the ability to add to your credibility, earn you money or give you expert status? These are all things you need to consider before putting down your hard earned cash.
While I still do speaking, I don’t do any events where I have to pay to get on a stage to speak or speak for free unless its local or a group that I believe based on research and experience will benefit me in some way especially financially.
I am doing work with women in Kenya selling their hand-crafted items https://basketsandbeadskenya.com . I only do events that I believe will turn a profit. I was very disappointed to be at an event with 7,000 people recently that didn’t even come close to covering my costs. Before I said yes I did the numbers and figured at worst I would cover costs. I was $500 in the hole. There were things I didn’t consider that I realized after the fact. It was a lesson of things to consider in the future so that doesn’t happen again. That kind of thing will put you out of business or in big debt faster than you can imagine. If you don’t know the questions to ask, get with someone who does so you can think about this rationally instead of being sold emotionally into the black hole of exposure and end up worse than you started.
The Power is in The Work
Note for beginning and emerging speakers:
I take on a few beginning and emerging speaking clients a year to help them avoid the pitfalls and go into serious debt. If you are in that position currently and interested, please email me for details at firstname.lastname@example.org If I can help a few people avoid being “over exposed” I’m happy to help. I don’t do it for free but it will be worth your investment to avoid the pitfalls in your path.