A strategy for survival for speakers and authors

Truth is always stranger than fiction. If a screen-writer were to have put today’s events into a film script, it would have been rejected for being too far-fetched.  In the same way that Monty Python’s Spanish Inquisition was never expected, no one could have possibly predicted the far-reaching effects that the coronavirus is having on absolutely everyone.  As Leonardo da Vinci said, ‘Everything is connected’ we are only now realising how very true this is.

So we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation when events are being cancelled, travel on public transport is being discouraged, offices are being closed, and self-isolation becoming the norm. How can any business survive this tsunami of disasters?  Without minimising the health challenges and inevitable fatalities that will happen, the important thing is not to get ‘caught in the headlights’ and frozen into inaction.  This is much that can be done to enable you to emerge stronger, most focussed and more effective, but only if you don’t panic and look strategically at your business as a whole.

Rick Lowe, the Master of the Guild of Entrepreneurs, and the author of “The Maverick Entrepreneur” gave this advice. “Firstly, you have to accept that the status quo is no more. It is a new game with new rules. What you did before will not get you through the present challenges. If you can’t change and adapt quickly, your business will go down.

You need to accept that your suppliers will be affected and may not be able to maintain their supply chain. Retail outlets may have to close as customers feel it is unsafe to leave the house. Their incomes may be affected, so their buying patterns may change. Be aware that a lot of people who go online to make a purchase, instead of travelling. This could result in capacity issues. For example, one on-line food delivery chain was so overwhelmed that their same-day delivery became an eight-day delivery service.”

Rick’s advice was very plain. The first thing that every business and every self-employed entrepreneur needs to do is to survive and remain in business. Many won’t. The first challenge will be cash flow. How will you pay your bills if your sales income reduces?

One author who does a lot of highly paid keynote speeches at conferences. reported that four events he was speaking at were postponed in one day. If speaking for money is at the heart of your business, how can you get over that? Events are being closed now every day. So what can you do to survive?  What can you do?

Re-frame yourself

Even though gatherings of people may, in the foreseeable future, not be possible, the need they have for knowledge and discussion will still be there.  You still have a market, but for a different product.

Instead of thinking of yourself as a speaker or an author, think of yourself instead as a Knowledge Marketeer.  The product you are delivering is words.  If people are going to be working from home, how many ways are there for you to supply their needs and for them to become your customers? Even if you can’t be on stage, you could still host a paid-for webinar or provide coaching or mentoring via Skype or Zoom. There are always other ways of doing things – and selling your knowledge. Now is the time to be creative and to open up new channels to market.

Problem or Opportunity?

All of us complain that we don’t have enough time to do everything. Well, now we do!  That excuse has gone out of the window.  So how will you use the time you would have spent on travelling.  It is a great opportunity!   So if speaking engagements are not possible in the short term, look ahead to the Autumn when, with luck, things should be back to normal.  Events taking place in September will be settling on their speaker line up right now.  So you should be actively promoting yourself with that in mind.  The current crisis is not a time to do nothing.  On the contrary, increase your momentum and positively look forward to the end of the year. As I wise man once said, “This too shall pass.”

Ten things you can do right now

It will always be the case that people buy people before they buy anything else. When we are busy, we often don’t have the time to focus on our profile and building a following. Now you do!

  1. Take a very close look at your website through the eyes of your customer. Is it as up to date as it could be?  Can you give it a fresh lick of paint? Can you add new content, new products, new articles, new offerings? 
  2. How often do you send out a newsletter to your followers?  If there are long gaps between issues, what message are you giving out? Do they think you care about them?
  3. Are you blogging at least every week?  You have insights to share, knowledge to impart, stories to tell, problems to solve, opinions to share about your industry.  Be seen as a thought leader and build your followers.
  4. Do you have a book out there to demonstrate that you are a leader in your profession? If not, now is the time to write one. If you do, now is the time to promote the socks of it! A book is the best business card you could have. If you have a book you are, by definition, an expert. A leader in your field. A go-to person.  You need the status of being a published author to be taken seriously as a speaker, trainer and inspirator.
  5. Are you using audio?  A podcast is a great way to communicate with your tribe via their smartphones. You can talk directly to them with passion, enthusiasm and purpose in a far more powerful way than on the printed page – or screen.
  6. Are you using Facebook Live? I great platform for engaging with people, and so easy to use. Video is very immediate – it is the way we communicate News.  People can also see you as you talk. This breaks down barriers and makes you more personal.
  7. Do you have a youTube Channel? Videos on YouTube will come up with a high ranking in a Google search if you populate them with well-chosen keywords.   It is a great way to drive traffic to your site.
  8. When did you last research your niche?  It changes all the time.  Think about your ideal client or reader. Where can they be found?  What professional bodies might they belong to? What publications do they read? What website do they visit? What clubs or associations might they belong to?  What events do they attend?  Paint a picture of where they can be found. Once you know this, you also know where you need to be seen. You can precisely target your marketing effort to where your customers hang out.  Niche marketing is no-cost or low-cost.
  9. Advance knowledge of a trend can be invaluable to give yourself an edge. Especially now. Google alerts is a way to be notified of the latest posts related to the key-words that you select.  Using this facility you can hear about motivation in your niche anywhere in the world as it happens. How could you use that to your advantage
  10. ~Look for more opportunities to place articles on your specialist subject in publications and websites. Article Marketing is a very effective way of positioning you as an expert.

Of course, the most important thing you should be doing when you have the time is creating new content for the future. Stockpile blogs and articles so that, when the world gets back to normal, you can concentrate on marketing.

Also, now is the time to re-purpose material and refresh the content so it can be used again.  Do you have recordings of past speaking gigs?  If so, get them transcribed to give you access to that material into an editable format. You may find that there are nuggets of gold there which you can use for blogs and articles.

Finally, don’t let yourself be taken down by the gloom mongers who can only see problems but not opportunities.  This is no time for a negative mindset which will only give you reasons for not doing anything.  The people who will survive and thrive through the present crisis are those that are looking ahead to the future and planning to be a part of it.  Yes, there are difficult times and yes, we have probably not seen the worst of it yet, but that is no reason to give up.

Those people who decide to use current challenges as an opportunity are the ones who will be best positioned to have a stronger business when it is all over.  Will you be a winner or a loser?

Chris Day