In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the founder of Book Speak Repeat, Kerry Heaps.
Kerry started her business in 2005. Kerry shares her business began in the acting industry before she became an event planner. That path eventually led to an interest in marketing and speaking. She explains that she loves process and she figured out the routine of speaking and how to get booked. Now, she helps other speakers with these pain points through Book Speak Repeat.
Kerry explains that the speaking industry didn’t die during the pandemic – this is a misconception. In 2020, there were speakers who wanted to be booked regardless of COVID, especially for larger events that are planned far in advance. There is at least a 3-6 month lead time for speakers, not to mention the fact that there are now virtual events. While speaking virtually might pay less, speakers can still get themselves in front of their ideal audience. Kerry shares that there are many keynote events that are actually now making speakers pay to be on stage. This system used to be reversed (events would pay the speaker), but now, events charge to get speakers in front of audiences. She stresses that this model can only work when the speaker’s content is made to be educational, not an editorial opportunity. Kerry says that you have to be able to make money from any event you speak at…. Sell your book, collect information, and build relationships throughout. Bottom line, Kerry is against the pay to play model when it comes to booking speakers for events.
Kerry shares that she advises against speaking at pay to play events. If you know you can speak at events that do have your ideal audience attending, even smaller events, go for those opportunities. What matters most is that they’re in front of you – there is enough organic business out there to avoid engagements where you need to pay to speak. There are more speakers than there are engagements, now. There’s competition, which means the days of showing up for a keynote, getting paid a hefty fee as a speaker, and leaving immediately are over. You need to be the right fit for an event and you need to forge relationships with your audience. It’s more competitive now than ever to be a speaker, so you have to seek out the right events and put in the leg work to see results.