Jason Hartman talks with Bryan Caplovitz of SpeakerMatch located in Austin Texas. As the only service of its kind when it comes to matching speakers and speaking opportunities, SpeakerMatch reaches emerging professional speakers, business leaders, technical gurus, educators, and other subject-matter experts who want to communicate what they know. More at: http://speakingofwealth.com/category/podcast/. The service is available for event organizers who need to reach this very diverse group of experts who speak.
By allowing organizations to post open calls for speakers on the site for no cost, they are broadening their search to a wealth of the top fresh, creative, and strategic thinkers in the country. Because the people searching our site are actively searching for speaking engagements, organizations are guaranteed to find motivated talent eager to please. Organizations are also free to search our online speaker showcase for talent that may meet their needs.
SpeakerMatch is the brainchild of Bryan Caplovitz, a former business technology consultant. In trying to build market share for his consulting firm, Bryan saw the need for somewhere non-professional speakers could find speaking opportunities. As it became clear that organizations had trouble finding speakers as well, he knew there was a great opportunity to fill a need. He saw the internet as an ideal way to bring speakers and opportunities together, and the company was born.
Introduction: Speakers, publishers, consultants, coaches and info marketers unite the Speaking of Wealth show is your roadmap to success and significance. Learn the latest tools, technologies and tactics to get more bookings, sell more products and attract more clients. If you are looking to increase your direct response sales, create a big time personal brand and become the go-to-guru. The Speaking of Wealth show is for you. Here is your host Jason Hartman.
Jason Hartman: Welcome to the Speaking of Wealth Show. This is your host Jason Hartman, where we discuss profit strategies from speakers, publishers and consultants. If you are an aspiring infopreneur this show is for you. If you want to turn your knowledge, your experience, and your life skills into publishable materials, or if you are already a successful, author, speaker, publisher, we can make you more successful here at the Speaking of Wealth Show as we interview great guest experts in the industry on all sorts of topics related to this, so today we have an interview with Bryan Caplovitz. He is the founder of Speakermatch, a very successful industry website that matches speaker with bureaus, associations, and various speaking gigs. I think you will enjoy the show, and we will be back with Bryan in just a moment.
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Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Bryan Caplovitz to the show. He is the head of Speakermatch.com. You are probably familiar with Speakermatch. It’s the industry’s leading site, and it’s sort of an online speaker’s bureau, but not really a speaker’s bureau I don’t think. Bryan may be you can clear that up for us. Welcome to the show.
Bryan: Thank you very much. Sure I will start out with that speaker’s bureau question because I get asked that a lot and I consider us to be a speaker’s bureau. A speaker’s bureau helps a medium planner to find a speaker for their event. We don’t operate as a traditional speaker’s bureau and that we don’t help a meeting planner deal with the logistics of contracts and negotiating the deal with the speaker. We put the meeting planner in directly in touch with the speaker and so that’s one thing that make us a lot different.
And the second thing is that we don’t make any commissions for booking a speaker, so the speaker gets to keep whatever they make through the speaking engagement that they secure, so we are a little bit different so I think that its kind of similar to a travel agent and an online travel site so their very similar.
Jason Hartman: Good distinction. Yeah so when most speakers think of bureau they think 25-30% commission or may be 20% commission whatever the number is in there, and so Speakermatch is different. It’s a great platform. You’ve just done an excellent job for it. You have a real bird’s eye view on the industry because your customers are speakers or they are aspiring speakers, emerging speakers. What makes a good speaker? What makes a bad speaker from how they approach the business?
Bryan: I think it helps; a speaker looks at themselves as an entertainer.
Ultimately what a meeting planner wants is a good entertainer. They want somebody who is going to keep their audience interested somebody who is going to be fun and exciting and motivational someone who is definitely not boring. They don’t want somebody who is going to read from PowerPoint slides or from their notes or hold on to the lectern, and you know who are just really trying to work off their nerves. They want somebody who is going to put on a good show. Ultimately the meeting planner is looking for somebody who makes them look good, and they want somebody that the audience is going to enjoy.
Jason Hartman: I am just curious when you mentioned meeting planners, are meeting planners an associations, are they members of Speakermatch as well or do they just use it as a resource, or do they have like a more formal engagement with the site?
Bryan: We have a very broad definition for meeting planner. There are definitely professional meeting planners. They spend their day everyday helping people plan meeting so they took care of dealing with caterers and hotels, and florist and all that kind of stuff, but the great majority of meeting planners at least in our definition are not people who are professionally doing this.
They are not usually even doing this for the money. Certainly not doing meeting planning or booking speakers for money so what we have is people that are may be secretaries you know or assistants to a sales professional at an organization, their boss might tell them that they need to bring somebody into speak to the sales team, so they will do a little searching for a speaker, volunteers for associations and church groups, and youth groups, and people who work in schools. Finding the speaker is just a very, very small part of their job. Like I said most of the people that are looking for speakers are volunteers, so they may be volunteering for an organization, charity or a association of some sort, but they are typically not employees of those organization.
Jason Hartman: What resources does someone need to get started as a speaker? I have been to so many NSA conventions over the years, and to so many different speaker type events, and educational events, and its certainly many of the people there are true career professionals that are really engaged in the business, and some of them are just more to the dreamer type, and may be they will execute on their dream. Hopefully they will, but it’s sort of like a real mixed bag. Here you come from people that are they call themselves are speaker because they did may be a talk once at the local rotary club, to big professionals that have got loads of corporate engagements where they are doing public seminars. Its all over the board, isn’t it? I mean what does someone need to get started?
Bryan: Well, I think that the most important thing that they have other than the ability to perform well in front of an audience so they have to have that baseline of been a good speaker or performer. In that they need to have some kind of expertise? Well, I guess the expertise really helps, but may be even above that is been able to relate your expertise in a way that an audience can relate to so, delivery is one thing, and been a good storyteller is another thing. I think that its important that you know how to deliver your content, and outside of the performance I guess the other thing that a speaker needs to have in the way of resources is marketing prowess because ultimately what this comes down to is been able to convince a meeting planner that you are the ideal candidate for their opportunity.
Jason Hartman: Obviously; having their own website is a good idea, but the first place to get started is a site like yours is I think. People always want to know how lucrative is the profession and that’s all over the board. We both know that. But what can a typical speaker expect to earn if they are out there making it all happen?
Bryan: A very common misconception is that a lot of people get rich from making money speaking on the platform, and that is just a fallacy. Most people do not make a lot of money in the speaking profession through speaking fees alone. I think that its very similar to what people might be more familiar you with in the acting industry, you have a lot of actors may be very talented, very good at their profession, and there is certainly a lot of acting jobs out there, but most actors are working in restaurants, or somewhere else hoping for their big break.
The money just doesn’t come in from performing, and it’s very similar in the speaking world. There are absolutely exceptions. Entertainers and athletes, pro-athletes, politicians, and other people that are celebrity speakers can make very big bucks. Those are the ones that most people hear about where people are making $10,000, $100,000 for a speech.
Jason Hartman: Colin Powell, Bill Clinton those would be good examples, right?
Bryan: Right. Steve Forbes and they are making big money, and yeah Colin Powell, Bill Clinton can make a $100,000 or more for one engagement, and one of the highest paid speakers out there is Bill Cosby, and he is supposedly charges $375,000 for a one hour talk.
Jason Hartman: Wow I had no idea. That’s incredible. [Laughter].
Bryan: It’s a lot of money, but most speakers I have met, have speaking fees. Well I am sorry. Most professional speakers, people who say that they are earning a living through professional speaking are earning speaking fees somewhere between 2500 and $10,000 for a one hour keynote or after dinner speech and that may seem like a very high hourly rate compared to other professions, but the value of this speaker really just doesn’t come from his or her time on the stage.
The value comes from the long term impact on the audience, so great speakers had the ability to permanently change your thinking and your behavior in a very short period of time, and that is such a rare and important skill that it actually makes the speaking fee a bargain for many people, but the speaking professionals who are really making a lot of money through their speaking business are looking at speaking as a business, and they are earning their money in consulting fees, and in other ways in addition that platform fee.
Jason Hartman: So its kind of like authors, writing a book is not very lucrative for many people. With celebrities do well with books alone, but using that as a platform for other products or services can be a great thing, can it?
Bryan: It can be fantastic. Having speaking as part of your platform, part of your marketing platform is great because you can reach a lot of people and just by the fact that you are speaking in front of an audience people believe that you are an expert. They believe that you are somebody worth listening to. You are up there on the stage in front of them so obviously you must be somebody important who knows what you are talking about.
Jason Hartman: Sure.
Bryan: And its very similar to somebody who writes a book. You know if you wrote a book you must know something about it, right?
Jason Hartman: So that’s the podium effect, good thing. So in terms of topics, I mean I think I will answer this question and then you could add to it, but I hear a lot of speakers Bryan say on what topics should I speak, what’s popular? Well, my answer to that is you should speak on what you know. Don’t pick a topic because it’s hot necessarily, but you can take your own experience, knowledge and expertise, and sort of modify it or tweak it a little bit to be related to popular topics. So I guess my first question then there is what topics are really popular for speakers?
Bryan: That is a very good point, and that’s also something that we get asked a lot. What topic should I talk about, and this is the really interesting thing. When meeting planners come to us, and ask us for a speaker they very rarely ask us for a very specific topic. What they can tell us is who their audience is, and what the makeup is. So they can tell us that its 50% men, 50% women, and they can tell us the age range, and how much people make, and what their job titles are. And usually what they tell us is that they want a speaker who is going to be interesting for their audience, so the topic really doesn’t matter that much. You could be talking about etiquette or sales skills.
You could be talking about just about anything as long as its interesting to the audience, and what I think that most meeting planners are doing is taking a speaker based on the title of their talk rather than the content. Usually what they will tell me is that they want somebody who is interesting for their audience, and then they add on to that. They say may be somebody who is motivational, inspirational, again going back to that entertaining thing they want somebody who is going to be funny for their audience, so when I say that its like a book title, think about what happens if you go to the bookstore, and you are looking for a book on organization skills, so your desk is a mess, your office is a mess, you need some help.
And you go to the bookstore, you look on the shelf. In the section of the bookstore that says organizing and you have titles that say, How to Get Organized, Organizing 101. Another one may say how to organize your office. Well, there is a little bit more of a hit because that’s what you are looking for. Another title says I am Ready to Burn my Desk and Start Over again. You know may be that will hit better with some people, but there are some titles that are going to make you take that book, and pull it off the shelf and look at it a little bit closer.
Maybe you will look at the back of the book, and look at testimonials you know see what other people have said may be you will look at the author’s picture that’s what the speaker is doing by putting together a good title they are encouraging the meeting planner to look a little bit deeper. They want to read about, more about that talk, and see a little description about it, then may be they will look at the picture at the speaker, may be they will look a little bit further and see how much the speaker charges and when they are available, but what’s catching their attention in the first place is that title.
Jason Hartman: And can you give us any examples of good titles. When you say that I certainly can think of them as far as books go I mean the books can vary in quality, but the titles are such good zingers, chicken soup for dot, dot, dot. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Harvey Mackay’s titles are so darn clever. The long titles, Beware of the Naked Man who offers you the Shirt of his Back, Swim with the Sharks [laughter]. And in terms of speeches though any great titles that come to mind?
Bryan: I happen to have somebody’s card on my desk right now. This is Liz Franklin who is an organizational expert. And her title is How To Get Organized Without Resorting To Arson.
Jason Hartman: [Laughter]. That’s good.
Bryan: That’s the one that works really well. We have a speaker who is getting a lot of requests awhile ago. I haven’t really paid too much attention to see how he is doing now. But his title was Never Show up Naked to a Job Interview. Again it’s just a title. It doesn’t say that it’s that this is the motivational talk. It doesn’t say that this is talk about economics or anything else. It’s a title that grabs attention so the meeting planner will look a little bit further.
Jason Hartman: Sure, yeah those are good. What kind of presentations are in demand? Are they keynotes? Are they workshops? Do you want to kind of just quickly distinguish the different types of speaking engagements that are available to speakers?
Bryan: The most requested type of talk is probably that I guess the keynote talks, so generally a keynote is anywhere from of about 45 minutes to an hour and a half, and that is story time, so that is the speaker up in front of the audience, hopefully telling some good stories, not necessarily much audience interaction at all, not really question and answers session or anything like that. It’s just a show that the audience can go watch, and that’s what most people are usually talking about when they are bringing in a speaker, but in addition to that there is things that lean more towards training. Some of the sessions are more interactive, but generally a speaker, speaker request is for a keynote speaker.
Jason Hartman: Let me take a brief pause. We will be back in just a minute.
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Jason Hartman: And any guidance on fees. Fees are all over the board, and one thing I do want to mention is that when I was getting started in the speaking business many years back, and I was in the same number for about 10, and I noticed that I the old days if your fee wasn’t high enough, you wouldn’t get enough bookings, and part of that was driven I think by the speakers bureaus. A lot of speakers felt that way that if you didn’t have a high enough fee there wasn’t a decent commission on that fee, so that could actually hurt you by setting your fee too low. Any guidance on fees for speakers?
Bryan: I think that more and more meeting planners are going to the internet now to look for a speaker, and they are definitely price shopping. There are speakers now that post their fees online. I think that a good majority of speakers are posting their speakers online that does not mean that National Speaker Association Membership posting their fees. Most of them don’t, but the majority of speakers are not members of the National Speakers Association. Generally the NSA speakers, the professional speakers are making $1500 in up for a speech, and to be a member they need to be speaking I think its 25 times a year to keep to maintain their membership. It is 25 times a year or earning a minimum of $25,000 a year in speaking fees.
Jason Hartman: Right so at least there is some criteria for it. That’s good.
Bryan: Right so the majority of speakers though are outside of that category. A lot of people that are speaking are expert in some subject matter area, but they may be speaking once or twice a year, and they are just looking for a free trip every once in a while or something like that. Sometimes there are people in the local area that speaks very regularly, but they are just building their business so you can have a financial planner who goes to networking meetings around the city and they are speaking every week somewhere, but it’s not to a big audience and definitely not for a big fee. That’s the greatest percentage of speakers is people like that, that are just out there sharing their expertise and trying to build their business in some way.
So as far as setting fees, those people are not making anything. As you go into the different levels where a meeting planner would be willing to pay a fee, most of this, the meeting planner sort of paying less than $1500 have very low expectations, and so they expect those speakers that are going to go and read from PowerPoint slides and hold on to the lectern, so they are easy to negotiate with as far as, as far as getting fees typically they have something set, so they will tell you that they have a $100, or $500 to spend on a speaker, and that’s what they will spend.
But I guess to get back to your question about how do you set your fees in the first place? I think that anywhere between 500 and 1000 to $1500 it doesn’t really matter. I think just any kind of fee in there its fine because you can probably negotiate up or down without any kind of complaint from the meeting planner. If you post your fee at a $1000, but you are willing to work for $500 because it’s a local event I don’t think that it sounds unreasonable.
Once you get up to the $1500 level, then there are pretty definite points that you know stopping points you have $1500, $2500, $5000, $7500, and $10,000 and there are not many people that have fees in between those different set points, so if you are setting your fee, and you are in one of those higher fee ranges, I think what you need to look at is the kind of audience that you are speaking to, and the kind of meeting planners that you are typically working with, and the kind of audience is you are typically working with, and probably best rule of thumb that I can come up with is to look at the size of the audience that you will be speaking to, and come up with the price per head that you think makes sense for the amount of entertainment you will be giving them.
So, if you are going to be speaking for about an hour, and there are a couple of thousand people in the room, $1500 ahead for an hour of entertainment, $20 a head is perfectly reasonable for most meeting planners, and that’s how they are looking at it, so that may be a substantial speaking fee you know if you have 2000 people, and you are getting $20 a head that’s a $40,000 speaking fee, and if you are willing to negotiate a little bit in there you go down to $20,000, $10,000 is a bargain for the meeting planner.
Jason Hartman: That’s a good way to look at it, and I agree with you completely. An aspiring speaker who is may be doing the low paying gigs. They are charging $1500 or even a $1000 for a talk. At what point do they decide that hey I am going to quit my day job. Now, the one distinction is a lot of these speakers are really promoting their day job with it, so it’s the example of the local lawyer or the CPA who promotes their business by doing this little speaking engagements and its great because they get clients that way financial planners, real estate whatever, but if they really want to get into the speaking business, and make it through the business, business. Is there a certain point at which they know they can quit their day job as the saying goes?
Bryan: That’s always a tough one. You know whether or not to move ahead in any business. If you are a small business owner, especially if you are working somewhere else, and you start a business and decide when do you let go of that safety net, I don’t know that I have a really good answer for that because even if you are getting booked on a very regular basis, you are getting booked once or twice a month, and things are going pretty well even though if you are not putting your full effort into it there is no guarantee that its going to stay like that.
You know the market could change. People might not be interested in your topic. Now, if you are talking about natural, clean it up after natural disasters or something like that, and may be really big during in the wake of BP oil spill, but that may die down after a little while. You have the books that you wrote and you got a lot of good press, and Oprah covered it.
You will ride away for a while, but it starts to die down if they are not handling it just right, so I think that there are a lot of things about running a sustainable speaking business that you need to be sure you really understand, running a sustainable business in anyway just understanding marketing and accounting, and all the other things are going to a business are really important before you decide to quit your day job. You may be doing well earning those speaking fees, but once you decide to make it a real business there is a lot more involved.
Jason Hartman: Good point. In terms of materials and marketing materials what does the speaker need? I find that there are sort of two types of people here. There are those who just kind of run out, and go get as many gigs, and they may do a great job of speaking, and they just — their materials come later if ever sometimes, and then there are those who really want to have all the materials just right website, press get one sheet, a demo video may be a book. What materials do they really need, and any advice on those materials?
Bryan: I do have some advice on marketing, and I get a lot of feedback from some of my speakers and other experts that I talk to that don’t agree with me because I look at this differently than I think a lot of people do. I think the internet is great. I love the internet. I love electronic stuff. Email is fantastic especially when you are talking about saving money and building a business without spending a lot of money. It’s really great to be able to do so much to build a web page and have video on there, and audio and all that stuff.
You can do some Facebook campaigning. You can have a page on LinkedIn with all your information all that electronic stuff is great, but this technology as the technology becomes more available, more readily available to everybody and it cost less and less for everybody to use it. It makes it harder for anyone speaker to stand out. So where I disagree with most of my colleagues are, I would probably say most of my colleagues is that I still prefer direct mail, and I wouldn’t say direct mail instead of all of the other things online.
I think all the other things you need to do online are a expected level of service, or a level of marketing that you do. You have to keep up with all of those other things. If you are talking to a meeting planner and they ask you to send them something right away. Its great when you can tell them to go to your website, and download your one sheet, and looking your information they can watch the sample of you performing they expect that, but what’s really going to set you apart is having some great direct mail pieces.
And I think that it is well worth spending some money getting a nice package put together, and the nice package means a nice folder, slick folder with some color, brochures, and papers printed on slick paper, have different size papers, and that are just things you ran off your printer on, didn’t had by 11:00 even if it means getting a paper cutter, and cutting some different sizes yourself using different colors and sizes and paper textures all those things make a difference enclosing a DVD or including a DVD still makes a impression on people.
And the lumpy mail kinds of things that’s direct mail or direct response marketer is encourage, help so sending them about to somebody or a T-shirt puts you in a different category as far as they are concerned. You can get that whole package put together, the marketing or the media kit done pretty inexpensively at Kinkos or something and inexpensive may be 6, 7, $10 for a package, but I don’t think that you need to send those packages to a 1000 people, and just send them out there, and hope that one of them hits the right way.
I think that you need to use the technology that you have to make sure that you are marketing correctly to the right people if there is a meeting planner that shows some interest than what it is that you have to offer then spend some money on them, so as far as what goes into that real quick, what you need to make sure that you have is testimonials, client list, you need to have a photo, you need to have your topic, ideas, and you need to have your fee structure.
Jason Hartman: Good. You’ve got a whole bunch of speakers listed on your website. What are some of the craziest topics you’ve seen? We talked about topics a few minutes ago. What are some really wild and crazy ones?
Bryan: Well, one of the most popular speakers we ever had delivered his speeches using the persona of Teddy Roosevelt. So he spoke as Teddy Roosevelt would today, and it always fascinated me that people would be drawn to him as much as they were. He looked like him. he acted like him. He spoke like him, and that was the way he delivered his talk, so I thought that was very interesting. we had — that the — Teddy Roosevelt was Keith McGow, Robert Van De Castle was somebody else.
He started, studied dreams in the laboratory in the classroom, in the hospital, in the library among indigenous people and workshop settings. He was referred to as the king of the dreamers, and very unusual topic and not something that meeting planners again would ask for. They were looking for something they would be interesting to their audience, and its not like people have a convention or a conference for dreamers, but it was very in demand kind of topic so different.
Jason Hartman: So any more qualifications that meeting planners are looking for may be some examples of the good speakers doing it right, and the worst speakers doing it poorly out there anything like that?
Bryan: Like I was telling you before most meeting planners are non-professional meeting planners. They don’t know what they are doing. They may be volunteering for a charity or something, and there are part of the committee that’s trying to find a speaker, so what they are looking for something that makes it really easy for them, and that’s really what somebody who is looking to become a speaker needs to look at put together a good marketing package that you can send them in the mail, and help them to do their job, so they don’t have to do all the thinking.
Give them a sample contract any kind of guarantee you can offer is fantastic, and the guarantee could be that if they are not satisfied then you will get their money back. It could also mean that you will follow up with everybody in their audience with your electronic newsletter for the next year that you guarantee that if they don’t like, you will come back and do it again, or speak to another audience for them or they will come on the next day, and deliver the talk for them.
You know well, I guess that kind of goes into bonuses. Let them know how they can make extra money, so if you have a book, if you regularly sell your book for $10 at the back of the room you can offer to sell them in advance all of your books at $5 a piece, and they can sell them in the back of the room for $10 a piece and keep the profit include your hotel, airfare, travel expenses, so and all inclusive budget definitely helps just anything like that we are helping them to do their job, and think through some of the things they might not have thought through before going to put you way above everybody else just because not too many people are doing these things.
Jason Hartman: Hey last question for you Bryan. What kind of speaker do if they bomb with an audience if they just mess up, if something doesn’t go well can they fix it, is there anything they can do?
Bryan: [Laughter]. Well, not every speaker is going to be a winner, but that’s one of the elements that makes live shows so exciting. And generally you have something to talk about with your attendees no matter how well a speaker does. You can minimize your risk by properly screening the speaker, but honestly even speakers with proven track record fail sometimes.
I mentioned Bill Cosby before, and I went to an event once where he was the main speaker and let’s just say that he failed to meet my expectations, so it happens, but if a speaker fails it doesn’t mean that you as a meeting planner need to swear off hiring speakers again. And if you are a speaker it doesn’t mean you will never get hired again just use it as a learning experience, and do your best to make the best of it. you know follow up appropriately and if you had any guarantees or anything you could offer the meeting planner to make it up to them, and use that to your advantage.
Jason Hartman: Good point. Well, Bryan Caplovitz, thank you so much for joining us today. The website is Speakermatch.com. I would highly recommend it. you are doing a great job with that site, and we appreciate having you on the show. Thank you.
Bryan: Thank you for having me.
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The Speaking of Wealth Team
Transcribed by Renee