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As a growing business, you are beginning to see yourself in national publications – maybe you have even been featured on TV. Award nominations are cropping up, and you are being recognized for your hard work.

What is the next step to gaining a reputation as an industry leader? Lisa Calhoun, founder of Atlanta-based marketing and PR agency Write2Market, urges growth stage firms to find speaking opportunities at large national conferences like Distributech, SAPhire, CTIA, CES and Dreamforce.

Lisa says, “Speaking opportunities often do triple duty. They are great for the company’s industry leading reputation, give outstanding ways to prospect while cutting down the sales cycle time, and offer information about your material based on audience reception.” Plus, at the conference, you are already an authority as one of the speakers, often with these perks:

  • Free conference badge –maybe even a ticket and a hotel room
  • Opportunity to meet with media with your authoritative speaker’s credentials
  • Easy opportunity to host a client/prospect off-site event with the prestige of a speaker

What are the most important things a marketer who wants to book more national conference speaking sessions needs to know?

1. Be led by your target audience to the right shows.

Which conferences are your competitors attending? Which conferences are attended by your target market? Don’t be misled into speaking for a “prestigous” conference that doesn’t have your target group. You want to find out where YOUR prospects are going on a national level. By downloading sponsor prospecti and similar info, you can find out here at which conference REALLY have your target market in attendance.

2. Carefully research the conference director’s needs.

Check out previous agendas and previous speakers. A mistake most people make is forgetting to contact the conference planner before submitting their proposals. By calling the conference planner before you submit, you will be able to align your submission to fit the conference’s vision. Put your session on her “success path.” It’s amazing how much information the conference director can share about how he or she is trying to tool the show. Your session will also stand out in his or her mind because you’ve personalized it. Of course, you’re also closely followed the agenda and format of a session too–with the right number of take aways, bullets and word count in the session description.

3. Fit your conference speaking session submission topic to the interests of your target market AND the needs of the conference planner.

“Would it make sense if I pitched a joint case study with a business partner?” asked one marketing director attendee in the Write2market audience. Exploring the option further, we realized that her target market was primarily an enterprise corporate group of marketing directors–pitching her company speaking with a another emerging-stage business wasn’t on the conference director’s mission critical path to a successful show. You have to respect the conference has to drive attendance based on these sessions–the sessions are their product. So take a look at the demographic your conference is trying to attract, and make sure your session speaks to their sweet spot in target market, too.

4. Put some evidence or research into your conference speaking pitch or abstract.

When entering your conference submission, be sure to include support from outside sources. This could be anything from a client speaking with you to a private client survey you conducted. What others say about you is far more credible than anything you can say about yourself.

5. Treat national conference directors like industry analysts.

Planning a conference takes almost the entire year. In fact, as soon as your conference concludes, the planning committee is already working on next year’s edition. Drop conference directors updates every few months to keep them in the loop, even in the non-show season.

6. Apply for three times the number of speaking opportunities that you want.

There is a lot of competition for national speaking opportunities. If your budget allows for travel to three conferences per year, it would be a good idea to submit for nine or ten conferences. Remember, conference directors are extremely selective.

To dive deeper into details about how to land national speaking opportunities, please check out our deck below or attend one of Write2Market’s in person sessions for b2b marketing and communications professionals.

>>>If you liked this post, try our article on  10 Tips To Ace Tradeshows for B2B Marketers, premiering on the blog August 4.

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If you’d like to scale your conference speaking at multiple shows and need a sounding board, give us a call–we can help get you from here to there.