Motivational Keynote Speakers Have Three Customers


You don’t just have one customer, you have THREE customers per gig!

As motivational keynote speakers we tend to think we have one customer. But the truth is that we actually have three customers for every gig.

  1.  The person who hires you.This is the meeting planner or the one tasked with finding a speaker for their event. I do a lot of association work, and this person wants to make sure you will help make their meeting a success.  This person is really focused on the big picture and what you will bring to it. This person is concerned with how good you are, how amazing the experience will be, how happy you will make those people in the seats, how easy you are to work with, and whether you will bring people the content they are looking for.  This person will judge you by the evaluations, what the people say on the way out the door, how engaged the audience is, and whether anybody showed up when you came to speak.When you want to appeal to these buyers, your website text should talk about what the experience is going to be like – what other clients thought about that experience, etc.  Sometimes this person never even comes to hear you speak, or sits outside in the hallway with the rest of the committee, or is in an office somewhere far away.

    The return on investment for this client is a successful conference experience.

  2. The person sitting in that seat.This is the audience – the person who needs something to make their lives and their work better. This is the person you not only have to put on a good show for, but who you have to engage and teach, and motivate and inspire them to be more than they thought they could be. You have to hit this person on an emotional level and make them remember you. This person is motivated by something entirely different than the meeting planner. They may have paid to be here, and they want to make sure they get their money’s worth.

    The return on investment for this client is giving them something THEY personally want.  To be less stressed. To do more with less. To have more courage and confidence. To reach their goals. To reconnect to their passion. To be better at their jobs. To feel different about themselves when they leave.

    In a corporate setting, this person really needs and wants something different (or in addition to) what the last customer (see below) wants.

  3. The person who sent that person sitting in that seat. Their boss.In many audiences where I speak, the person in that seat was sent by their company with the purpose of getting continued education.  That boss probably doesn’t care about personal development for that employee. Happiness, less stress, passion, confidence, self-esteem – are probably not issues of concern to the boss. The boss (the company) cares about that employee doing a better job on Monday. That boss cares about productivity, leadership skills, teambuilding, selling more, delivering better customer service – things that directly impact the bottom line. The boss doesn’t care about how much fun people are having, or whether people get the therapy they so desperately need. The boss’s motive is to serve the company’s best interest.

    The return on investment for this client is what it will do for that employee on Monday at work that will make the company more money. This customer doesn’t care about your quippy taglines, or fun way of wrapping your content. This client cares about results.

I know I said there are three customers, but sometimes there are even MORE.  What if a vendor is sponsoring you? That vendor has paid your fee in return for the exposure. While, technically, that vendor isn’t really your customer, what if you made sure to recognize the vendor in your speech? What if you actually wove them into the message?  I get booked for lots of user events, where the vendor is actually hosting the event. This vendor’s entire purpose for holding the event and booking you, is to provide value for their customers and enhance brand recognition and customer relations. Imagine if you could help this vendor by weaving in a message from the vendor to the audience? Wow. Talk about a happy customer.

Don’t think your speech only has one message. It can have many layers woven in.  You can even weave in a message to sell your books, tell them about other programs you do, drop subtle hints about your consulting business.

While this sounds confusing, it’s really easy to make sure you speak the language of all three customers – in everything you do, from web to sales to stage.  Being aware of what each group wants, and making sure your language reflects all three stories, is the key to getting the business.

Don’t forget the three impact stories I keep talking about:

The About Me Story….your journey to the truth you teach.  The way you see the world and deliver an experience like nobody else. Your competitive edge as a speaker.

The Message Story…what you teach wrapped in a sexy way they’ve never heard before.  It’s the new perspective on customer service. The analogy you came up with. The new way you found of talking about gender, etc. The content they’ve always wanted wrapped in a way that’s fresh and relevant. An old word you made fresh.

The Customer Story...making sure you still use the language that customer uses and that you speak to what they are asking for on their pillow at night. We wish our employees would…….I wish I could feel this way at work……We wish we could find a keynote speaker who can………These words are the boring words that don’t sound sexy to you, but are takeaways they can nod and agree they want to make the workplace better on Monday.  And as I have told you in this blog post, there is often more than one customer in the equation.

Learning to speak all three languages is what finally enabled me to get more business, more standing ovations, and higher fees.

You have an amazing opportunity on that platform to influence and impact. Use it.

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Motivational Speaker Kelly Swanson is an award-winning storyteller, author, and comedian who teaches you how to harness the power of your story to connect, engage, and get results. In this blog, Kelly focuses on the business of professional speaking. Kelly’s post day is Friday. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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