You’re probably familiar with content marketing: providing useful information to an audience as a way of fostering good will and establishing expertise. It’s a good technique for all businesses, even for early-stage companies.
But it needn’t be limited to web content, designed to pull in a net full of google searches. You can—and should—turn yourself, an owner of an early-stage company, into a walking content marketing machine. More importantly, you should turn yourself into a talking content marketing machine.
You’re a self-starter and are knowledgeable on a few subjects. One is the business you are starting—a company providing Internet security, a microbrewery, a manufacturer of electric cars. This can encompass information on the entire industry and all related fields and concepts. You’re also coming to your hot new company with previous experience, whether it be in product development, management, marketing, etc. You also have learned how to get a new company through the initial investment stage into its infancy. You may have knowledge about other fields, such as building a cherry baseball card collection, graphic design, healthy eating, that absolutely may be marketable for public-speaking engagements. The better the tie-in to your business, the better, but it is possible—and not uncommon—to speak on areas outside of your business and to do some valuable networking in the process.
The purpose of speaking at a rotary club or Kiwanis or at conventions of single-company retreats or seminars is not necessarily to give a sales pitch for continued investments or for the product you are marketing. Rather, it is to engender good will, putting yourself out there, making a few forays into networking, taking the first steps into some opportunities you would not have otherwise.
Talking about issues affecting your business can be one of the most powerful tools you have. In the example of the electric car, a focused slide-show and discussion of the need to cut fossil fuel emissions is a great implied sales pitch and a way of telling the story of your product in a crucial manner. People don’t know as much about the need for your product or service as you think they do. They almost certainly don’t know the historical, social, and geopolitical issues applying to your Wild Duck Oatmeal Stout…or other product. If you can find a market for that sort of information—a group that would be receptive to arguments in favor of using locally-grown ingredients or paying above the minimum wage, etc., you’ll have them on your business’s side.
Basically, the idea is to break everything about your business down into its parts and ask yourself who would be interested in a presentation on each of those topics.
A lot of people who take speaking engagements turn the occasion into a collection of valuable e-mail addresses to which you can send marketing materials. You may pass out some materials with a QR code leading to your web site or something similar. If 80-85% of the people at these engagements ignore this information, you’ll be making gains with the others that will more than justify the time it takes.
Naturally, the material for a Powerpoint presentation, one including some videos, etc. can bear considerable resemblance to that which you already have on your website and other channels.
Speaking engagements are all about getting your foot in the door. They do get the message out about issues concerning your earl-stage venture or other related items that build the kind of credibility you need. But they also help you meet people in the business community, those with whom you can network in a wide variety of ways.