How To Sell Videos From The Stage – Final Thoughts
As I shared in my last two posts on how to sell videos from the stage, it can be very lucrative and gratifying. Now that I’ve returned from a 3-week speaking tour doing just that, I have a lot of tips to share on not only what to expect but how to be better prepared.
I have spoken at conferences before and public speaking doesn’t bother me. But I had never done anything this intense, so when I planned it I did it not only to see how much money I could make but also to see if I could put on a great show that people would enjoy and if I was really capable of presenting it at 18 different venues over a span of three weeks. I discovered that I could do it once a day, sometimes even twice in one day, and that it was a subject popular enough to draw large crowds.
Not only was I paid to speak at each event, I was also allowed to sell my products at most of them, which added considerably to my bottom line. I really liked that type of arrangement because the venue was vested in filling the seats and I was also able to make money on product sales. Not every event pays you to speak – deciding if that type of gig is profitable is a topic for another post.
I felt I did many things well. I was very prepared and built my presentation in such a way that I didn’t need notes throughout the 90 minute show. I used Keynote, the Mac equivalent of Powerpoint. It is far superior for using graphics, videos, music, etc. Virtually everything I wanted to say was cued by a slide or video clip so there was no fear of losing my place. It made my presentation a visual feast, “eye candy” if you will.
There was also a lot of things I learned! Here are a few of them:
1) If you are planning on presenting a multi-media show requiring a DLT projector and sound system, don’t assume the projector and sound system the venue provides will: a) work, and b) be adequate. This was a nagging problem throughout my tour.
2) Don’t assume that the person responsible for the audio visual side of things knows what they are doing. In almost every case they didn’t! In many cases I had to fix what the so-called AV technician couldn’t.
3) Think of every possible connection for A/V and bring your own adapters/plug/cables for every situation. Radio Shack and Best Buy became our favorite vendors on the road. Some venues had modern equipment while others had ancient projectors and just plain terrible sound systems.
4) Expect that you, the presenter, will be swamped by people at the end of your talk. You will need an assistant to handle product sales for you.
5) Learn how to deal with people who’ll want to monopolize you. Plan an exit strategy, be nice yet firm and explain to them that you have other people you need to talk to or books you need to sign.
6) If you sell physical products and will be speaking over several days like I was, have a way to restock inventory during your tour. It’s better to have enough products to satisfy immediate sales and have to deal with shipping leftovers back than it is to lose the sale because you ran out of stock. You probably won’t get lost sales back later.
7) Arrive early so you can not only set up and run your program, you can also DO A SOUND CHECK ON KEY PARTS OF YOUR PROGRAM before the doors are open. I tried to get to each of my venues at least an hour and a half early so that I could make sure everything would run smoothly. By allowing time to deal with inevitable problems before people arrive will go a long way to relieving last-minute stress.
8) Keep your audience from coming in while you are setting up. That’s why I like to get there early. People may come up to you while you are setting up and ask you questions, taking valuable time away from your preparations. Also it made me uncomfortable to run through the key parts of my show if people were already in the audience. At my last venue, I skipped the sound check on my video clips because people were allowed to come into the auditorium and sit down. It wasn’t until I was into my presentation that I discovered that the narration was at a level where no one could hear. AUGH! Review tip 7! (Also the AV person didn’t know how to run the sound board. See tip 2.)
9) Make a checklist of what you need and send it to the person who will coordinate the A/V weeks in advance. A friend of mine recommends putting in the contract that if the sound system isn’t adequate, you’ll either not present or you’ll provide it for a fee or rent it and charge it to the venue.
10) Allow enough time between talks to rest and be prepared.
11) Have a complete contact list including cell phone numbers and email addresses for each venue.
12) Know ahead of time if a venue is selling tickets, if they are sold in advance, what the cost is, how many seats are available, how to purchase them, etc. I was just chastised by a woman whose family drove quite a distance to hear me but arrived to find the event sold out. To make it even worse, it was supposed to be a birthday present for one of them. I feel awful about this. Since we help promote my events by letting my mailing list know about them I should also tell them these critical details so this unfortunate type of thing doesn’t happen again.
Finally – I’m going to do this tour again in the fall, probably for 4 weeks. Considering the stress caused by unreliable AV situations I plan to bring along my own public address system and possibly even my own projector as a backup. It is a small price to pay for the confidence that I can put on the show, no matter what.
Since Kim handled the sales table, she has a few tips for that aspect:
1) Make an inventory checklist. It can be a simple spreadsheet that starts off with the amount of stock you have on hand. That way if you are selling a variety of items like we were, you can tell after each event what sold better than others. With that information, you will know if you need to order more of a certain item or if you are able to, sell them at a different price point.
2) The Square, a device that lets you accept credit card payments anywhere with your iPhone, Android or iPad is great! Just plug it into your phone or pad and you can take credit card payments with just a swipe. It was fast and efficient to use this gadget. The device itself is free and you pay approximately the same as you would having a merchant account. You also knew right away if the card was good or not. There are other options available that are similar, among them the Intuit® GoPayment Reader and VT Swipe from PayPal. The downside is that I discovered that although you can send the customer an email receipt, it scrambles the email so you don’t have it for the future thus making it a poor way to build your list.
3) Set your sales table up at the back of the room or right outside the door where people have to walk by coming in and leaving the room. If people have to go to a separate room to buy you will miss sales. This happened at one of the venues where they bought the product from us and were selling it in their gift shop. Even though we had over 200 people at the event and it was the most affluent crowd we had, we sold less than at any other event because of these logistics.
4) Make sure you set up a nice display and have adequate space to spread it out so that many people can see it at once.
5) Have a clear price list. That will save you a lot of questions being thrown at you while your transacting other sales.
6) Invest in a small cart or ask to use one. That is so much better than carrying boxes one at a time. I’d even put this on my checklist of needs that I send the venue in advance.