All business owners want more customers. The question is, how do you attract them? Advertising can be expensive, and traditional marketing techniques may take a long time to show results. Fortunately, there is another option.

Did you know that as a business owner or professional in your field, you are also an expert? And, did you know that people (a.k.a., potential customers) want to learn from your advice? That’s why it makes sense for you to share your knowledge by giving informative presentations on your area of expertise.

Before you let your self-doubt creep in and proclaim, “But I’m not a speaker!” rest assured that people aren’t expecting a high-tech motivational event. They don’t expect eloquence or even flamboyance. They simply want some targeted information that can help them improve their business or their life. And chances are, it’s the same information you tell people via phone or in one-to-one interactions every day. When you can deliver those bits of information to a larger audience, you can get more business. Here’s how to do it.

Hone in on your topic.

Even though you may not aspire to be a professional speaker, if you’re going to market and brand yourself as an expert, you have to pinpoint some key speaking topics. To do so, think about the questions you commonly get from customers. Chances are those are great speaking topics.

            For example …

  • If you have a gardening shop, you can talk about how to grow an organic garden in your backyard … or the best plants to grow for your geographic area … or tips for getting the most blooms from your plants.
  • If you own a dress shop, you can talk about how to dress for success … or ways to create a “mix and match” wardrobe … or the most flattering styles for various body types.
  • If you own a furniture store, you can talk about home staging ideas … or easy ways to spruce up the look of your home … or how to pinpoint your unique decorating style.
  • If you have a restaurant, you can talk about stocking a healthy pantry … or healthy eating tips … or do a cooking demonstration.

Whether you speak for free or get paid is not important. The idea is to get in front of your ideal buyer with some useful information. That’s how you get perceived as an expert. As legendary speaker Zig Ziglar used to say, “If you’re the one up there giving a speech, people automatically think you’re the expert.” All customers want to feel that they’re doing business with the best of best. Speaking puts you at that best of the best, expert level.

Go public!

Next you need to decide where to do your presentations. Often you can have the speaking event right at your business location. If your store is small or not conducive to hosting a gathering, you could use a room at the local library or reserve a meeting room at a restaurant—both of which are relatively low-cost options. Also, look for local Meet Up group or clubs that attract your target audience, such as mom’s groups, yoga clubs, sewing circles, book clubs, or any other organized gathering of like-minded people. It’s common for these groups to bring in speakers a few times a year. If your message would resonate with a particular demographic, offer your speaking topic to the group.

If your topic is geared more for business to business customers, then investigate your local Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, and BNI Chapters. All of these organizations have regular weekly or monthly meetings where they bring in speakers from the community.

Finally, contact other local businesses that are complimentary to what you do and offer to speak to their customers. For example, if your company does pest extermination, contact a plant nursery and offer to do a seminar for their customers on environmentally friendly pesticides, thus introducing the pest extermination company to a new source of business. Think of other companies that are not direct competitors with you and whose customers would be a good match for your company.

Promote yourself.

One of the best ways to increase the number of people who attend your speaking events is to promote it to your current customers. Make sure you get email addresses from your customers so you can email them a monthly newsletter, coupons, and announcements of your upcoming seminars. Also, post the event information on your social media channels, and put up signs around your business about the next presentation. If you’re not charging admission to the event, you may be able to put an announcement of it in the local news media under the Community Events or Community Happenings section.

Of course, email and social media can only get you so far when it comes to promoting your events. Studies show that each day, more than 294 billion emails get sent. The sheer amount of information people are being bombarded with is overwhelming. So while email and social media are great tools to reach people, if you really want to reach people, then you need to start using one of the oldest marketing tools available: the telephone. Have your employees call your customers and extend them a personal invitation to attend the speaking event. When you talk with someone rather than just send an email, you develop rapport and gain their attention faster than any email message ever could.

Speak Up!

You want to be the company people think of first when they need what you offer. That’s called having Top of Mind Awareness, and public speaking helps you achieve that. When you gain that Top of Mind Awareness, you’ll have a leg up on your competition and will be perceived as the expert.

Ultimately, speaking about your industry knowledge is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to bring in new business. So don’t be shy! Get out there and market yourself as an expert/speaker. By doing so, you’ll stand out from the competition and reach new levels of professional success.

Pam Lontos is president of Pam Lontos Consulting. Lontos consults with businesses, speakers, authors, and experts in the areas of marketing, publicity and speaking. She is a past vice president of sales for Disney’s Shamrock Broadcasting. She is the author of "I See Your Name Everywhere: Leverage the Power of the Media to Grow Your Fame, Wealth and Success." She is also a former professional speaker. For more information, call (407) 522-8630 or e-mail PamLontos@gmail.com, www.PamLontos.com.