I read something recently on SpeakerNetNews.com that suggested that events create a controlled-marketing environment that drives sales. I find this very interesting. And it got me thinking about a conversation I had one evening at a regional genealogy conference with Ryan Taylor and Dave Obee, both authors and lecturers.
We were discussing the lectures we'd given and those we'd observed over the past two days. The presentation of one of our colleagues came up and the three of us noted that this speaker was a little too blatant about promoting her books during her lectures. People do not come to conferences to be told to buy the book. They come to learn.
Its my opinion that its better to list your books in your lecture handout if they are appropriate to the topic. It's appropriate to have a vendors table at your workshops to sell your products. Back of the room sales are an excellent way for a speaker to augment their speaking income. Its appropriate to announce that people can ask further followup questions, after your question period, at your vendor's table, thus luring potential buyers your way. But to say after every section of your lecture, "You can learn more in depth on this source/ technique in chapter x of my new book" is not appropriate.
To avoid complexities of local or state tax and licencing regulations, one speaker offers the host organization a deal in which their volunteers sell the products, and their group handles the sales taxes etc. This speaker charges a wholesale price, and the host gets the profits after expenses on the retail price. The speaker takes the remainders with him. There are various approaches to dealing with back of the room sales.
So what's in this for the program planner? Consider this cas:
The Sunova Beach Genealogy Society has recently but together a series of guides to researching ethnic groups that settled in Prefect County. These guides include local sources, county sources, state sources and national sources. They believe these have value in the broader context of ethnic genealogy research. Sunova Beach and Prefect County were launching places for thousands of second generation families that settled the western part of the state. Amy Beacon, the bright light in the SPGS executive suggested they do a one day conference on researching ethnic genealogy to promote the guide series. They develop a plan which includes 4 concurrent tracks, with four lectures per track covering topics related to researching the German, Norwegian, Italian and Scottish groups that settled their county. The local historical society offered to sponsor a Friday night slide illustrated lecture on the influence of European customs on vernacular architecture and home made tools in the county. The local Norwegian community at St. Olaf's Church catered an open-faced-sandwich luncheon. (even pickled herring was offered 😉 ) And the local Italians retaliated with an authentic selection of Italian (not American) pizzas to serve Friday night after the lecture.
The SBGS, the historical society, and local ethnic groups had vendors tables at the event. The SPGS ethnic genealogy guide series was prominently displayed. Amy's team promoted the event across the state and in adjoining states trading some of the guides for advertising in each area. Posters were displayed throughout the communities in the region.
Amy's event, focussed on topics covered in the guides. The genealogical society sold the guides. A couple in the series were completely sold out.
Two years from now when the new county history comes out, I'll bet the SBGS, Amy Beacon and the local historical society will hold another one-day conference!
What do you think. Can your group use an event to market your publications?