Raise your hand if you’ve ever said that before.
My hand is up. Is yours?
Of course it is. Especially in 2009. Every salesperson, entrepreneur, small business owner or entertainer expresses that frustration at some point.
Unfortunately, many of us are too quick to blame this problem on some external force beyond our sphere of control. For example:
Bookings are down because the economy sucks.
Bookings are down because the industry is changing.
Bookings are down because budgets are cut and nobody’s hiring.
Bookings are down because everyone in the world is stupid except me.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever said one of THOSE before.
My hand is up again.
Well, here’s the good news (which, simultaneously, is also the bad news):
Part of the reason you’re not booked SOLID right now is because you’re not a bookable person.
Today I’m going to share seven steps to increasing your bookability:
1. Focus – don’t spray. Small Business Marketing Specialist, David Newman, regularly publishes and speaks about bookability. In fact, attending a seminar of his in 2009 sparked this very post. So, I asked him a few questions about the topic.
“First, it’s about specificity,” Newman said. “Someone is bookable if they solve specific problems for a specific audience around a specific issue.” Newman also explained, “Articulation and distinction is the secret. Someone is bookable if they’ve distilled down their marketing message with sharpness and clarity. It’s all about how they talk about (articulation) what they do differently (distinction) to improve the lives of the people who buy from them.”
MAKE BOOK: Have you stuck a stake in the ground and told the world about it in a meaningfully, concrete and immediate way?
2. Be easier and faster. In June 2008, a press release called “Improved Bookability,” was published by the international travel website, Eurostar. Their new initiative offered interactive seat requests, which gave customers the ability to request seats in real time and receive an instant acknowledgement and seat map from the website. Cool!
Lessons learned: Simplify your interface. Streamline the booking process. Provide reliable expectations. Offer peace of mind with automated confirmation, up-to date information and firm reservations.
MAKE BOOK: Are you bookable enough to publish a press release about it?
3. Your fanbase may help OR hinder. In December 2008, The Huffington Post ran a fascinating article called, “Bush’s Memoir: Publishers say no thanks.” On the comments section, a reader suggested, “Bull-horn carrying protesters will follow Bush around as he makes the conservative lecture circuit. This makes him an un-bookable speaker.” Wow.
Bookability isn’t so much about the company you keep; but rather the company you attract. This reminds me of the scene in Happy Gilmour when PGA executive, Doug Thompson decides to keep Adam Sandler on the tour – extreme antics notwithstanding. “That Happy Gilmore is a real crack-up! He’s bringing in some big crowds and we’re attracting new, youthful sponsors. It’s great for the game of golf!”
So, becoming more bookable isn’t a function of beating people with nine irons, wrestling alligators and doing the bull dance across the tee box. Rather, it’s about considering what types of people are the natural byproducts of your presence.
MAKE BOOK: Once you get booked, whom will YOU attract?
4. Beware of the unbookable bug. When asked to riff about the dangers of being unbookable, the aforementioned David Newman shared three excellent reminders. “First, don’t make clients deal with your ego. They’ve got enough on their plates as it is.
Second, if you’re not serious about what you’re doing now – STOP – and go do something about it. Get serious, get help, or get out. As Yoda says, ‘Do or do not. There is no try.’
And finally, remember that lack of integrity travels fast. You’ll be out of friends so fast your head will spin. And no friends = No business = Game over.”
MAKE BOOK: Are you in danger of being unbookable?
5. Share your schedule online. Posting your client calendar, tour schedule or media appearances on your website WILL get you more bookings quickly. For five reasons:
First, it proves that you’re busy by offering tangible evidence of success. Social proof is a powerful force.
Second, it invites existing and potential clients/fans to come out and see you. That way they can plan their schedules around you.
Third, it demonstrates your reach. So, when someone comes to your website and sees all the different cities, organizations and media outlets you’re working with, they’ll be thinking two things: (1) This guy MUST be good, and (2) Well, if he’s good enough for THAT company, he’s good enough for MY company too!
Fourth, posting your schedule online motivates you to fill it up. When I first posted my speaking calendar in 2004, I only had ten bookings for the entire year. And because I didn’t want people to think I sucked, that became a great kick in the pants to fill the schedule up.
Fifth, when you post your schedule online, customers start to target YOU. That’s when it starts to get cool. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the phone with a prospect who said, “Well Scott, I checked the schedule on your website and it looks like you have March 19th available to work with us. Is that OK with you?”
To which I always reply, “Um … Sure! … I guess I could fit you into my schedule…” (Even though I’m actually thinking to myself, “YES! Of course I’m available! Oh please book me! Pretty please with sugar on top!”)
MAKE BOOK: Are you the arrow or the bulls-eye?
6. Be one step ahead. On www.CatererSearch.com, I read an article titled, “Information centers get ‘bookability’ to win back customers.” The piece reported that six of England’s Tourist Information Centers (TICs) were to be converted into Holiday Shops that offered a full booking service.
“Many information centers already offer comprehensive information on the availability of holidays and accommodation, so it’s the logical next step for them to provide a booking service as well,” said ETB head of marketing, Andrew Maxted. Your challenge is to think about what the obvious next step to your main product is – then decide if it’s worthwhile to start offering that as well.
Think FedEx Kinko’s. They sold printing for decades. Then, in 2004, they expanded their offering by providing their customers with the most obvious, logical follow-up service: Mailing the stuff they printed to someone across the country. Hallelujah!
MAKE BOOK: Are you one step ahead of the people booking you?
7. What would Oprah do? Susan Harrow is a media coach, writer and consultant with a unique specialty: Getting booked on Oprah. She’s produced dozens of resources, tools and manuals explaining her system for attracting media attention. Interestingly, when I googled the phrase “getting booked,” her famous article “How to Get Booked on Oprah” came up hundreds of times. So, let’s examine each of her points. And I’ve added a challenge question to each one so you to plug yourself into Susan’s equation, just in case getting booked on Oprah isn’t your main goal:
a. Tape and watch Oprah for two weeks. Are you familiar with the content, format, rhythm and pace of the person/organization booking you?
b. Get to know Oprah’s preferences. What biographical information do you need to know to press (or avoid) hot buttons of the person/organization booking you?
c. Pitch a hot topic. Does booking you solve a problem that is relevant, pervasive, serious and controversial?
d. Put together a winning press kit. How could you punch people in the face with your viability?
e. Create six dynamic sound bites. Can you spontaneously spit out the most important ideas, concepts, and points you want to make as they relate to the idea you’re pitching?
f. Be more blurbable. Will the people booking you be able to remember and repeat your ten-second pitch to the person who missed the pitch meeting?
g. Get booked on local shows first. How much time have you spent fine-tuning your sound bites so they’re delivered in a relaxed, competent way?
h. Build credentials through public speaking and teaching. How can you sharpen and quantify your expertise in a concrete way that resonates deeply with the person booking you?
i. Wow the producers with brevity. Have you rehearsed enough so that when you open your mouth and start auditioning, your selling points come off as succinct, natural and inviting?
Ultimately, whether you’re trying to get booked FOR an interview, BY a hot prospect or WITH a new organization, Susan’s nine essentials will help you become more bookable in any capacity.
MAKE BOOK: Did you pass the Oprah test?
REMEMBER: External forces notwithstanding, you can’t “make” people book you.
All you can do is increase the probability of getting booked by making yourself a more bookable person.
Now if you’ll excuse me, Oprah’s producer is on the other line and I need to go change my underwear.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How bookable are you?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “34 Cultural Trends that (should) Change Your Business,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Coach, Entrepreneur
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