You spent time finding and booking an outstanding keynote speaker for your conference or event. You know they’re engaging and have plenty of wisdom to share, but you need to get the word out so there’s a full house for the talk.
Speaker promotion is complex and takes planning — even for well-known speakers in your industry. The best strategies are multi-pronged and involve the conference marketing team, the speaker themselves, their representatives, and third-party marketing partners. Follow our keynote marketing guide to drive awareness about speakers at all of your events.
Use a combination of owned, paid, and earned marketing channels to promote your event’s speaker
In short: paid marketing is advertising space you purchase, owned marketing is promotion on your platforms; and earned marketing is when third parties share the information freely. Using all three is ideal. This ensures you cast the widest possible net with your marketing efforts, and reaches audiences you might not otherwise. A few examples of each:
Owned marketing for speakers
- Place a headshot, bio, and synopsis for the speaker on the conference website.
- Highlight the speaker on the company LinkedIn page.
- Ask the keynote speaker to write a guest blog post for your website.
Paid marketing for speakers
- Sponsored content on LinkedIn featuring key speech topics.
- Social media advertising with the speaker’s headshot that links to the conference website.
- Digital banner ads targeting industry trade websites.
Earned marketing for the speaker
- Announce your featured speakers in a press release shared with industry media outlets.
- Ask your event sponsors to list the featured speakers in their marketing material.
- Post inspirational and informative quotes from the speaker on your social media platforms for easy sharing.
Set alerts for the keynote title, the speaker, and the conference to help you track any buzz they generate. If one of these strategies underperforms, you can boost your effort in channels getting the best response.
1. Make self-promotion easy for your keynote speaker
All speakers come with varying levels of promotional savvy. Some will post an announcement on social media as soon as they sign the contract, and share more news as the event gets closer. Others will be so busy that promotion unintentionally falls to the wayside. And some might be unsure about next steps, or uncomfortable with self-promotion.
No matter the speaker’s promotional experience, make it easy for them to share information. After finalizing the conference schedule, give them details and marketing collateral for the entire event. Often these events are planned a year or two in advance, so consider sharing these things over time to keep it on their radar. Some things to share:
- The hashtag(s) for your event. Provide the unique hashtag created for your conference so they can easily share and promote the event on social media.
- The full agenda and schedule of the conference. The speaker may be more willing to post about their talk if they can also tout other conference events they’re excited about.
- Hardcopy marketing materials, such as brochures, flyers, and postcards.
- Promotional materials and swag, including T-shirts, mugs, journals, and pens.
- Free event tickets the speaker can hand out to dedicated fans or followers.
Finally, create an attractive event packet with everything in one place and mail it to the speaker and their promotion team, if they have one.
2. Use event management tools to your advantage
You already use event planning software to manage the entire event — use it to keep your keynote marketing strategy on track, as well. Upload a keynote-focused spreadsheet that tracks content posting dates and engagement numbers.
For large-scale events (such as a multi-day industry conference) consider creating a separate ‘event’ for the keynote marketing so it doesn’t get lost. Share this with team members responsible for marketing and speaker communication. You can even give the speaker ‘view only’ access so they are in the loop. This is a great spot to add to-dos, reminders, and alerts so the keynote marketing stays on the radar while you manage the overall event logistics.
3. Focus on your keynote speaker’s goals
What does your keynote speaker hope to get out of this engagement? Sometimes it’s obvious based on the topic, such as sharing research from a new paper or encouraging more eco-friendly business decisions among CEOs. But they might want to share another message as well. Ask them directly and, if it makes sense for the event, fold this into the conference.
- Do they have a book on the market that would be of interest to attendees? Give them the chance to talk about their book during a breakout session, or sign books for an hour after their keynote.
- Have they just become an independent consultant? Include that in your marketing materials and help build their credibility with the audience.
- Is there a product launch on their horizon? Interview them about the launch for your podcast.
4. Leverage the power of word-of-mouth
83 percent of people believe recommendations from friends and family more than advertising, according to a study by Nielsen. So, how do you incorporate word of mouth in your keynote promotions? Here are a few ideas:
- Create a ‘mini keynote’ with the speaker for the conference website and social sharing. Use relevant hashtags to generate buzz.
- If your speaker has a following of people interested in their work or thought leadership, reach out to influential followers and offer tickets to the event.
- Does your speaker have other talks scheduled before your event? Send your newsletter editor to cover those talks.
5. Offer a taste of what’s to come
Raise awareness of the keynote speaker’s expertise and insights among registered attendees, and audiences who might be interested in the subject matter. Some possibilities include:
- Emails containing popular articles and blog posts authored by the speaker.
- An email with links to a podcast the speaker hosts, or episodes where they’ve been a guest.
- Use your company or the conference newsletter to highlight the speaker. Provide a mini-profile in a sidebar and include intriguing pull-quotes from the speaker.
- Share an excerpt from the speaker’s book on your company website, or a dedicated conference website.
- Book the speaker on a popular podcast of one of the event sponsors.
- Request a short video clip of a prior presentation to add to your website.
Remember, more is not better with information sharing. Your audience will tune out if they’re inundated with information too quickly across platforms. Spread the above efforts across the year leading up to the event.
6. Use social media to build anticipation and spread the word
When you know the share of adults using social media in the US, you know it’s a critical component of marketing anything and anyone — including keynote speakers. Social media has the power to attract invitees still on-the-fence about attending, and sustain the interest of those who already committed.
First, determine the best platforms to use for your speaker’s audience.
- Facebook offers the most flexible platform for engagement. Just about any type of content does well here, including video, long posts, and images. This is a valuable platform across industries and subject matter.
- Twitter allows you to get the word out in tidbits that stick. It also lets people tweet about the speaker before, during, and after the keynote address.
- LinkedIn is a powerful platform for businesses, especially for engaging audiences and sparking conversation.
- YouTube has over 1.8 billion users every month. If you don’t use it to market your keynote, you’re missing out on a large audience. Use your company or conference YouTube channel to post previous speeches by the speaker.
- Instagram allows you to post enticing photos related to your event, including a peek behind-the-scenes. This is an important channel for speakers whose talks include a visual component.
Then engage your audience through some or all platforms. Some strategies to add to your keynote marketing plan:
- Create a hashtag for the keynote speech itself to use in addition to the event hashtag.
- Use engaging copy to share what the audience can expect to learn. For a business diversity conference, you might tweet: “Struggling to build an inclusive workplace? Learn the most common roadblocks and how to overcome them from global diversity expert [speaker’s name].”
- Share news about the addition of a Q&A session or a book signing after the talk.
- Ask people to submit advanced questions for the Q&A. The speaker gets a clear idea what interests guests most, and introverted event attendees will appreciate the option.
- Use LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Establish a group specifically around the keynote speaker’s topic. Here, you can set up a ‘reading club’ where people share and discuss the speaker’s articles and books, or even spark a discussion of the talk when it’s over. Add the speech as an ‘event’ within the group so this engaged audience is well informed.
Finally, add your social media content schedule to your event management tool. This keeps the team organized and posting consistently in the run-up to the event.
Even big-name speakers need the boost that comes from marketing. A careful keynote promotion strategy ensures your speaker gets the audience they deserve, and your business enjoys engagement before, during, and after the talk.
Are you planning a Q&A with your keynote speaker? Find out what the best live Q&As have in common. Or learn how event technology can boost audience participation.
Have more questions about keynote speaker promotion?
Tag your speakers in promotional social media posts, and get them involved in the conversation in the run up to your event. Do your research, and engage with your speakers more significantly than just mentioning them. Getting your speakers excited about your event for more than just a payday will result in them amplifying the event to their audience.