How to Make Your Intangible Products Easier to Sell

When you are in the business of selling intellectual property—books, courses, speeches—you have to work hard to make the product tangible to your prospect. You have to help them see what they are buying.

A Glowing Mystery Box - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #5705952

Photo courtesy of ©

This is why, for example, publishers produce the book jacket or cover months before the book is manufactured and oftentimes before it is even written. Increasingly, publishers render these in 3-D images to make them look even more real.

Recently, I was thinking about this in regard to speeches. As a professional speaker, that is essentially what I am selling—a public presentation on a specific topic. Historically, booking agents and speakers bureaus have sold speakers on the basis of the speaker’s reputation and perhaps a demo video.

That got me to thinking. What if I packaged my speeches, just like I would package a book, a course, or any other intangible product? My goal was to help event planners envision exactly what they are buying.

To do this, I took seven steps:

  1. Identify my products. In my case, I have six basic speeches that I give. (I learned how to identify my products at the Launch conference. A speech is only one kind of product, but this is where it starts.) I do custom speeches, but these are the presentations that are requested over and over.
  2. Fine-tune the titles. Just like a book title, I needed a strong, catchy title and a subtitle. I came up with the following:
    • Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
    • Life Plan: Designing the Life You’ve Always Wanted
    • Shift: Leading in Turbulent Times
    • More Margin: How to Shave 10 Hours Off Your Work Week
    • Authentic Leadership: The 5 Characteristics of Effective Leaders
    • The Leader’s Heart: Unleashing the Most Important Leadership Tool You Have
  3. Create packaging for each product. How do you package something as intangible as a speech? I decided that the “cover” was essentially the first slide in deck for each speech. (Professional speakers often refer to a collection of slides as a deck, as in “deck of cards.”) Here’s the cover for my “Platform” presentation:

    Platform Title Slide Example

    You can view all six here.

  4. Create a summary of each speech. I basically took what I teach in my book Platform about creating an elevator pitch (Chapter 11) and applied it here. For example, here’s the summary for my “Platform” speech:

    In today’s hyper-noisy world, it is hard to get anyone’s attention. You need a platform to be seen and heard. Thankfully, it’s never been easier. In this presentation, I share how to use social media to build your brand, decrease your marketing costs, and increase your impact.

    You can view all six here.

  5. Depict the product in its environment. If you are selling a car, you show people driving it. If you are selling an Amazon Kindle, you show people reading it at the beach.

    In my case, I had a designer build a “frame” of an audience viewing my title slide, as though I were about to walk onto the stage and make the presentation. Here’s what the “Platform” speech looks like in its frame:

    Platform Title Slide in Frame Example

    The purpose here is to help the event planner envision the product he is buying.

  6. Write copy describing the product. In the publishing world, this is one of the first things that must happen before the marketing process begins. Why should it be any different in the speaking world?

    I decided to write sales copy for each speech, consisting of six sections:

    • Quick Summary: This is the exact same copy I provided in the summary above.
    • Presentation Outline: Like a table of contents, I want to explain exactly what I cover in the speech. This gives a sense of the flow and how I develop each talk.
    • Target Audience: I want to make it clear who this presentation is for. I also provide a list of the types of audiences I have made this presentation to in the past.
    • Possible Formats: I explain how I can deliver this presentation—keynote, workshop, or seminar. I also talk about the ideal length.
    • Intended Outcomes: This is really what the event planner is buying. He or she is not buying the content per se, but the impact the content will have on the audience. I explain exactly what audience members will get as a result of my presentation.
    • Topic Authority: This section is intended to answer the question, “Why are you qualified to speak on this topic?” I list the relevant points from my resume that apply to this topic.
  7. Create a sales page for each product. I always create a landing page for each product. (Here’s one for my Platform book and another one for my e-books.) Why should a speech be any different?

    A landing page is something that my booking agents at Premiere Speakers Bureau can use when talking with event planners. It is also something I can use when people ask for the details related to a specific speech. I often refer to it in my pre-event phone call with the sponsor.

    I describe the components of effective landing pages in my book, Platform (see Chapter 30). I created a landing page for each speech, using those guidelines. Here are the six finished landing pages:

    I didn’t include some elements like the offer, because these are typically handled by my booking agents over the phone.

If you are a public speaker—or want to become one—this might provide some ideas for you to make your “product” more tangible. If you are not a public speaker but are in the business of selling intangible property, perhaps this will provide an example that will inspire you in your particular field.

If you want to find out more about booking me for your special event, you can check out my full speaking page.

Question: How can you make your intellectual property or service more tangible to your prospects? You can leave a comment by clicking here.