I’m James Taylor, and you’re listening to the SpeakersU Podcast, a show for aspiring and professional speakers. This episode is with my co-host, Maria Franzoni. Enjoy the episode.
Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript
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So what we got no, we got happening this week.
Maria Franzoni 0:15
You know, it’s all about the consumer. It’s all about the consumer, all about the market, all about trends. And we’ve got two brilliant experts who are going to help us to unravel what is going on. And it’s lovely. We’re both together in our space. Again, I’m from one side of the corridor to the other side of the corridor. All great fun, right. Fantastic. Fantastic.
James Taylor 0:33
Good. So let’s get straight into it. Because we’ve
Maria Franzoni 0:38
got, let’s go for it. Let’s go for Okay, so let’s cover witnesses packed. Go for it. Absolutely. So
James Taylor 0:43
our first guest today is Michael Solomon. So Michael wrote the book on understanding consumers. Literally, he wrote the book and hundreds of 1000s of business students have learned about marketing from his books, including consumer behavior, buying, having and being the most widely used book on that subject in the world. Now, Michael is often brought in to provide briefings to global executive teams, who want significant increases in their bottom line and who understand that’s accomplished by a deeper connection with their customers. Michael’s mantra is we don’t buy products because of what they do. We buy them because of what they mean. he advises global clients in leading industries such as apparel and footwear, financial services, and e commerce, retailing sports and transportation on marketing strategies. To make them more consumer centric. He is frequently quoted in major media outlets, such as the New York Times, USA Today, ad week and time, please welcome to this weekend events. Michael Solomon. Hello, there. Hello, everyone. I’m not British, but I am on time. Mike is a great pleasure to be great to have you with us today as well. So you’re an expert in consumer behavior. I’m interested what assumptions do many organizations have that may be no longer be true when it comes to thinking about consumer behavior?
Michael Solomon 2:10
Well, they have a lot of outdated assumptions that are, you know, that are probably based on the way that we decided to do marketing back in the 40s 50s. And 60s, in the last century, that’s how long ago it was. And I think the biggest mistake that they make is under estimating the the proactivity of their customers, that is, their customers are no longer just these passive couch potatoes that are waiting to get the word from on high from, from the corporations, they’re much more interested in becoming involved in, in all kinds of ways in the marketing process. And so, you know, I think to sum it up, it’s it really is a shift, it’s just one little word. And we go from marketing, to customers, to marketing with customers. And if you can just make that little shift. It’s an enormously different perspective, that, frankly, a lot of companies, there are some great ones that are doing it, but many of them have not figured that out yet.
James Taylor 3:10
So what you can talk about is almost like a co-creation of marketing and co-creation of ideas with the customer.
Michael Solomon 3:16
Absolutely, you know, the customer is your best resource. Your second best, by the way is your own employees that we rarely ask. But your you know, your customers are on the ground, they’re in the trenches and and if they are devoted to your brand, or to your product category, they are very interested in working with you to come up with ideas for new product designs, or maybe tweaking existing designs, participating in the creation of the messaging that goes around that. And just basically, you know, reaching into the channel and Mmm, wanting to really make a personal connection to the companies that they’re giving their money to. That’s the key today, making that personal connection.
Maria Franzoni 4:02
That you know, that’s so true. And I have so many suggestions for the companies that I buy from, I hope they’ll listen to me, I don’t know if they will. But I’m Michael, when we were speaking the other day, we were talking about the fact that the pandemic has accelerated a lot of change. So the changes that were already happening have sort of happened much faster. What are you seeing in terms of changes in work, and play? And sort of, you know, office versus home? Yeah, we
Michael Solomon 4:29
you know, we’d love to set up these convenient dichotomies. And then think that we’ve explained the world you know, so we have producers versus consumers, we have online versus offline. We even have male versus female. And many of these distinctions really are going away, largely due to technology, but not just technology. And one of those is the way I was saying, the way people interact with companies and this certainly goes for events as well. I’m you know, You are both experts in this area, you know very well that we’re moving toward it more of a hybrid kind of scheme, where meetings in the future are not going to revert back to this, you know, I’m going away to a meeting. So I’m in a different environment for a week and don’t talk to me, you know, it’s going to be much more integrated. And, and I think that that is going to create some great opportunities. So even though we have a lot of zoom fatigue, right now, if you’re able to, for example, when you’re planning an event, to the extent that in the same way that any kind of retailer needs to do this, as well, bricks and mortar retailer, you need to be bringing in a lot more of that technology, and a lot more of that online kind of kind of content, in order to meet the expectations of your customers who are spending hours and hours every day, online. And it’s you know, and obviously, the younger we are, the more time we spend online. So you know, the average young person today in the UK or in the US is spending about 11 hours a day, 11 hours a day looking at a screen. And so you can’t expect that they’re suddenly going to, you know, go off to a meeting in Las Vegas and not look at their screens for three days. So again, we’re seeing in many of these areas that we look at consumer behavior. As you said, the pandemic didn’t cause the changes, but it’s putting them in, it’s accelerating them to a large degree. So, for example, our acceptance of automation at retail, or, you know, checking out contactless Checkout, and that kind of thing, where, or, you know, just just basically how we think about ourselves in our identities being both online and offline. And many people, by the way, have very vigorous online social lives. You know, I mean, we forget about zoom in the pandemic, even before that happened. many millions of people around the world are logging huge amounts of time you’re learning about, they’re learning about new brands, to learning about new fashion designers, and on and on by engaging with all of these virtual worlds that are out there. And you know, and even as you look at platforms like Facebook, and you see some of the acquisitions that they’re making, like when Facebook bought the Oculus, virtual reality headset, you know, company, clearly what they’re seeing is down the road, we’re going to be living in a much more integrated virtual reality kind of experience.
Maria Franzoni 7:38
That’s my science fiction, isn’t it? It used to be but science fact today? Yeah, it’s science fact. Very good. I’m gonna quote you on that. Yeah.
James Taylor 7:48
I know, you work with a lot of fashion and apparel companies as your clients. You mentioned Oculus there. You know, this idea of augmented reality. And I wonder what what changes are you seeing, especially when it relates to fashion and apparel just now? Well,
Changes In The Fashion Industry
Michael Solomon 8:04
it’s no surprise that this has not been a very good year for the fashion industry, to say the least probably certainly one of the hardest hit verticals. But you know, like everything else, it’s, it’s really an evolutionary process. And some companies Unfortunately, many have folded because it’s so bad, as you both know, but the companies that are going to survive are going to come out stronger than ever, because what’s going to first of all, I think that, that when we finally get rid of this, of this virus stuff, you know, we all get vaccinated, the pent up demand for these products is going to go through the roof. And you know, I’m predicting, maybe I’m wrong, what do I know, but I’m predicting a return to elegance, maybe in 2022, where all of us who have been staring woefully at our closets, or maybe our cosmetics table or whatever it is for the last year, you know, remembering when we used to wear this stuff, we’re gonna want to go out and do it with a vengeance. Now some of us are going to be happy living in sweatpants. But I think it’s going to be much more bifurcated. We’re going to spend we’re going to be buying a lot more comfort stuff like athleisure but there’s also going to be a sizable segment of the population that is also going to enrich their if you will, their in person lives. So the fashion You know, one of the big changes is that people are more focused than ever on sustainability and they’d have more time to think about that during lockdown you know, what do I really need Do I really need that extra jumper or what have you? Aren’t you proud of me? I said jumper instead of sweater. sweater to the jumper for my son was teaching at the University of Manchester pick that one up. But But yeah, so so you know the whole movement toward fast fashion, I think is it’s like turning a battleship so it’s not going to change overnight but fast fashion is all about. Let’s buy a lot of stuff. Very quickly, and it’s poor quality. But who cares, because I’m going to wear it once or twice for my Instagram photos, and then I need to throw it away and get something else and I, we’re seeing a return to, I think, return to elegance or return to quality, or return to what some people are calling investment dressing where, you know, to pick a round number, you know, instead of spending 100 pounds, I said pounds there, instead of spending 100 100 pounds. Or rather, instead of spending 10 pounds on 10 different items that are going to go into the into the trash heap very quickly. I’ll spend 100 pounds on one thing that I’ll have for a while and I’ll know its heritage, I’ll know that it’s quality, I know that it’s sustainable in some way. So that’s a real sea change in the fashion industry.
James Taylor 10:51
So Maria, how you feeling about that about it? Moving back to the age of elegance you will be coming on the show now should I be like all those all BBC 1930s things I’m going to wear a dinner suit before I cover screen.
Maria Franzoni 11:03
There’s a couple of challenges for me in this age of elegance. First of all, I really need to get to see my hairdresser before I can think about being elegant. And secondly, none of my clothes fit me anymore. I’ve put on weight. So I’ve got to lose the corona stone as we call it here. Yeah, you’re going like this. You’re only seeing me from this part. It’s all down below. Anyway. So so we’ve got some questions as well, from our our viewers, which we’ll come back to so stay with us, because we’ve got a couple that I’d like to ask. So first of all, I want to ask you a marketing question, Michael, because we’ve always been encouraged to segment our audiences and talk to our audiences, as if they’re all you know that they have an avatar or we talk to them in a certain way. Is that still valid today? Is that still relevant?
Michael Solomon 11:51
Well, I you know, I don’t think that it is and in a lot of cases. And my, I just published a book called The new chameleons, which which partly talks about really the end of mass market segmentation, because, because in today’s world, and again, with the technology we have with all of the ethical and privacy issues that are important there, we know what we know where everybody is going, you know, at least on online, hopefully not offline, but. But really, it makes a lot more sense to talk about markets of one and, and the reason I call I refer to new chameleons is that today, consumers are like chameleons that change their colors very rapidly as they acclimate to different environments. And, and we do the same thing, we’re not the same person. You know, during the day, as we are, you know, in different situations, on the job with our loved ones at a party, with our parents, whatever the situation is, we our identities are different. And so, you know, you mentioned this, this focus on an avatar and and to an extent, that’s very helpful. And you know, and I would, I would urge listeners who aren’t doing that for their businesses to create a, an ideal, or a prototype of their ideal customer. But when you do that, don’t get set, let that get set in stone, because remember, each of your customers is multiple people. And so I would say, don’t create an avatar, create avatars plural, because in many cases, we find that, you know, the better way to to segment today is based on for example, usage occasion, rather than on you know, people use brand A versus brand B. And so again, back in the 60s and 70s and 80s. Well, maybe especially in the 60s, you know, we had you had BBC One and two, maybe and you’re in the States, we had a few TV networks. And so we had a broadcasting model of marketing, and that made a lot of sense. But today, we have 1000s of channels, most of them have nothing on them, particularly but we have them. And it makes much more sense to talk about a narrow casting kind of environment, where each of us is much more proactively kind of reaching into the channel, identifying brands that help them to express their unique identity. Some of those are well known brands and some of those are unknown brands. And but each of us is creating what we call a pastiche of these brands. So we you and I might have some brands in common, but we have other brands that are quite different. Because each of us is on kind of a different project, if you will, in terms of defining who we want to be in this crazy ever changing society.
Maria Franzoni 14:40
I do like that I do like the market of one. I want to be a market of one. I don’t want to be treated like anybody else. I want to be treated like an individual to feel the love. And the other thing you’re very passionate about is the relationship between human and AI. What are your thoughts of the role of AI will AI take over from the human experience?
AI Take Over
Michael Solomon 14:59
Well, you Won’t take over. But it’s going to continue to be very important. You know, this is another one of these false dichotomies that used to make sense, we used to say, Man or woman versus machine. But today that that makes no sense whatsoever, because so many millions of us literally have machines inside our bodies, or on our bodies. We have robots, we have computers, you know, whether whether it’s a Fitbit or a pacemaker, or an artificial hip, or what have you. There’s so many different devices, that where we are almost like cyborgs today, in other words, part human part machine. And so what we’re seeing is when when those humans that we call customers interact with companies, increasingly, they’re interacting with AI. And they may or may not know that, and some research has shown that people increasingly are getting are unsure about who is at the other end, let’s say you’re at a cost talking to a call center. Is that a bot on the other end? Or is that a real person? Now Now, having said that, we have a long way to go before robots totally replace salespeople and marketers, although you may know that a lot of marketing jobs are being replaced by automation, for example, buying ads, and so on, that can be automated very easily. But, but really, we have to think about what it is that makes a successful salesperson, human salesperson. And we have to distill that secret sauce and transfer it to API’s, before they can be truly successful. And some basic question, you know, when you when you look at research has been done in the sales area, you know, what makes us an effective salesperson, there’s tons of research on this. And it can be something as basic, as you know, is this should the salesperson be, let’s say, male or female, just as as a quick example, and in some situations, men are more persuasive, and others women are more persuasive. But what strikes me is when I see a lot of the AI functionality that’s being created, companies aren’t thinking about these things. They’re just, you know, they’re creating a cute little robot icon or something, but they’re not thinking about the characteristics that we look to when we’re interacting with a company or with a representative of that company. What are the characteristics that that build credibility that build trust? You know, and the two basic dimensions that we use to determine this are one competence and two warmth, emotional warmth? So one is more cognitive and one is more emotional? And why would you expect a machine to be persuasive if it doesn’t have warmth or competence when you don’t expect that of a salesperson, so it’s definitely early days. But you know, for if nothing else, the cost savings, you know, unfortunately, a lot of jobs being displaced. But marketers are going to continue down this road until even the customers or robots I think,
Maria Franzoni 18:05
some fun sometimes when I have a call, and I know it’s an automated call or an AI, and I’ll often ask them, are you human? And literally, the line goes, because they don’t know how to answer that. Anyway, we’ve got some questions here. So let’s see if I can do them justice. So Lawrence, someone says, What is the best transferable tip from an in person consumer experience to a digital experience? And vice versa? Could it be making consumers feel valued, or ensuring brand values are consistent? irrespective of channel, for example?
Michael Solomon 18:38
Well, that’s that’s a great question. And I, you know, I think I would come back to this idea of personalization. So as those of us who are speakers know, and you you both know very well, one of the one of the drawbacks one of the drawbacks of you know, of a virtual conferences that you can’t read, you can’t read your audience. And so you can’t make adjustments as you’re going or you’re talking to a screen. And, and if you’re able to read your audience, if you’re if you’re an accomplished speaker, and you pick up some negative vibes, for example, in the audience, you’re able to adjust to that, you’re able to make a midterm course correction. And in so doing, you’re personalizing the presentation, because maybe you’re going down, you know, a trajectory that you weren’t planning to go. But the audience is giving you feedback that tells you, you should go there. So as we transfer to a virtual experience, again, we need to build in ways for the audience to register feedback in a much more efficient way. Almost like giving them virtual vegetables to throw at us if we’re bad on stage. Have a virtual tomato or something but, but what that means is that you know, you should be able to use some of this AI technology to customize even events when you think about the program when you think about the breakout sessions and So on, give the attendees much more of a voice in that, and you’re able and the event organizers I think also will be able to make mid course corrections.
James Taylor 20:11
I remember having a conversation with a press release from Cornell University, who specialize in creating mentioned Fitbit, you know, those kind of apps that we wear. And she was she was, it was interesting because she was working in the medical field. So she was saying that these apps, they can actually recognize for machine learning less if someone’s bipolar, for example, when they have their up peaks in their down peaks, and it can automatically inform their medical doctor or their surgeon or you know, the GP. Okay, you might want to make an intervention here with this person. And it was interesting, because she, we were having a conversation about using this technology at live events, where the audience all have their devices on and whether there’s their little bands that they have to get them in the tickets to get them in there. could could that be sending the organizers information about heart rate, sweat level excitement? And as a speaker, when you’re on stage? Would you want some visual representation of that in the moment? Would you want to be getting a sense of I mean, you can look at people’s eyes. But you mentioned if you’re doing a virtual one, it would actually be quite useful to been getting like a traffic light system. Am I losing people here? Is the attention span going in some way?
Michael Solomon 21:21
Well, yeah. And we, you know, we use that kind of feedback sometimes in educational settings if the students aren’t following. Yeah, Walmart has a has a has a, I think you call it a trolley, a grocery cart now, where when you grip it, it will pick up if someone’s about to have a cardiac incident in the store, it will tell them and so that kind of app, it’s called an effective computing and what it means is getting that kind of emotional feedback. And, you know, I think as a speaker, I’d love to have it if all the lights are green, if they’re all red eyes. I’m not sure what’s going on. But you know, and and, and already marketers use this kind of feedback to test advertising as well, James, so they’ll have people watching an ad, they’ve been doing this for years, and, and you’ll see emotion spike or go down and they’ll know which parts of the ad are effective. So yeah, I think like it or not, we’re going to have a lot, maybe a lot of mood rings or mood clothing that changes with our moods in the audience when we get back to live events.
James Taylor 22:20
Very cool. Maria, do we have any other questions from the audience? Just now,
Maria Franzoni 22:24
we’ve got some lovely comments from Tom Morley. And he’s saying that he can read people better online because he thinks they’re all in the front row because he can see them all you see which is which is if you’ve got a big enough screen, you’re absolutely right. And yeah, so he’s, he’s finding the discussion. Very interesting. So Tom, thank you very much, one of our regular participants. Fantastic, super hot. So I think we’ve run out of time for you actually, Michael, that’s amazing.
James Taylor 22:49
Michael, what there’s no where’s the best place for people to go so they can learn more about you. Mitch got the new book and your speaking programs, the other things you’ve got going on? Wish Indigo? Sure,
Michael Solomon 22:58
thank you. Just go to Michael Solomon, calm my website. There’s lots of great free resources there and all that as well as information about my book, which is available on Amazon or anywhere else, the new chameleons. So, and thanks so much for having me on.
James Taylor 23:15
Fantastic. Green. If I had a green light, I’d hold it up. Right. Well, thank you, Michael. Thank you so much for coming. smartos Okay, okay. Thank
Michael Solomon 23:25
you. Thank you. So absolutely, this
Maria Franzoni 23:28
may be ignorant like it when you’re big.
James Taylor 23:30
This may be a good time to just to thank our sponsors today, London speaker Bureau, London speaker Bureau is a global resource for corporations and governments, for keynote speakers for executive learning master classes, and boardroom advisors representing some of the most influential business leaders and politicians in the world. You can find help on choosing a speaker for your next virtual or in person or hybrid event by going to London speaker bureau.com. So our next guest exciting. We have another guest. So let me tell you, you know, Deborah, Deborah Gardner, this is someone I’ve known for a little while fascinating woman. But regardless of your job description in the speaking profession, none of us are immune to the challenges that we face every day, especially when working with decision makers, which is the reason I’m so excited for us to introduce our guest now. Deborah Gardner Deborah has a lifetime of experience being a marine brat and Olympic Trials swimmer now a US masters from it to one of the first female broadcasters for CBS Sports. Deborah is very well known in the meetings industry as the naked negotiator got it right making negotiator, her longtime experience. Culture of being a hospitality hotel sales veteran, helping hundreds of decision makers plan their meetings and events now thriving on the speaking side of the fence. Their first goal is to help improve the gap. We decision makers and speakers work together. So please welcome to this weekend events there, gardener.
Maria Franzoni 25:07
Hi, everyone, thank you for having me. Good to have you. Again, let me do my switch, they always it never works.
James Taylor 25:14
Therefore lovely, lovely to have a lovely co hubby kind of smiling face again. So we’re gonna get straight into it because you are a font of knowledge when it comes to all things, events and hospitality as well. So tell us by the numbers, just how hard has this industry been hit during the panel?
Hospitality Industry And The Pandemic
Deborah Gardner 25:31
Oh, my gosh, I tell you, we all are very familiar with how hard definitely, but when you put the numbers to, to the tablet, you really can see the difference in the hospitality industry, which meetings and events is categorized underneath. compared to any other industry out there. It’s just been completely devastating. And for here in the US, you know, the hospitality industry currently accounts for about 40% of all US unemployment, it’s still that devastating. And I know, in the UK, you know you have you know, we always geared toward the hotel side of things. And so when I watched the UK stats and data, I just account around the you know, the 45,000, hotels, the 730 rooms that are there. And here we are today at only 50 to 52.2% occupancy. So it does say a lot that is going on. And I guess you know, even the hotels majority, the hotels are not going to be opening up for the next six weeks in the UK area. But it’s better than where we were a year ago, because in the UK just a year ago, the occupancy was about 37%, when really the average is 79%. So when you put all the numbers together the data and statistics, it’s astonishing to see what has happened here. And yet. On the other flip side of that the meetings industry and the events industry. Even though this is a weird time for everybody, this is pretty normal for us. We’ve been through this before, it’s not our first rodeo. I mean, we’ve been through 911, SARS, Ebola, I mean, all these other things that have been going on, but yet this one was definitely a beast, this one was completely weird, just completely weird. And it really has been devastating. And, and we’ll continue to do so the segments of each one of these areas, including the events, area, sectors of the hospitality industry really will not get back to the normal numbers until 2024 2025. It just takes longer.
James Taylor 27:42
And I think it’s a real shame as well because it’s also this industry that we’re part of events, hospitality, broadly. You see a lot of women, particularly being impacted by this. And also your younger the millennials as well that were just so much a part of this, of this industry, brings so much to the juice and the joy to this industry.
Deborah Gardner 28:03
Yeah, it’s something that the younger generation is not used to being involved in. But it definitely impacted them a lot thinking that they’re going to come out of, you know, college or, or meetings and event hospitality school and just, you know, go and gangbusters into this wonderful events industry that we all adore. But at the same time, I think they’re going to see a drastic change when things do come back around. As a matter of fact, when we do get back to, you know or get into the in-person events, we’re going to actually see, we’ll have six different generations in our audience. And that’s a lot of different personalities, a lot of different ways of dealing with our audience. So when Michael was talking about earlier, which a brilliant man bringing this to the attention of the buyers, and the consumer’s shift of how they’re going to buy, it’s going to be really interesting when we’re having going to have to deal with six different generations at once.
James Taylor 29:09
Wow, wow. That’s, that’s pretty exciting and a little bit intimidating. Maria, are you excited about this idea? six different generations now for your audiences?
Maria Franzoni 29:23
Well, I don’t know. Because I, you know, some generations I feel completely distanced from because I don’t really mix with others so I need to learn I think we need to learn much more from the younger generations. Tell me, Deborah, what decisions are our leaders and decision-makers facing with you’re faced with right now? What are they having to think about?
What Decisions Leaders Are Facing Now.
Deborah Gardner 29:41
Well, you know, it’s kind of interesting because we’re trying to stay up to par with them and what they’re feeling and what they’re going through because there’s so many things that have been in the maze industry, first of all, it’s not something that they actually planned even though they experienced planning. This is not something that they plan. So I believe But what they’re doing right now is feeling the stress, you’re really feeling stressed. You know, they were a lot of hats when it comes to event planning. But now there’s additional hats that that are they’re having to be involved with. And so I, I know, they’re very, very stressed. As matter of fact, there’s been some reports that Edelman intelligence As a matter of fact, is one of the reports in the past that have claimed that the meetings and events industry are one of the top five most stressful positions that you can encounter in our careers. The number one was the military. Number two was fighter fighters. Number three was airline pilot pilots. And number four was police officers. And number five, are meeting and event professionals. So that is not changing at all. But we’re waiting for the new report, maybe it’s even moved up to probably number one who knows. But we know that stress is one of them. The other one too is that right now, they are dealing with site selection a lot, you’ll see some of the speaking industry and the speaker bureaus are starting to see some in-person meetings. Well, a lot of those are from the postponements of years before, it’s not really new meetings, it’s just they’re trying to make up some in-person time if that’s even allowed. But site selection is one of the ones that they’re they’re dealing with in order to get new meetings in. For example, back in 20 22,005, a lot of investors have stopped making or building ballrooms in hotels. And I get that because I come from the hospitality hotel sales sector. And when we would sell to a group coming to our hotel, we’d always give the ballroom away, revenue-free. And that just didn’t help us, you know, make the money that we needed to it was all within the rooms. And so investors are seeing that. And so they’re not building ballrooms anymore. So what does that do that makes a lot of groups want to go to other venues, especially sports arena, arenas, concert halls, and things like that, which actually pushes the larger meetings to other venues as well. So we’re actually seeing a compression of meeting space, trying to figure that out. And now on top of it, you’ve got COVID going on, which means we have to be six feet apart, which takes up even more space. So what they’re doing right now, and why we’re not seeing why our phone’s not ringing off the hook to come and present at one of the groups is because they’re looking for site selection right now. And construction is really, really the hard part about it. That, you know, they need to try to workaround. So between stress and trying to find that site selection, they’re going through a lot right now.
Maria Franzoni 32:55
I’m horrified to hear that it’s so stressful that it’s number five, and it’s just absolutely incredible, which makes things a lot,
Deborah Gardner 33:03
which makes us in our position, where Yeah, you’re totally right, Maria, because what we need to do as speakers and even the speaker bureaus is trying to find ways to de-stress their, their process, the planning process has changed so much, now that we need to find ways to figure out how to help them. And of course, it’s all about getting back to the basics, like, you know, asking the right questions and, and being proactive. When you know, when we have that conversation with them, instead of waiting for them to want to collect our one-sheets, we should be sending it so they can file it away. Things like that. But we have to help them de-stress while working with us.
James Taylor 33:46
So that’s a useful segue into I guess, what we as speakers need to be doing in preparing for this as we can move into this hopefully post-pandemic World War advice would you then be given to speakers maybe listening watching this just now in terms of what we can do to really develop the relationships with those meeting and events, industries, professionals, and make life easier? De-stress? Oh, gosh, the
Deborah Gardner 34:12
I just mentioned the basic ones that we can do. But the major ones, um, I’ve got two good ones here. One is that we have to really know our role. And I know when I was on your show about this time last year, James, I talked about that there were actually four bosses that speakers and speaker bureaus have to deal with the first one are stakeholders. The second one is meeting event professionals which includes the committees that could be involved with decision making. The third one our sponsor’s sponsor started to move into this picture. And then the fourth one was the audience. The audience is starting to see us around at other events. So that they can easily help influence a decision like that. Well, today, James and Maria, I want you to know that there is a fifth boss that we have to deal with. And that is producers, event producers, you know, speakers, I’ve watched them build this whole virtual office and studio. in their home, I’ve seen it, we’ve all talked about the equipment that needed some speakers turned their entire house into a studio, having their kids, which is cute, having their kids monitor the cameras and things like that, well, that is not what meets event professionals want. They want to start leaning on the professionals that can provide virtual or hybrid events for them. And that is the production team. So our next boss is the production teams, which means we need to build our relationships with them because they’re the ones that are going to be hired by the decision-makers a lot earlier than we will be. So we have to start paying attention. Because in the past, I’ve heard production teams say, you know, well, speakers would just show up right before they go on stage, throw us the USB and say my PowerPoint slides on there, and then head to the stage that has to change, we can no longer treat production companies or teams, that way, we have to show a lot more respect, because they’re the ones that are going to start to influence the speakers. Let me give you an example. I was I just got a call from my production team that is heading up a summit, an international summit conference in April next month. And they’re looking for an MC locally here in Arizona, that can actually go to the production company’s studio and do a pre-recorded emcee job for them. That production key team I’ve had a relationship with in the past, and they thought of me, so they influence this company to hire me to do this locally here in Arizona. And that’s the other thing meeting and event professionals are going to have production teams even go out to where the speaker is. So because of this decision, I have actually picked up my virtual studio and put it back in an office because I’m mostly about face-to-face. So there’s no reason for me to have a studio if the production teams are the ones that are going to make this happen for them. Because they’re you know, a company’s reputation is on their line, if there is anything that goes on, on our part, as a speaker’s part, because we can say that we can push buttons, it’s not going to be good, not be good at all. So I really believe that we need to, you know, kind of shift our thought process our mindset, to say, Hey, we are not the experts, what they want us to pay attention to is the content, the content is going to become so powerful, that if we can get the content to work, they will, they will, they will provide everything else on the back end. So we have to start respecting what the meeting and event professionals want to do. Now this second one I was I was
James Taylor 38:27
gonna I was gonna say, I’m very worried now, the five bosses Maria, that sounds very mafia, like the five bosses of the events in the Gambino family.
Deborah Gardner 38:40
I know, well, that’s the responsibility that we’re going to have to, you know, it’s reality, in other words, but there’s a lot of people that can help influence us because a lot of people were involved in the decision making today. And again, with the planning process changing, we have to change as well. And here’s the thing, the meeting and event professionals are telling us that they are not looking forward to the hybrid experience. Because it’s two meetings in one, it’s two budgets in one, it’s two decisions in one, everything has been doubled for their, their process and their decision making. And yet, at the same time, you know, we might not quite in the hybrid world yet. But the funny thing is brands are starting to make some moves that are going to create experiences that almost make you not want to miss in-person events, meaning they are coming up with something beyond hybrids, just when we start getting involved in hybrids. They’re going to come up with the logical next phase, which is going to probably be the TV, you know where we turn on our TV at home. We’ll probably end up turning on the TV and seeing all the different conferences that we can attend. So things are going to be changing. And it’s going to affect the speaking industry, there’s no doubt. But the second one I wanted to really excitedly share with you is, one thing that they want us to do is to make sure that since we have the microphones, this is mostly in person that I’m talking about. When we have the microphone, we need to scan the light landscape of what, what it looks like out in the in our audiences. So what’s in the DNA of the meeting and event professionals today is safety and security. Bottom line, and since we’re the ones that are holding the microphone, and looking at the landscape, for in-person events, we need to make sure that we can see if anything actually happens. While we’re speaking, that I saw this happen. At the Biltmore in Scottsdale, I went there to actually support a speaker, a friend of mine. And when she was up on stage, I was in the front row cheering her on, all of a sudden, the fire alarm went off. And she froze, completely froze the meeting. And the meeting professional back in the room had to come up to the lectern and share with everyone what to do. So it caught her off guard, it’s going to catch all of us off guard. And so I think what we need to do is we need to be more prepared with safety security because they’re going to be involved in it completely. And I think it’ll really help us stand out. Among other speakers, if we knew more about safety and security. You know, the National Center for spectacular sports safety and security out of Mississippi handles a lot of safety and security guards when they go in and have their you know, they’re in their positions that big, huge sporting events, the Super Bowl, the National Soccer Leagues in the UK and everything, they actually had a report that actually applies to the meetings and events industry to they said if there was a fire or an active shooter that walked into a room 10% of most people will be very active, and they’ll help other people get to the exit 80% will sit there until someone says something 10% of people won’t even move when you tell them to do so. So as speakers, we have to know those statistics. But yet we can help by actually making sure that, that we that, that the planner or the event organizer understands that. Now what I do to really get the attention of my decision-makers is I actually let them know that I wear a piece of jewelry, here it is, I have a piece of jewelry, that actually all I have to do is tap the back of the little charm here. And it actually notifies five different entities that I want to let them know that something is happening where I’m at. And usually, that’s on stage, it can be it can, it has the number of the 911, it has the number of the meeting or event organizer because the majority of the time they’re not in the room. It could be my husband, it could be my dog, I mean, you can plug in any of those numbers you want. But I just let them know, hey if I see something happening from the stage, all I have to do is click the back of my charm on my necklace. And say these are the type of brands that are coming up with so many new gadgets and ways that we can help protect each other. But if you can’t do something like this, there are other things like letting the event organizer know that you actually have your CPR which you can even get online today.
James Taylor 44:00
But it is funny. I mean, it’s not safety and security. The thing I was always I think you introduced me to I think was Carol. Remember Carol’s second name, who’s a real specialist in this area of active shooters and all that world. And I remember talking to her about training about working with the security and because of my background in live events and music, I always make a beeline for the head of security because I’m just used to kind of doing it a lot of time we have a little conversation. And they’ll often point me in certain doors and things that need to go know about. But now, it’s not just that we’re now thinking about the COVID thing, and that is another threat. So Wow, it feels like getting on stage and actually speaking is the easiest part. Maria, what do you make of this?
Maria Franzoni 44:49
Well, I think it’s, it’s interesting because it’s not something that’s on my radar at all. And you know, I’d want to know a lot more about what the probability of that is and how How much we have to be aware of it? I think it’s a huge onus to put on a speaker. But I understand what you’re saying. It’s a horrible thing to think about that.
James Taylor 45:06
I really think for an emcee, if you’re the host or the emcee, that would really be a cop be a conversation, you’d be having a knowing. I like certain code words and things that that you might want to say just to alert people to do certain things they freaking people out. Right. I
Maria Franzoni 45:20
feel my necklace isn’t good enough anymore. But anyway, thank you so much. You’ve shared so many incredible, amazing, incredible insights. I’m going to re-listen to both Michael and Deborah’s responses because there was so much great stuff in there. Absolutely. No your time.
Deborah Gardner 45:39
I tell you, though, one thing that is I like for the speaking industry to remember is that we’re not in the speaking industry, we’re in the meetings industry. And that’s a mindset needs to shift. You know, Michael was talking about the behaviors, shifting the consumer behavior shifting, well, we as speakers need to shift our mindset as well. And the best way is to connect with the meetings industry, the best you can
James Taylor 46:05
defer. Before you go, I know you have your own show as well, hospitality. So can you just tell us about where people can go to find out about your show, and you’re speaking and the other things you’ve got going on just now?
Deborah Gardner 46:15
Oh, absolutely. Thank you. Um, if anybody wants to connect with me, it’s really easy. Just Deborah Gardner calm or they can email me, Deborah, at Deborah Gardner calm. But as far as the show hospitality today live is a weekly show that actually interviews people that are actually working in the industry, like event organizers to come on and give their perspective, opinion, voices, stories, and lessons. But the big thing that’s coming up is, and I think everybody should mark their calendar is Thursday, April 8, and that day is considered what is called g Mid Day, global meetings industry day where the meetings and event organizers actually celebrate that our industry and what better way than to place a call to your client is on that day. So what we’re going to do on the show is we’re going to have a full all-day, live broadcast with the leaders of the industry worldwide, all around the country, and all around the world. And so I encourage anybody to tune in on that day to get the latest and greatest in the event and the meetings organizers world.
James Taylor 47:27
Fantastic. Deborah, thank you so much for coming to the show today. Thank you for having me. I’m James Taylor, keynote speaker, and speaker business coach and this is the SpeakersU Podcast. If you enjoy listening to conversations that will help you launch and grow your speaking business fast new thought possible, then you’ve come to the right place. Each week we discuss marketing strategy, sales techniques, as well as ideas to increase the profitability of your speaking business and develop your craft. You’ll find show notes for today’s episode as well as free speaker business training at speakers u.com. This week’s episode is sponsored by speakers, you the online community for international speakers, speakers, you helped you launch grow, and monetize your speaking business faster than you thought possible. If you want to share your message as a highly paid speaker, then speakers will teach you how just go to speakers you.com to access their free speaker business training. I do remember doing a gig when once I’m not gonna say what the client was or what the country was. But I did get hostage training for it in the case of a hostage because it was just one of those types of places. So is I mean,
Maria Franzoni 48:35
I’m staying virtual.
James Taylor 48:36
Do you know that? You know, I remember getting training on some of this stuff before. And I was always told when it comes to life insurance for different things. The most dangerous part for a speaker traveling to go and do a gig somewhere is the journey from your house to the airport. Statistically, that’s the bit that’s going to be the most dangerous. So we have to put things in perspective. So let’s talk about more fun stuff to walk through the week till the week. What were your’re till the week, Maria?
Maria Franzoni 49:02
Well, now, I haven’t thought this through when I get to share this tool of the week. So obviously, I mean, we say we’re in the same office when not with this green screen is not really real. And one of the tools that I have found is this particular tool, which is heart probably see, right, you can’t see a green floormat is a gym mat. So that if you’re wanting to be full length, and you want to stand on the stage as well, you can put it on the floor. But this is so light, you could actually you know, stick them to your wall if you wanted to. If you want to you could have your slide, you know on the green screen have a normal screen and then when you put it up, you’d be able to see your notes when you or you could just disappear. So cool.
James Taylor 49:45
And you know that it’s got a secondary purpose as well. If you’re in I know a lot of people they do they’re actually this room’s a little bit like this is quite an echoey kind of room. So that would also act
Deborah Gardner 49:57
Maria Franzoni 49:58
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, it echoes me, Jane, because it’s so big look at how deep I know all this space that we’ve got.
James Taylor 50:08
Great. So format.
Maria Franzoni 50:11
Fantastic. And what is yours?
James Taylor 50:13
So mine is something you hang on the wall, again, similar to this and starting to get in person bookings again and starting to now think of countries I’m going to be traveling and speaking to in places I want to speak. And so my wife got this the other day. This is a map of the world to put up there. So we can start to think think about all the places that we haven’t spoken and haven’t worked in yet and thinking okay, 2022 weird. Where do you want to speak, get a map out, start putting some pins in, and then just start going online and finding out what are their conferences? What are the events because next year, there will be a lot of, as Deborah was saying, it’s going to be a lot of events going on?
Maria Franzoni 50:56
I think people are going to be desperate to get back into so they’re going to be dressing up beautifully and elegantly caught according to Michael. And although I actually think Deborah’s already elegant. And then they’re going to be desperate, desperate to get out. We might do so well. You’re very elegant to I’m going to have to raise my game. Okay. All right. Well, listen, James, thank you so much. We had a longer show today, but it was just packed with great stuff. Thank you, everybody for joining us. I better find the music and play us out.
James Taylor 51:23
What do you think sounds good. Take care everyone. You can subscribe to the SpeakersU Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts while you’re there. leave us a review. I really appreciate it. I’m James Taylor, and you’ve been listening to the SpeakersU Podcast.