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Working with Speakers Bureaus by Cathleen Fillmore


Working with Bureaus By Cathleen Fillmore

Getting the attention of a reputable speaker’s bureau is a burning issue for a lot of speakers who are already getting bookings but would like to extend their reach. And that’s exactly one of the main reasons you want bureaus to be part of your marketing strategy.

If you’re getting all the bookings you can handle, you don’t need a bureau. But if you’re not – and if the speaker’s bureau can put you in front of groups that you would never have encountered on your own – then you’ve just lucked into a mutually beneficial relationship.

And you want to nurture it!

First, you need to have a solid track record as a highly professional speaker. You also need a well-designed promo page that’s bureau friendly and by that I mean, a page with the bureau’s contact information on it, not yours. Bureaus are not in business to promote you but to promote their own brand. Being sensitive to this from the start is a big plus.

You also need to be at a certain fee level since bureaus work on a commission basis. You don’t want to pay commission unless you’re earning a decent speaking fee and neither will bureaus bother with all the work involved in negotiating the contract and the paperwork for a little bit of money. It’s got to be a winning proposition for everyone.

And why do you need a bureau? Well, as I said, to get in front of groups you don’t know about and also because a bureau’s reputation depends on recommending the right speaker for the job.

You, for example, might say, when asked, that you’d be a perfect fit for a speech on customer service when in fact, you’re much more of an inspirational speaker who doesn’t specialize in that field at all.

Bureaus have to be much more careful in making sure they recommend the right speaker for the right organization and theme.

That’s why many conference organizers are only comfortable by booking through a bureau. They know the bureau is more objective than any particular speaker is. Another reason they like bureaus is that bureaus help them sort and sift through all the information on speakers out there which can be overwhelming.

If you’re about to be listed with a bureau, find out how much commission they take, when they take it, (usually they take full commission from the 50% deposit they request upfront) and whether there are any other costs involved (by the bureau). You can never be sure until you ask. Some bureaus charge for listing you.

If they don’t return your calls, be patient and try again in a few months. They get so many requests, it’s hard to answer them all.

When you do get listed with a bureau, nurture the relationship by being a pleasure to work with. Make sure you turn any leads that ensue from that engagement over to the bureau and you may well live happily ever after!

Cathleen Fillmore is a bureau owner and marketing consultant to speakers who want to make more money doing what they love. She welcomes your questions directed to and you can sign up for her info-packed newsletter at

#CathleenFillmore #ProfessionalSpeaker #speakersbureau

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