How many times have you clambered onto an elephant in a Thai river and had a sudden urge to pretend you were an American?
Well, it happened to me – once. I’d just landed at the steamy airport and been shoved into – not a shiny limo as expected – but a crowded, decaying bus.
A hasty, whispered question to the local host revealed that the other passengers would be in my audience the following day, an audience anticipating an illuminating address from US finance guru, Dr George Connor, and no contact whatsoever with an Aussie corporate comedian called Graeme Bowman.
Armed with this information, I sat by myself, very still and quiet, trying to look like a window fitting. A few minutes to the hotel, I thought, then I could slink away undetected.
But our friendly host had other ideas – let’s visit a few tourist spots along the way, including the popular ‘elephant-up-the-creek’ ride. And so, inevitably, I found myself sitting next to a fellow passenger on the back of an Asian aquatic pachyderm, chatting about the long, draining flight from LA, and the price of fish in Boston. Such is the life of a hoax speaker.
This is not my first on-the-job encounter with elephants. Sometimes a client asks me to help them deal with the ‘elephant in the room’ – or the ‘skeleton in the closet’. It’s often easier for an organisation to raise a difficult issue via an external speaker/MC/facilitator, especially if it’s encased in a quirky, humorous concept like a hoax.
I make a living turning ho-hum into ha-ha at conferences, product launches, VIP client events and awards dinners. An unusual business perhaps, bit with many of the same challenges you face: get the work, do the work, cope with the GFC.
A big part of my marketing strategy has been built around the maxim, ‘influence those who influence others’. That’s why, over the years, I’ve painstakingly developed good relationships with agents, speakers bureaus and professional conference and event organisers – their influence is enormous. Who are the influencers you should be targetting?
I also work at keeping my name out there in cyberspace (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, podcasts, Google Adwords) so that when a potential client is ready to buy, there’s a fair chance they’ll stumble across my profile. It’s all about finding good ways to attract attention.
Speaking of good ways to attract attention, a few days ago we all marvelled at the birth of an elephant that experts thought had already died. This resilient baby – very much alive – pulled off an amazing ‘hoax’. Bravo!
But this feat didn’t surprise me at all. After all, hoaxes and elephants sometimes go together. Trust me.
Graeme Bowman, Corporate Comedian, MC and Hoax Speaker