Last spring I hit the road to promote The Visual Organization for my first ever book tour in San Francisco. Because I’m no Lena Dunham (not that I’m complaining, mind you), I funded the tour on my own nickel. I figured that the juice was worth the squeeze.
I was right.
Over the course of four days, I spoke at renowned organizations such as eBay, Netflix, Autodesk, Platfora, and others. By and large, the tour was a success. The hosting companies and attendees gave me excellent feedback. For my part, I accomplished my goals: I generated awareness for the book, met some great people, and gave nine recorded talks, most of which wound up on this site.
All in all, I learned a great deal. Although I wouldn’t change a thing, I did make a few mental notes on potential tweaks if I repeated the process on a future book.
Well, that future book is coming soon—March 16, 2015, to be precise. I’m keeping the general process the same (more on that below). This time, though, I am actively seeking an official sponsor for the tour.
I’ve put together the following FAQ that should answer most queries.
What’s the book about?
In short, it’s about fixing business communication via simpler language and collaborative technologies. (For more, see the book main page and related posts.) For those of you who prefer a visual, here’s the trailer:
Who benefits from the sponsorship?
I like to think that everybody wins. Follow my logic here:
- Sponsor: Benefits from having a professional speaker (me) talk about the importance of moving away from e-mail as the default communications tool. Think of it as an “unsales” pitch. I will be starting a conversation that may induce future sales and referrals. Note, though, that I won’t be espousing the benefits of any particular application.
- Attendees at sponsor clients and prospective clients—aka, the hosting organizations: Get to listen to a talk that may very well change the way that they communicate while on the clock and make them more productive. Oh, and many attendees will receive free books.
- Me: There are two primary benefits. Aside from helping defray the travel costs, the sponsor’s existing relationships will make it easier for me to schedule the talks.
Who is the ideal sponsor?
Message Not Received rails against the twin scourges of effective business communication: jargon and excessive e-mail. I can’t imagine that there are too many wealthy grammarians that want to serve as my benefactor. To that end, the ideal sponsor sells collaborative technologies. Companies like IBM, Facebook, Google, Jive, Asana, Slack, Todoist, 37signals, HipChat, Smartsheet, Trello, Microsoft/Yammer, and others come to mind. (In case you’re wondering, each of these companies—and others—is positively referenced in the book.)
Would you work with more than one sponsor?
Sure, if there’s demand for it.
What if our company isn’t “featured” in the book? In other words, is Message Not Received vendor-agnostic?
Yes, very much so. All of my books are about ideas, not specific products. Writing about particular features makes little sense since things change so quickly these days.
All of my books are about ideas, not specific products.
Full Disclosure: In the case of Message Not Received, chapter eight contains three case studies on companies that have adopted collaborative technologies, one of which is homegrown. Of course, I name those companies and the wares they’re currently employing. Throughout the book, though, I take great pains to promote the general benefits of these tools, not the specific features of any one company’s products and/or services.
OK. I’m still reading. What dates do you have in mind?
The book is scheduled to be released in mid-March of 2015. I would like the tour to take place around that time.
What cities do you have in mind?
I would prefer to hit one or two cities over four to five days. Traveling across the country will only run up costs and increase the chances of delays and missed events. I’m thinking about New York and Boston, but I’m flexible. I’ll go to where there’s the greatest demand.
When would you like to lock the sponsor(s) down?
By mid-February would be nice.
When would you like to lock the individual speaking dates down?
By early March at the absolute latest.
Who will schedule the individual speaking dates?
I’m happy to take the lead after the sponsor has identified which of its existing and prospective clients are interested and the appropriate contact. I certainly don’t want to make cold calls and introduce myself to strangers.
Will you manage the scheduling process over e-mail?
Inasmuch as I criticize the overuse of e-mail in the book, it would be hypocritical of me to do so.
Are you going to pitch our existing and prospective clients?
Not at all. I’m there to educate, not to sell.
What if a few of our our existing and prospective clients want to remain anonymous?
Fair point. I’ll sign an NDA. I’ll happy post the video without attribution to the hosting organization. If a single video or two never sees the light of day, that’s fine. My goal is to get as many videos on my site as possible, though.
How long are they?
About 45 minutes, plus 15 minutes of Q&A. Ideally the talks will take place over breakfast or lunch. That way, we can maximize attendance.
Is each talk customized to the specific audience?
No. I won’t be developing a customized presentation for each talk. Each will be based upon the book. By way of background, I typically develop a few talks on my books, kind of like my own “A” and “B” sets. There’s plenty of material to support different versions. Trust me: I like to refine and improve my talks.
After the talks, I will gladly answer questions for as long as you like and I can (hinging on where I need to be next).
What kind of equipment do you need?
A projector and a decent A/V system. I’ll use my own computer.
Are you providing your own videographer?
No. I’d like the hosting company or sponsor to provide one, or at least someone who knows how to work the equipment. I don’t suspect that this will be a problem.
If our company sponsors you, can we have final cut over your slides and content?
This is a bit delicate. Let me say this. I’ll happily share my slides with the sponsor well ahead of time. I won’t parrot marketing copy, though. I value my professional credibility too much. If your company’s flagship product competes with GoogleDocs, I certainly won’t spend ten minutes espousing its virtues. I’m not a complete idiot.
I’m not a complete idiot.
Remember: I’m talking about ideas more than features.
Can the sponsor(s) use the videos of the talks on their sites and social media channels?
Absolutely. Put them wherever you like. I retain the right to post the talks on this site and my own social media channels.
Are you charging for the talks?
No, but please do read the next question.
Books and Money Matters
So, other than covering reasonable travel expenses, are there additional costs?
Yes. I am asking the sponsor to purchase a fair number of physical copies of the book (at least 20) at a discounted price from the publisher, Wiley (approximately $17.50/copy + shipping, although we might be able to swing a slightly lower price). I don’t control the price and, in case you’re wondering, Message Not Received is hardcover book containing roughly 275 pages.
Who will arrange for the purchase of discounted books?
I can facilitate that through my publisher, Wiley.
What about e-books?
I can inquire about that if you like, but I’d prefer to give away physical copies.
Will you sign copies of the books before or after you speak?
Of course, time permitting.
Can the sponsor put reasonably-sized company stickers on the cover or inside of the book?
Sure. I’ve accommodated these requests before.
If you’re interested in sponsoring the tour or know a company that might, then please connect here.