Does your company or a brand association power your speaking business?

If so, you might be an “A-List Alternate” – a category of speaker with a connection to a well-known company.  For instance, you’re the head of artificial intelligence for Google or the creative director at Adobe.  

Wow!  Sounds impressive, right?  

But what happens when a former A-List Alternate tries to get gigs after they’ve moved on from a big brand position? 

That’s a question recently sent in by subscriber Deanne De Vries.  For years, Deanne was a popular corporate speaker as Agility’s SVP for Africa.  Now, she’s building her pipeline as just “Deanne De Vries” and finding it harder to win keynotes.

Often, something really tragic happens when you leave a brand – demand plummets. I call it the A-List Alternate Paradox.

The A-List Alternate Paradox:
Being a brand’s voice can make you the talk of the town—until you're left to speak for yourself.

Today, let’s look at five big reasons why this happens…

Demand Drop Factor #1:
Organizers LOVE Big Brands

Event organizers absolutely love to list speakers from big brands on their agenda.  Not only does it add credibility to their event, but it also adds prestige and name recognition.

“Wow! They have a speaker from Nike?  I can’t miss this!”

Even Surprise and Delight speakers (like me) encounter this with event organizers.  In fact, I just lost a gig this week because the event was looking for a speaker who “was associated with a big name brand.” 

The four categories of speakers are:
1) Actors, Athletes, and Astronauts,
2) A-List Alternates,
3) Industry Icons, and
4) Surprise and Delight.
If you need a refresher, check out the book I co-authored with Michael Port, The Referable Speaker.

Here's a breakdown of all four types of speakers and how organizers book them.

When speakers like Deanne leave these brands, they suddenly lose the association that makes them “attractive” to the event organizers.  

Just think… why would an event bother booking the former creative director for Adobe when they can instead book the current creative director for Adobe?  The current creative director provides a lot more pizzazz for their event landing page… and that helps fill seats.

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