Does Bureau-Friendly Matter?

When answering questions on a recent call with speakers, I shared some tips on how speakers could better position themselves as a partner to speakers bureaus and one of my tips was to offer bureau-friendly — or better yet, bureau-specific — promotional materials. In response, one speaker said, “‘Bureau-friendly’ is a 90s concept to me — anyone can now find anyone directly, any time… The first question i ask when a potential client calls me is, ‘Where did you get my name?'” True, and great, but…

What if that person says, “Someone on our committee emailed me with a link to your web site”? (Not unheard of when dealing with committees and association events.) There are often several people involved in the speaker selection process and if a PDF one-sheet with your direct contact information starts getting passed around, it only takes one or two forwards of an email before the person calling you has no idea that a speakers bureau has anything to do with bringing you to the table.

There are plenty of other scenarios where a bureau could very easily be left out of the mix, but one is enough. We really need to look at the bigger picture, anyway. The bottom line is, bureau-friendly means friendly to bureaus.

If you want bureaus to book you, it makes sense that you should be friendly to them, right? You don’t want a bureau rep to have one ounce of hesitation about sending out your materials. You want to say — by providing bureau-friendly materials — that “I’m going to make it as easy as possible for you to recommend me and win bookings with your clients.”

How much extra energy does it take to create a bureau-friendly version of your PDF brochure? Probably about 30 seconds. If you worked with a professional designer, it will be no more than a few extra dollars — if anything — to get this extra copy of your document. Bureau-friendly web sites are a little more involved, obviously, but even that is not too difficult if you just get your designer to create a “mirror” image of your current site without your contact info.

Speaking of bureau-friendly web sites: — when is your main site — does not count as bureau-friendly. If for no other reason than curiosity, a client is sure to wonder, “What is at this site if I remove the ‘bureau’ tag from the end?” And aside from that, by providing the dotcom-slash-bureau address, it just looks like we’re trying to hide something from the client. I would rather send a client to a speaker’s home page than send them to a “bureau-friendly” sub-page. If you’re going to create a bureau-friendly web site, make it a real web site — like, which looks exactly like, except without your contact info.

To wrap this up, am I telling you that you’re not going to work with speakers bureaus if you don’t create bureau-friendly materials? No. But this all started with me offering advice on how to be a better partner to speakers bureaus, and I can promise you that bureau-friendly is better than non-bureau-friendly.

If you’re still on the fence, here’s another way to look at it: Do you feel so strongly against creating bureau-friendly materials that you would be willing to lose a booking over it? Because that’s potentially what’s at stake if even one bureau rep chooses not to send your materials because they include your direct contact info.

It’s an easy decision if you ask me. Do you want to do more work with speakers bureaus? If so, bureau-friendly is the way to go.

Your thoughts?

One Comment on “Does Bureau-Friendly Matter?

Milo Shapiro
March 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm

My feeling is that each bureau has the right to manage their connections between their speakers and their clients as they see fit. If a bureau-friendly site and/or PDF versions of one-sheets and program-sheets helps them, it’s my pleasure to do so.

As for bureau-specific sheets, as long as PDF versions are okay, I’m happy to do that for them, too. I think it makes ME look good because it shows a serious connection to the bureau.

My bureau-friendly site is, if you’d like to see an example. It doesn’t mean having to do everything twice if you design it right. It means having two home pages that link to the rest of your site and making sure that the contact info is only reachable on one of them.

And if you like what you see there, don’t contact me…tell Shawn! That’s what it’s all about! 😉

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