We build a mouse trap, think it's pretty good and hope people will come. I never met anyone yet who was looking for Toastmasters. No one ever said, "Toastmasters? Oh yeah, I need Toastmasters!" No one needs Toastmasters. (That ought to raise some Distinguished hackles!)
Photo credit: Monica Durante
Instead, I HAVE heard the following:
- Oh I don't like giving presentations.
- I don't need to give presentations.
- I am speaking at a wedding next week. Can you help me?
- I am running for provincial/state/federal office in the next election. Can you help me?
- I have to give a presentation at work next week. Can you help me?
- I am already comfortable speaking in public. I don't need Toastmasters [or any other training].
The mantra for public relations of the Message Masters Toastmasters Club in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada is:
- provide valuable information to niches and build connections worldwide
- build membership locally (Tuesdays, lunchtime, downtown Ottawa)
We distinguish our target markets by niches, as in the diagram below:
- Direct Target Market - those who Need to develop or want to Refine their skills in communication and leadership, within a 3 block radius of our location, Tuesdays between 12:00 and 13:00
- Referral Market - those in the role of manager, human resources, training coordinator, or professional public speaking trainer who would refer others to our program
- Information Market - in addition to the Direct and Referral Markets, those world-wide with the same interests, but who are unable to attend our location
Some people could benefit from the training experience provided by Toastmasters. Here are some ideas that might help you target specific segments with specific interests:
- job seekers - job interview skills
- employees aspiring to higher management/leadership - to practice running meetings, leadership roles and speaking
- anyone aspiring to become an elected politician
- team leaders - to develop or hone meeting and speaking skills
- entrepreneurs - to present their product or service
- sales and selling - duh!
- inmates - to build positive life skills
- people in rehab/recovery - to build positive life skills
- English as a second language (ESL) students (or the languages of your Club)
- authors - to present their material and market their book(s)
- high school students - to become comfortable with public speaking and running meeting, through the Youth Leadership Program before the skills are required
- post-secondary students - to prepare for the job market or to present their thesis BEFORE the skills are required
- contest judges for other organizations
- marketing and communications professionals (who actually know what MARCOM means)
- speechwriters - nothing like first-hand experience to know what works and what doesn't work
- corporate communications professionals - to practice and hone their craft
- video and media students - great place to practice creating how to videos, articles, press releases, and reports
- people who generally struggle with interpersonal skills
- people with dating challenges
The following people might already be comfortable with public speaking, but could benefit from experimenting and practicing in a place where the results don't matter:
- professional speakers, comedians, actors - new material
- public speaking trainers, presentation coaches - to practice methods and material; to develop clients; referrals
- poets who read their own work
- middle and executive managers - elevator speeches; speaking with credibility; networking
- sales managers
- college instructors and university professors
The following people and organizations might benefit from knowing about the Toastmasters training program even if they do not personally attend. They would refer the program to others:
- human resources/training coordinators - to understand and refer employees to the program
- job seeker services - to refer job seekers
- sales managers - to refer their salespeople
- high school teachers, university professors, and college instructors - to refer students
In addition to the Direct and Referral Markets, the Information Market is those world-wide with the same interests, but who are unable to attend our location. If we present information on our web site, it is available world-wide, so why not just say so. In addition to consumer of information, there are people and organizations who provide similar information to the same market. We connect and cooperate with them to increase the breadth and depth of information available. Our co-marketing activities also generate more traffic across the Internet, which catches the attention of search engines and other sites. Here's how we are doing since 2011-01:
No one needs Toastmasters! Stop trying to sell it. Connect people with the idea of resolving their [specific] pain or receiving a [specific] pleasure/benefit/success. Many people need the benefit of the Toastmasters training program, primarily to develop communication and leadership skills in an environment where the results do not matter... BEFORE those skills are required. If the time is urgent, get professional training and augment it with on-going practice with the Toastmasters program.
How about YOUR mouse trap? Regardless of your product or service, ask whether you make mouse traps or whether you help people to get rid of mice...