If you’ve taken any of my courses before or seen my videos, you know that I’m super passionate about helping professional speakers reach the largest audience possible by leveraging online digital media.

If you have a great expertise and the ability to share it from the stage, then the idea of scaling your business around an always-on 24/7 knowledge offering that just sells for you all the time is not just a dream.  It’s a must-have.

And nowadays, there’s no excuse not to do it.  All the tools are out there, the costs are reasonable and best of all, it actually works.

So, if you’re a professional speaker, this is for you. You earned your subject matter expertise, discovered a unique ability to share it and you just went out and did it.

Now you deserve the opportunity to leverage that knowledge online and build a whole new audience that you didn’t event know was out there.

See, what’s so cool to me when I work with speakers, is that I really am in awe of this profession.  You create your own content, sell your own gigs, choreograph the entire performance and then get in front of that audience and deliver it yourself.

You’re an educator and an entertainer rolled into one package and wrapped with a business mind. If you weren’t, you’d be doing this as a corporate trainer rather than an entrepreneur scaling your own business.

So, I want to help you create an online offering that elevates your brand and extends your reach beyond anything you’ve imagined before. I’ll show you the successes I’ve had with my clients.  Successful entrepreneurs, CEOs exiting their business, corporate trainers going out on their own, and expert speakers like yourselves. I have learned so much from helping these colleagues of mine and nothing is better to me than doing it over and over again.

Now, every expert has their strategy and will show you all kinds of data and testimonials that theirs is the ticket to success—you’re just one more course or master-class away from figuring it all out. I don’t think it’s quite that easy. It takes an investment of time and money. A solid strategy and the discipline to stick with it when the audience doesn’t show. But in the end, is it all worth it?

That’s the question that each person has to answer for themselves. Are you ready to do this? Do you have the support system around you and the resources to make it happen?

This isn’t about whether you want to build an online knowledge offering to complement your live work – of course, we all do.  Particularly if it’s one that will generate income and create a legacy for you.  But it has to be the right time for you… and for your market.

And that’s exactly where I like to start with each of my clients. Your market.

So, when defining your market, we start with who is it?  What do they want beyond your live offering?  What will they pay for?  And most importantly, where are the deep pockets in your space?

And by deep pockets, I mean enterprises.  Big corporations and associations… the people that every professional speaker already knows and has identified as opportunities for keynotes, workshops, and seminars.

Those enterprise customers are the anchors of your digital knowledge model as well.  In my world, you don’t scale a stable online knowledge business without at least one anchor client, and the more the better. Now, of course, there are other ways to do it. But, my belief is that with the right system in place, you can appeal to these big ticket buyers and build the reliable foundation that your model needs.  And later in my article series, I’m also going to show you exactly how valuable these big names and the data they provide can be to all of your ongoing promotions.

And that’s where strip malls and shopping centers come in. The way I see it, you want your online knowledge business to look more like a shopping center than a strip mall if you want to appeal to enterprise buyers, or what the retail world calls big box stores.

Very simply, a strip mall is an open-air shopping mall in a convenient location where the stores are arranged in a row, with a sidewalk in front and some parking. On the other hand, a shopping center or what a lot of us just refer to as “the mall” is an experience. It’s entertainment along with the shopping and the mall itself is bigger than any one store. Even their anchors.  The large complex interconnects the retail stores with walkways for easy access with more elaborate entryways to their big box stores. They provide sophisticated architecture and first-class maintenance to cater to the best retailers out there. The better the services, the more businesses will want to locate there. Good transportation routes are just as important as they are to a strip mall, but THE MALL itself is a destination in its own right.

Now think about the online knowledge business you want to build.  Do you want to appeal to the big box stores in your market? If you do, then your content offering and the way in which you deliver it has to feel more like a shopping center than a strip mall. Particularly in the following these 3 areas which I am going to dive into more technically in later articles.

  1. Architecture and Maintenance
  2. User Access
  3. Custom Experience.

These are the 3 key components to elevating your online knowledge offering to enterprise quality standards.  And it is super important to understand the value of these 3 things to a corporate customer.

First, Architecture and Maintenance. Even the most influential business executive at a big enterprise needs buy-in from their IT department when integrating a technology offering – which is what your digital media content is after all.  And that buy-in only comes with solid product architecture and a reliable maintenance team to back it up in a way they can be comfortable with.

Now don’t panic, because nobody expects you to know how to do this stuff. You just need to know what the options are and how to set expectations with your prospects up front. Finding the right partners to implement it is another topic, but I’ll give you a great resource guide, later on, that will map this all out for you.

Next is User Access… This refers to the way the end consumers of your content will actually VIEW your media. Is it through deep links within their own Learning management system? Emails distributed via your platform? Will they simply enter through your own front-door? And if so, are you really expecting each of their thousands of employees to manually enter a username and password on your site? Not a chance. You need to know the basics of Single-Sign-On and other integration standards to differentiate yourself from every other thought leader who walks through an enterprise buyers door. And you need a team who can make it happen and be flexible enough to accommodate the user access style they require. Because again, you don’t call the shots here. The enterprise does. But you will sell more if you are the easiest expert to integrate.

Finally, Custom Experience is all about branding your content and site to look and feel like it’s their site. Because in a perfect world, your enterprise customer can re-skin your knowledge and expertise to look like it’s theirs. After all, that’s the value proposition you represent to them. Your content and the access to it has to feel like a seamless extension of their overall offering.

Do these 3 things well. Understand how to speak about their respective value, and you’ll have enterprise buyers taking your online offering a lot more seriously.

In later sessions, I’ll dive deeper into each of these 3 important aspects of your online knowledge product.

  1. Architecture and Maintenance
  2. User Access
  3. Customer Experience.

In the meantime, take a look at your local strip malls and shopping centers and see how they execute on these principles to attract retail businesses to their site. Remember to leave any comments below and I will always reply.  And look out for the next article in this series where I’ll share with you some of the ways that these enterprise big box buyers are so very different from your typical small business owner prospects. Tap into that differentiation to separate your offering.

Author: Jon Tota

Over the past two decades, Jon Tota has established himself as a pioneer in online education for corporate training. He began his career on Wall Street in sales and technology positions at PaineWebber and UBS. Then after years as a business analyst to some of the largest firms in financial services, Jon co-founded Edulence in 2002 to develop online training solutions for corporate educators.

Edulence’s Knowledgelink platform has become a leader in cloud-based eLearning, offering the premier network connecting experts with enterprise learners. Jon is now focused on discovering the best experts and helping them turn their knowledge into a subscription business.