Harvey Mackay

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

When I saw that the 2008 rate for a speech by Larry Summers was $45,000 to $135,000, I got to thinking.

Out of curiosity, I started prowling the various Web sites of speakers' bureaus and came to six conclusions:

  1. It seems everybody in the world is available for speeches. Included are political and show business stars, second and third bananas, and hundreds upon hundreds of people I never heard of.
  2. All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
  3. I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
  4. I was a damned fool. I was as much a nobody as anybody else and could've picked up some dough if I'd just asked.
  5. If someone invites you to make a speech, think about asking for an honorarium at the very least, if not a fat fee, plus expenses. For Colin Powell, expenses include a private jet along with his $100,000 fee.
  6. The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.

At the end of this story you’ll find three institutional ads—from United Technologies, General Electric and Archer Daniels Midland. All are attempts by Madison Avenue to create positive impressions in potential investors’ minds. Management hopes that if the image of these giant conglomerates can be burnished—as opposed to highlighting the famous brands that they own—the increased awareness will inspire investors to buy stock in the mother ship and the price of shares will go up. In the case of United Technologies, the campaign is budgeted at $20 million a year. In their endlessly self-congratulatory and repetitive book, “WHAT STICKS: Why Most Advertising Fails and How to Guarantee Yours

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