American consumers have an average annual income of $63,784 before taxes and spend $51,100 of it. Five categories of goods and services eat up about 82 percent of that purchasing power, according to a February 2015 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Bear in mind that BLS is basing those numbers on "consumer units," which are just as easily individuals as they are families.)
Years ago, I was making a presentation to a client about the need to make a major change in the brand's overall strategy. The client's marketing director looked at me and said in a stern voice: "We do the positioning. You do the advertising." (I bit my tongue so I wouldn't say, "But Jack Trout and I had something to do about creating 'positioning.'") He was right, of course, and he was wrong. The client always bears the responsibility for the success of a marketing campaign. But along with that responsibility is the need to listen to its advertising agency
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:
- 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.
- All of these people—luminaries and nobodies—get fees from $1,000 to $1 million, plus expenses.
- I used to make a lot of speeches, and all I ever got was expenses and a plaque with my name engraved on it.
- 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.
- 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.
- The worst that can happen is that no money in the budget exists for fees or expenses. If you refuse, someone will replace you.
Marketing guru Jack Trout is not interested in discussing the creative endeavors of the marketing world. He wants to talk about what a mess the industry is, and that's not going to make marketers happy.