Why on earth would you want to run an event for your business? Events take a lot of organizing and publicity, not to mention the time you might not have and, depending on what you want to do, they can also cost quite a bit of money.
So is it really worth all that effort?
In a word, yes!
An event is a fantastic way to get a whole lot of your clients and potential clients together so you can present to them all at once, saving you huge amounts of time and effort trying to reach them all individually – and even better, as the speaker, you come across as an expert in your field. Give your clients valuable information and they will talk about you and recommend you to others. Having an event is also a great way to encourage your clients to network with each other and see how they can help each other – and of course, it’s you they’ll thank for that opportunity.
Having your name on an event can be very good publicity for you and your business. If you pick a hot topic for your industry you could find yourself interviewed by the local press, on the radio, or even on television, all of which increase your chances of being seen as an expert by potential clients.
You may even make money directly from your event – either by charging admission, finding sponsorship or by having products to sell at the event. Regular events could produce a nice stream of new income.
You could generate yet another income stream just from one event by creating one or more products – you could video it, record it, transcribe it, turn the learning materials into an ebook or online course and sell it - the possibilities are endless.
So once you've decided to go ahead - how do you pick a good topic? You'll need to look at what your industry is discussing right now and what they really want to know. There are lots of ways to find this out:
- Run an online survey - www.surveymonkey.com has a free option you can use to create some very useful surveys
- Ring several trusted clients and find out what they’d like to learn more about
- Go to online forums on your subject and see what everyone is talking about
- Post on online forums and ask people what they might be interested in
- Look at the bestsellers on Amazon, Barns & Noble and Clickbank
- Look at the most popular keywords using a word tracker tool
- Go to your trade association and ask what their members are interested in
- Look at competitor’s ezines and see what they are discussing at the moment.
Once you have your topic you’ll need to pick a date and an event format. What kind of event should you offer? Look at where your potential clients are based:
- If most people are in a particular area of the country, you should consider having a face to face meeting – this is always the best option if possible as you have much more chance to impress and to deal on the spot with any objections and questions, as well as providing that all important networking opportunity for your clients.
If your clients are scattered across the country or even across the world, you’ll need to look at running a teleclass or web based event:
- With a web based event using a facility such as www.hotconference.com, you have the option of using the whiteboard, showing a PowerPoint presentation, directing people to view a website and seeing the attendees online via webcam – this is a great way to give a presentation but make sure you are practiced at using all the features of the software first and consider whether your clients are technically-minded enough to be comfortable with this, and likely to have equipment such as webcams and microphones.
- If this is your first time running an event, the easiest option is to run a teleclass, where you set a date and time and participants simply dial in and listen to you. Many companies, such as www.freeconference.com, offer this service and a quick Google search should bring up a long list of companies you could use.
If you choose a live event you’ll need to find a good venue. Look at cost, position - find somewhere central with good transport links and parking. Make sure you see the room you’ll be using before the event so you can see the space you have available and plan your layout. Check maximum numbers the room can hold for fire regulations, find out where the fire exits and fire alarm are and make sure there is disabled access.
You’ll need to market your event very well to get good numbers:
- Use your own ezine, local press and radio, the chamber of commerce and online forums.
- Write articles on your subject and submit them to article directories and other ezines.
- Tell your trade association and use online event listings.
- Go to networking events and take leaflets with you to advertise what you are doing.
- Ask each client to bring one potential client to get a free place
- Offer to speak at other events on the run up to yours with a taster of what people will get on the day.
- Find another non-competing company who are aiming for the same market and do a joint event
Don’t just rely on one way to get publicity – think of as many different ways as you can and use the best ones for your event.
You'll need to be very organized and plan well ahead. Make sure you order any equipment you might need in plenty of time. Make up an event checklist and build yourself a kit with plenty of spares - pens, training materials, extension cables, flip chart paper, gaffer tape, scissors, etc. Check with the venue that everything’s ready for you the day before the event.
The more value you provide, the more likely you are to be seen as an expert in your area and the more business you will get from your event and from word of mouth after the event as a result, so don’t deliver a sales pitch – your content has to be high quality, entertaining and informative or people will feel cheated, particularly if they paid to attend.
Once the event is over make sure you follow up and ask for feedback – it’s the best way to find out if the event was what your clients wanted, to get ideas for future events, and also a great to chance to chat to prospective clients to see if they’re interested in working with you. You can also collect testimonials which will help you if you plan to run events on a regular basis, and which you can also use to promote any products you develop from your event content.
In short, pick a great topic, plan everything carefully, publicize what you are doing as much as you can, and check everything is in place the day before the event. On the day, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself – if you are having fun, the audience will too. Lastly and by no means least, whatever you do, don’t forget to follow up.
Just by following these guidelines you could find yourself with any amount of new clients, lots of publicity and several new income streams. Worth it? Definitely!
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