So, you have decided to add seminars to your marketing mix. Stop. . .before you host your seminar there is some pre-planning that needs to be done. You should first decide who your target market is. Who do you want to attend you seminars. Once you have decided who you want to attend, you need to decide what topics would be of interest to them. Define what your main areas of expertise are. What information does your target market need that you can provide? Make sure that the information that you provide is valuable information. You want seminar attendees to be able to use the information to make informed and educated financial decisions.
Create a short list of topics that you are comfortable talking about. Your list include topics that you are comfortable presenting and topics that your target market wants to learn about. The title of your seminars should be short and self-explanatory. It should also be narrow enough to appeal to a certain type of attendee. Using the words “How To” in the title has proven over and over increase attendance at seminars. The title “How to save for retirement and your children college education. ” You can test different title to see which title will draw the largest attendance.
Plan a schedule and don’t market your event too early. A short two-hour seminar needs about three to four weeks of advance notice. The longer the seminar, the longer the lead time for the seminar notice. How many seminars can you run effectively? Create a schedule and decide when each seminar will take place. How long are the seminars? Will you host one-shot seminars or series? What will be the best day(s) of the week for your seminars? Keep the location consistent and made it easy for people to find the location.
Create a seminar section on your Web site. List all information concerning your seminars and a place where people can register for available seminars. You can also post transcripts of past seminars and worksheets to fill out. You can also ask for email addresses and other pertinent information so that you can follow-up afterwards.
You will also need to decide if your seminar is open to the public or by invite only. If you do not have a list of prospects to send invite to your seminars. Then consider hosting a public seminar and advertising to the local community. If you decide to host a public seminar, you have to decide where you will advertise your seminars. What type of mediums can you use that will target the type of people you want to attend your seminars? What local papers or magazines do they read? What local organizations do they belong to? How will you cost effectively reach your target market. Will your seminar be free or will you charge? If you charge, how much will you charge attendees? Consider this: paid events will often generate more actual attendance than free events. Paid events tend to have significantly fewer no-shows than free events.
Make sure that you expectations for attendance is reasonable. What measurements will you use to determine if your seminar is successful? If you have your direct marketing response expectations set too high, you are in for both disappointment and low attendance. So make sure you have enough good names to mail to, and mail enough pieces to actually fill your room.
Create your marketing materials. Decide if you will be advertising in local papers or magazines. Will you send postcards and/or e-mails? Will you send invitations, a letter, a business return envelope, a white paper and provide a convenient registration form on your Web site. You should research what kind of marketing piece might work in your situation and for your audience, and test different pieces on different events. Think about your audience members and what their day looks like—then send them the piece that will get through the noise and clutter.
Marketing partners are an often-overlooked source for boosting event attendance. You can, for example, partner with two other firms and pool your resources and mailing lists to increase response and then deliver together. Besides having extra names to market to, your event will have a multifaceted presenter list, which can often increase attendance in and of itself.
Practice your speech and presentation. Invite a few other people in to hear it. The speakers will welcome the feedback. You want your seminars to be informative and not sells pitches. Your seminar should be fun, entertaining, educational, and your attendees should leave satisfied that they have learned something new. Keep your presentation simple and jargon free. Make sure that your presentation is easy to follow and understandable by all who attend.
You can also co-market the event with a trade association, get the event notice listed in your partner’s e-newsletters, work with a college or university to sponsor the event or any number of other partner strategies.
Make sure that the seminar room is ready. If you are the one with your butt on the line, make sure that the room is ready at least one hour before the seminar starts. That means that the chairs are set the way you want, the audio/visual is functional, and any little giveaways are ready to be handed out. I repeat, always have a backup presentation.
Ask for feedback. Ask people to fill out a survey form and return it before leaving. This feedback is valuable for the speakers, and it will let you know if you're on target with your speakers and topics. Collect business cards, email addresses and pertinent information any way you can. Make sure that everyone leaves a business card for a follow-up thank-you email after each seminar. Don’t forget to stay behind and answer questions. You can also take this time to book appointment with hot prospects. After the event, send each attendee a “thanks for attending” email or note. Send a survey to those who didn’t complete one earlier. Don’t forget to contact those who registered for your seminar and did not attend. Send them a letter or email offering a free transcript of your seminar and schedule of upcoming seminars.
Now that you have finished hosting your well planned and successful seminar, don’t forget to ask for the business you are looking for. Its time to implement your sales plan and turn those prospects into clients. Hand out evaluation sheets and have a space where attendees and indicate a best time to contact them for a free consultation Seminars can be a wonderful way to gain qualified clients and can be implemented over and over to help build your client base.
Recommended Books on Promoting Seminars
1. Marketing and Promoting Your Own Seminars and Workshops (Paperback) by Fred Gleeck
2. How to Run Seminars and Workshops : Presentation Skills for Consultants, Trainers, and Teachers (Paperback)
by Robert L. Jolles
Jennifer Woodard is a freelance Marketing Communications Consultant offering a full range of communication services including but not limited to marketing, public relations, and book marketing. She specializes in working with Professional Service Firms, Professionals, Authors and Publishers. Visit her website at http://www.jenniferwoodard.biz and her blog at http://jenniferwoodard.blogspot.com.