Well after 12 years of running my Business Coaching company, I can honestly say I would have done more seminars throughout Sydney and New South Wales, possibly around the globe, than other Sydney-based business. I run a lot of events, and the reason I do that is because it does work. It works great guns in our business!
Seminars are the old Content Marketing
Now you think about content marketing, the buzz word lately is “content marketing,” need content. Well content marketing has been around for a long time, it’s just gotten easier to deliver. Things like this video, for example. It could be Podcasts, email blasts, it could be sponsoring a forum that’s full of people, or Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Everything’s so easy now to do. But I think a lot of people are forgetting about the old fashioned method of content marketing, has been around for a long time and it’s called seminars and workshops, training events. These events are great ways for you to engage with your prospects and customers. And they have been happening for a long time, but many businesses don't utilize them as a marketing strategy.
Seminars are not as expensive as you think
Now the good news is, it is relatively cheap to run a world-class event. It doesn't take a lot of money at all. In fact, if you could run an event for 100 people that was a few hours long where you provided light refreshments for under a couple thousand dollars. But I know you might say, “Ben! A couple thousand dollars!” But imagine you had a hundred of your best customers come along to an event where you had the opportunity to educate them a little bit more about what it is that you do. If I said to you, “What percentage of your customers know 100% of every product or service that you offer?” I'm sure that percentage will be low. You could invite everyone to an event where you could educate them a little bit more about what you do.
You don't have to sell
Now every event doesn't have to be a hard sell. In fact, a lot of people are surprised with my events. I don’t do a hard sell typically at the back at all. I just don’t. What I do is I provide great content, I give people an opportunity to deal with me after that. So I’ll say, “Hey, if you’re interested in finding out more, book an appointment.” So I still have a call to action, it just won't be a hard sell. I think a lot of people have been to seminars and events where you almost want to leave your credit card in the car because they'll pull all sorts of tricks and things on you. They'll block the doors almost and not let you out until you buy something.
I think events are great ways for you to engage your customers, engage your prospects, and get involved in your community on a different level that'll help you grow your business.
Positions you as an Industry Expert
Another benefit that I found, is that it makes you the expert in your industry. A funny thing… I think there’s been studies done. People prefer death over public speaking. I reckon they got people to list their greatest fears, and death was below public speaking. I’ve got to say to you, public speaking isn't that scary when you’re passionate about what you talk and you know your subject. If you’ve watched my videos or been to an event, I make an odd stumble. I don’t get it edited out. I do all those videos in one take unless I make a colossal stuff up.
The reason that I do that is because I'm human and we’re all human. You understand if I make a bit of a stuff up. You understand. I think it’s the thing that stops so many people, and I think that’s what brings that fear in public speaking, that you’re worried that when you get on stage you’re going to screw it up. Well I've got some good news for you. Most of the people that are at your event won't know what you’re supposed to talk about any ways. They won’t even know you messed up. It’s only you that knows. So you can just power on through. As long as 90% of your content is fantastic and you've got great delivery, great energy, they’re going to love your event.
How to run a great Seminar
Number one: Make sure that you’re organized
I’ve been to many events where they’re disorganized. They don’t start on time, they don't have refreshments on the table, in the room available, they don’t have pen and paper for people to write on, they don’t have music playing before the event starts. There’s nothing worse than a dead-quiet room. Get your iPod, plug it into a player and get some music playing for goodness sake. Get organized.
Have a run sheet of what time you’re going to start, what time your break’s going to be, and what time you’re going to finish. Be clear on who comes on stage at what time. On that note, if you’ve got sponsors and stuff, get them on stage early, get them out of the way before you get on to the important stuff.
And that’s another great way of running an event is to have sponsors to pay for it all. But just make sure you’re organized. Don’t think you’re going to be able to just rock up and run a successful even without having put a thought into it first. Now the good news is that your very first event might take you 10, 20 hours to get the organization right. To get the run sheets, the systems, the process, be clear on what it is you’re going to do. Once you’ve used that once, you can just use that same operating procedure for every event that you ever run. That means you don’t have to worry about putting that same amount of effort into your second event.
Number two: Is get a quality venue
In the early days, and any of you that are watching this video that came to see me ten years ago, boy oh boy, I used some dodgy venues. Some of the venues that when I got there I could smell the beer on the floor. It was just a horrible place to be, but it was too late at that point. Get a quality venue.
The best way to do that is to go out and inspect it before you run your event. If it’s out of state, get a friend or someone, a contact, to go out and check it, or at least get them to send you some video footage from their iPhone so that you can at least see what the venue looks like before you go there. Because there’s nothing worse than running an event you've organized that’s top notch that doesn't represent your brand because you've rented a crappy joint that’s falling apart, and there’s vomit stains on the carpet or the furniture is 1970’s furniture, or who knows... Make sure it’s a quality venue.
Very important, talking about qualities, make sure there is parking available. It doesn't matter if people are going to pay for parking, people are pretty good with that these days. But just make sure there is parking, and be clear on where the parking is, and that'll help you run a better event and help people.
Number three: Have roles and responsibilities
That also means don’t try and do an event on your own. I've run many events on my own, and it’s very, very hard work, especially if you've got more than about 20 people coming and things need to get changed. If something with the audio or the visual goes wrong, or something goes wrong during your presentation, you want to have a team on hand that knows their roles.
So before you start, go through roles and responsibilities. Say, “Okay, your job is to keep an eye on the registration desk for 20 minutes after start time to get the late-comers. Your role is to stand at the back of the room and make sure my audio/visual works fine, and if there’s a problem, I'm going to let you know off-stage and you’re going to go and fix it. Find the person. So you need the phone number of the audio/visual person programmed in your phone, whatever it might be.” That person’s role might be air conditioning.
So you give everyone their roles and responsibilities before the event so they know what to do, and so that you don’t get distracted. Because I can guarantee at the very end, when you say, “Hey, you've been wonderful,” and you get your round of applause, people are going to want to talk to you. You’re not going to have time to fix anything or do anything. So if there’s hairnets that need to be handed out, get someone to do that. If there’s paperwork to fill in, get someone doing that. If there’s music to be played, get someone to press play. All of those little things make the difference between an average event and a fantastic event.
Number four: Have a call to action
Run your event… I know at the beginning I said don’t do a hard sell. I think that they’re the type of thing that will scare people from coming to your next event. You still need a clear call to action. You need people that are sitting in the room to understand why they’re there and what their next steps are if they want to engage with you. They might be current customers that you’re educating about new products, for example. So you might have a showcase that’s exclusive for customers, it’s a closed-door event. Come and see this new product we’re launching. Or come to this exclusive training day on how to use this product you've currently got, or whatever it might be.
But then at the very end, have it so that it’s clear and concise so your team know how to follow up and take action after the event, and that way you'll make sure you get a return on investment.
Bonus tip: See products of services
Now while we’re talking about investment and the cost of running an event, a great way to make your events cost-neutral is to sell a product or service at the event. If you have a break, sell some books or DVDs or videos or a product that your target market would like to get because it’s going to help you break even on the room.
Or get sponsors... If you think about who you’re going to fill the room up with, who your target market is, somebody else would also like to get in front of them. But they don’t want to go through the heartache of trying to find all those people. You might have a brilliant database that when you send an email out, 200 people rock out to an event or 20 people rock out, it doesn't matter. You say to your alliance partner, “Hey, I'm going to run this event. For $1000 you can be a sponsor, you can be an exclusive sponsor. You can set up a booth at the event. I'll mention you off-stage, and I'll encourage… you can make a special offer, you can encourage customers. I'll encourage customers to buy from you,” or whatever. At least then you’re starting to cover your investment before you've ever got on stage.
I think, if nothing else, that’s probably the best tip I can give you.
About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.