What do Do Not Call lists and Do Not Spam lists tell you? Strangers don't want you to interrupt them. Advertising also interrupts. That's okay because you can use simpler, cheaper and more effective techniques.
Seminars get you new customers and more business from current customers.
You leverage your time by speaking to many at once. Attendees feel less intimidated than meeting you one-to-one. Yet few advisors conduct seminars or run them optimally.
Let's explore essentials like
- the perfect delivery
- the perfect location
- the perfect topic
- staying in touch
- getting feedback
- organizing your seminar
The Perfect Delivery
Seminars work best live in person. However, you can use webcasts or conference calls, which you can record to replay. This is your chance to shine. If you're not comfortable presenting, become the host and invite guest speakers. This isn't as good but gives results if you establish some credibility. You can learn to present over time --- a valuable skill.
The Perfect Location
You can attract audiences to your office if your facilities are suitable. It's better to present where people already gather. Associations and groups need presenters to fill their calendars. Your contacts may know places. You get
- endorsed by the sponsoring organization
- an instant audience with no effort or cost
- invitations to speak elsewhere if you're good
The Perfect Topic
Pick an intriguing topic to attract attendees. Your title and description matter. Pick a topic which subtly shows your expertise. Whatever you do, keep the content simple and entertaining. You want to motivate, not just educate. Your audience forgets the details but remembers how you made them feel.
Do you repeat the same topic or run a series? It's much easier to find a new audience than to hone new presentations. If you want a series, consider getting guest presenters. Audiences have trouble believing that you're an expert on many topics --- even if you are.
Be sure to give the audience ways to remember you.
- give meaningful handouts
- have a meaningful website
- stay in touch with an eNewsletter
Staying In Touch
For best results, show attendees a sample of your eNewsletter and ask them to sign up on a form while they are there. Input their names online later. This works much better than asking attendees to sign up on their own once they get home. They forget or don't bother.
If you have pre-prepared a list of attendees, add a column to indicate whether they want the eNewsletter. If you're bold, you can go further. Make your eNewsletter a free gift for anyone who registers (even if they don't attend). Again be sure to show a sample. To keep your readers, have content that helps them. Show consistent persistent generosity.
You can't get better if you don't know what to improve. Be sure to ask the attendees to fill out a feedback form. This can give you quotations to help you promote future seminars. Take a look at the audience responses for
Which affected you more, the typed comments or the scans of actual handwritten comments?
Organizing Your Own Seminar
If you don't pay attention to detail, sloppiness reigns. Your signs are crooked. The coffee is stale. The room is too cold. The screen is too small.
Your audience can sense when everything is well organized. They infer that you'll also pay attention to their needs. You may need help organizing.
You can reduce your workload and look more professional by using Eventbrite or Meetup.
Use Eventbrite for online bookings (an example). Eventbrite will
- show the location (address and map)
- email tickets
- send reminders
- create an attendee list
- let you send a post-event feedback form
You select the information you want to capture. By default, you get the email address because that's needed to register. You'll probably want the first name and last name also. You can export the data collected into your client management system.
If you want to create a community, use Meetup.com instead. Since members can see other members, there is less privacy, which may be an advantage or disadvantage. Meetup is better for an ongoing series of events.
Meetup will even market for you by sending invitations to members who expressed interest in a topic like yours.
To establish credibility, participate in meetups and show enough information on your profile to reduce suspicions about your motives. Most organizers don't bother doing this and come across as self-serving.
Seminars work without much work.
- How to apply consistent persistent generosity
- How to prepare, present and promote a brand-new presentation
- Three secrets of presenters: repetition, illusion and self-promotion
- Three lessons | eight cities | one presentation
- Eventbrite: organize events like Harvard and IBM
- image courtesy of Ulrik De Wachter (Belgium)