The power of seminars and events as a marketing channel for your business

Since 2003, the single most effective marketing activity I have done in the four businesses I have run in that time is running seminars.

Indeed, it has allowed me to become a somewhat lazy marketer.

In 2008 I launched a new business, and with the power of well-run, on purpose seminars behind it, we grew it from a standing start to over a million dollars in revenue in 12 months.

So it’s no accident that the questions that I answer most in my business coaching and consulting are related to how to run effective events and seminars.

On an Empress Mentoring call last week, one of the members, R,  had decided to bring events into her regular marketing mix.

“Every time we do events, the business grows,” she said. “Plus I love doing them because every one is new, there’s deadlines involved and sh!t gets done.”

All of which is very true.

But she was about to head off on the wrong tangent because R hadn’t asked herself a very important question.

Think of it this way – every time someone from your business gets on stage in front of a room full of people several things happen:

  • Your credibility increases: both for the individual doing the speaking (they are now the “expert” in the field, as they are educating others); and your business (you are no longer just the provider of a service, you are a company interested in education/activism/changing the world.)
  • Your social media presence gets a super charge: people start searching you more and following you on different platforms. They will post about what they learned at the event its great
  • Your database will grow– both with registrees for your event, and other people just checking out your stuff
  • Your sales will increase: if you have products available to purchase online or instore, the marketing activity associated with running an event can result in more product sales
  • You can increase business: buy offering great deals or specials to our event attendees you can enjoy a great revenue day for business.
  • You learn more about your clients: by surveying people before they arrive, or taking spot polls of people at the event- you get a chance to find out what your clients are really wanting.

… and there’s loads of other great reasons to do them too.

So our Empress member was onto a winner when she decided to run here events.

But like most small business owners she was already 18 steps down the track of making it way more complicated than it needed to be!  With plans for 4 different events, when 1, maybe 2 would have done.  Plans to schlep herself from one end of the UK to the other, when she has a young family, and team members who could run events for her, given the right training.

The first question we need to ask to simplify the plans was “WHY?”

You can run events for all of those fabulous reasons above and MORE, but WHY are you doing it?

And even more importantly- If this new strategy works, how will it be working 3 years from now?

I believe this is the single biggest mistake small business owners can make when looking to implement a new strategy.  They will often see the immediate impact it can make.  But will fail to think through the scalability of the strategy.

So here’s some questions to ask yourself which should help you decide what event to run, and how:

  • What is the purpose of the event?  

Is it to increase brand awareness, build your database, make sales, engage affiliates or partners? Get super clear on what your primary and secondary outcomes are.  That will help you determine how long the event needs to be, how big it needs to be, how much you need to spend on making it pop- indeed how much you can afford to spend.

  • If this strategy works- how will it look 3 years from now?  

Will you be on stage?  Or will it be another team member or licensee?  Will you have to travel all over the place to make it work? Do you like travel?  Will it be all you do, and someone else will run the business? Will it be online events like Steve Jobs doing an Apple launch?  Answering these questions will help you to SIMPLIFY your idea and create the right event first time.

  • What should the topic of the event be?

This one is easy if you know the biggest problem that your target market for the seminar/event is facing.  The topic should be on the solution to the #1 problem they are facing. If it’s an event to attract new business, then what’s the number 1 problem faced by your prospects?  If it’s an event for clients to introduce them to a higher level product- then what’s the number #1 problem that remains, or has now surfaced after consuming your lower level products?

  • What next step am I going to invite?

Never plan a seminar or event without giving your attendees the opportunity to take the next step with you there and then.  It might be to book an appointment with a team member for a 1-1 discovery session; it might be to register for early notification of the product launch; it might be to buy your product or service right there.  Either way- make sure you know what the logical, and appropriate (given rapport) next step is work that into the seminar.

Having gone through this process, we were able to help our Empress member, R,  to see that one event was better than four.  That the outcome should be to book an appointment with one of her team for a 1-1 session; and we came up with a killer to attract the right people to the event.

But the best bit?

It was scalable.

She is not going to get stuck doing all the touring, speaking and selling- and she can empower and train her team to do it too.

Which when real growth is the game- is crucial.

Have you tried events in your business?  What lessons did you learn, which if you’d known about them in the planning phase may have changed things for you?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

And if you’d like to find out more about Empress click here.