Have you ever organized a public seminar or event?
It’s not easy. Let’s assume you have a great full-day seminar that’s ready to go.
You’ll still need equipment, a venue and some savvy marketing strategies to fill your room and make you a bit of money.
Equipment is easy to rent if you don’t have it. And finding a hotel with a conference room – that will keep the coffee flowing and provide some snacks – shouldn’t be too much trouble.
You should also look at your local BIA or chamber of commerce. A lot of the time they have a boardroom or meeting room that you can get for cheap…or even for free. It certainly costs you nothing to send an email or pick up the phone.
Another venue that folks often don’t think about is the local library. I know in my area, I can book a good sized room in a library for about $30 an hour. And it comes with all the equipment I need to run a seminar or public workshop. If you are doing a half day event you can get away with 4 hours rent – which is less than you’ll likely spend on Facebook Ads.
The truth is that getting your event set up and organized is THE EASY PART. It’s getting bums in the seats that is likely going to be your biggest challenge. And that’s where marketing comes in.
Over the years I’ve been involved with organizing a few marketing campaigns for one and two day seminars.
Here is a quick cheat sheet for professional speakers and consultants who want to try this out, but don’t know where to start.
The first question to ask yourself is how big is your list? Do you have 500 people? 1000? 10,000?
If you’re like most speakers your list is probably made up of connections from all over the world. And even if it’s 100% local, you shouldn’t count on a lot of those people attending. Cost, scheduling and a host of other factors will keep most folks from signing up right away.
So what you should do is think about moving beyond your list, and using some social media and interactive marketing to reach out to a wider audience.
Set Up a Few Free Webinars
Start with a series of free one hour webinars. Send out emails to your list encouraging folks to participate in discussions that are timely, and not coincidentally, happen to relate to what you will be be addressing in your live seminar. I like to use a tool called EasyWebinar.com.
The great thing about this service is you don’t even have to be there in person! You can pre-record these webinars so you don’t have to turn down real speaking engagements. Click here to learn more about automating your webinars.
With EasyWebinar you can have live links appear as the webinar runs – as you are asking people to sign up for your seminar. At the end you also take a minute to really push the value of the seminar.
Also, encourage folks to tell friends and colleagues. If your webinars are any good, you should see people signing up all the time.
After each webinar, send out a follow-up email offering the replay link to those who signed up – but didn’t make it to the event along with a write-up about the live event.
Daniel Waas has a great article on setting up your post webinar sequence.
This is something professional speakers don’t do enough. Create a series of short videos to go out to your list once a month. Relate the topics of your videos back to your upcoming seminar or event. They don’t have to be long. In fact they should be really short – no longer than 3-5 minutes.
Again at the end of each video, have the date and venue of the upcoming seminar.
Here’s a pro-tip: Don’t simply upload your videos to YouTube and share the link in social media platforms. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter will “like” your videos and give them an additional boost if you upload the files directly to each platform separately.
Dedicated Seminar Website
Creating a simple WordPress site for your event is a great way to market it – without destroying the brand of your main site. If you’re a professional speaker who works large conferences with audiences made up of middle to senior level management, the last thing you want to do is dilute your main website’s message with single event taking place at the local Holiday Inn.
The website should have all the videos and information about the event, along with ways to register either through a simple plugin or eventbrite.com. It should also be fully integrated into Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter for folks to “share” it.
A blog that’s updated weekly about the topic and the event is also a great idea. Remember, this is a marketing site – not your main showcase – so there is no shame in promoting at every turn. And remember those short videos? They can all be posted to this site.
Social Media for Seminars
One of the great tools that I’ve come across in the last 2 years is Revive Old Posts. It’s a WordPress plugin that automatically re-cycles your pages or posts into social media channels on a frequency that you determine. I have an online marketing course for speakers set up on a subdomain of my main site. I have 6 landing pages on that site that are constantly going out to the world through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pushing the course itself as well as the webinars I use to support and market it.
Email Marketing for Speakers
This used to be the most important way to reach contacts. But with so much crap showing up in all our inboxes everyday, marketing emails are just as likely to be deleted as read.
But some of them will be read.
Start your campaign months in advance with clear pricing and an early bird discount. Encourage folks to spread the word and join you on Twitter and the Facebook Fan Page. Send it out monthly, then bi-monthly, weekly, and then a few days before the event for last minute attendees.
These are just a few tips. If you are interested in doing your own seminar and want to set some of this up, just let us know.