You might think that only large organizations host educational events.
But according to a recent study I read, more than 40 percent of small businesses hold events. Of those small business that hold events, seminars and classes account for the highest percentage of events held.
What’s the appeal?
From florists hosting floral arrangement classes to accountants holding tax preparation seminars, educational events give your small business the opportunity to highlight your expertise. More importantly, it gives you the chance to meet customers or potential customers face-to-face, and make new connections to help grow your business.
Here are 5 tips to consider as you prepare to add live events to your marketing mix:
- It’s not about you. Keep in mind that the event is not about demonstrating how smart you are. When you are developing your presentation, you want to focus on how to facilitate learning. You are designing a learning experience, not just a speech. Consider the top 3 problems your ideal prospect is struggling with and choose ONE to focus your attention on. Then design a simple training to help them tap into the solution to that problem.
- Focus on engagement! To connect with your audience, it’s important to mix in a visual component to your lecture. This doesn’t just mean creating a snazzy PowerPoint presentation. Design your event to get the audience involved with a hands-on demonstration, group exercises or a Q&A session.For example, one proven strategy is to pause two to four times during your talk and ask a question of your audience. Then, ask your audience to write down their response and share it with a neighbor sitting beside them. That gets conversations flowing and engagement increases.Spend some time planning for how you’re going to keep your audience engaged throughout the event.
- Plan ahead to continue the conversation beyond the event. Don’t let your event be the first and last connection you have with the people who attend. Remember, you’ve just helped them to tap into a solution they were already looking for. Give them an opportunity to stay in touch with you and learn more.This could be by way of an inexpensive consultation with you, purchasing a product or registering for another advanced training session. Plan in advance how to structure your offer so you can incorporate it into the close of the event and follow-up by email or phone after.
- Charge a small entrance fee. Despite our best intentions we don’t typically place as much value as we should on free opportunities. Charging a small fee ($10-$25) will help you to cover the costs associated with the event and attract a higher quality lead. Individuals who are willing to invest a small sum to attend your event are much more likely to invest in your products and services. You can easily market your event online and collect your registration fees using a tool like EventSpot.
- Find a partner to help take your events to the next level. Check out complementary businesses and explore possible event partnerships. For example, if you’re an interior designer and there’s a great professional organizer in town, consider co-hosting a home makeover event. Or, if you’re a career coach, consider co-presenting a seminar with a wardrobe consultant.
The key to success with live events is to:
- Do your homework (i.e. conduct a survey) and find out what your audience is struggling with.
- Create a simple (starter) solution for that problem.
- Deliver that solution.
- Follow up on leads.
- Make an offer and close the sale.
A face-to-face connection with a prospect will build trust and credibility light years faster than your connection online. Use the aforementioned points to host your own event and create a new opportunity for sales in your business.
Your Action Plan For The Week:
- If you have never hosted a live event, talk to people in your network who have done events before about their experience. Learn what worked well and what didn’t.
- Survey your target market. Ask them what type of live events would they like to attend and what they would like to learn.
- Ask friends and colleagues for suggestions on affordable venues where you could potentially host your first event.
- Decide what topic your event will focus on, set a price, create a registration page and start promoting the online and offline.
- Consider partnering with a professional who also serves your target market to co-host the event with you.