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Marketing Your Business with Seminars

There are many reasons seminar marketing is becoming a popular approach to attract customers. The idea has been around for years, but as our world becomes more complex with new information to digest, new technology to conquer, and new product offerings available almost daily, the need for education is increasing. We are living in the age of experts and specialization.

Financial institutions have used seminar marketing on a consistent basis to attract customers. Investors have questions and the financial institutions have answers. When investors are impressed at a seminar, many times they end up doing business with the speaker. It is a very soft sell to win customers.

Insurance companies that sell long–term disability insurance offer seminars on why you should purchase that type of insurance. The belief is, when a potentially confusing offering, such as long–term disability insurance, is properly explained in a non–selling environment, sales just naturally occur — without any pressure.

Benefits

Today there are more applications and benefits than ever before to seminar marketing.

The obvious benefits are education for the buyer and the possibility of a new customer for the seller. However, it goes beyond that. There are six key reasons for a business to pursue this path:

  1. Seminar marketing positions the business as the expert in a specific area. With expertise can come premium pricing.
  2. These tutorials position a business as a source for the product. The goal for every business is to become the top–of–mind resource to their perspective customers.
  3. These programs create activity or traffic if you are a retail business.
  4. Seminar marketing produces word–of–mouth advertising. If you want word–of–mouth advertising, give them something to talk about!
  5. Expert–led classes offer an introduction to a business other than traditional forms of advertising.
  6. Seminar marketing adds value. Doing a little extra for your customer gives them the feeling that the company cares. When a customer has that feeling, they're more apt to become loyal to that business.

Think big, but small

There are two major points that must be understood before you start your planning.

  1. You are not planning this seminar just for the people who attend. The event is a form of advertising that can pay great dividends even if the person doesn't attend. Remember you will be making the impression as the expert, which will bode well when the person is in a buying mode.
  2. Don't be disappointed with small numbers. Plan for small numbers and advertise that there will be limited seating. Make sure reservations are made in advance. Seminar marketing is not about attracting throngs of people; it is about attracting highly qualified customers with a sincere interest in the topic.

Select the date

Make sure there aren't any conflicts like a holiday such as Halloween, Election Day, a religious holiday, or any other local conflicts.

Select the location

Obviously, the best location is generally your place of business, but sometimes that's not possible. The key element is not to have too large a room. Remember a seminar that attracts only six people in a room for 30 looks like a failure. The same seminar in a conference room for six is a sold out event. You must always look full.

Promote the event

How you advertise your seminar depends greatly on the type of business you run. From retail to manufacturing, however, the principles remain the same.

Signage

If you are a retailer, the first thing that should go up are signs promoting the event. In non–retail environments signs serve to inform employees of what the company is doing as well. Remember the signs are not only there for those who are planning to attend, but also to position you as the expert.

Send press releases to all appropriate media outlets

There must be a story angle to the release. It can't be that XYZ Insurance Company is going to teach a class on disability insurance. It must tie in with a story on the rise of disability claims and indicate that there will be an expert discussing the effects on the average American. Make sure a follow–up call is made after the release is sent.

Run newspaper or trade publication ads

It's better to run a series of small ads than to spend the money on a large ad. Make sure it's in the section of the paper that's most appropriate.

Launch a direct mail campaign

Email is generally the most powerful direct mail vehicle if the recipient list is your own customer list. However, well–defined purchased lists can also work. The mailing should be an invitation rather than just a selling piece.

Require reservations

Reservations force a commitment and will help to insure attendance. Be sure to send a confirmation form and follow up with a reminder call a couple of days before the event.

Time commitment

The length of the seminar will vary depending on the topic. However, between one and two hours is the most common with one hour programs being the most popular. Make sure the program ends on time.

Critique the program

Evaluate the presentation and ask for ways to improve the program.

Plan ahead

Lastly, the ultimate goal is to be able to create a seminar program with scheduled events six months in advance.


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