Planning a Conference or Seminar
Many professionals assume that their 'marketing seminars' should be free. Here are a few reasons to consider charging a registration fee:
a) Paid events will often generate more actual attendance than free events because they have an air of sophistication and authority in them.
b) Paid events tend to have significantly fewer no-shows than free events because no one wants to pay to go to an event that they don’t plan on attending.
c) The attendees that you generate are usually more interested in the event than those attending a 'free' breakfast, lunch, or 'networking' event.
d) People come expecting value instead of a sales pitch. If you then deliver value, you'll establish the expectation and knowledge that time with you is worth the money.
You should also note that, depending on your service, free events can work as well as paid events, especially for business-to-consumer professional services.
Our final advice on the subject is that you should know your audience and make good business assumptions, and test both paid and free.
This may sound trivial, but believe me it is not. Your event title needs to clearly state what value you will deliver at the event. You will also want it to be as short as possible but as long as needed, and appealing to the reader.
Using the words "How To" in an event title has proven time and time again to increase attendance.
The title "Learn about new investment opportunities" would be much more effective if it were called, "How you can take advantage of new investment opportunities."
A very simple approach for event titling is that you should make a list of a dozen or so different ways that you could title the event.
Ask for feedback from colleagues, clients, and potential clients. If you run the event multiple times, test different titles and see if one title generates more attendance than the other. Basically, just do your research, and test it out on people.
Marketing partners are an often overlooked source for boosting an event’s attendance.
You can, for example, partner with two other firms and pool your resources and mailing lists to increase response and then deliver together.
Besides having extra names to market to, your event will have a multi-faceted presenter list which can often increase attendance on its own.
By having a marketing partner, you can also co-market the event with a trade association, get the event notice listed in your partner's newsletters, work with a college or university to sponsor the event, or any number of other partner strategies.
For example, a network security service firm I know of once partnered with the FBI to run their seminar on the new security issues facing firms.
The event pulled better than anything they had ever done before.
As a final thought, one of the most overlooked ways to increase event registration is by delivering great events and by providing information or tools that will be of significant value for the attendees.
If you can deliver one of the best seminars of your life every time that you make an effort to host a seminar, your events, much like your practices, will grow in reputation and attendance.
Who knows, someday soon you might even be able to answer the phone and let your potential attendees know, that your seminar is full but you can let them pre-register for the next seminar that you host.
That is not all there is to say on the subject. Here are some extra quick tips to hosting a successful seminar.
· Plan your overall objectives
· Plan your marketing mix of the seminar
· Plan your invitations and approach
· Plan your target group
· Plan you target list of attendees
· Plan your date and location
· Plan your type of seminar- large or small
· Plan your speakers and topics
· Plan your venue and details
· Plan your staff time and resources
· Plan your budget
· Plan your handouts and questionnaires
· Plan your equipment
· Plan your talk and time
· Review all details over and over
· Plan your follow up
· Repeat and improve