I’ll be honest, getting 20-30 people to put their hands in their pockets and book on your workshop isn’t easy. In addition to persuading people that it’s a good idea, and that it’ll be a good investment of their time and money, those people also have to be available on the day you’ve chosen to run your workshop. And it’s that third dimension that adds a certain extra pressure to marketing workshops.
You need to market to an even wider net of people than you might if you were selling a product or service (which could be enjoyed at any time), because a good proportion of people that think it’s a good idea, and are even willing to spend the money, will find that they can’t make the date you’ve picked (for whatever reason). So just how do you market your workshop or seminar in a way that will help it sell out without causing you an embolism in the lead up to the event?
Your database is your goldmine when it comes to booking workshops and seminars. If you’ve been marketing your business properly (you have been sending out emails and newsletters haven’t you?) then these people already know who you are, they know that you know what you’re talking about, and they probably know that they’d enjoy your workshop. You can then use this list of warm leads to market your workshops to. “Buying one in” by the way doesn’t count. They need to be warm leads. Don’t have one? Run a competition with some friendly people in your industry to give away a place on the next workshop and get building yourself one. There are still plenty of other things you can do in the absence of a database.
Buddy up with people in your industry who will help you market the event – either just for the love of it, or in return for some cold, hard cash. We recently worked with a wedding planner who didn’t have a database as her business was only a couple of months old. We recommended she ask wedding dress shops, wedding bloggers and her twitter friends to help her promote the event along with any friendly media.
Use your PR charms to get your event published – online blogs, forums and event sites are great; newspapers and magazines even better. And after the event try and get a write up – why not invite a journo along for free?
Tweet it, put it on LinkedIn as an event and invite your contacts, add it to social networking forums, your Facebook fan page and sites like Ecademy.
In June, I ran a Blogging Workshop with Tom Evans. Between us we managed to get 28 paying bums on seats. That’s much harder than it sounds. It was a huge help to have two of us promoting the same workshop but the other thing that really helped was my “blog campaign”. About six weeks before the event, I started blogging about blogging – how it benefits your business, how to generate comments, how to gain readers and so on. It raised peoples’ awareness and meant they were much more receptive to the workshop.
If I’m running a Marketing Planning Workshop in December (which I am, by the way, spot the shameless plug!) then I’ll start blogging marketing planning type stories now (ooops! note to self) and I’ll also ensure that this is the topic of my newsletter for November.
That’s in my experience anyway. So I email six weeks before, four weeks before and two weeks before. You might find it takes more or less time depending on the size of your database, the number of workshops you’re offering and the subject of the workshop.
Write to people, call them, invite them and tell people about it at networking events. Use the feedback from people to improve your copy and make sure you’ve answered all their worries and reservations.
Now there must be more tricks to it than that. What other tricks do you employ to get your workshops sold?