Would you like to attract more clients? Increase your sales? And build your credibility while growing your fan base at the same time?
Most of us would and setting up a workshop is a really great way to achieve all of the above. In fact, there is nothing so effective in building your brand and raising visibility than running your own event. But if something is worth doing then it is surely worth doing well, so in this article we’ll be looking at how to maximise the potential of running your own workshop event.
Step 1 – Your anchor
Choosing a date for your workshop is crucial as you need a fixed point on the calendar to anchor all your preparation and promotional efforts.
When it comes to choosing the right date for your event you need to make sure you have enough time to sell it and this will depend on:
- The size of your contact list
- How often you are in touch with the people on your list
- The fee you intend to charge
- Time of year
- Venue availability
As a rule of thumb, the period from the time you send your first promotional email or social media notification to the date of your event should be 3 months. There are people who work to much shorter deadlines and when you have between 10-15 workshops under your belt and a reliable attendee list you can probably shorten that timeframe to about 2 months. You just need to bear in mind that the earlier you can let your potential clients know about your event, the more likely it is that their diary will be free and they will be available to attend your workshop.
Step 2 – Your timeline
So you have your date and venue. Now you can create your timeline and work out all the activities you need to undertake to reach the key milestones in your plan. Always add in cushion time – everything takes so much longer than you think, especially when you are working for yourself! When figuring out all the elements to go on your timeline, a good way to start is with the day of the event and to work backwards to the present.
Keeping everything in electronic format and in the ‘cloud’ is ideal and you can always run off a hard copy as well. There is plenty of free project management software available to help you with all this, like www.asana.com, for example, but don’t overlook your trusty Excel spreadsheets if you’re comfortable and confident in using them. It’s all about finding tools that help simplify your planning processes.
Step 3 – Your marketing campaign
The reason for allowing yourself plenty of time to prepare and promote your event is simply that this is where the real potential lies. You need to do what it takes and give yourself enough time to find an audience and secure confirmations of attendance. Here are some ways to get started:
Brainstorm – all the ways you could market your event:
- Send an email to your contact list
- Run a webinar on the subject and sell in your workshop
- Mention your event at networking events
- Write a blog post on the subject
- Advertise your event via Facebook
- Take up speaker slots at networking events
- Get your friends and business colleagues to promote your event
- What else could you do?
Encouraging people to commit makes it so much easier to sell places on your work shop. An ‘early bird special’ gives potential attendees the nudge they might need to sign-up. Why? Because there is a deadline and an incentive to commit, both of which can help get people more interested and motivated.
Write sparkling copy
Selling on paper is one of the hardest things to do and for that reason I tend to write my copy before anything else. I find it takes time and I like to give all my copy time to ferment – it’s amazing what you can see when you come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
A good approach to writing copy for a workshop is to:
- Write about the issues people are struggling with first – this is often referred to as ‘pain island’. The aim is to let your reader identify with the pain points
- Then write about how their world could be i.e. ‘fantasy island’ and emphasise that you have the solution.
- Tell the reader about your course – what they will learn and the main aims that are being covered.
- Make sure you tell the reader what the benefits are of attending your course.
- List who should attend the course.
- Finally, let them know the venue for your workshop, along with the timings and date.
Remember that your workshop should be giving people something they want rather than what you want to sell them, so make sure that comes across in your copy.
Making it easy for your potential attendees to sign-up for your workshop is an absolute must. Details about your course and how to attend need to be clearly sign posted on your website – don’t make your client work for it. Also, make sure the payment process is easy, people rarely care about the specifics; they just want to complete any necessary transactions smoothly and efficiently. I use Eventbrite for my events but PayPal is a popular alternative and I’ve heard that Stripe is also very good and easy to use.
Step 4 – Communicate
Now that everything is set-up you need to communicate with your target audience on a regular basis. I send out communications every 2-3 weeks to promote my events. People will see your email come in, mean to sign-up and get distracted, so your regular communication will help nudge them into action. The downside to this is that some people might well unsubscribe from your mailing list. This is par for the course and people can unsubscribe at any point so don’t be too concerned if someone decides not to continue following you.
Step 5 – You are always selling
Don’t forget that your selling doesn’t stop once the person has signed up. Remember to tell them how delighted you are that they are attending your event and communicate with them regularly until the event takes place. This will make your client feel valued and could make the difference in encouraging your attendees to tell their connections just how great your workshop was.
Running a successful workshop is a great feeling and a powerful way to spread the message about your business, brand and services. By focussing on meeting a genuine need among your potential customers, you can position yourself and your company as a thought leader in the field and a real expert worth taking seriously. So the rewards are significant but you have to make sure you plan properly, be consistently proactive and prepare for every eventuality, if you really want to maximise the potential of staging your own event.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
You can read more great articles by Carole here…