In today’s fast-paced world, the need for quick learning has grown tremendously.
People seek short yet substantial pieces of information delivered in a timely manner, and rather than digging through hundreds of pages of research material or sitting through a full-semester class, an easy way to gain valuable information is to join industry experts as they discuss topics of interest in a seminar.
Seminars are a cost-efficient and effective way for companies to reach out to their target customers and/or industry partners, and when done right, can be a great lead-generating mechanism.
Here are 5 steps to achieving a successful and smooth-running seminar:
√ Determine the Who, What, When, Where and Why
√ Prepare a Registration Process
√ Develop an Outreach Strategy
√ Prepare for the Presentation
√ Develop a Follow-Up Strategy
Step 1: Determine the Who, What, When, Where and Why of Your Seminar
Planning a seminar requires time, attention, and strategy. By determining the who, what, where, when, and why of your seminar, you will take the appropriate steps to develop out and clarify the objectives and strategy of the seminar.
1a.) The WHY – Clarify the Objective
Why are you holding this seminar? What is the objective? Is it to educate current clients? Is it to generate new clients? Is it to establish your business as thought leaders? Is it to reinforce your image as subject matter experts? The answers to these questions should impact the steps you make to put on and perform an effective and successful seminar.
1b.) The WHAT – Choose a Topic
With an objective in mind, now you can choose a topic. For example, if the objective is to establish your business as a thought leader, your topic should be innovative, educational, and presented with research and well-rounded perspectives on topics that pertain to your field of business. Whereas if the objective is to educate current customers, your topic should be one that answers many of the questions your customers may have now, or how your field of business may impact them.
1c.) The WHO – Identify the Target Audience and Presenter(s)
Identifying your target audience is important in order to properly identify personas and the voice you use to present your seminar. Is your seminar geared towards CEOs, CFOs, HR Directors, small business, large business, manufacturing facilities, educators, municipalities, etc.? Be as specific as possible when identifying your audience. This will determine how you reach your audience and your seminar presentation.
Once you have the topic and target audience, you must choose your presenter(s). Make sure your presenter is well-educated on the seminar topic, comfortable speaking to the identified target audience, well-respected in the industry, and able to provide general information on all areas of the field.
1d.) The WHEN – Pin Down a Time Slot
Once you have the topic and presenter(s) identified, the next step is to identify a time period that will allocate enough time to cover your topic and objective and appeal to your target audience. Make sure to allocate enough time at the end for Q&A and meet-and-greets.
1e.) The WHERE – Secure a Location
Keeping the objective and audience in mind, you need to find a location for your seminar. If this seminar’s primary purpose is to educate current clients, choosing a location that will be centrally located to your client base is imperative. If the objective is to generate new clients, choosing a location that would appeal to the geographic area in which you are targeting would be better.
Step 2: Prepare a Registration Process to Drive Attendees to Your Seminar
After you identify the objectives and tactics of the seminar, the next step is to prepare a clear registration process, setting the stage to drive attendees to your seminar.
2a.) Create a Registration Landing Page
To prepare for online registration, create an online registration page with a memorable URL to send your audience to (for example, www.yourwebsite.com/seminar).
On the landing page, include:
- A compelling description of the seminar
- The date, time, and location of the seminar
- A brief introduction of the presenter(s) and presenter(s) credentials
- A registration form with predetermined fields (including Name, Company, Email, and Phone Number)
2b.) Set Up a Registration Confirmation Email
Set up a registration confirmation email to be triggered and sent right after the attendee registers for the seminar. The confirmation email should include the seminar location, time, and date of the event. Include an “add to calendar” link to make sure registrants don’t forget about your event.
2c.) Prepare a Reminder Follow-Up Process
To increase your registration-to-attendance ratios, create a process to stay in front of your registrants and remind them of their commitment in the days leading up to the event. This process could include sending a reminder email and/or giving registrants a phone call to check in and make sure they are set to attend, and all pre-seminar questions have been answered.
Step 3: Develop an Outreach Strategy to Drive Attendees to Your Seminar
To drive people to attend your seminar, you need to perform certain efforts to get the seminar information in front of possible attendees. This strategy will be heavily influenced by your objective. For example, if the seminar is targeted at current clients, reaching that audience should be simple because you have their contact information. However, if your objective is to reach out to prospects, creating a strategy to get an invitation in front of that audience will be critical to your seminar’s success.
Based on your target audience, the channels you use to reach them will vary. Set realistic expectations, or invest in the resources needed to accomplish the task.
3a.) Determine and Use Specific Channels to Reach a Predetermined List or Current Connections
In order to get your message in front of a determined list or current connections, the following channels are great outlets to promote your seminar:
Email Marketing – Create an email marketing campaign to get in front of your target audience and promote your seminar with seminar details. Email the invitation on its own, sending registrants to the registration page. Also include a snippet and link to the registration page in all other monthly emails (i.e. Newsletter, etc.).
Social Media – Post the link to your seminar registration page to your company’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ pages along with a catchy caption to drive traffic to the page.
Direct Mail Campaigns – Depending on your budget, list, target audience, and objectives, a direct mail campaign with promotional literature could be in order. Include your seminar registration URL in all marketing material.
Telemarketing – If you can invest in the resources to launch a telemarketing campaign, this can be effective in helping to reach out to prospects when you have only the company phone number and name of the person you are targeting.
3b.) Determine and Use Specific Channels to Reach a Larger Audience
To get your seminar registration page in front of a larger audience who are not on your email or telemarketing lists or connected with your brand on social media, the following channels are great outlets to promote your seminar:
Press Release – Digital distribution channels can be effective mediums for distributing your Press Release on your upcoming seminar and can help increase website search traffic.
Promoted Social Media Advertisements – To maximize the post reach and promote your seminar to people who may not directly like your company page, promoting posts through social advertising and boosted posts will help you reach a larger percentage of your target market’s social feeds. Encouraging other team members to share the post to their personal pages and invite their personal network to the seminar will do the same.
Partners or Co-Sponsors – Do you have a current partner or center of influence that could help with their distribution list? For example, if you’re targeting CEOs with your message, considering partnering with a bank, accounting firm, law firm, etc. that will co-sponsor the event and either give you access to their client list or send out the invitation via their own distribution method.
Utilize Associations – Gather a list of all local associations whose members would likely fall into your target market. For example, if your audience is attorneys, your local Bar Association has members that fall into this category. Determine how to utilize the associations to distribute your seminar information. Can you place an ad on their website? Can they add your seminar to their next permission email marketing? Work with all applicable associations to distribute your message.
Step 4: Prepare for the Seminar Presentation
As you are driving attendees to register for your seminar, you should be finalizing details on your presentation and how you will run your seminar.
4a.) Prepare an Agenda – and Stick with It
To stay organized and keep your audience focused, develop and share an agenda that outlines the seminar objectives and key points.
4b.) Create a Visual and Audience-Appropriate Presentation
Depending on who your target audience is, the theme of your presentation may vary. As your presentation is crafted, make sure it is clear, visible, and easy to follow. It is important to speak to the voice of your target audience’s persona throughout the presentation to relate back to them and make them feel comfortable.
4c.) Test the Presentation with Multiple Run-Throughs
Once the presentation is set, schedule time for run-throughs with the presenter(s). Practice makes perfect, so schedule as many run-throughs as needed until the presentation runs smooth and all technology devices are working properly.
4d.) Provide Printed Hand-Outs and Materials
Provide a printed hard-copy of your presentation along with any other marketing materials to enhance the takeaway of your seminar. Providing your audience with pieces they can leave the seminar with creates one more touch point to stay in front of them.
Step 5: Develop a Strong Post-Seminar Follow-Up Strategy
Seminars take a lot of strategic planning and execution, so when your event is over, it’s important to follow up with all who attended. You can use this time to deepen the relationship with everyone who signed up.
5a.) Provide a Post-Seminar Survey
Preparing a post-seminar survey questionnaire is a good way to gather feedback on your seminar and how you can better your seminar for next time. Putting the survey on the tables of the seminar location provides easy access for the audience to take the survey and turn it in at the time of the seminar.
5b.) Schedule a Follow-Up Thank You Email
The attendees of your seminar took the time out of their busy schedules to come and learn from you – so make sure you reach out to them to thank them for attending. Doing so in a relative amount of time after the seminar is another touch-point to stay in front of attendees, and is an outlet to provide a call-to-action if you are looking to take next steps with certain attendees.