In our previous article “How to Create a Series of Seminars” we primarily focused on creating seminars and training sessions for larger businesses, but what about seminars and training sessions for small business owners and consumers? As a small business owner, what skills or wisdom do you have to share with other small business owners or consumers? Hundreds of thousands of people pay to attend meetings, seminars, workshops and training programs every year. By creating and conducting seminars or training sessions, you could bring additional income to your business – you just need to find the topic that your audience will pay you to learn about. The most popular training topics include customer service and creative problem-solving. But they can also include team building, leadership and sales motivation.
So, where are you going to start looking for your audience? Professional and local service organizations are always on the lookout for keynote speakers to set off their monthly or annual meetings, as well as outside people to conduct workshops and conferences. Keep in mind that business networking groups are also groups that are looking for programs on motivation, time management, organization and hands-on software training for people who are new to the program.
Who else can you market your seminar or training sessions to? There are non-business groups that are also looking for speakers and trainers. Service organizations, churches, temples, clubs, seniors groups and even sports clubs can be great groups to target. Whether you expand your reach or not, these smaller groups can give you the experience and possible network contacts to help you find local small businesses that are looking for the type of training, seminars or workshops that you conduct. You never know what contacts you might make that could lead to more lucrative engagements down the road. Then again, even if these groups have smaller budgets, they could also become a stable source of income.
If your seminar series is geared to health and well-being or personal finances, there are always people looking to improve their skills and ways to save or make money. Stress-coping seminars have also become very popular, but weight loss, self-confidence and motivation seminars have long been the most popular workshops that people are willing to pay to attend.
Choosing your seminar topic is not as easy as just taking an idea and running with it. You have to find a topic that you enjoy and your potential customers want or need. Other things to consider when choosing your topic or seminar series theme are:
- You or your presentation team are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the topic.
- You have a topic that is well defined and it is one that your customers can wrap their minds around.
- Your potential customer base is large enough to draw crowds each time you hold a seminar.
Now you are asking yourself “what will it cost to get this going?” Starting any business will cost you money, but for the seminar business, these costs can range from $5,000 to $25,000. This all depends on the amount of marketing you need to do and the costs of materials needed for your seminar series.
The cost of starting a seminar series tend to be much lower that starting a business that requires leasing an office space and having to buy expensive office equipment and furniture. You can start your seminar business out of your home office, but if you need a business address, you can sign-up for a virtual office. Having a virtual office package from an office business centre not only gives you a professional address and someone to answer your calls live, but most business centres have seminar training rooms that you can rent at discounted prices.
Some of the things you will need in your home office that are essential for your business are:
- A computer with modem
- High-speed Internet access
- Website and Internet domain name
- Electronic credit card or debit card processing system to accept payments
- Marketing materials like business cards and brochures
- Access to a fax machines and printers/photocopiers (a virtual office can give you access to these)
As your seminar business grows, you might consider having a physical office. The great thing about having a virtual office business address and reception services at an office business centre, is that when you want to rent office space, you do not need to change your business address.
Now on with the program….
Without a program for your seminar series, you will be hard-pressed to get your seminars off the ground. You not only need to plan what you will be presenting, but who will be presenting it. If you are not great at public speaking, you might want to hire a presenter who can instill knowledge and enthusiasm to. But before you choose who will be presenting, you need to do your homework on the topic and have statistics to back up what you are presenting. People want to hear numbers and research.
When planning your program, you will also need to research your audience and carve a niche in the market that will find the most receptive audience for your seminar series. This will allow you to target market those people that will pay to attend your seminars. You want to find the audience that is unique from the audiences of your competitors. Yes, always assume that you have competitors, because as unique as what you are teaching, someone else is most likely teaching something very similar.
How much to charge?
In order to establish your entry fee, you need to figure out your costs. You need to know how much the seminar training room will cost you and the cost of the freebies or handouts. Once you have established your cost per attendee, you can then set your price based on the minimum number of seats you need to sell. Your profit will be from the seats sold beyond your minimum.
What refreshments will you be offering?
Coffee, tea and water are the most popular beverages at seminars, so it is important that you have enough. You could also offer some fruits and light snacks, especially if your seminar is going to run most of the day. For a full-day seminar or training session, you may want to include a light lunch or have a list of nearby places where attendees can grab their own lunch. Office business centres like Telsec will offer your attendees free coffee, tea and filtered water – but they will also give you menus for local eating places.
Arrive early to every seminar you are hosting.
Even if you think you have everything set to go, there are always last-minute things to do before your seminar. You have to make sure that the room is prepared and that any audio or visual equipment has been set up and tested. Whenever you hold a seminar or training session, there will always be those people who show up early. Having your registration team arrive early to set up will also address questions from early arriving attendees.
How to get repeat attendees for a series of seminars.
In order to establish if your seminar was a success and your attendees want to come back for another part of your series, you have to poll them. An exit poll with a few simple questions will help you establish not only what they liked or did not like, but it will also help you to establish if they will want to attend a future event that is more advanced.