In the first post, dedicated to using seminars and speaking engagements to bolster your client development efforts, I discussed the four most popular approaches to hosting these events. In this article I’ll discuss setting the date, finding the location and receiving referrals and clients for all of your efforts.
The date for your seminar should not conflict with the business cycles of your target audience. If you create a seminar for CPAs, for example, during tax season — don’t expect high attendance. When you consider that many people are away during the summer and too distracted during the end of the year holidays, spring and fall are usually the best times to schedule your seminar. Do remember to schedule enough time before your seminar to send invitations or place advertising in order to fill the room.
In most metropolitan areas there are a number of different locations that can host your event. Ballrooms in large hotels or banquet rooms in a local restaurant are popular options. If you expect only a small number of attendees, your seminar could be held in the conference room at your office or at a sponsor’s facility.
To fill your seminar you can mail invitations to your database of past clients and referral sources; you can advertise your seminar in a flyer or newspaper insert; or place an ad in a journal or newsletter your target audience might read. You could also purchase a bar association or other organization’s mailing list and send out a direct mail piece. Whatever method you decide to use, include a confirmation request — usually a phone number for participants to call and register. This will enable you to predict the amount of materials and seating to provide.
A special “offer” should be given to the audience at the end of every seminar you present. By offering something to the attendees, such as a free packet of information, you remove any hesitations an audience member may have to contact you in order to send you business, ask questions or become a client. Begin the offer by informing the audience that since there isn’t enough time to answer all of their questions, you’d be happy to offer a free (or reduced fee) telephone or office consultation, mail them information on your firm, or place them on your mailing list to receive your newsletter. If possible, get a list of the attendees beforehand or collect business cards at the end of the seminar.
You might request that the seminar attendees fill out an evaluation form after the seminar and indicate if they’d like to be contacted. Attendees could also give you their business card with any additional requests indicated on the back.
Having a successful seminar is great, but not taking advantage of the credibility and momentum you gain by not following up with attendees lessens the impact. Do yourself a favor and block time to turn those attendees into clients or referral sources for your practice. Applause from your audience is nice, but additional revenues are nicer. Earning the admiration of your audience is where you begin.