Benefits of organizing a seminar
Seminars are a great way to network with people who are interested in your topic. They increase your visibility, position you as a subject matter expert, generates new business leads, educates your audience, and can help spur word-of-mouth marketing.
Are people interested in your topic?
Try selecting a few locations that exhibit a diverse business demographic so you can validate demand for your seminar topic and get answers to important questions like:
- what types of businesses are most likely to attend a seminar,
- how much they’ll pay to attend a seminar,
- how far (or whether or not) they’ll travel to attend an event, and
- what types of initial feedback attendees have.
Where to host a seminar?
Your business location
If you are a business owner (or if your employer is open to the idea), host the seminar at your business location. Be sure to provide adequate seating and visibility for presentation media.
Hotel Meeting Spaces
Hotels often have meeting spaces available. For example, the Holiday Inn Express in Newport Beach meeting space can host up to 55 people and has media capabilities (projector, DVD Player, etc).
Libraries may also be of interest (and can possibly help promote your event to their members). Be sure to read the agreement first, however. Some libraries may not allow you to charge admission fees or use the room for purposes of profit.
Shared / Co-Op Workspaces
Shared workspaces (also known as collaborative or coop workspaces) are gaining popularity. They often have meeting spaces and conference rooms for rent. For example, Collab Space in Costa Mesa offers a conference room with a capacity for 5 to 16 people at $25/hr.
Make sure the location is easy to find and has ample parking. You’ll also want to select a room that’s large enough, well lit, clean, and offers attendees great visibility to your presentation materials.
Select a day & time that suits your audience. Research the typical day of your ideal attendee and make sure your event doesn’t overlap with another competing event in the same category. Often, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the best for holding seminars because they don’t interfere with the weekend.
Scheduling the seminar in the morning before work or in the afternoon just after work will avoid conflicts with family obligations.
How to market a seminar?
You can get help with marketing these events by participating in social channels like Meetup.com and contributing to groups on LinkedIn.
If you decide to use Meetup.com, try reaching out to an existing group that already has participating members instead of creating your own group from scratch.
Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is a powerful tool. Take a few key connections out to lunch or coffee and ask them to spread the word about your upcoming event. Have your salespeople (or yourself) personally invite qualified clients over the phone.
Send out an email blast to customers or leads that may find your seminar to be useful. You can use tools like MailChimp to send out the email.
How do you charge admission for a seminar?
If you want to charge people for a seminar or training session, check out Eventbrite.com. Have your seminar attendees register & pay there in advance.
Best test market locations for Seminars
The top 10 test market cities that represent American consumers as a whole (as reported by Acxiom) are:
1. Albany, N.Y.
2. Rochester, N.Y.
3. Greensboro, N.C.
4. Birmingham, Ala.
5. Syracuse, N.Y.
6. Charlotte, N.C.
7. Nashville, Tenn.
8. Eugene, Ore.
9. Wichita, Kan.
10. Richmond, Va.
How much does it cost to host a seminar?
If your goal is to make money by hosting seminars, you’ll want to be sure your income is greater than your expenses.
- How expensive is the meeting space?
- Are there any technology costs associated?
- Are there any travel costs associated?
Example: $800 per seminar.
How many people do you expect per seminar?
This is key to calculating how much you should charge per ticket. If you overestimate, you’ll charge too little and it’ll put you in the red.
Example: 25 people
How much should you charge for your seminar?
Free or Paid Registration?
Either method can work depending on your marketing situation. If you’re looking to sell or introduce a new product or service, you’ll want to lean toward free seminars. On the flip side, if your goal is less sales oriented and contains more valuable information, you might benefit from charging a fee for attendance.
Benefits of free seminar registration
Free seminars work well if you’re introducing a new product or service. They also work well in sales situations that need an in-person or hands on demo.
Benefits of paid registration
Interestingly, charging a fee may increase attendance. By charging for the seminar, you can:
- Reduce no-shows
- Increase perceived value of the event, and
- Influence audience expectations (paid seminars tend to have higher learning value and less sales pitching)
If you want the seminar to pay for itself (break-even), here’s how to figure out how much to charge.
After figuring out how much money you’re putting into the seminar and after estimating how many people you expect to attend, you can determine a cost per ticket.
Using the example numbers, your break even cost is $32 ($800 / 25 people). So, by offering a ticket at $32, you’re not making a dime, but you’ve covered the cost of the seminar.
If you want to make money on the seminars…
You want to be profitable, so increase the cost per ticket – let’s say to $50.
With the new cost per ticket, you’ll get $1250 per seminar in ticket sales ($50 x 25 people). Take away seminar costs ($800), and you’ve made $450 per seminar. Doing one of these per week (at the example rates) will get you a gross of $23,400 per year.
How to offset the cost of your seminars
- Sponsorship / Advertising
- Call local businesses and offer to advertise them as a sponsor in exchange for money or services (like meeting room space).
- Alternatively, you could advertise their brand in exchange for their help in promoting the event to their clients