The seminar business is big these days, in demand by individual consumers, organizations, associations, small businesses and giant corporations alike. And although it's a fairly young industry, having only come into its own within the last two decades, it's primed for continued growth and success.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people pay to attend meetings, seminars, workshops and training programs where professional presenters encourage, enlighten and enliven them. Some of these folks are sent by their companies to learn new skills--everything from time management to basic math smarts to super sales techniques. Others attend on their own, seeking personal growth--how to communicate better with spouses, significant others and kids; manage stress; assert themselves; or invest for the future.
Still others sign up for seminars and workshops as part of a professional or social association to learn everything from quilting to romance writing to tax preparation.
Most seminar professionals choose the first option, but you can go with any one that feels comfortable to you. Not everybody is cut out to be a seminar production professional. This is not, for example, a career for the creativity-challenged. It takes lots of foresight to figure out what will be a winning program, to design and construct it so it sells, and to promote it effectively. If you're one of those folks who'd rather undergo a root canal than have to come up with peppy advertising copy, then you don't want to be in the seminar business.
This is also not a career for the time-management-deficient. Seminars must be planned and organized months in advance, with everything from the topic and speaker to the dining reservations nailed down early on. And if you plan on presenting your own programs, this isn't--obviously--a career for the terminally shy or the terminally boring.
You must be able to keep an audience interested and entertained for the length of your seminar and beyond. This doesn't mean you need to be trained by both the Royal Shakespeare Academy and the Ringling Brothers Circus school, just that you need to have a natural enthusiasm for your subjects and be able to communicate it.
Businesses are big customers on the seminar scene. Large corporations, having gone through the economic and emotional trauma of downsizing, often decide that hiring out training and motivational seminars is more cost-effective than developing them in-house.
Sometimes they send their employees off-site to attend these events; sometimes they invite the seminar presenter into their own facilities. Smaller companies are good seminar customers for similar reasons. They don't have the in-house means to develop training and motivational programs, so they rely on outside sources. The most popular training topics include customer service and creative problem-solving, but they can also encompass internal communications and even math or reading Leadership, self-motivation and sales motivation are also perennially popular topics.
Professional and civic associations are always on the lookout for keynote speakers to set off their annual conventions as well as to conduct workshops and conferences. Business networking groups are prime candidates for programs on motivation, time management, organization, positive thinking and goal-achievement. Medical societies want to hear about insurance issues, new surgical techniques and office management. Don't underestimate the benefits of targeting small, local groups that have nothing to do with business.
Churches and temples, senior centers, and men's and women's clubs can make terrific audiences along with singles clubs, single parents' groups, local sports clubs, civic organizations, networking groups, writers' groups, book clubs and garden clubs. Their budgets are likely to be smaller than those of corporate America or national associations, but you can gain invaluable experience, both in working with an audience and in market research. You can also gain prime exposure from these gigs.
You never know what contacts you'll make that will lead to more lucrative engagements down the line. Another valuable--and voluminous--market is the mass market--the public at large--which has a voracious appetite for self-help programs of every description.
Take a look at the magazines on display at your local supermarket and at the bestselling books on view in your local bookstore. You'll get a quick idea of what people want: The best way to start is by thinking about what you know, what you enjoy and what your potential customers need or want. Then test your ideas against the following:. The most popular presentation topic for National Speakers Association NSA members is motivation 43 percent , followed by communication 35 percent and business 30 percent.
Rounding out the top 10 topic areas are leadership, change, customer service, management, inspiration, team-building and presentation skills. One of the Catchs of being in business for yourself is that you need money to make money--in other words, you need startup funds. One of the many nifty things about the seminar business is that its startup costs are comparatively low.
You've got the advantage of homebased-ability, which cuts office lease expenses down to nothing. Except for any back-of-the-room or BOR products you may choose to develop, you've got no inventory. Your major financial outlay will go toward office equipment, marketing and promotion, and--if you're doing public seminars--your site facilities.
And if you're like many, you've already got the most expensive piece of office equipment: But let's take it from the top. The following is a breakdown of everything--from heavy investment pieces to flyweight items--you'll need to get up and running:.
You can add all kinds of goodies of varying degrees of necessity to this list.
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For example, a copier is a plus. It's also nice to have bona fide office furniture: But let's consider that you're starting from absolute scratch.
You can always set up your computer on your kitchen table or on a card table in a corner of the bedroom. You can stash files in cardboard boxes. It's not glamorous, but it'll suffice until you get your business steaming ahead. Like baking cookies, hosting a sit-down dinner for 12 or adding a new bathroom to your house, when you produce a seminar, you need to plan ahead. It's wise to start planning as early as possible--ideally four to six months before your program.
But it all depends on a lot of variables. Take a look at the seminar countdown. Get With the Program One of your most important tasks as a seminar professional will be to design your program--if you haven't got a seminar, you're not going to get very far! You did a lot of the design work when you did your market research, choosing your target market and whittling down your niche to the one that best suits both your audience and you.
Now it's time to get down to specifics, like who will present your programs, how long they'll last and where you'll hold them. First, realize that your site price will be built into your ticket price, so you're not actually "paying" for the hotel or conference site all on your own, although you will have to pay an upfront deposit before you've garnered all your ticket sales.
But even if you build your hotel facility into the cost of your tickets, you've still got a lot of decisions to make. Be sure to consider compatibility choose a site that's a good match with your participants and your subject matter and location if you have lots of out-of-town participants, you'll want a site that's easily accessible from airports and interstates.
Sales Products Decide what food freebies you'll offer and then finalize your ticket or enrollment price. Double-check it against your market research. Is it an appropriate fee for the benefits you're offering? How does it compare with competitors' prices? Now that you've got your enrollment price down, you can start to work on your sales products--brochures, letters and advertisements. Design your sales materials, and then negotiate prices with printers, choose the best one, and place your print order.
Once your materials are printed and ready to go, put together press kits for magazines and send them out. Place Your Orders Finalize the writing and design of any workbooks and place orders for signs and audiovisual equipment, either from the hotel or from private suppliers. Order your back-of-room sales products from vendors, audio and video duplicating services, and book sources.
Order workbooks, evaluation forms, agendas or other handouts based on your anticipated head count. Make travel arrangements for yourself or your speakers--whoever will be hitting the road on your company's behalf. Send press kits to local and regional newspapers. One Week Ahead Contact the hotel's sales or catering people to give them an approximate attendance count and make sure they've got everything squared away.
Think of this as being a friendly nag--if they're not sure about any item or if they're not available, keep after them until you know it's done, and done properly. Two Days Ahead Call the sales or catering people again and give them your final head count. You can also take this opportunity to check once more that everything's been taken care of and will be ready for you on arrival.
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The Day Before the Seminar If you're traveling to an out-of-town site, today's the day you want to arrive. Give yourself plenty of time to recover from jet lag. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the room you'll work, and where the restrooms, pay phones, copiers, restaurants, lobbies and other facilities are located. Go over things like meals and snacks with hotel staff.
Make sure all site-provided equipment--things like microphones, projectors, video players and monitors--are present, accounted for, and in good working order. Don't forget phone and electrical outlets for your electronic card terminal.
Check seating arrangements and room temperature. If something isn't right, complain now instead of having your participants complain tomorrow.
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The Big Day You and any assistants should arrive an hour or even two hours early to check the room setup and equipment one more time. Set up tables for registration, handouts and products. Get your credit terminal up and running. Remove ashtrays and set out no-smoking signs.
Then greet your participants, get going and have fun! If you plan to act as a promoter rather than a presenter, or if you want to put on programs that feature other speakers in addition to yourself, you'll need to locate and negotiate with your talent. So how do you go about finding speakers? You could audition friends and neighbors, put an ad in the paper or launch a safari to track down speakers at every convention in the civilized world.
Or--you could contact speakers bureaus, which act as matchmakers of sorts between presenters and promoters or potential clients. Since there are an estimated bureaus around the world, with 80 to 85 percent of them in the United States, you've got plenty to choose from.
Some bureaus specialize in representing speakers on a single topic, like genealogy, family dynamics, business management, international affairs or empowerment. Others represent only celebrities or politicians. Most represent a wide variety of professionals.
As a seminar promoter, using a speakers bureau can save you valuable hours. You tell the bureau the topics you plan to present, your guidelines whether speakers should use your script or their own material, for instance , your budget and when and where the program will take place. The bureau then provides you with a list of potential candidates, sends demo tapes and references and provides you with the means to contact your chosen few.
And to make a good thing even better, it won't cost you any more to hire a speaker through a bureau than it would to hire the speaker directly, because the bureau gets its commission generally 25 percent from the speaker and not from you. The downside of speakers bureaus is that they tend to represent people in the higher echelons--those who command the big, big bucks and who are usually booked a year or more in advance.
As a newbie, or as the head of a training company who will use the same presenters over and over again, you might do as well or better to find your own speakers. In fact, she says, they always have more trainer hopefuls than they have jobs to fill, a delightful state of affairs she attributes to her company's reputation in the industry. Unless they've been "pre-approved" by having worked for a reputable competitor, Denise asks hopeful presenters to send a video and a resume.
The resume is then screened to see if there's a match between the candidate's experience and the slot to be filled. If the candidate has been a secretary for 15 years, for instance, she's a better match as a secretarial skills seminar trainer than someone who's been a professor of chemical engineering.
What can you expect to make as a seminar professional? The amount's up to you, depending only on how serious you are and how hard you want to work. It can bring in up to seven figures if you're very good--and certainly in the six figures. I'm in the mid-five figures after two and a half years in the business. As a newbie, you shouldn't expect to earn big bucks immediately.
Seminar professionals generate income by doing more than just giving speeches and supervising workshops. They also earn tidy sums of money from back-of-the-room sales. These are all the peripheral goodies that participants can buy to take home with them. Rock concert promoters display T-shirts, posters and souvenir programs for enthusiastic audience members to snap up. And savvy seminar professionals display books, audiotapes and videos relating to the program, seminar transcripts, and even--especially in the case of motivational programs--buzzword-emblazoned products like bookmarks, calendars, and yes, even T-shirts.
To determine how much you'll make, you have to figure out how much to charge for your programs, and the best way to do that is to first figure out how much each seminar will cost you. Let's give you yet another incarnation and say you're going to do a workshop on "Living The Good Life With Your Own Bed-And-Breakfast Business.
Now let's figure out how much your tickets will have to go for in order to make the seminar pay for itself. But keep in mind that this is your break-even price. If your prospective customers will pay this much for your seminar and if they all show up. Your market research should cue you in to whether or not this is a viable price.
If it's not, you'll have to go back to the drawing board and rework your calculations. You'll also need to consider whether there's a market for your bed-and-breakfast seminars within reasonable driving distance of your home base 50 weeks a year. If not, you'll either have to add travel costs for taking your show on the road--which will put a major dent in your bottom line--or you'll have to design a series of programs like starting your own bed-and-breakfast, starting your own coffee bar, starting your own personal concierge service, your own wax museum, etc.
This way you don't exhaust your customer base. No matter how thrilling, informative, life-affirming or business-rescuing your seminars are, nobody's going to know about them unless you advertise.
As a seminar professional, a great deal of your resources will go into designing and implementing advertising campaigns to take your sales to the limits and beyond. Unless your featured presenter is somebody really big like Elvis "direct from the Other Side! Your best bets are direct mail, personal contact and word-of-mouth. Venues like radio, television, magazines and newspapers--which can work wonders for other types of entrepreneurs--don't make much of a dent on the psyches of potential seminar participants.
Most seminar professionals agree that direct mail is the method of choice for advertising to unsolicited sources. What exactly is direct mail? It's another way of saying mail order and it can take the form of sales letters, brochures, postcards, or any other printed material you send to potential seminar customers.
Direct-mail advertising can be extremely effective, but it's also expensive. By the time you pay for the paper, envelopes, printing and postage for a major campaign, you've spent thousands of dollars. So before you pop those 50, sales pieces in the mail, make sure you've thoroughly considered what it is that your niche market wants or needs and how your seminars will satisfy that desire or need.
The first thing to do when you start your advertising campaign is to take a figurative step back. Revisit your market research. It should include the following:. Once you've answered these critical questions and you know exactly who you're targeting, with what, and why, it's time to devise your direct-mail piece. You can use any direct-mail format that works for you, from a letter introducing yourself and describing your seminars to a one-page flier to a multipage brochure.
Experimentation, testing and--always, always--market research will tell you which format is the best for your company.Seminar - Global Forestry Investments - Make Money from Trees HQ HD
Although unsolicited brochures or letters can work wonders, they're not the only way to go. Some seminar professionals--particularly those who do private corporate seminars rather than public seminars--never use unsolicited material at all, relying on referrals from past participants, speakers bureaus and other sundry sources to garner initial interest.
Then, when potential clients request information, they swing into promotional mode. Postcards are quick and easy and get your attention without having to be opened, and with an attention-grabbing photo, they really work. Of course, you have to put forth effort, intelligence and creativity, so it's not "free" as in you-don't-have-to-lift-a-finger, but that's OK. The rewards are worth it. So what are these free advertising opportunities? One, as you know, is word-of-mouth.
Another is print media. Take advantage of the thousands of magazines and journals out there by writing articles for publication.
That's what Gail H. And the benefits don't stop with the reader. People won't tear out an ad, but they'll tear out an article and pass it along to friends and relatives, so you get the word-of-mouth effect even in print. PR is another terrific source of free advertising. There are all sorts of low-cost techniques you can use. Try some of the following:.
Create and market your own seminars for public or corporate clients. Ecommerce Logistics A Game Changer For eCommerce Ameen Khwaja. Ecommerce Outlook of Indian eCommerce In Ameen Khwaja. Ecommerce The Rise of Vertical Marketplaces in Indian E-commerce Space Ameen Khwaja. June 14, The seminar business is big these days, in demand by individual consumers, organizations, associations, small businesses and giant corporations alike.
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