How to Promote Meetings and Seminars

ADM | American Database Marketing, Inc.


How to Promote Meetings and Seminars...

Build attendance at your meeting or seminar with all the proven techniques that seminar promoters have used for years.

  1. Allow 6 months from "idea" to meeting date for a new, untried, small meeting or seminar.

  2. Allow a minimum of 9 months for a two or three-day conference for planning, speaker selection and contact, marketing efforts.

  3. Consider a separate pitch (copy) for each major market segment.

  4. Profile the prospective attendee who you want to register and then begin subject and content planning.

  5. Bolster in-house "know-how" with freelance talent - art, copy, marketing; don't try to "make do" with inexperienced staff.

  6. Decide what benefits or knowledge the satisfied attendee will go home with before deciding on content and format.

  7. In your brochure's copy, give personal benefits first - before corporate benefits . . . agenda . . . speakers.

  8. Feature all locations and dates conspicuously.

  9. Price to match value - don't under-price.

  10. Say it without technical jargon whenever you possibly can.

  11. Write to give the prospect the ammo needed to sell the boss and/or the Training Director whose decision is needed to attend.

  12. Make benefits believable - no unreal promises that your session can't really deliver.

  13. Consider overbooking to allow for no-shows.

  14. Adjust hotel and meal estimates for no-shows.

  15. Match the location and facilities with the audience-level and purpose of the meeting.

  16. Tell the whole story - don't save paper and lose attendance.

  17. Mail enough to hit the total market - every registration after breakeven should be almost entirely net dollars.

  18. Make your cancellation and no-show refund policy perfectly clear.

  19. Link speakers to to/pics - avoid general "speakers include" lists.

  20. Specify starting and ending times.

  21. Check competitive activity before selecting date and location.

  22. Check the local holiday situation before scheduling.

  23. Look in to Continuing Education Unit credits.

  24. Put "action" or even a benefit into the meeting title; consider a phrase beginning with "How to . . ."

  25. Loosen up the layout - "packed" text looks "heavy" and your copy must be readable to work.

  26. Use photos and other graphic elements to offset the monotony of unrelieved text; graphically emphasize the features and high points of your meeting.

  27. Tie your copy into related topical developments in the field.

  28. If the theme and market is really national, the response to a regional "test" session can be misleading.

  29. Cite the speakers' credentials briefly.

  30. Mail 8-12 weeks before meeting date.

  31. Consider a second mailing to your prime market no later than 4 weeks before the meeting date.

  32. Be sure to mail to your Customer and Inquiry files.

  33. Use Title Addressing when individual name is not available.

  34. Key your response for a traceable report, so you'll know which list is working best for you.

  35. Obtain market information from mailing list brokers who understand and service Meeting/Seminar firms.

  36. Self-mailers are usually the most cost-effective promotion, and they get the greatest pass-along.

  37. Use a variety of alternate job titles for Title Addressing to be sure to reach your prospect in large companies.

  38. Select markets (mailing lists) by function first and title second.

  39. Select lists of relevant industries (S.I.C.'s) for specific programs.

  40. Select branch offices and plant locations if managers are part of your market.

  41. Select firms on the basis of sales volume and/or employee size if important to your program.

  42. Consider Chief Executive Officers, Personnel Executives and Training Executives to increase your registration.

  43. Canadian markets are worth testing.

  44. Distribute meeting critiques to registrants for their comments and evaluation of the program attended. Ask them which trade magazines and newspapers they read.

  45. Test an often overlooked market - Senior, Group, and Executive Vice Presidents without functional titles - for direct as well as referral registrations.

  46. Beware of the duplication factor when using lists from various sources and/or brokers.

  47. Probe for further market definition and information when mailing list data cards are vague and leave you with unanswered questions.

  48. Check your list broker to determine the experience he has in the Meeting and Seminar business.

  49. Do you continually test new lists?

  50. Do you prepare a registration profile to identify functions, titles, management level, company size, S.I.C.'s and distance traveled?

  51. Evaluate post-meeting critiques prepared by attendees to define your markets more precisely or future meetings and mailings.

  52. Send your promotional piece or draft to your list broker to get his help in selecting prime markets.

  53. Send a letter with a copy of the promotion (via first class mail) to the people who have canceled the previous time the program was given.

  54. Consider an 800 number for registration.

  55. Be sure to include space for job title on the registration form.

  56. Design the registration form realistically and large enough to be properly filled out.

  57. When using a self-mailer, try to get the mailing label on the registration form so that it will be returned to you. This can help you evaluate how well each list pulled.

  58. Never destroy the original registration form.

  59. Consider a second mailing to commuter area.

  60. Most lists are provided on 4-up Cheshire labels for machine-affixing. Check with your lettershop to be sure this can be handled by them.

  61. Always use a key code on the mailing label to prevent different lists from being confused.

  62. In designing a self-mailer, before printing get design approval from the local postmaster.

  63. "Piggy-back" on your promotion piece a mention of any other seminar opportunities you may be offering in the near future.

  64. Include in your promotion favorable comments elicited from past attendees - include job title and organization.

  65. Mention any trade association or certification for your meeting or seminar.

  66. Be aware that most of your response may build gradually, instead of surging right away as in most direct mail.

  67. Include a detailed outline or program of the seminar – treat this as a form of "contract" between you and the registrant.

  68. Consider multiple promotions in one mailing, offering two, three, four, or even ten meetings/seminars on one brochure.

  69. Consider testing a package including a cover letter and brochure in an outer envelope. Add a substantive "P.S." to the letter, and put attention-getting copy on the envelope.

  70. On your mailing panel, include instructions like: "Attention Mail Room: This is dated material. If undeliverable as addressed, pass to Training Manager."

  71. Encourage pass-along by prominently placing a box on the cover saying "Route to:" and leave three or four lines for the recipient to fill in.

  72. Consider listing the major features of your seminar on the cover of your brochure along with the title.

  73. Use a serif typeface for large blocks of copy to enhance readability.

  74. Be sure your "indicia" meets postal regulations.

  75. Be sure you have obtained all the necessary postal permits.

  76. At the seminar, have available at all times coffee, tea, and cold drinks.

  77. Attendees remember clearly the "amenities" try to have soft executive chairs, allow plenty of writing room, have good audio-visual equipment, use a climate-controlled room.

  78. Encourage attendees to talk together and get to know each other.

  79. Offer some kind of extra bonus, such as a workbook unobtainable anywhere else, a special workshop, case studies, a discount price on equipment.

  80. Encourage attendees to bring their specific problems to the seminar for discussion.

  81. Send press releases to the appropriate trade or regional media in plenty of time to get included in their listings of upcoming events.

  82. Be aware that advertising has been known to work for promoting meetings and seminars, but it is much more hit-and-miss than direct mail.

  83. Be sure your phone is answered professionally by someone who speaks well and who knows about the seminar and the sponsoring organization.

  84. Answer all inquiries for further information within 48 hours.

  85. Include a "Who Should Attend," listing every possible type of attendee who can benefit from the seminar.

  86. If appropriate, mention that Treasury regulation 1-162-5 permits an income tax deduction for expenses (registration fees, travel, food, lodging) undertaken to maintain or improve professional skills.

  87. Consider a discount of 10% for 3 or more attendees from the same organization.

  88. Indicate clearly and simply, step-by-step, how to register - emphasize how quick and easy it is.

  89. Consider including a list of the organizations which have sent attendees in the past.

  90. If appropriate, offer to conduct the seminar at the site of the organization, and indicate how to arrange for it easily.

  91. Consider a discount for registering prior to arrival at the meeting or seminar.

  92. If appropriate, mention that registration is limited to a specific number of attendees.

  93. Urge them to "Act now."

  94. Be sure to include the phone number emphatically outside the coupon, so they can still register after it has been clipped.

  95. Emphasize in your copy what "You will get" and not what "We will give you."

  96. If applicable, mention that a bloc of rooms has been reserved at a local hotel for seminar attendees.

  97. In a catalog, include the phone number on every page.

  98. Consider binding in your catalog a tear-off, postage-paid business reply card for easy registration; be sure the card meets postal regulations.

  99. Include a thorough, detailed subject index in your catalog.
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