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Tips For Hosting A Successful Seminar

Saturday, December 09, 2023

Tips For Hosting A Successful Seminar

When you think about events for the info-marketing business and actually, for other types of businesses as well, there's a broad variety:

  • ​Single day
  • ​Multi-day
  • ​Local
  • ​Regional
  • ​National
  • ​Global in terms of draw of audience and intent of draw of audience
  • ​Training and Education
  • ​Information-driven
  • ​Entertainment
  • ​Fraternity
  • ​Destination-driven
  • ​Sales events where their primary purpose – whether disclosed and overt or somewhat disguised and not overt – is to sell things.

Reasons to Hold Events

The reasons to have them, first of all, are that nothing quite substitutes for a physical gathering of people inside four walls in terms of influence, impact, retention, ascending people, and increasing their commitment to the entity.

There's a reason that every effort is made to get people to come to church and to do so every seven days. It has not been abandoned even though obviously, the technology exists.

You can make a case just as people will make a case that, “Why do we even need mail, why doesn’t everybody just use email?”

You could make a case, “Why do we need a church building anywhere?”

All we need is what we're doing here. We need the pastor in front of the camera and an internet connection, and everybody can stay home. They can complete their church service on Sunday, and they can get to the golf course, or the buffet, or the Bob Evans even faster.

The problem is, amongst other things, that the money won't flow.

Yes, there is televangelism. Yes, there are ministries that only operate at a distance. But if you examine the numbers they have to reach in order to sustain themselves versus 200, 300, 400, 500 people supporting a church, it tells you a lot.

I say that for most businesses, most info-marketing businesses, you really can’t eliminate the church because it is the fellowship of the people that matters.

In the network marketing industry, there's been two little waves… one recent, one not all that recent… where companies thought it would be a very cool idea to eliminate the meetings and do everything at a distance and do everything digitally.

They pushed Zoom and Google Meets for this kind of messy process of organizing Tuesday night meetings in living rooms all across the world and doing those every week.

This has now become the substitute for moving people to monthly rallies at the Holiday Inn by the freeway in cities all across America, then, quarterly, bigger regional meetings at convention centers.

How about we eliminate all that?

In both attempts, some companies virtually put themselves out of business. Others discovered, somewhat to their dismay, that the business is the meetings because of the fellowship of the people.

One type of event is some version of a fast-start meeting.

In our world, it's very beneficial to get new people, new to you, into a physical environment with other people as quickly as possible.

We have Fast Start Bootcamps and our SuperConference as the main mixed breed of dog, everybody-can-come kind of event.

We also have an Info-Summit, which is more specialized. If you think about the Fast Starts or the SuperConference, and you saw our data, the attendance at one or both of these events dramatically impacts long-term retention.

A person who attends our SuperConference is far more likely to stay beyond a year, beyond two years, and frequently beyond three years.

If you take a look at what I call lifers, people with ten years with us or more, virtually all of them attended physical events early and continue to attend physical events, if not every time, at least frequently.

When there are 30, or 300, or 3000 excited people, some of whom are doing something and have had successes with us, it reinforces their decision to stick with us much longer.

Until that happens, they are worthless sitting in their basement, home alone. Nothing changes that but the physical event where fellowship occurs.

There's also an enormous benefit for both the event attendee and the marketer in getting people out of their daily activities, and daily routines, and daily pressures, and daily small circle of association. If you did that to them for three days and didn't really do much else with them, if you could get away with it, if you just locked them in a room, took their devices away and gave them a pad and a pencil and left them to think, you would deliver great value.

You could easily have someone on stage read Think And Grow Rich, and it would create great value for people in attendance because of the fact that you extracted them from what they’re constantly and customarily paying attention to, which reinforces their limited scope of thinking.

When you take the dentist who goes to his office every day, and he drives by the same route every day, pretty much whatever he listens to in the car on the way to the office, he listens to the same thing every day. He now checks in with the same staff. He goes to the back and works on teeth all day.

Two or three times a day, he has conversations again with the same staff. If he takes a break for lunch, he goes to lunch and meets up with the same four or five people. He goes home at the end of the day and hangs out with the same family. That's all very reinforcing and very small.

It's sort of like living in an Amish town. When you take him out of there, and you put him in a physical space, away from all of that for a day or two or three, and you surround him with other people and you expose him to other ideas, you have a very liberating effect on this guy.

He's able to think about himself, his business and the world around him in a very different way.

For all those reasons, the event part of the business whether it may be seminar, bootcamp, training class, convention, big conference, all of these kinds of events make a better customer. They make them a better member of your community.

Aside from them purchasing your product or service, the impact from the event creates a long term relationship with your business, which increases your LTV (Lifetime Value) of the customer.

Planning Events Strategically

When you start to plan an event, you start to think about it first strategically, not tactically.

By that, I mean, tactically as in:

  • ​Who's going to speak first, second, third?
  • ​What are they going to speak about?
  • ​If you're going to sell, what are you going to sell?
  • ​When are you going to sell it?
  • ​At what price are you going to sell it?
  • ​Are you going to credit the event registration back against the coaching program you're selling?
  • ​Are you going to have a party?
  • ​Are you going to separate the audience and have VIPs in one place?

That's all tactical stuff.

When you think about them first strategically, your enemy is confusion and your ally is clarity.

All tactical stuff

You have to start with why are we doing it, what are the purposes for doing this event and for doing this particular event at this point in time? It needs to be a short list, not a long list. I say a short list because it's hard for any servant to effectively serve more than one master.

If you have ever in business had three people try and share a single assistant, you find more often than not that it doesn't work out very well.

The same thing is true with any servant. An event now is a servant to a master or masters.

If you have 8, 10, or even 12 objectives probably none of them are going to be served very well. I would put a magic number at five or less and ideally, three. You have to think through what your chief purposes for doing the event are.

Then, you reverse engineer everything and everything is litmus tested to:

  • ​Does this actually advance one of these objectives?
  • ​Is it neutral?
  • ​Or is it in any way a distraction or harmful?

You may, for example, have a great relationship with a particular speaker. The speaker does a fabulous job, and everybody loves them, and they always get a standing ovation.

However, if what they speak about or what they sell when they speak, if they sell, does not advance the cause of the moment, does not move the purposes of the event forward, you can't have that person on that agenda, at that event.

You have to view everything you do putting together an event exactly the same way. Likes, dislikes, preferences, obligations, none of that matters. Everything is driven by your two or three or four key purposes. That's really the most important strategic thing to do.

I suppose the second most important is there's no point in building an event, no matter how well it would serve your particular purposes if it can't be effectively sold.

As much as we might think women's volleyball is a great idea, if we own NBC or ABC or CBS, we're probably not going to televise women's volleyball. We're definitely not going to televise it opposite Sunday night football. Because we're going to get killed.

Audience And Marketability

Event programming is in a sense like media programming.

  • ​There has to be an audience.
  • ​The audience has to be the audience we want for our purposes.
  • ​The audience has to be available.
  • ​The audience has to be excited by the event’s topic.
  • ​They have to be willing to pay for it.
  • ​They have to be willing to travel to come to it if it's not local. If it's local, they have to be willing to leave their home or office, sacrifice a Saturday, or whatever else, to come to it.

The second strategic thing is really market-driven. Are we building the most salable event that we can build?

I'd say those are the two most important things to get clarity about when you set out to do an event.

By the way, most people approach this the exact opposite, as they do with business in general. Most people create the product and then, they go in search of a hoped-for market that will support that product. They typically have built the product they like; the product they have the parts for, that allows them to build the product; the product they know the most about; the product that they want to sell, with very little concern for what's the market.

Same thing happens with events. The whole event is built with really very little concern for who is the audience, whereas, this question is really about:

  • ​Is there an audience?
  • ​Who's the audience?
  • ​If this is the audience I want, what will compel them? What will be so compelling to them that they can't ignore it, they can't devalue it, and they can't stay home?

It's important to understand when we're bringing people to a physical event, we are asking a lot from them.

In today's world, and with certain age groups particularly, we are asking for antithetical behavior on their part. Their normal, customary and preferred behavior is to stay home, spend all their time, if they are in business, on their business; otherwise, to stay home and to do everything through their device.

Local is now what's in my phone, not what's in a five-mile radius around my house, or what's in my state, or what's in my industry.

We are asking people to do something that is really antithetical to them in many cases. Even if it's not that, it is expensive, it's time-consuming, and it's inconvenient.

I fly privately now but people tell me going anywhere via the commercial air travel system is less than fun. To some people, it's disturbing. Rightly or wrongly, they feel safer in their own environment than they do in a distant city, a foreign land, or a big venue.

So we're asking people to do a lot and therefore, it's not enough to have something that is beneficial, valuable and interesting. We've got to be notches just way, way, way above that.

Current And Present Market

When you think about the current and the present market, for many businesses now, it is at least national if not global. The size of our world… arguably one of the good things the Internet has produced… the size of our world is, in a sense, much smaller.

There was certainly a day in the event business where local and regional were very prominent.

If you were doing something like an annual convention, you moved it around. You might very well do two during the course of the year – West Coast and East Coast. You had real, if not limitations, you had real geographic concerns.

Largely, if you were a US-based marketer, the majority of your audience, of your market, was US-based.

That has pretty much all changed. As a matter of fact, in most info-marketing businesses, the percentage of the customer base for US-based companies that reside outside the United States has grown, is growing and continues to grow.

Maybe more significantly, differential customer value surprises a lot of people when they discover that their non-US residing customer is actually a more valuable customer, a better-behaved customer, a more ardent customer than their US-based customer.

The event business now, particularly your bigger annual or biannual conference or member convention, is really for a global audience.

That requires thinking about airport connections. How hard is it going to be for not just somebody all through the United States to get to where you're holding the event but how many stops are there between your event and for example, Berlin?

This matters and the desirability of coming to a city matters.

It also raises issues of productization of the event, live time, and live streaming monetization of the event.

In other words, do you let people partake in the event without being at it? How do you do that? When do you do that? If so, how do you monetize it?

Because you are almost always sacrificing monetization that would occur if that person were there physically. The trade-offs are significant, and perhaps we'll talk about them a little bit later.

Trade-offs

I think the first thing to recognize is that we're in a global marketplace, most of us. We're not in a domestic marketplace.

There may very well be higher valuable customers for us in a non-domestic market than a domestic market. We have to think about how we entice, incentivize and reward the people who cross some pond arduously to attend our our event.

It's a real problem for people with mastermind groups where there are three or four meetings during the course of a year. Often, the US-based business will have many non-US-based customers eager to join those programs but their participation and their stick rates, the renewal rates tend not to be as good.

It seemed like a really good idea to them at the time. But when they have to make three trips from Bangladesh and make five stops in each direction in order to get to the mastermind meeting, their enthusiasm tends to wane a lot more quickly than the person who has to travel from Dallas to Cleveland.

When you have a limited number of seats in those things, you have to think about whether you want to give a seat to somebody who will be very hard to renew when you should be working harder to sell the seat to somebody who will be more likely to renew.

This global expansion is not without its issues and its challenges. But it is the wave of the future.

In the near term, it's where I think the best customers are overall. When you look at our middle-class issues in America, 90% of info-marketing businesses, their best customers have gray hair. Which means, they're getting grayer by the day. They're 50+; they're even 60+, and they are going to die out.

There's no evidence yet that the Gen X-ers and the Millennials are prepared to replace them in terms of customer value.

Then further, we have an ongoing shrinkage – arguably even a collapse – of the American middle class. It's not all moving down. Some of it is moving up, which is good news.

2015 saw more millionaire households in the United States than in any previous year, and more growth since I think 2002 or 2003. So some are moving up but a lot are moving down, and the middle is disappearing.

Small business consolidation is occurring at an accelerated pace caused by many factors. In many niches that B2B info-marketers work in, their number of eligible customers is actually shrinking, and it's shrinking out of the middle as well.

Other economies and other nations have the exact opposite. They have an expanding middle-class. They have a rising middle-class. They have enormous growth in the small to barely mid-sized business, the main street business, the mom-and-pop entrepreneur business.

In some of these countries, the opportunity to do that has really only recently been unleashed.

So you have markets where there is enormous growth of what either directly or indirectly supports 90% of all info-marketing businesses and, therefore, specifically supports all their events.

You have a market here where you actually have shrinkage of the kind of businesses that either directly or indirectly support info-marketing businesses and events.

So the folks who remain provincial out of preference, sloth, ignorance, fear, or whatever or those who try and remain provincial with their businesses, I think, are in for a very difficult time in the foreseeable years in the next handful or two of years.

So, there are your tips for a successful seminar or any type of event, conference, or summit you may choose. This works, and if you want more, you can get it via my NO B.S. Newsletter or by joining Diamond -- where you’ll have access to courses on how to get Butts in Seats or Event Hacks…

My hope is this has been helpful, and insightful, and I look forward to seeing you in the Magnetic Marketing community.

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