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Passion, People and Principles

Attracting People to a Seminar

post # 127 — July 10, 2006 — a Client Relations post

A question has been posed by a reader of this blog:

For a number of years I was a partner in a mid-sized accounting practice but I have recently relocated to another state and city for family reasons and have made the decision to commence practice as a sole practitioner and start again.

I have found that seminars (as you recommend) are the most successful method of initially attracting new clients. I am however interested on your views of how such seminars should be marketed when I do not have an existing base of clients. To date I have advertised in the press (this is however expensive). What have start up firms done in your experience that works?

The cheapest and most effective way to get people to a start-up seminar is to partner with some other organization. Meeting and conference planners are often looking for interesting speakers, and if you could offer a free seminar which can be offered as an optional choice in their program, there is virtually no downside for them. Your chamber of commerce (or local hotels and conference centers) should be able to tell you what meetings are coming to town.

You can also apply the same approach with local groups. Every town has various “semi-business / semi-social” interest groups that meet regularly, and they often would welcome an after-dinner speaker who could provide something informative without a hard sell.

Anyone else got any suggestions?


Carl Singer said:

I strongly agree.

One caution, don’t be a “hit and run” speaker—that is don’t show up only when you’re on the agenda. Attend and participate in a few meetings to get the lay of the land, see if this group is right for you, socialize, etc., Then offer to be a speaker.

You’ll find that this will help lend credibility to your presentation and help build a new network in your new location.

Good luck!

posted on July 10, 2006

clarke ching said:

Hi David,

I agree with your suggestion about contacting local groups. I run AgileScotland – a not for profit group focused on Agile software development and project menagement – and in that role it makes my life much easier when people offer to speak.


posted on July 10, 2006

Chris Barrow said:

I agree with David’s comments and become dismayed at the number of coaches and consultants who spend countless hours preparing the “perfect presentation” and then are dispirited by low attendance figures.

I arrived in UK dentistry in 1997 with no contacts at all and spent a good 3 to 4 years driving around the UK, willing to attend any professional body, trade association, supplier or independent mastermind group that would have me as a guest speaker. I was equally happy to speak to 3 or 300 people and, eventually, my breaks came with a couple of well attended “gigs”. Even now, with a national reputation in the profession, I DO NOT organise my own marketing presentations to prospective new clients – I work exclusively with a few, key, strategic alliance partners who have a bigger database than I do, deeper pockets and spare people to organise functions. However, I have cultured a reputation as a dependable and entertaining speaker, almost guaranteed to liven up their events. I also get paid nowadays! I encourage your original writer to take the same route – the slow road to success but much cheaper and less stressful.

posted on July 10, 2006

Shawn Callahan said:

An important part of our consulting practice is running workshops and we let people know they are on by emailing the various online communities we are members of. We’ve also built up a large email list of people interested in our work based on our whitepapers and blog posts. We once tried sending brochures in the mail and it was a flop: time consuming, expensive and ineffective.

posted on July 10, 2006

Eric said:

I always like it when they have the event catoered. Its nice to get out of the office for awhile and grab some food.

As far as seminars I have found much luck with the local chamber and the initiatives they bring to the table.

posted on July 10, 2006