When a workshop is more than just a workshop

If you offer any kind of service to customers, running workshops are a great way of marketing yourself and your business.  They inform and advise and can act as a great way of speaking directly to your target customer audience.  Also, as will become apparent here, they are not a one-off event in terms of marketing, they actually offer a lot more.

At Appletree we recently held a ½ day marketing workshop for small, service-based companies.  As well as it being a great opportunity to give marketing advice and tips to the businesses, it was also a great way to use a number of different marketing activities, at little or no cost.

On the surface, it was an activity that happened during a few hours, with a captive audience who listened and participated in a lively workshop.  Dig deeper however, and it becomes clear how many marketing activities were involved in the workshop, before, during and after the event.

Let me take you back a few weeks.  Once the venue and timings of the workshop had been confirmed, an online booking system was created.  An email promoting the event was then sent out to a database of small businesses.  This database was known to be ‘clean’ and up to date, an absolute must when dealing with contact databases.  Details of the event were added to our website.  This is great for SEO, which looks for regular updates on sites in order to rank them.  We then sent details of the event to another mailing list, via our monthly newsletter, which is linked to our website.  Again, this encouragement to visit our website is a great way to share more of our services to those contacts, and to improve SEO.

A reminder email was sent to all contacts a week before the event, and some follow up telephone calls made to outline the benefits of attending the workshop.

The desired number of delegates was reached before the day, and an email was sent to each asking if they had any specific objectives they were hoping to meet as a result of the workshop.  This was the start of relationship building with our key audience.

During the day we met some really interesting people, all of whom were small business owners and all wanting to learn how to use marketing successfully to help grow their businesses.  Feedback from the day was asked from each delegate, along with a personal thank you to each for attending.  It’s this long-term relationship building that creates the most long-lasting business opportunities.

All in all, around 6 different channels of marketing were used, just for a workshop that lasted a few hours.  It led to lots of ticks on our marketing activity plan!

So if you’re considering running a workshop but don’t think you have the time, consider it as a huge opportunity to cost effectively market yourself and your business.

Remember what you’re going to say?

How do you remember what you’re going to say? If you’re giving a talk or a presentation, how do you remember what to say? Can you memorise a couple of hours worth of material, or do you have a clever way of reminding yourself what you need to cover?

I usually start by writing out what I want to say, in long hand – or the typed version. Then I go through it and highlight the key words or phrases that will remind me what I’ll be talking about as I go through the session. They get marked with a highlighter pen or put in bold. After that I usually create a postcard for each section of the talk, with the keywords written on them. I take the cards with me and put them somewhere that I can see them, where they won’t distract my audience. I’ve been using this technique for many years, since I learnt it at Toastmasters (a great place to start to learn about public speaking, by the way.) Most of the time the postcards work quite well, but I have to make sure I don’t put so much onto each one, or the writing gets too small. Which means that I can’t always get enough onto the card to remind me of everything I want to cover.

And then I learnt a great new technique! It was at the monthly session of a peer to peer group I belong to, called MD2MD. Our speaker, David Hyner, taught us this great new way of remembering stuff. He read out a list of about 20 words and on their own, none of us could remember beyond the first three or four. Then he had us attach an emotion to each word – joy, fear or love. When he read out the list again, I started to see the words as pictures – things I knew or had seen somewhere else recently; things that made me laugh or smile at. Being a visual person anyway, this really brought the list of words to life and all of a sudden I could remember them, like a story. When we were asked if anyone would like to have a go at remembering the whole list, I volunteered. I scored 20 out of 20 and won a bar of chocolate for my efforts!

To prove that this wasn’t a fluke, I decided to try out the technique when I got home. I was due to give a 30 minute presentation the next morning at a networking event. I got out my coloured pens and a sheet of card. I looked through the presentation that I’d already typed out and turned the highlighted words into colourful images. Now, each section of my talk was represented by a picture!

The following morning I took my pictures to the networking event and had them on the table next to the flip chart. Each time I needed to know what came next, I just looked at the pictures and knew exactly what to say! Rather than seeing a list of words, I saw an image that represented paragraphs of a whole page of text. It was one of the most enjoyable presentations I’ve given for a while!

In this blog is a picture of the images I drew for the presentation. It won’t mean much to you, but I thought you might like to see what you can do!

Measuring your marketing

To make your marketing really effective, you need to measure every marketing activity that you carry out.

You can start by measuring the number of enquiries that you generate from each activity and how much it costs for each enquiry. Go a stage further and measure the number of new clients generated from those enquiries. Some activities may generate many enquiries, but if they’re not the right sort of enquiries – not your ideal clients – you will not get the conversion to clients that you want.

When you are measuring the cost, take everything into account. If you attend a regular networking meeting, include the annual fee and cost of each meeting. You can even include the time that you spend at each meeting and your time to travel there – this will show you if it’s worth you driving for two hours to that networking meeting, even if it’s free to attend.

Be really specific with your measurements. For example, for networking meetings, measure the effectiveness of each group you attend, as this will show you if some are better for you than others. If you advertise in newspapers or magazines, measure the results you get from each one.

Once you have started to measure your marketing, take a look at the numbers. Are there any surprises? Do you have some marketing activities that are working better than others? Are there some that are not working as well as you thought they might be? Are there some marketing activities that you should stop and others that you should do better?

This is an exerpt from my new book about Marketing Planning, which will be published on 16 November 2011.  Pre-launch orders now being taken – click here to reserve your copy.

What do you do? And how do you tell people?

When you go to networking meetings and someone asks “What do you do?” can you answer succinctly, in a way that leaves people wanting to know more? Can you get your message across in one minute – or less – in a way that everyone can understand? Or do you leave people confused, bored or even put off by what you say?

Courtesy of the great Mike Harris, who set up companies like Egg and First Direct, I’d like to share with you a process I’ve learnt recently. We tried it out at an LGL lunch in Oxford at the end of September and it went down really well. Here’s the process:

  1. What’s the big idea? What do you actually do, or want to do? You need to be able to say it in one line, without using any jargon or ‘weird’ language. At this stage you don’t need to say how you do what you do. I used to say “I’m a marketing consultant” and have realised that the word ‘marketing’ puts many people off; and some people just don’t understand it. So now I say “I work with coaches, consultants and trainers who are too busy to find new clients.” Simple, clear and succinct.
  2. Why should I listen to you? This is where you tell your audience why they should carry on listening to you. Give them your credentials. If you’re the only person who does what you do, say so; if you invented what you do, or have won awards doing it, then say so. For me, I tell people that I’ve got 16 years of experience helping other companies to find new clients. I also say that 11 of those years have been spent running my own successful consultancy, finding new clients for coaches and consultants.
  3. What’s the problem? So you’ve got all this experience, but what problem do you actual solve for your clients? What have you noticed people struggling with? As an example, I’ve noticed how a lot of consultants either have too much work (and no time for life or doing any marketing) or they don’t have enough work (and therefore no money for life or doing any marketing.) They spend their time going up and down a rollercoaster, going from feast to famine and back again. And they want to get off the rollercoaster!
  4. Sell the solution. Once you’ve got the audience’s attention by showing you understand their problems, you can tell them about the solutions you provide. Tell them how you can help them. At Appletree, we help coaches, consultants and trainers to get off the feast and famine rollercoaster, by doing lots of marketing for them. We keep the marketing ticking over in the background, while they get on doing what they’re good at – and what they’re paid to do. With regular marketing, we help them get a regular flow of the right sort of clients, to keep them busy and earning the sort of fees they deserve.
  5. Put your heart into it. You can go through the first four stages of this process and still leave people uninterested in what you say, if you don’t put your heart into it. You need to show your audience why you care about what you do and how passionate you are about it. I hate seeing coaches and consultants struggle with their businesses, especially when I know there is something that can be done about it. It’s my mission to put an end to the struggle of running a coaching, consulting or training business. I want to inspire people to succeed by following their passions.

So think about how you can explain what you do, without confusing people with jargon from the outset and by being really clear on what you do and why. Put some heart into it and the next time someone asks you what you do, try out this clever process and see what happens. If you’ve been used to seeing people’s eyes glaze over, or have people drift away from you before you’ve finished answering, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Let me know how you get on?!

And if you want to try this out with a group of like-minded people, join me at the Ladies & Gentlemen That Lunch north Oxfordshire/south Warwickshire meeting in Farnborough on 5 October, when we’ll be running a mini workshop during lunch.

FastTracking: Smart moves for smart businesses

One thing I see quite regularly in business is the need for new blood. Many small businesses find themselves in a cycle – the ‘feast and famine’ rollercoaster. They spend lots of time doing marketing, generating new exciting work and clients and then get wholly distracted by the work these clients bring in. It’s wonderful to see growth, but then they can lose sight of their marketing. Suddenly the work dries up, or they learn to cope with their demand so they start a massive push for marketing again. But the new work coming in leaves them too busy to focus on their marketing again.

It’s such a simple problem, but once you’re on this rollercoaster, it’s almost impossible to get off. Businesses are left being either too busy, or not busy enough. And when they aren’t busy enough, they figure out how to get too busy again. Surely, structure would help? Inconsistent marketing leads to inconsistent results. You’ll never have a steady income of clients, workflow or finances that way. A successful small business knows how to maintain a consistent stream of work and how do they do it? Consistency and planning. So, I’ve been working on a way to get small businesses out of this cycle, and am very excited – this would change a lot of businesses for the better.

FastTrack Your Business in Just One Day is an interactive workshop that will show you how to plan your marketing and fit it conveniently into your busy schedule, to give you a regular flow of new clients. It’s a smart move for any business to make. The workshop will help you create a plan that you can take away with you and put to work in your business, straight away. We’re going to cover things like where to go with your business; how to get there; which clients can make it happen for you; and the best marketing activities you can use to attract them. In just one day, you can walk away with a clear plan to follow – one that’s appropriate to your business. This is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ programme, which is why I’m looking forward to it. This is a workshop that could change the way you see marketing and your business.

There’ll be opportunities to network with other businesses, alongside exercises and practical advice – it’s a unique opportunity to meet people at a pivotal time in their business marketing. If you’d like to join me, click here to find out more and to book online for just £49 +VAT for the whole day.

Using events to promote what you do

Chantal

Do you use events to promote your business? You probably go to networking meetings, to connect with new prospects, but have you thought where else you can go, or what else you can do?

Attending workshops. If you’re attending a workshop as a delegate, you can also use it as a networking opportunity. There will be other business people there and some of them could be potential clients or suppliers. I’ve been to business workshops on a weekday, where people have turned up looking like they’re just going to the shops on a Saturday morning. Not quite the impression you want to give other people, so make sure you make an effort.

Running workshops. Do you run workshops to demonstrate your skills and experience? If you provide a service, delivering a workshop is a great way to show people what you do and how good you are. Use the time to give away advice, rather than spending time telling people what you do, and you will build up rapport with your audience. Once they trust you they are more likely to buy from you.

Conferences. Attending a conference is a great way to learn from the speakers. It’s also a great networking opportunity. Some conferences arrange networking sessions in between speeches, so make the most of. Take plenty of business cards and dress like you mean it. If you can, speak to the speakers too, because you never know who they know.

Open days. Moving offices? Launching a new product? Celebrating a success? Through a party or open day and invite everyone you know. Last summer we celebrated our 10th birthday at Appletree with a party. We put a marquee onto the lawn outside the office, wheeled in a hog roast and poured a few glasses of wine. We invited all our clients, past and present, along with lots of our suppliers. It was a great networking event for us and for everyone else who came – lots of business cards changed hands!

Think about what events you can go to or run yourself, to help you promote your business beyond the reaches of networking.

Can you sell from the stage?

Chantal

Can you sell your products and services from the stage? I’m not talking about the theatrical stage or suggesting that you become an actor. This is about selling what you do from giving presentations.

For many years I’ve given presentations at networking groups. At the end, people tell me how much they enjoyed my talk, or how useful they found it. Many people subscribe to my newsletter as a result and sometimes people ask me for a meeting, so that we can talk more about their marketing. But I’ve never really ‘sold’ anything and waiting for people to ask for a meeting can be a bit hit and miss.

All that is about to change! I recently went to a workshop that teaches you to actually sell what you do from the stage, by talking about it. This sort of selling is not the pushy “buy it now before they all run out” sort of selling. It’s not selling where ‘selling’ is a dirty word. It’s about giving people something they need.

The reason that this sort of selling works is because there are two things that you absolutely have to have, if you’re going to do it properly. They are passion and authenticity. Without either, no one will buy what you have to sell.

So are you passionate about what you do? Do you totally love your job and your business? When you’re doing it, are you ‘in the flow’, where you lose track of time? If you have this passion then you can speak about it and sell it from the stage. I’m passionate about helping coaches, consultants and trainers to grow their businesses. I love working with people who want to make a difference through their work and want to build a successful business. I believe that marketing really works, when it’s done properly; that it doesn’t have to cost the earth. I believe that it’s about creating products and services that people want or need rather than selling them something they don’t want or need.

What about authenticity? Can you speak from the real you and tell the truth? When you’re presenting, are you being genuine or are you just trying to impress people? If you don’t tell the truth or set out to impress others, you won’t speak with authenticity and the audience will see straight through you. I could stand in front of an crowd and tell them how great marketing can be for their business, but only if they pay someone else to do all it for them, because the only way to get marketing done properly is to pay an expert. And then people would start throwing things at me! No one would buy anything I tried to sell, because it would be obvious that I didn’t believe what I was saying. And when you don’t believe what you’re saying, you can’t be passionate about it, either.

If you use speaking to sell what you do, are you passionate and authentic? If you are, then take a look at www.ShiftSpeakerTraining.com for the next steps in turning your presentations into profits.

If you don’t yet use speaking to sell what you do, I encourage you to, because it really works. If you’ve never spoken in public before, look for your local Toastmasters group (www.Toastmasters.org) because it’s a great place to learn the basics. And then go to www.ShiftSpeakerTraining.com to find out how to do it profitably!