On the hunt for new and creative ways to promote your products or services? Well, you don’t have to look too far. As a business owner, your professional expertise is one of the most important resources that you have. So, why not hold a workshop, class or educational event that allows you to share your knowledge with an eager audience while also promoting your company?
To capture and maintain the attention of your target audience, you have to do more than just send run-of-the-mill promotions — you need to create helpful marketing experiences and content. Try teaching your customers how to get the most out of your products, explaining how your services can enrich their lives or simply helping them develop new skills. These ideas not only provide the value consumers are after, but also enable you to position yourself as a local expert — someone they can trust when they’re in the market for your offerings.
No teaching experience? Not a problem. Follow these tips and you’ll be ready to hold your first lesson in no time.
Choose a topic
Deciding what to focus on for your first workshop or class isn’t as difficult as you might think. Start by thinking about some of the questions customers ask you about your products or services. Conducting a demo is the perfect way to address common concerns and present all of the benefits of your product.
But you don’t have to stop there. Spend some time thinking about workshops, classes or experiences that complement your offerings. A clothing retailer could offer a personal styling session where they help customers choose — and purchase — the perfect outfit. Craft stores and cookware stores commonly hold classes where they’re able to generate money from admissions and sales from the products used during the class.
There are plenty of opportunities for business owners of every industry to share knowledge in a way that boosts business. For example, plumbers can give presentations on seasonal plumbing needs, accountants can point out deductions that most people miss and healthcare professionals can go over wellness tips.
Still don’t know what to do? Send out a survey and ask your customers about workshops they’d be interested in. Once you’ve landed on your idea, you’ll need to consider the following:
Format: Do you excel at giving online presentations? Are you more interested in creating a face-to-face interactive experience? How can you best present the information you have to share? The format will be heavily dependent upon your teaching style — or what you feel comfortable with — and the type of information you’re presenting.
The number of people you can accommodate: Consider the size of the space you’ll be in. More people may mean more money for you, but will you be able to give everyone the attention they need to truly enjoy the experience?
Price: Will the class be offered for free with attendees having the option to purchase products from you afterward? Or will the event be ticketed?
Even if you have a talent for “winging it,” devote some time to preparing for your presentation. To ensure that you make a great impression on your audience and provide them with the kind of experience that keeps them coming back to your business, consider doing the following prep work.
Make an outline: After you’ve come up with a list of information you’ll be sharing, write your talking points down in chronological order. This will keep you on track and ultimately keep your audience focused. You may even want to use this outline to create an agenda that can be handed out before the event. Even if you do end up improvising a little along the way, it’s always nice to have an outline or a lesson plan to ground you.
Think about time: If there are multiple activities that participants will be completing during a workshop, or if you’ll be holding a question and answer session, it will be especially important for you to determine how much time you’ll devote to each segment of the event. Write down a rough time limit on your outline to keep the group on schedule.
Gather your materials: Will you be giving a power point presentation? Will you need visual aids or props? Will you be providing supplies for activities? Avoid that last-minute scramble and make sure you have everything you’ll need, at least a day in advance.
Test out the technology: Technology mishaps can derail a presentation or — even worse — force you to cancel your event. Microphones, speakers, projectors, computers, and any other tools should be tested before everyone arrives, and you — or someone on your team — should know how to operate all of the equipment you’ll be using.
Do a run-through: You can iron out any kinks in your presentation and build up your confidence by practicing before the event. Have a friend or member of your team listen to you, and ask them for feedback.
You can utilize many of the same channels you turn to when marketing your products and services to promote your workshops, lessons or classes. Here are just a few to get you started:
Email: Include a note about your event in your next email newsletter. Get readers excited by telling them what they can expect and why they should attend.
Social media: Make sure your fans and followers know about your upcoming class or workshop by posting reminders on your social media pages. Want to reach a wider audience? Create a Public Facebook Event, and your page will be recommended to Facebook users who are interested in the topic you’re covering.
Printed fliers and postcards: Print cards promoting your event and slip them into customers’ bags when they make a purchase, keep a stack at your register or front desk, or hand them out at community events.
Promotional apparel and merchandise: Customize items like tote bags and T-shirts with your company name and the name of your workshop. Not only will these make nice “thank you” gifts for attendees, but they’ll also help you generate awareness for future classes as your customers sport the items around town.
Create an event landing page: Use a tool like VerticalResponse’s Landing Page builder to create a standalone web page that shares all of the important details about your workshop. Add an email signup form to the page, so visitors can get in touch with you and learn how to reserve their spot. Don’t forget to add the landing page link to emails and social media posts promoting the event.
Community event calendars: Check out sites like Eventbrite or contact the calendar editor at your local newspaper to get your class or workshop listed online and in print, so people searching for local activities can find you.
You are an expert in your field and people are always looking for new learning opportunities — so take some time to think of ways that you can use your area of expertise to connect with new customers, build relationships with your current base and market your products or services.