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8 Ways to Fill a Workshop in a Bum Economy
Yes, you can fill a workshop when spending is down and buyers are wary. If your topic is clear, your marketing materials well-done, your product solid and your title catchy, success shouldn’t be tough. The fact is that people are as hungry as ever for the inspiration and stimulus a workshop provides, even when they’re nervous about money. And even though most bum economies recover over time, you may find the following tricks helpful enough to keep using even in good times!
1. Tailor the workshop to the economy. In other words, acknowledge the problem. So if your workshop is about helping women over 50 live their dreams, change it to Living Your Dreams Over 50 … Even When the Economy is Down. Or make it about finding your dreams after being laid off, or managing fear while pursuing your dreams in a poor economy. Your fundamental message doesn’t have to change … you just dress it up in slightly different clothing.
2. Use unconventional marketing methods. Advertising and flyers may not be the most effective way to enroll a workshop in lean times. For one thing, affordable ads are not usually big enough to effectively describe a workshop, unless it’s very targeted and easy to ‘get’, i.e. quitting smoking, or stress-reduction. If you’re teaching motivational or inspirational work, consider using an affiliate program, viral email marketing, distributing articles through targeted ezines, working your personal network, or making yourself available as a guest on local TV or radio talk shows. Best of all is a combination of all of the above.
3. Make your niche one with a pipeline. Be careful not to pick a tiny niche market that is hard to access. Instead, a good rule of thumb is to look for a niche market with marketing channels already in place. For instance, one successful workshop leader I know targets retirees on the RV-Camping circuit. Many US campgrounds offer classes and other stimulating perks to visitors, and since RV’ers often stay for several nights or even weeks, this makes a workshop a likely hit. She simply has to talk to management, and they put her workshop in place for her. Participants magically show! Hospitals with neighborhood ‘wellness’ programs, bookstores with evening events, and community center Teen programs are also good venues.
4. Pitch a co-operative venture with another business. One fun way to reach your niche is to approach another business’s clientele. For instance, if you’re offering stress-reduction workshops, arrange a tie in with the local health club or weight loss group. Look for businesses that attract people who would logically be drawn to your product as well. Then approach that business and offer something great. You can sell them your workshop at a reduced rate (a special offer just for their members, which they can use as a perk.) Or you could hold a workshop on their premises at your usual fee, and pay them a percentage of the gate. Or you could simply offer to exchange advertising plugs for each other’s business’s. (This works well if you communicate with your clients via an email newsletter or direct mail.)
5. Offer a FREE mini-workshop. In tough times, people need more convincing to buy. So offer a free sample of your workshop (a forty minute talk, say) at a local venue such as a public library or church coffee hour. Give participants time to ask questions, and have lots of handouts available about your bigger, more elaborate (paid) workshop to be held a few weeks later. And be sure to make the occasional reference to it in your free talk. Finally, make your free talk compelling and packed with good stuff. It can be a very general overview or ‘taste’ of your more fleshed out paid workshop. (You don’t have to give away all your goodies, of course, but don’t be afraid to share a few key pieces.) Wary buyers cannot resist excellence.
6. Lower the price. Not always the most fun option, but one that works – especially if you have a themed sale, such as Wipe Out the Winter Blahs Special or a Kick Off the New Year With a Bang. If possible, try to position your price reduction as a limited time gift for your clients … one that ties in with a particular need or time of year. This lets them know you are, in fact, thinking of them and their best interests.
7. Offer bonuses. We all love something free, so come up with some highly desirable bonuses that are just irresistible. These can be free reports that get downloaded automatically, or sent with registration info. Or it could be a tangible product, such as a book, a mug,
8. Enroll a friend for a discount. Or if you don’t want to offer a discount, encourage clients to bring a friend who can act as an on-going supporter with the work of the workshop. (And, of course, they can provide the same to their friend.) Such support is actually one of the best ways to get your material to ‘stick’, so your client’s get more on-going value from the workshop, so this plan is a real win-win. Consider tailoring the workshop to pairs such as mothers and daughters, work buddies (great for stress reduction!), married couples, fathers and sons, or best friends. If you pitch it to couples, you could market it to resorts as part of a Second Honeymoon or Mom-Daughter Getaway package weekend.
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