I often get new clients trying to sell tickets for a workshop or event. It might be that they've just run an event, and just about broke even, and never want to be in that position again. Or it could be the fact that the workshop is near enough upon them and panic has set in.
Promoting an event or workshop works very differently from raising the profile of a business and it needs a very different strategy. So, if you've got a date looming then read on...
1. Revisit why you are holding this event
Is making money the be-all-and-end-all for you? If it is, then fine, at least you know where you stand. But for many of us it can help to take a slightly different angle of things. I know that many of the low-cost workshops I have run in the past have brought me future clients not only from amongst the attendees, but from the people they have gone on to tell about me. If you look at your event or workshop as a possible teaser or opportunity for people to get to know you and your work better you are perhaps taking some of the pressure off yourself, which can't be a bad thing.
2. The Money's in The Mailing List
And I'm not talking about any old marketing mailing list here. I'm talking about your own ezine or newsletter, that regularly shows and tells people what you do, how you can help them and gives you ample opportunities to start advertising and promoting your events well before time. I'm in the lucky position of having a large database of newsletter subscribers and often I only have to mention an event once to have it fully booked. But I've put 7 years into building up my subscriber list and that's not to be underestimated. Indeed, I'd say the best approach is a long term one - focus your attention on building your list up before you do anything else, and the rest will follow.
Don't just come up with something you fancy running. Do your research and find out if there really is a demand. Run a survey to find out what people want right now. Remember, everything goes in cycles. Be prepared to change. Two years ago everyone wanted me to talk about blogging, last year it was Facebook and at the moment it's Twitter. Who knows what's next?
4. Don't Waste Time on Press You Can't Reach
How far ahead is your event? If it's next month there's no point in targeting magazines that often work three to four months ahead. A short run up to your event means that you need short-deadline press - the radio, Internet and weekly and daily newspapers.
5. Strategic Partners
Who do you know that can help you (and how can you help them?)? I often get people emailing asking me to put their workshop or event into my newsletter. I very rarely do, mainly because I'd be inundated with them if I did. But it's also interesting to notice how few of them offer to return the favour.
But finding those people who have access to the people you want to reach can work wonders. But go fully armed with why they should help - are you offering a cut or affiliate fee, a free place, help with something completely unrelated in the future. Potentially, strategic partnerships are much more than an opportunity to flog a few tickets. It's a chance to build a relationship that could benefit the both of you, in the long-term.
6. Make it News-worthy
Press releases singing your event's praises something aren't enough. It's great if you've got some good name acts and you know they alone will catch people's eyes. But if you're selling something drier and you need to grab the attention of every passing journalist then you need to perk it up and tie your release in with something topical.
7. Give a Taster
If you're getting inquiries about your workshop but still finding that people are reluctant to part with their money, consider running a pre-event teleclass to give them a taster of what you do, and answer questions on the call. Email them straight after with a special buy-now-and-get-a-great-discount-offer and you'll find that people are much more enthused to get their credit cards out.