October 29, 2005

Workshops to Build Business

As business owners, we are well aware of the importance of marketing – “thank you very much”. Conventional advertising, word-of-mouth networking, email campaigns, pay-per-click, etc. etc. Our options can far outweigh our budget. So, I’ve decided to do something different - for me anyway. I’m going to host a workshop. (I’ll use the term workshop throughout the article; however you can substitute one for the other as you read. Depending on your definition, a workshop tends to have more audience participation whereas a seminar will likely be more of a speaking event. Many seminars have workshop breakout groups with audience discussions or exercises.)

The workshop, while once thought of as strictly for training or educating, is now becoming an effective marketing tool. If you sell products - let’s say cookware – you might host a cooking workshop teaching participants how to master the art of French sauces – using your cookware, of course. Do you remember the Evelyn Wood speed reading school? For years, they advertised workshops regularly where you could attend a demonstration of a speed reading lesson for free – along with a sales presentation for the full course. ...And how about these ‘real estate riches / for no money down’ workshops?

The high-pressure sale, the traditional “salesperson-customer” relationship are often seen as adversarial rather than even as neutral. Sales and marketing efforts of years-gone-by are yielding fewer and fewer successful results.

Why? Consumers today are more educated and savvier than ever before. They are aware when they are “being sold” and are not afraid to question authority. As this evolution continues, consumers continue to shift from being passive buyers to being informed buyers. Marketing yourself, your product, service or small business by giving a workshop accomplishes a few things:

  1. It educates your prospects and clients about your product, service or company which fills their need to be informed.

  2. It positions you and your business as expert and gives the consumer a venue where they can find information without the perception of “being sold”

  3. If you sell a product, you can do a demonstration – a powerful sales tool in itself.

  4. Local newspapers and journals usually run notices of upcoming workshops, providing you free publicity.

  5. Following up with workshop attendees, your follow-up calls and future sales efforts will likely be better received.

Workshops are a great deal of work, are not inexpensive, and require advanced planning. There are also many factors to consider:


  • To charge or not to charge;

  • Promotion – getting seats in the seats;

  • The agenda and the format;

  • The venue;

  • Self-hosted or sponsored;

  • and so on.

If done well, however, a workshop can be an effective marketing tool to promote yourself, your products and/or services and your small business. I’ll keep you posted on my upcoming workshop (11/9). I’ve still got many miles to go before I sleep…

If you have hosted or are considering hosting a workshop I would love to hear your story, suggestions and advice. What do you think about using workshops as marketing tools?

Until next time – Bold Results start with a Bold Vision! Go out there and Be Bold!

Posted by Lynnelle Bianco at 01:33 PM

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Comments

I've offered workshops for many years and have found them to be a great marketing tool. If you promote the workshop well in the appropriate circles, it won't matter how many people actually sign up because the word about you will be out--and that's the goal.

Presenting a workshop is an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert in your area. Keep us posted on how yours goes, and good luck!

Posted by Barbara
October 30, 2005 09:21 PM

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