Let’s take a step back and make sure we understand how seminars fit into the marketing mix and how you can ensure their success:
1. Understand The Objective of a Seminar:
When VAR seminars are unsuccessful, the #1 reason why is that marketers, salespeople, and VAR principals misunderstand the objective of seminars within the marketing mix.
- The objective of a seminar is NOT new lead generation.
- The objective of a seminar is advancing pipeline opportunities already in progress.
A seminar probably won’t be your first point of engagement with a prospect, because a cold lead is probably not going to show up for your seminar. If your prospect has never heard of you, never downloaded your white paper, never expressed an interest in your solution, or never received an introductory sales call from you, they are probably not ready to attend your seminar.
2. Check Your Pipeline:
Your sales pipeline is the fuel that makes a seminar go. If you can’t name 10 pipeline accounts within 100 miles of your proposed seminar, then don’t do a seminar. Instead, do some lead generation marketing activities (rent a list and promote a white paper, demo, or Webcast). I’ll cover effective lead generation marketing in subsequent posts.
Remember, the primary objective of a seminar is to advance pipeline opportunities. If you don’t have solid pipeline opportunities then first you have to do the *prerequisite* lead generation work to build your pipeline. There’s no real shortcut here, folks. Your attendee list for your seminar will be derived primarily from sales calling into your pipeline, not from marketing emails or direct mail or banner promotion or social media posts.
3. Build Quality Content:
The days are long gone where you would jam a bunch of prospects into a room and then deliver the same sales presentation you deliver in one-on-one sales meetings. Wouldn’t it be great if it was that easy? If that ever worked, it doesn’t work today. In a tough economy it is not that easy for your prospects to justify time out of the office for something like this.
Build a quality agenda where the attendees will learn something valuable. Include guest speakers (customer case studies, industry experts, etc.). And make sure your marketing promotions highlight the quality and the value.
4. Begin Execution Well In Advance:
People are busy. Be respectful of that. Calling your sales prospect in a panic 2 days before your event and pleading with them to come to your seminar is not respectful of *their* busy schedule and *their* business priorities. I recommend that you…
- Begin planning your seminar 2 months in advance of the seminar date. Get all the details sorted out: topic, agenda, date, time, & venue. These are the details you need for your marketing promotions.
- Work hard to come up with a good seminar title — a compelling seminar title is the most important factor in getting people to register. Test it with your sales people, customers, and prospects to make sure it has perceived value.
- Create your email. Make sure it highlights your valuable agenda. Include a section entitled “What you will learn” and use at least 3 bullets of key information you will cover. Be sure to mention your guest speakers — good guest speakers will increase your attendance. An HTML email is good for email blasting, but more importantly, create a OFT version of your email. An OFT email can be used by your sales people to send one-off emails to their individual pipeline contacts to invite them to the event. (If you don’t know how to create OFT emails, I’ll post a comment below with instructions on how to do it.)
- Begin promoting your event at least 1 month in advance of your seminar date. This gives your prospects plenty of time to fit it into their schedule. It also gives you time to send out at least 2 waves of invitations — sometimes it takes more than one invitation to get the job done.
- I’ll write some more about writing effective seminar invitations later.
PTC Resellers and Regional Marketers: I have compiled a bunch of helpful tips in our PTC Partner Portal: Log into the Partner Portal, under the Departments tab navigate to the Marketing page, then look for the “How-To / Best Practices” section. There is content here that includes planning guidelines, how to write effective invitations, and even good presentations and content you can leverage to build your seminar agenda.
Now that we are all on the same page about how seminars fit into the mix, PTC has all the tools to help you knock it out of the park!