Writing Compelling Invitations for Seminars (& Webinars)

Here is an often cited direct marketing maxim:

Sell the offer, not the product.

This is an important distinction, especially in seminar marketing. The objective with your seminar invitation is NOT to close the sale (so in the invitation don’t go on and on endlessly about your product). The objective of your invitation is much more short-sighted than that — it is to get the recipient to register for (and then hopefully to attend) the seminar. Once you get your prospect seated in the room, then you can begin a more in-depth dialog to understand their needs, fully explain your product solution, and to ultimately close the sale.

Sell the offer, not the product — so what does that mean? The offer, in this case, is the seminar event itself. Your seminar invitation needs to compel the recipient to register and attend. Your seminar invitation needs to…

  1. Convey the value of attending — What will they learn? What credible sources will they learn it from? Is it being held at a cool place?
  2. Remove reasons for hesitation — When and where is it? How do I get there? Is there parking? Will I have to skip a meal? Is it really for me?

A Template You Can Follow:

Seminar marketing is actually quite formulaic — it’s tried and true, from years of experimentation and testing by marketers.

See this link for the anatomy of a good seminar invitation(or click the graphic on the left). It is an annotated example of a real seminar invitation that drove registrations for a successful seminar we conducted a few years ago. It follows a tried and true outline you can adopt for your own seminar invitations. Here are some best practices identified:

  • Create a compelling seminar title
  • Create a compelling email subject line
  • Include the logistics: date, time, location
  • Include a “what you will learn” section — that is the #1 reason why someone will register, and if they need to get permission from their boss this is what they will show them
  • Include 3rd party speakers — shows recipients that it is not just going to be a sales person talking at them
  • Include a “who should attend” section — overcomes any hesitation that this seminar might not be the right fit for the recipient of the invitation

Other General Tips:

  • Keep the content short and punchy (the example I linked above is probably a little too long, the logistics are repeated and the bios are a little longer than they need to be)
  • Use subheads & bullets to make it easy to read
  • Keep the tone of the invitation and the subject matter of your seminar educational (nobody wants to show up to a glorified sales presentation)
  • Use strong language for your call to action (register today)
  • Stick to half-day seminars because it is probably too much of a commitment for most business people to get out of the office for a full day
  • Include an exciting door prize if possible

To read more about selling the offer, check out this article: In B2B Direct Mail Lead Generation, Sell Your Offer, Not Your Offering.

Post your comments and let me know if I missed anything!

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About Bob Hebeisen

My name is Bob Hebeisen and I'm a Boston-based Marketing Director, currently seeking new full-time and contract opportunities. I formerly held Field Marketing and Channel Marketing roles at PTC and SDL, and have spent most of my 20-year career in Business-to-Business (B2B) technology marketing. Follow me at http://twitter.com/bobhebeisen
This entry was posted in Copywriting, Email Marketing, Seminar Marketing, VAR Marketing Techniques, Webinar Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

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