The open workshops that I run are designed to help participants learn how to put a great workshop together. Feedback has been brilliant and people have come away with all sorts of wonderful ideas to put into their own amazing workshops. But there is one thing that I get asked all the time – how to market your workshop. For many people this is not a pleasure but a serious pain that sometimes prevents them from setting up their workshops in the first place.
Let’s face it, unless you are doing an in house workshop, getting bums on seats is hard. It’s all very well creating a dazzling workshop but if no one comes along to join in and and benefit from your expertise and knowledge then you might be left wondering why you bothered. It takes a long time to lovingly craft a workshop, so you really need to make sure people are going to turn up.
I’m not a marketing expert by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s what I have learnt so far:
- Find out what people want, it’s sounds simple, but make sure you listen. My workshops are all about how to structure and design an engaging workshop. I have spent a lot of time listening to what is needed, and tailored my workshops accordingly. This continues with every workshop as I collect the feedback at the end of each one.
- Be clear when you are advertising your workshop exactly what your are offering. And – make sure you have worked through your workshop plan before you advertise it so you know you can actually deliver what you say you are delivering! Although you are able to offer great expertise, will this all fit into the time you have given to your workshop?
- People (by which I mean your target audience) need to know why they might want to come on your workshop and what’s in it for them. Just because you think your workshop is just what everyone needs, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world does. What about writing blogs and articles and perhaps doing some videos (if you are brave enough) about your subject and linking this to your workshop? This not only gets people thinking, and understanding how your workshop can benefit them, but also shows that you know what you are talking about.
- The whole world doesn’t actually need to know about your workshops. Only a curious selection will be interested. So work out who they are and where they hang out and go and start a conversation. Remember though that a conversation is a two sided affair so rather than bombarding everyone with information, be interested, and when they show an interest in your workshop then talk about it some more.
- Ask for recommendations and referrals from past participants. If your workshop really hits the mark, most people are happy to give you a testimonial. But you could also ask them if they could recommend you, and if they could point any future enquiries in your direction.
- Give your workshops the edge. If there are other people doing similar workshops to yours, but you are the one who has a more creative workshop, that is far more likely to interest people. Think about how you can inject come some quirky and fun activities and include some especially engaging content that will make your workshops just a little bit different.
- Think about how frequently you are going to put on your workshops and how much time in between them you will need to market them. In part this depends on what your market is like – for me, there are only so many people that may want to learn about workshops, so putting them every month wouldn’t make sense.
- Watch out for events that are bigger than yours on your chosen date. If you know a lot of your target audience is going to be going to a business show the same day as you propose doing your workshop, you may want to rethink when you do it. Check this in advance as changing the date will only induce a headache!
- In general (as someone who’s workshops are aimed at small businesses) I find workshops are best done on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. This is because Mondays are often a catching up day and on Fridays people are often thinking about the weekend. Think carefully about the time of year and things like school holidays. However, this does depend on your target audience. My next Workshop Essentials is on a Friday because I was asked to do one on a Friday by two of the people who have signed up!
- Sometimes venues will help you advertise your workshop – ask them about it when you book in, and tag them in Social Media posts. They will benefit as well as you from the publicity.
There are so many things I have learnt since I started putting on open workshops two years ago. Marketing them is hard and does take up a lot of time and effort, particularly if you are not a marketer yourself. It may turn out to be fun, but even if it is it can be very time consuming.
So, in response to the question of how to effectively market your workshops, I have teamed up with an expert- Kimba Cooper from Kimba Digital Marketing! We created a new workshop and launched our first Marketing Your Workshop – Made Easy! workshop in March 2018. Our last one will be September 25th 2019.
This workshop is aimed at helping you market your workshops to the right people by learning who your customers are and where you might find them so that you can create some robust and pain free plans. If you would like more information on this then please comment below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com