I’ve just undertaken my first live event, and it was a sell out! I was hopeful that 40 people might book, but on the morning of the big day, we reached the capacity of 75. For big name speakers this might sound like peanuts, but for a first attempt, I was pretty darn pleased. So many people have now asked me how I did it, especially when I decided just three weeks out that I was going undertake a workshop. Here’s my 10 step plan to filling a workshop:
• Make sure the topic is hot and something people want to learn about. My topic, “How to Generate Free Publicity for Your Business” is virtually a no brainer. I ask business owners ‘Do you need more promotion?” When the answer is yes, the next question is ‘Would you like to get more promotion without spending more money?’. I can teach them how to do that.
• Make sure the topic is something you know inside out. If there’s one thing in this world that I understand it’s how the mind of a journalist works (I used to be one). I’ve also worked in Public Relations for 10 years and run my own PR consultancy. I speak with authority because I know the topic thoroughly – and this shines through in my marketing and promotion.
• Invite key influencers to attend for free. I offered some well known small business owners the opportunity to attend the event as my guest. Not only is this a good way to develop important relationships but it also helps spread the message about your event. I asked all those who accepted the invitation to pass it on to others who might benefit.
• Get free publicity in traditional media. If you pitch your event in the right way, your local paper is likely to support you. It was important for me to demonstrate attendees how easy it is to get free publicity, so I pitched the event to three local papers, all of which ran the story. I got many new inquiries and bookings from this free promotion.
• Use social media. Set up an event on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages and invite your friends and fellow group members to attend. Post about the event regularly and at different times of the day to ensure you reach a big cross section of those online. Ask your key influencers to post about the event too with a link back to the event page.
• Press the flesh. I have to admit, as a predominantly online entrepreneur, I have not done a lot of face-to-face networking. Promoting a live event is all about getting out there and being known in the physical world, so I attended every breakfast, cocktail function and networking group meeting I could in that 3 week period. Not only did it attract a whole new audience to the workshop, but it’s also done wonders for my business as people in my home town get to know me, like me and trust me.
• Get the help you need. I’m fortunate to have a supportive husband and fantastic girlfriend who were more than happy to help out on the day. I made sure I was organised with a running sheet etc, and that they both knew what was required of them. I can see though, that as I do more events and they grow in size I will need to hire staff to assist. You can’t do it all yourself.
• Make entry affordable. The information I share is extremely high value, but until people know who I am, I could hardly expect them to fork out $00s to attend. I was able to charge a minimal fee because I was also confident that I had the right back-end product to sell which made the exercise financially viable. There are many schools of thought on this. I see highly successful speakers offering free events, others charging $97 and some who charge $300 and more. There’s nothing wrong with trying a few different models to see what works best for you and your sales conversion.
• Hold the vision of a sell out event. I’m a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and spent a few minutes every day visualising myself speaking to a sold out audience, and feeling that the audience loved my presentation. I also set an intention of how many sales I wanted to achieve and visualised myself achieving this.
• Plan to reward yourself. I made a plan beforehand of how I would celebrate my success. For me, it’s a three hour massage experience at a gorgeous day spa. It’s important to reward yourself in small business, especially as there’s no boss there to give you a pat on the back.
While I’ve still got some way to go before I’m speaking to an audience of thousands (although I hold that vision firmly in my mind!), my first live event was a breakthrough in my entrepreneurial journey.

Author's Bio: 

Sue Papadoulis is Australia’s leading specialist in helping small businesses generate free publicity. A former journalist and radio news editor, she is the founder of the Sue Papadoulis Publicity Campaign which provides step by step advice and templates to show you how to score free media coverage on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and online. Access Sue’s special video (valued at $279) How to Generate Free Publicity for Your Business free at www.getpublicityinfo.com