I often suggest public speaking as a powerful way to show
prospective clients what you can do. Many professionals and consultants have
built successful practices by giving free presentations to associations,
businesses, and educational institutions. But what about producing your own
seminar, where you arrange the logistics and invite the guests? Does this work
as a strategy for landing clients?

Offering a seminar can be an effective means to become more
visible to your target market. If you are a good (or even fair) presenter, and
the right people come to your seminar, you will definitely get new customers.
But to use seminar marketing successfully, you need to be very clear on your
goals, and plan each seminar carefully.  

If the purpose of your seminar is primarily to get clients,
you shouldn’t be expecting to make money on the seminar itself. You may wish
merely to cover your expenses, or maybe even spend a little extra. For this type
of seminar, the key to making it pay off is to attract people who are good
prospects for your business in the first place, rather than just filling the

Instead of making your seminar free, it’s a good idea to
charge a small fee. That way, your prospective clients will perceive you as
offering something of value. The fee will also discourage attendance by people
who can’t afford your product or service. It’s the quality of the participants
that matters, not the quantity.  

If what you really want is for your seminar to turn a
profit, you must recognize that by offering full-fee seminars, you are adding
another line of business to your company. Operating as a seminar producer will
require the same kind of planning and ongoing management as your existing
business does.  

It can be as difficult to make a profit on your first
seminar as it was to originally launch your business. Many people won’t sign up
for a seminar the first time they see it; others would like to come but can’t
make the date. You’ll have a better chance of making money if you plan at the
outset to offer your seminar on a regular basis. You may find, though, that this
takes away too much time from your core business.  

Whether the seminar you are planning is promotional or for
profit, estimate your projected income and expenses before making a commitment
to proceed. Base the income you project solely on the fee you will charge per
person multiplied by the number of attendees you expect. Don’t include any
projected spinoff business in your income estimate. If you land new business,
you will still have to work additional hours to earn that compensation.  

Typical expenses include design and printing of a flyer or
brochure, postage, posting a notice on your website, purchase of mailing lists
(if you don’t have your own), print and Internet media ads (including calendar
listings), facility rent, audiovisuals, handouts, and refreshments. You should
also consider the cost of your own time to design promotional materials, compile
lists, compose e-mails, and make phone calls, as noted below.  

In designing a snail mail or e-mail campaign for your
seminar, keep in mind that it is quite typical to get only one registration for
every 100 pieces you mail, even with a pre-qualified list.  

Subtract your projected expenses from your income, then
make a rational decision on whether to proceed. If the purpose of your seminar
is to get business, estimate how much spinoff business is likely. Before going
ahead, ask yourself if there might be an easier or cheaper way to get that many
new clients or contracts.  

If your purpose is to make money, divide your expected
profit by the number of hours it will take you to design, market, and deliver
your seminar. Is that amount a reasonable level of compensation for you?  

If your best guess at the numbers tells you that producing
a seminar makes good business sense for you, go for it! Because people do
business with those they know, like, and trust, seminars can help you build a
solid client base. And because repeat contacts raise awareness, mailings and ads
about your seminar will generate more visibility for your core business.

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients NOW! Thousands of
business owners and salespeople have used her simple sales and marketing system
to double or triple their income. Get a free copy of “Five Secrets to Finding
All the Clients You’ll Ever Need” at