by Steven Ready
Seminars and workshops are today's main mode of learning for adults who are beyond the formal educational system. These short-term formats serve information quickly and efficiently. You can run seminars on any subject you care to.
With seminar fees ranging from $5 to over $500 a day per person, you can generate thousands of dollars a day in revenues, with net margins of twenty percent or more. All you need is a telephone, typewriter, filing cabinet, and some forms and supplies.
If you capture people's interest, you can sell a $500 seminar more easily than a $49.95 one. Fees for seminars vary widely, but two thirds of them fall between $100 and $500. Your concern, however, is profitability more than total revenues. Set your seminar price as high as you can without participation tailing off dramatically. And don't pass the point where more participants cause your costs to rise so much that profitability suffers.
Your major advertising will be by direct mail. Direct response advertising, which includes direct mail, motivates the reader quickly. A good example of direct mail packaging is the Reader's Digest sweepstakes.
Your meeting space should convey a sense of intimacy. You neither want a huge room that looks empty even with a good crowd in it, nor a too-small room that can't accommodate the crowd. The site doesn't have to be fancy, but it must be easy to find, comfortable and safe.
The length of your meeting should be based on the amount of solid content you can provide. Don't try to puff up the length of the seminar, particularly if it means an overnight stay for the participants.
To evaluate the best length, calculate your costs for half-day and full-day programs. You may find you can deliver the message effectively in a half a day, cutting costs and improving profitability.
One risk in the seminar business is that you must commit to room space long before you know your revenues. Be sure if you reserve a room that you know the final date for backing out of the reservation.
You want your attenders to leave feeling they have gotten some valuable information and been at least mildly entertained in the process. Will it be cost-effective to hire a speaker? At the beginning of your career in putting on seminars you may want to deliver the seminar yourself, not only to cut expenses, but to get a feel for what works and what doesn't. A good presenter has a solid grasp of the information being covered, a touch of showmanship, and is reliable and prompt.
For a topic, you can show people how to present their own seminar. You can spice up the delivery with examples from your own experience, giving them a firsthand look at the field.
Determine if you attenders want networking time. For many participants, the contact with other people of similar interests is the primary reason for attending.
Finally, the seminar provides a great environment for generating other revenues. You can make money from back-of-the-room sales of computer disks, books, tapes, videos or other materials related to your seminar. Such sales can add thirty percent or more to your total receipts.
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