How to Fill Seminar Seats at the Last Minute
As a seminar marketing coach, I often get calls from seminar promoters who are desperately trying to fill seats for events that take place within days. Sometimes the problem is that they didn’t start promoting early enough. Other times, they have been marketing their events for weeks, but without the desired response from their target market.
If you find yourself in a similar situation – with a large number of seats to fill in very few days – here are some ideas to try:
- Keep the faith.With most events, the normal registration curve shows a last-minute upswing in registrations. The closer you get, the more registrations will come in. With virtual events, most registrations arrive in the last 48 hours before an event. With a live event, registrations increase in the last week or two before the event. Do your best not to tune into the feelings of fear and anxiety that may be running through your body. Instead, hold a firm vision of success – picture your room overflowing with people who are eager to hear your message. Staying in a positive state will help you stay open to the opportunities that appear to help you fill your room. It will also enable you to act quickly in the days remaining before your event, rather than freezing with panic.
- Increase your marketing.Launching your marketing early enough is only one key to successfully filling a room. The second key is to stay in front of your list. The closer your event gets, the more frequently you should be in touch – even up to the minute it starts. There are people on your mailing list who are interested in your event, but who are on the fence about registering. Continuing to market to these individuals will help to nudge some of them into action. They are hesitating either because they are waiting to see if they can clear their schedules or because they aren’t fully convinced that attending your seminar is a good use of their time and money. Keep reminding them of how they’ll benefit – as well as what they’ll miss if they choose to skip this opportunity.
- Focus on locals.Some people will hop on a plane at the last minute to attend an event without any hesitation. Others won’t simply because of how much it costs to purchase airfare at the last minute, which is why it makes sense to direct extra marketing attention to locals – people who are within driving distance of your event.
- Know your VIPs.As you build your business, work to identify the prospects who are most likely to attend your events. Reach out to this group in the final days and weeks before your event to ensure that they know about the seminar, as well as to get their RSVP.
- Make a special offer.In addition to keeping up or increasing the frequency of your marketing, consider making a special offer to fill the remaining seats. Perhaps you offer a discounted price, extra bonuses, or a second ticket to share with a guest. Another option is to list your event on LastMinuteTraining.com, a service that allows you to sell seminar seats at a discounted price in the final days before your event.
- Reach out and call someone.If you have a large list, consider doing a voice broadcast to let subscribers know that a few tickets are still available for your event. If you normally market via email, incorporating telemarketing may help your offer stand out from the clutter. If you have a small list, make courtesy calls to your best prospects and people who have expressed interest in your event. These are your best leads – you aren’t done marketing until they say “no thanks” to your event.
- Network.Work your connections and talk to everyone you meet about your seminar. Be very clear about who should attend, how they’ll benefit and what your special offer is. Talk to affiliate and joint venture partners, current and past clients, colleagues, members of associations you belong to, networking groups and chambers of commerce in your area. My colleague Dr. George Huang of Freedompreneur.com filled his first workshop in less than two weeks, largely through very persistent networking.
- Enlist your social networks.Talk about your event on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Be sure to include a link to your sales page so that people who are intrigued by the posts they’re seeing can get full details about your event. In addition to updates, share interesting tips, intriguing ideas and curiosity-provoking questions to get people clicking your link. For example, instead of relying only on posts like “Only 2 days left until my seminar,” incorporate messages like “Learn the 7 mistakes that kill marketing response.”
- Publicize your events.In addition to sending press releases to the various publications read by members of your target audience, don’t overlook online event calendars. Many publications and web sites have calendars of upcoming events; you often can post your own listings. People who read event calendars are open to attending events, obviously… so put your event in front of interested prospects.
Are these techniques guaranteed to fill your seminar in a matter of days? Unfortunately, no. But they are the techniques that successful promoters use to market their seminars. If you don’t see a boost in your registrations, you at least will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done all you can to promote your seminar. After your event, take note of what you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved. Then begin mapping out the plan for improving your promotions the next time you offer your seminar.