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When brainstorming ways to expand my business and gain new experiences, I fell in love with the idea of running small workshops for the local businesses in my area. After a little research I discovered there was nothing like it on offer and after speaking to some of the local business owners I confirmed it was something that would be of interest.
I live in a small country town that has a decent number of small businesses and is in that in between area of being ‘completely opposed’ to internet marketing and ‘understanding and embracing’ it. It was a perfect opportunity to educate local business owners on how they could use online marketing to grow their bricks and mortar businesses.
I was also looking forward to gaining more experience in speaking as I’m planning on moving my business more towards webinars as well as honing my skills in how to teach online marketing.
I went ahead and booked a local community centre to run the workshops. I planned the content and decided I would run the first workshop for free, gauge the response and then go from there. I set up an event on Facebook and started running ads.
The first workshop was limited to 10 places and filled up within a few hours. I wanted to make sure I was capturing the people who were interested so I set up an email subscription on a landing page for those who missed out to go on the waiting list for the next workshops.
Over the next few months I ran multiple workshops, for various business owners on an array of topics related to small business. I loved it. I had so much fun and learned so much in the process.
It has been a steep learning curve which is why I wanted to share with you the top 7 things I learned from running live workshops to help you determine if they would be suitable for you and if you’d be up for the challenge.
1 – They are brilliant for getting your name out to local businesses.
Running workshops in your local area is fantastic exposure for your business – especially if what you’re teaching in the workshop leads to another higher priced product to sell. In addition, word of mouth is the fastest information train in small towns and having people talk about you and your business is a great way to grow.
2 – They require hustle.
Convincing local businesses to think outside of their older methods of advertising such as newspaper and print is not an easy feat. Local businesses in my town still use letterbox drops of flyers and have no way of capturing an ROI for all of their effort.
Explaining these benefits will never be possible through a Facebook advertisement, especially if your target market isn’t even using Facebook. You need to get away from behind the computer and go and speak to these people.
I created simple printed invitations that cost me a total of around $3 for 100 (designed and printed myself) and spent a day walking around to the local businesses, introducing myself and inviting them to come along to the next workshop. This alone resulted in at least an additional $400 in sales for my business.
3 – You can offer everything for free, and there will still be people who don’t want it.
Despite running my workshops for free, explaining the benefits to their business and explaining how a few simple tweaks can lead to an increase in their customer base and bottom line, there were still business owners who didn’t want what I have to offer. And that is totally okay.
Never be disheartened by the people who don’t want what you have. They help you refine your target market and create products that are more fitting for those you serve.
4 – Expect people not to show up.
Again, despite having a free or paid workshop, there will still be people who don’t show up. Sometimes commitments come up, other times people forget or simply change their mind. And this is okay. After my first workshop I simply allowed a few extra places for future workshops taking into consideration that around 2/10 people wouldn’t show. This was less for the paid workshops.
5 – Have a plan if something goes wrong.
I learned this lesson the hard way, as most of us do. I was running my workshops at a local community centre that allowed me weekend access via a keysafe and they also provided the projector and whiteboards I needed. It was fantastic. Until it wasn’t.
One day they forgot to leave the projector out for me. After my brother rushing around trying to get into my house and grab my projector and the help of a generous lady running another workshop in a different room, I eventually was able to have a projector up and running. However I was running a workshop for around an hour without one. It was not an easy feat.
Then it went really bad. I had workshops scheduled for a Saturday and the way it worked was on the Friday afternoon I’d get a text with the keysafe code so I could access the centre on the weekend. This particular time they didn’t send the code. AND the centre didn’t have an after hours contact. After exhausting every possible way to try and get in contact with the centre, I had to send an email out to cancel the workshop. I didn’t have a backup.
While these were really good lessons to learn, they didn’t show me in a professional light which is never a good thing. Always have a backup plan.
6 – Check your tech.
If you’re using projectors, laptops, or any kind of tech make sure you do a test run before your workshops. Even if you’ve done it all a ton of times before. It always pays to check again. Make sure all links are still working and any sites you reference are still up. It just helps the whole process go smoothly.
And – make sure everything is charged properly. Take extra batteries or chargers and always carry an extension cord with you. You’d never imagine how many times a simple extension cord has saved the day.
7 – Have fun and show your personality.
Getting up and speaking in front of a bunch of people you don’t know can be a little nerve wrecking. Okay, it can be a whole new level of nerve wrecking. But… once you find your groove and settle into it, you’ll have so much fun showing off your personality. Remember to add your own flair – people aren’t just there for the information. They are there for you too. Be yourself and have some fun and your attendees will rave about you.
Running workshops is hard. It takes a lot of prep work, a lot of time to lay the foundations and co-ordinate but they open up such a wonderful avenue for showcasing your business and what you have to offer.