Q:I started a consulting business three months ago. I'd like to give seminars, but I live in a small town of 38,000. How can I attract a wide audience to my seminars?
A: Unless you already have an industrywide reputation that will attract people to you, you are going to need to travel to larger markets. Living in a smaller community has advantages, and if you've chosen a community within driving distance of larger cities, the cost and difficulty of travel may be worthwhile. Alternatives to travel are to offer seminars via phone or the web. While this technology is growing in popularity, a recent survey by Special Events magazine found that 2 out of 3 people say technology is not as effective for communication in meetings as in-person communication is. Arguably, this translates into your being able to convert more seminar attendees into clients with in-person seminars. Still, the number of people willing to attend phone and web seminars is growing because of their convenience.
Consulting and seminars, of course, work hand in hand, whether you give free seminars to market your consulting practice or seek to get paid for the seminars you give.
If you don't want to fill the audiences at your seminars by yourself, check out organizations such as university and college extension programs and companies like The Learning Annex. These kinds of organizations have modest fees, and they give you access to potential customers interested in your topic. To derive more income from seminars and help build your reputation as a presenter, you can also sell in-house training programs to companies. Most companies have training budgets; however, be aware that you could find yourself more in the training business than the consulting business if you pursue this avenue.