Anyone who's attended an interesting and informative seminar knows it can be one of the best ways to train staff, keep yourself up-to-date on industry changes and learn new skills. On the flip side, seminars are also a powerful way to build awareness of your company, market your product or services, and possibly create a new revenue stream for your business. Whatever type of business you're in, you probably have knowledge and expertise that others would find helpful--and that might encourage them to use your services. Follow this checklist to make your seminars great:

  • When determining what to charge for your seminar, consider two rules of thumb: 1) Most people will attend events for which they've already paid in advance, and 2) the more you charge, the less overt selling you should do.
  • Consider defraying your costs by teaming up with another business that's related to yours.
  • Do some homework before you schedule your seminar to avoid competing with other events that could reduce your attendance.
  • Create a concise marketing plan for your seminar. Include publicity, direct mail, advertising and other appropriate promotional vehicles.
  • Before you determine the length of your seminar, consider your audience, your topic and other related factors. If you're planning to speak to a room full of accountants, don't schedule a half-day seminar during tax season.
  • Most hotels and conference centers routinely host seminars and have the process down to a science. If your budget won't allow for such accommodations, check out renting space at a local college or training facility.
  • Advance registration gives you a good idea of how many people to expect and how many handouts you'll need. Always ask how registrants heard about the seminar so you can track your marketing results.
  • Handouts are one of the most overlooked tools in seminar marketing. Give your attendees professional-looking materials that support key points in your presentation.
  • Have enough staff at the event to handle registration, last-minute errands, product sales, distribution of handouts and other event essentials.
  • Be sure you obtain names, postal and e-mail addresses, and other important contact information from your attendees for follow-up purposes. You may also wish to develop an evaluation form to distribute and collect to help you make your seminar even better next time around.