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“Borrowing” An Audience: How Seminars Can Win You New Business


Yesterday I was browsing through Hacker News and saw that Patrick McKenzie had mentioned me in a thread where “adyus” asked:

“However, one thing that I still haven’t figured out is this: how would I find say, that small insurance company in Kansas who has $100k to spend on a solution I could offer to their problem? Where would I begin to look? Cold-contacting seems unscalable.

I know networking goes a long way toward such contacts, but it can’t be just that. Is there a way to search for clients that’s between cold-calling and a personal network contact?”

Patrick (patio11) gave a great response on tapping into your local Chamber of Commerce to host an educational seminar — which if you’ve been following my work for a while you know is something I’m a HUGE fan of. I then replied with a start-to-finish bullet point outline of the exact steps I’ve taken to pack my sales pipeline using seminars. I won’t recap the entire thread here, but it’s worth your while to give it a read.
Small Business Seminar
Anyway, got me thinking about how powerful borrowing audiences can be, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you this morning:

I get asked questions all the time around “How do I get people to my blog?” or “How can I get people to attend my seminars?”
My favorite tactic is to borrow audiences from others. The reason I’m so gung-ho about your local Chamber of Commerce, BNI, and other networking organizations is that they’ve done the hard work for you: they already have in their member roster business owners (check!) who by virtue of their membership enjoy networking and learning (check!)

And for you and me, we can capitalize on this by offering to teach business owners something related to the field you’re an expert in. As long as you provide the attendees value (outside of “cut me a check and I’ll build whatever you’d like”), you shouldn’t have any problem getting a local organization to help you out.

Likewise, when it comes to blogging, the easiest way to bootstrap a new blog is to write for other, more established blogs (guest posting), and drive their readers to you. My friend Greg Ciotti recently put together a fantastic overview on how to do just this.

But here’s the kicker, and where a lot of us go wrong when either hosting an educational seminar or submitting a guest post…

You can’t just close with an open-ended invitation, like “Thanks for coming out… here’s my website…” Your primary goal is to get someone who’s just received a ton of value from you to opt-in to receive even more.

For a seminar or a presentation, this means closing with a “Do you want to learn even more about X? I have a free one month email course that goes into much more detail.” (As outlined in the thread I outlined above, and also described in-depth in my book, The Blueprint.)

One of your most valuable assets is your audience — or what I like to call your “ecosystem”. And if you haven’t started building up your ecosystem yet, now’s the perfect time. Most local Chambers and other organizations are planning their calendar for the new year right about now. Give them a call, ask for a meeting, and make 2014 the year you conquer your sales and marketing strategy.
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