How to recruit delegates to your next training event

We often see organisations book our meeting rooms in Dundee to offer training sessions. Typically, organisations identify a training requirement that organisations across Dundee and Angus share. It is a way of offering a snapshot of their expertise and deliver valuable information in a short timeframe.

Organisations have to cover the cost of their time, the venue, catering and of course, the valuable expertise they have spent years developing.  Sometimes organisations have funding to deliver training free of charge to the recipient. In many cases, the organisation charges delegates to come along.

Most training sessions come about with an identified need in a particular sector or due to changes in external factors.

The training organisation books the room then puts the event up on Eventbrite or their own website and they get on with trying to promote the event. There are some factors we have seen that can lead to events being very well subscribed, and others struggling. Here are some things to consider.

  1. Have you been clear about what you are offering?

If you cannot sum up briefly what difference the training will make to someone or their organisation as a direct result of their time or investment, you may struggle. Being able to quantify the value of what you are offering will help. Having a statement of the change that someone will feel by the time they leave the training session can be very powerful. For example, by the end of this day’s training, you will learn five techniques to help you target your next ten customers.

  1. Free sessions do not always get the best turnout

Cost is not the only factor people consider when booking training. Time away from delivering service to customers (and paying clients!), staff pressures and having the capacity to implement learning are things that will be considered. If you offer free training, and you have not been clear about who is picking up the tab, people will question the value of that training.  Free events also see a high drop out on the day. If something comes up then people rarely prioritise the event they have not paid to be at, unless they already know it offers exceptional value. We have seen dropout rates of 50% for some free events.

  1. Do you have client testimonials?

If you have run training sessions before then you should definitely share the feedback from that training when you advertise the event. If you can persuade clients to be specific about the benefits they gained, then that will really help. Increases in sales, meeting targets, service satisfaction increases will all attract attention.

  1. Your event will need marketing attention

Listing the event on Eventbrite or your website and then waiting for tickets to start going out the door is unlikely to prove successful. You will need a marketing plan for the event. There are plenty of business events going on in the Dundee, Angus, Fife and Perthshire areas every week. You must make sure that yours stands out. You should contact Chambers of Commerce and any other membership organisations you are part of to list the event on their sites. You should do several mail shots. You should be chatting about the event on your social media regularly and you should be talking about it at all your meetings. Sharing the message ‘buy a ticket’ repeatedly will switch people off. Instead, develop valuable content that will help people make up their minds – share highlights through video, write blogs about the subject matter you are covering, and show people what they will miss by not coming along. Include this helpful material in your mail shots.

  1. Pick up the phone

Think about the ten people you would most like to have in the room for your training event. Ring them. Waiting for them to uncover your link to Eventbrite on LinkedIn is not particularly strategic. Have a list of reasons you think they should come along. Explain how it will improve the service they are providing and try and connect this to the bottom line. This exercise will help you follow up by email.

  1. You will probably have to do this more than once

In my early career, I was told the value in doing events was rarely found the first time you did it. It takes time to build an audience. You need to build testimonials. Low-budget marketing rarely sees instant results. You also need to run the event to get the feedback you need to make it really good. That’s why there is value in taking a long-term approach to how you deliver training or workshops. Build a financial plan that sees you break even or make even a small loss on the first event in the knowledge that you will gain valuable feedback and testimonials to help you sell tickets to subsequent events. See the value in a series of events, rather than a one-off. The event marketing you will be doing is helping to raise your profile and encouraging you to create valuable content – so it’s never a waste.

This seems like a lot of work – why bother?

Are you wondering now whether it’s worth the effort to put on a training event? Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Marketing the event is helping you build your profile.
  2. You become known as an authority in your area of expertise.
  3. Someone thinking of engaging your services may be converted into a paying client by a successful training event.
  4. You might get a follow-up booking to do in-house training for a whole team.
  5. Providing value to your local community and network – helping your contacts deal with a particular issue in a one-day workshop will build goodwill and is likely to see you recommended to others with the same issue.
  6. Putting on training events makes sure that you are well-researched on your subject matter. It will encourage you to stay up-to-date in your field and push you to always be improving.

Over to you?

  1. What have you found helpful in recruiting delegates to your training events?
  2. Have you thought about putting on training but don’t really know where to start?
  3. What makes you likely to sign-up to training and spend valuable time and money?

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