Several years ago, I was in Chicago attending one of my semi-annual builder 20 group meetings. Our guest speaker was Tom Stephani, a builder, remodeler and consultant who has been sharing his ideas with builders for many years. On this day, his topic was seminar marketing, which loosely defined is creating, producing and hosting an educational seminar for homeowners that provides them with valuable information while giving you the opportunity to present yourself as the expert in a soft sell environment.
I returned home enthusiastic and sat down with my marketing director to plan our event. We ran into surmountable obstacles. Our stumbling block was selecting the seminar venue. We had several choices, including my office, a local coffee shop, restaurant or hotel room. We decided on the local coffee shop, contacted the owner, made arrangements to promote the seminar, and before we created our invitation, the coffee shop went out of business and we shelved the plan ... until now!
I have remained intrigued with the idea. Educational seminars are one of the cornerstones of my marketing plan for my new public showroom and clubhouse I recently opened on Main Street in my home town (January 2011, page 8). We now have a no excuses venue for hosting seminars.
Last month, Mary Brennan, a local interior designer and former president of the local American Society of Interior Designers chapter, contacted me to suggest a seminar idea hosted at my new showroom. We worked together with Tom Fitzgerald, an architect and mutual business acquaintance. I met Mary and Tom at networking meetings in the past few months. We have not yet worked together for a client.
Mary’s catalyst idea was to build a seminar around the question on many homeowners’ minds — specifically, what value does a particular home improvement add to the home’s present day and future resale value? Our invitation will be headlined: Evaluating your design decisions as they relate to the home’s resale value from the perspective of an interior designer, architect, builder and Realtor.” The fourth panelist, Eileen Scott, is one of our areas most successful Realtors, having sold more than 25 homes per year for the past several years.
From this effort, I hope to increase business interaction with my three panelists, which creates a pathway to future work together. There also will be increased exposure to my company as a result of the seminar promotion because each panelist will send the e-invite to their list of clients, friends and prospects. This will result in more than 1,000 people receiving the invitation, which will include a link to my website and promote me as the builder expert. We will also mail more than 300 invitations to Mary’s prequalified list. In addition, the seminar will be announced in our local community calendar and we are looking into taping the presentation for broadcast on Mendham’s cable channel.
The panelists will be limited to only 10 minutes each, followed by a question and answer session. RSVPs will be required from registrants and the event will be limited to the first 25 people. However, we feel, based on our topic, an even smaller turnout of five to 10 would actually be ideal so we can keep it more personal, less preachy. We also decided to commit to expand the effort to a three-part monthly series with the main theme as the broad topic. Subsequent topics will address budget vs. design: Which comes first and how do you prioritize? The third session will be focused on case studies. Our invitation will commit to all three so that attendees can select one or more and schedule us into their calendar.
The ultimate goal is new clients. I will let you know if we achieve success on that point. Good luck if you try the same in your market. Let me know if you do or if you have any questions.